Archive for Interview

The Treatment | Talk 2 Tickets

Posted in Interview, Music, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2014 by Tickets There

Described as one of the most exciting bands to emerge from England in years, The Treatment are five guys who love rock ‘n’ roll. They released their debut album, This Might Hurt, in 2011 and its follow up, Running with the Dogs, earlier this year to massive critical acclaim. They’ve supported some of the biggest names in music and every year that passes brings nothing but new success. If you haven’t heard them yet, now is your chance to make amends as they’re coming to Dublin this week to play their first Irish headlining show and you don’t want to miss out.

Tickets There was fortunate enough to speak with The Treatment’s guitarist, Tag Grey and find out a little about the origins of the band, their touring experiences over the past few years and what it means to have Tommy Lee coordinate your birthday celebrations backstage.

Tickets There: Hi Tag, how are things going in the Treatment camp at the moment?

TG: It’s going great man. All the fans and all the press as well. And since Kerrang started picking up the last one, things have just been brilliant. It’s done a lot more than we dreamed it could have done. Really happy about it.

Tickets There: Running with the Dogs seems to be picking up a lot of new fans with previous critics highlighting it sounds far more accomplished than your debut, This Might Hurt. Do you feel this album is a stronger representation of the band?

TG: Ah yeah. I think Dhan (Mansworth – drums) was around fifteen or sixteen when he started writing and recording This Might Hurt. We’ve all grown so much as players and musicians that there’s no way you could compare the two.  We were so proud with what we did with the first one but by the second one it was even better, you know? We changed loads of things during the recording – the guitars, the amps and the way we were recording. We were really happy with how it came out. It definitely captured another side of the band.

1606221_759009914126507_1314872328_oTickets There: A lot of bands have great difficulty writing and recording their second albums. Did you feel any pressure after the success of This Might Hurt?

TG: We didn’t really think, but looking back we were so happy with the way it came out. There’s no comparison between the two and it’s all just gone in the direction we wanted it to. I don’t think we ever thought about having a problem with the second one, we just got on really. I mean we constantly toured since This Might Hurt came out so we were always recording and writing little bits and bobs.

Tickets There: That’s probably the best way to avoid the pressure.

TG: It’s brilliant actually, we all live with Dhan and our manager Laurie (Mansworth) has his own studio so we could just record whenever which was a massive help for the band.

Tickets There: Were you worried at all that the delay between Running with the Dogs and This Might Hurt might risk losing some of the momentum you’d created?

TG: This Might Hurt came out twice actually. It came out originally on Powerage and when we were picked up by Universal we re-released it with a bonus track so although it was released a long time ago, since the re-release it hasn’t been that long and we’ve just been on the road constantly. We wanted to make sure we had the album completely right. It wasn’t an intentional thing. We weren’t looking to get it out asap, we just wanted to stay on the road touring really. We’re definitely more of a live band.

Tickets There: Since the release of Running with the Dogs, have you noticed an increase in interest in the band?

TG: Oh massive. The first major tour we had was with Alice Cooper, which was a great tour to start with, but everything since just seems to take a step up. Lamb of God in America was the last big tour we did before recording the new album which was just insane. With this tour the first one we did was our own headlining tour which is just incredible. We went out and hundreds of people were turning up to see us which, for us is just an amazing feeling. We did the Islington in London, which has been a venue where we’ve seen so many of our favourite bands and you don’t realize what you’re doing until you’re standing on stage and all these people turn up. It’s just been amazing.

Tickets There: It sounds like things are really starting to get going for ye.

TG: (laughs) yeah, it’s been great. And now we’re going out and doing all the European festivals – it just keeps getting bigger and better. I can’t wait.

1510552_741165082577657_2039737956_nTickets There: So let’s go back a little. How did the band get together?

TG: It was Dhan basically. He wanted to put a band together and his dad Laurie, he’s been in the music business and was in a couple of bands in the eighties so he knows everything. So they started looking around the country for musicians and that’s how we got the line-up.

We all moved in to Laurie’s house so it became a pretty wild one. Myself and Rick Newman (aka Swoggle) were living in a tent down the end and Dhan was still going to school every day. We started jamming in the shed and it’s just grown since then. We recorded the album and started touring.

Tickets There: It couldn’t have just happened that easily, right?

TG: Well, in the beginning it was quite hard as we couldn’t get into any venues. We were all under eighteen and they’d always kick us out. That’s how young we were when we started.

Tickets There: So none of you were close friends when you started the band?

TG: Me and Rick were the only ones, we went to school together. Dan found Rick and Rick knew me from School and that’s how I got the part. Matt (Jones, vocals) was on MySpace, do you remember? He found him and the original guitar player was from a music college and now we have Fabien who’s over from Germany.

Tickets There: It must have been strange all of ye moving in together at the time. Did ye drive each other crazy?

TG: Oh no, we’ve lived together for seven years so there’s no way we could do it if we didn’t get along. Of course it’s beyond argument; you can’t stick six guys together without the odd one. But as friends we’re as close as it gets. We don’t let anyone fuck with us man.

Tickets There: When you came together, did you know the type of band you wanted to be or did the style fall into place when ye met?

TG: It came together really as a group. We’d all grown up on similar styles of music so it just happened really. We didn’t decide on it, it just came together.

Tickets There: Would you credit Def Leppard or AC/DC more as the influence for the band? Be warned, I’m a Leppard fan…

TG: (laughs) Both of them I’d say. If there’s one band we all have total love for it’s the DC. I remember one year we all went to see them play Download and sitting there, watching a band you all completely fucking love was just amazing. But Def Leppard as well, they are a great, great band.

Tickets There: Hmmm, ok I’ll accept that. So how long did you stay practicing for before you started doing shows?

TG: For the first year of the band Dan was still going to school every day so the idea of touring was impossible. We spent the first year or two in the garage rehearsing, playing a few local shows. The first big one we got was opening for Black Stone Cherry and pretty much straight from that was Sonisphere and then straight onto Alice Cooper and Steel Panther after that. Then we played with Thin Lizzy, Slash and Status Quo, the list goes on man.

Tickets There: It certainly does. In your time together you’ve also supported Lamb of God, Motley Crue, KISS and many others. In fact, isn’t it true that Nikki Sixx personally got you onto their tour with KISS?

TG: Yeah, he did. He asked us to do it. That was three or four amazing months across America.

10291702_814791535215011_2317816580079786614_nTickets There: Nikki Sixx asking your band to open for them and KISS is pretty much a dream come true for any rocker. Can I ask how that came about?

TG: He’s just into young bands and listens out. We were on the Steel Panther tour and it was about 2 in the morning and a friend asked us if we’d twitter and none of us had. So we checked it and he had announced us for the whole tour.

Tickets There: And what’s it like, as a young band to go out there and play side by side with your heroes like that? Did you find yourself learning from them at all?

TG: Oh of course. We’ve learnt so much about how to work a crowd, how to play – how to do everything. You learn from your heroes don’t you, so to be able to support ‘em was such an experience and not only for ourselves, but the live experience as well is fucking great. You also learn from the best when it comes to partying as well (laughs).

Tickets There: Now that’s one, I heard a rumour that in your early years together you had a strict no partying rule on tour. How’s that holding up these days?

TG: (laughs) Yeah, when we first started we had a no drinking rule on tour. It was right place, right time but as we’ve gotten older… Number one is the gig, that’s all we care about. So long as that’s good, we’re good. But, I mean drinking-wise we have more of a laugh now. We’re always up and ready for a show and that’s what matters to us but I think it’s best to say we’ve gotten a little more relaxed (laughs.. Ed. – Laughs because he’s partied with bands like Motley Crue, KISS, Alice Cooper, Lamb of God and many others! – Legend!)

Tickets There: Phew, I was worried there you might shatter my dreams of the rock ‘n’ roll touring life.

TG: Well that was the problem for us as well (laughs)

Tickets There: Do you think allowing yourselves to relax more on the road helped fuel material for Running with the Dogs at all?

TG: Ah yeah, that comes from all the experiences we’ve had. It was Matt’s 21st when we toured with KISS and Motley Crue and Tommy Lee had him backstage and strippers were whipping him, he had a bottle of vodka poured all over his head – I mean how can you have a normal sensible lifestyle while those sorts of things are going on. It definitely helped come up with a few of the ideas.

Tickets There: And what’s it like touring with bands on the level of Motley Crue and KISS? You hear some awful things about support bands can be treated. Did you have any negative experiences?

TG: Everyone, not just Motley Crue, every single person I have toured with has gone beyond what they should have done to help us. The crews as well, every single person and every single band members just made a giant effort to make us feel welcome. Even small things like just someone like that saying hi to you – it makes you feel like it’s worth being on tour just for that.

Tickets There: So, you’re on the road again. Have you got many headlining shows on this leg or are you mostly playing festivals for the summer?

TG: We’ve got the two in Ireland – our first heading shows there actually and then our first headline show in Paris. They’re all going to be wicked. The rest are all festivals and then we have quite a few support slots in between. We’re opening for ZZ Top, Buckcherry and Alterbridge so it’s going to be pretty cool. We have a massive mixture of different places and hopefully later in the year there’ll be lots more coming on.

Tickets There: Is there anywhere in Europe you’re really looking forward to?

TG: Well the last time we went to Dublin we had the wildest time ever. It was great because we did two shows there so we had a night off and had a wild time. Also Italy, for me I love Italy and it’s going to right in the middle of summer so it’ll be buzzing. Everywhere though brings something new.

Tickets There: From the list of festivals you have, you play to a lot of different crowds. How are the reactions when you to play, say Graspop compared to supporting Status Quo?

TG: We’ve done Hammerfest a few times when we’re on with Feed the Rhino – really heavy band and we go down incredibly. I think we have an energy where we just want to go out there and cause absolute chaos by playing classic rock tunes. So we can fit in on any bill.

The response we’ve had from different bands has been incredible. Like recently we went out and support Airbourne and their crowd was just up for it, they wanted to cause a riot. Then we can go on with Quo who are older and more musical and we can go out and have a great show as well.

Tickets There: Is there anyone left that you’d love to go out and support on tour (Apart from Def Leppard and AC/DC of course)?

TG: If Guns N’ Roses get back together (laughs). Could be waiting a bit though.

Tickets There: I better let you head off and get ready for the tour. Just before I do, do you have any plans to tour outside of Europe this year? Just in case your friends on other continents are reading.

TG: It’s something that hasn’t been planned yet, but if something came up we definitely would. We haven’t toured Europe in such a long time and we want to get something big across here. With the record being out here we want to get on the road and support it. If something came up tomorrow, we wouldn’t complain though. Sit around and do nothing or tour? It’s not a question is it (laughs)

The Treatment play Dublin’s Academy 2 this Wednesday, June 18th. Tickets are on sale now from ticketmaster.ie priced €15. Stone Trigger will support on the night.

Or, you could try and win your tickets by clicking here 🙂

 

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Vivian Campbell | Talks 2Tickets

Posted in Interview, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 7, 2014 by Tickets There

vivianInterview

Copyright Defleppard.com

Copyright Defleppard.com

For more than thirty years, Vivian Campbell has been a well-established figure in the world of heavy metal and hard rock. Since cutting his teeth with the influential Sweet Savage in the late seventies, Vivian has continuously worked with some of the genre’s finest artists. Firstly with the iconic DIO, where he wrote and contributed to the band’s first three solo albums, before a falling out with Ronnie led to his departure from the group. However, Vivian quickly landed on his feet when he joined Whitesnake to play on their 1987/88 ‘Whitesnake tour. But it wasn’t until 1992 that he finally found his home with eighties goliaths, Def Leppard and for the past twenty two years he has enjoyed every, high, low, success and challenge that the music world and life can possibly dish out – and he still goes back asking for more. Aside from Def Leppard, Vivian has also found time to release a solo album, play in various side projects, reunite with the original DIO line-up and spend a year with his all-time heroes, Thin Lizzy.

Last year, Vivian was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma but still continued to play with Last In Line and tour with Leppard around the US and Europe without ever missing a show, despite having to travel back and forth between tour dates to Los Angeles for treatment.

With Def Leppard currently camped in Dublin to work on new material, Vivian was good enough to take time out of the studio to talk with Tickets There about their new material, the recent re-issue of their Slang album, ballads, touring, Last In Line and enjoying the experience of short hair for the first time in his life.

Tickets There: Vivian, let’s start with the most recent Leppard release. What made you decide to release Slang ahead of some of the band’s better received albums?

VC: We released Slang firstly because we were able to and more importantly perhaps, because we really didn’t feel it got a fair shake when it came out in 1996. In the middle of the grunge era, it was a really difficult time for bands that represented the eighties, like Def Leppard. So even though we made a record in Slang that sounded of the times, it still really fell on deaf ears (no pun intended). So we decided to re-master and repackage it with all the material from around those times, all the bonus tracks and demo versions..etc. and put it out there in the hope that people will give it a more objective hearing in 2014 than it got in 1996.

Tickets There: At the time Slang was extremely well received by critics, but that still didn’t help it repeat the success of it’s immediate predecessors with the general public. Why do you think that was?

VC: Well, a good example of that was the first single in America, a song called ‘Work It Out’ which was actually my first writing contribution with the band I remember I was very excited about that prospect that my first song with the band would be the leadoff single then. That enthusiasm was very quickly dampened a few weeks after, when someone from our management called me to say the radio stations, like rock stations in America had loved the track and said it would totally fit their format but they just can’t play it because they can’t go on air and announce that was Def Leppard. You know they were playing The Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and stuff like that – you know and they just couldn’t fit Def Leppard into that format – regardless of how good or how bad the music sounded.

So we were between a rock and a hard place you know, it was really a lose-lose situation for us so we really don’t feel that people outside of the really hard-core Leppard fans got a chance to hear this record the first time around.

38223Tickets There: The re-issue has been out now for a few weeks, have you seen much feedback from fans who’ve turned around on their original opinion?

VC: A little bit. It did tend to polarize our traditional fan base and we kind of knew that going into it and that was the chance we took at the time. You know we knew there were people that just hated the sound of the nineties and just wanted Def Leppard to be Def Leppard, but we felt that the onus was on us more to respond to the musical movements of the time and to be influenced more by that than our traditional sound. The most traditional sounding Leppard we’ve made since then was the one that immediately followed Slang, Euphoria – the title of the record has an ‘IA’ like Pyromania and Hysteria. Even the cover and the art-work – everything about it yells a traditional Leppard record. That came out in 1999 when we felt it was ok to be ourselves again. We really were a band in crisis in 1996.

Tickets There: When you started making Slang, what was the goal of the band?

VC: We didn’t really know what we were doing but we knew what we couldn’t do. So we collectively decided that it was best for us not to make a record that sounded too much like Def Leppard and we had to deal with the lyrical content of rock music at the time was very dark and that’s obviously a 180 from songs like ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ and ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ and stuff like that. So we knew we had to adapt to that and write darker lyrical themes and stylistically make a record that sonically sounded of the times. We knew we’d step on somebody’s toes by doing it, but it just felt right at the time.

Tickets There: And when you listen back on it now 18 years later, how do you think it’s held up over these two decades?

VC: To be honest I haven’t listened to it yet – well not the repackaged version. I have a tendency not to listen to Def Leppard music..

Tickets There: (Laughs) I don’t think I’ll print that

VC: Well you know whatever anyone does for a living, I doubt they go home and do it again. For me it’s the same with Leppard. I actually don’t listen to a lot of music in general.

What I remember about the original recording of Slang was that it always had a vibrancy about it. I do think it’s one of Leppard’s better sounding records, to use a word not commonly associated with Leppard, but it’s a more organic sounding record. Just in the way we recorded the drums, Rick (Allen) played acoustic drums and for the guitars we went old school – putting mics in front of cabinets instead of taking directs, which is mostly the way Leppard records. It does have a bit more air in the sonics which gives it a bit more depth as a result. I always remember it being my favourite record sonically from the band.

1992%20-%20Have%20You%20Ever%20back%20cover%20picTickets There: Looking back to those times, what was it like coming from bands like Whitesnake and DIO and coming into Leppard, one of the biggest bands of the nineteen eighties just at the beginning of this big change. Was it what you expected when you joined the band or were things very different than you’d imagined?

VC: Certainly by the time we got to Slang it was all off kilter. At the time, when I joined my biggest concern wasn’t the changing musical trends, because I don’t think any of us had registered that by early 92. My bigger concern was whether I really wanted to join another band and it didn’t matter who it was. I’d been in and out of so many bands at that stage and I didn’t have a good track record. So I’d basically given up on bands at that time and I was under contract to Sony records and I was writing with co-writers and cutting demos with an eye to make a solo record. So I was searching for a music direction of my own at the time and basically given up on trying to make a band, but obviously when the opportunity came to join Def Leppard it was different. I mean, there’s bands and then there’s bands and Leppard are a massive, massive band and a group that I’d always been a fan off. Furthermore I knew Joe (Elliott) socially and I knew the kind of guy he was and even if I didn’t know the other guys in the band, I kind of figured if they’re anything like Joe its probably a different kind of proposition to DIO or Whitesnake.

So both parties had to think long and hard whether it was the right arrangement. Joe felt I was perfect for the band but the guys in Leppard, who didn’t know me [personally] only knew me by reputation and that I could play guitar. The things they didn’t know was A, I could actually sing a bit too and B, that I’m actually not the guy who can’t keep a job (laughs). It’s possible they probably thought that, given my reputation of being hired and fired x2 in DIO and Whitesnake. So we basically went through a courtship that lasted a couple of months over this. It was nothing really to do with the music, it was all about the personalities and whether or not we can make it work. It’s been twenty two years so its definitely working out.

Tickets There: Yes, I don’t think you’re in much danger of losing this gig.

VC: No (laughs), you know people think ‘He must be an asshole to work with because he keeps getting fired’, but there’s a lot more to it than that. DIO and Whitesnake were never real bands and that’s the big difference between them and Leppard. I mean Leppard really is a democratic band. It’s five guys and creatively it is very open. And it’s not sunshine and roses all the time, but we respect each other and we do get along. Whereas DIO, no matter how Ronnie tried to portray it and despite the fact that Jimmy Bain wrote most of the music it was never a real band, it was always Ronnie’s call at the end of the day. Whitesnake as well, history has spoken on behalf of that. There’s been dozens of, and I’m not kidding, that’s not an exaggeration; different musicians through the doors of Whitesnake over the years and the only constant has been Coverdale, so it’s obviously his band you know.

VivianwTickets There: So you’re currently in Dublin with the rest of the band working on new material. How have things been going?

VC: It’s actually going very well. We’ve got about nine things on the go currently, although most of them aren’t finished as, there’s a load of top melodies and lyrics to be written yet. The way the band works is very bizarre and I won’t even begin to try and explain that to you now, but for us this is great progress. especially considering we only started three weeks ago.

Tickets There: These sessions took everyone a little by surprise. Did you intend on coming out with a new album?

VC: When we came here we weren’t sure if we were going to make a full album or try and get a few songs to put out this year, but as things progressed, and they progressed rapidly and very well so we decided to do a full length album. Our goal is to have it done by this time next year and get it released by spring 2015 and to tour extensively on that next year. This year we will be doing a summer tour but it’ll only be the states most likely. We’ll also be coming back to Dublin in May, I wouldn’t say to finish up the record but to do a second instalment. There will need to be a third, possibly fourth instalment to get it finished, but it is progressing very well.

Tickets There: And has the re-issue of Slang changed the way the band is setting up this time at all?

VC: We did set up for the first time since the Slang record to record together, the five of us in real time because we don’t normally do that. We generally build a track up bit by bit and it’s always one guy working and its thoroughly, thoroughly tedious. So it was exciting to actually get in there and play and try to capture some of the dynamics we have as a live band. In the first week we actually got four rock tracks together and that was also  a concern of ours coming into this. We wanted to make sure, even though we want to make a very comprehensive, modern Leppard sounding record, we did want to make sure we had the rock element covered and we actually  for that out of the way like it was no-one’s business in the first week. This is what happens when you play together as a band, you tend to write rock songs as opposed to when you do it individually and you tend to get drawn into doing mid-tempo, little dirgy ballady type stuff. So it’s good that we got to play together and somewhat collaborate with each other on the stuff. Still a lot of it has to be determined, but so far we’ve got the rock element covered and we’re getting into some more studio crafted songs here at the moment and we’ll be wrapping up here in the next couple of days and pick it up again in May.

Tickets There: You’ve made references in the past to your lack of enthusiasm towards ballads. Would you prefer to make an all rock Leppard album?

VC:I’m not against the ballad side of it, but I’ve seen how we get drawn into that a little bit too much at the expense of our rock tracks. If you think that first and foremost the band was a rock band we all come from that rock element and it’s something we needed to address. I don’t think it would be right for the band to go out and make a High ‘N’ Dry style album where every song is pretty much hard rock. I don’t think that’s where we are and I don’t think that’s representative of us as fifty year old men. Having said that, we’re a great, great live band and we can certainly still rock so it was important that a considerable percentage of any album we’re doing is leaning towards rock.

Tickets There: Def Leppard is sometimes seen by fans as a band that’s split on the issue of social media. How do you feel about the changes in the music over the past few years and the move towards releasing music online and moving away from traditional formats?

VC:I personally have done that 100% and have felt that way for several years, but that’s just my personal opinion, that’s not the opinion of the band necessarily. Again it depends who you ask in the band. I think a couple of the guys would be with me on that and a couple of others might be vehemently against it. It is what it is. I’m not saying I embrace it because I think it’s the better thing, but you can’t ignore the facts when they’re staring you in the face. We live in a very rapidly changing world. I’m not personally a fan of social media, I don’t use it for my personal life, but I do enjoy the ability it’s given me to connect to Def Leppard fans and I found it a useful tool to gauge what people are thinking and what [Def Leppard] fans are thinking with regard to us. Like I say  I don’t have a personal Facebook page where I go back and forth with my family, I still believe in more traditional means of communication, but the record business and the whole music business has changed dramatically and anyone who denies it is beyond a  luddite (laughs). Its Darwin’s theory, you evolve or you die.

viv2

Copyright – Sexy Tickets There

Tickets There: You mentioned Leppard are going to tour this year and there’s a tasty rumour going around that it may involve KISS and Poison. Can you shed any light on what’s going to be announced?

VC: I’d say you’d be half right there, but only half right and half wrong (laughs). There will be an announcement of our tour imminently, we’re talking a matter of days. It has to be announced  because we’re almost at summertime.

Tickets There: Do you think fans outside America will see you in 2014?

VC: Not at this point, but never say never. Something might come up at the last moment where we get a great offer to do a European show and upon that we could add a few others, but I would be very surprised. Most likely if we get this record finished for next spring that would see us doing a world tour of sorts, whatever that means nowadays. Certainty Europe, Australia and Japan would be our hope.

Tickets There: Last year, Def Leppard played a massive successful residency in Las Vegas that focused on the Hysteria Album. Does it look likely we’ll see a Viva Pyromania residency soon?

VC: We have a standing invitation to do that again whenever it suits us. It’s just a question of how long we end up touring this summer versus our desire to get this record finished. Personally I’d be surprised if that happened in 2014, but I wouldn’t be shocked it happened in early 2015.

Tickets There: That sounds better, I think I could afford it by then.

VC:  (Laughs)

Tickets There: I just want to talk a little bit, if you have time about your work with Last In Line

VC: Absolutely, I’ve always got time to talk about that (laughs). I’m really passionate about (L.I.L.). I really enjoy playing with Vinny Appice and Jimmy Bain again.

Tickets There: Can you tell us how you started playing with the guys after so many years apart?

VC: I blame Thin Lizzy for it. That’s where it happened again that I got a few months touring Europe and the States with Lizzy in 2011 as a stunt guitar player and that really reignited my passion for the instrument. Thin Lizzy were such an influential band to me growing up and playing those songs, playing ‘Black Rose’, ‘Jailbreak’ and ‘Emerald’ and ‘Don’t Believe a Word’, playing all those great songs that I knew inside out onstage with Brian Downey and Scott Gorham, it brought me back to being fifteen again and reminded me of why it is I love playing Guitar.

1004657_497593280335574_1518072312_nAs soon as I came of that tour I called Vinny and I called Jimmy and we just got together, into a rehearsal room and that’s all it was. I just wanted to play with them again, play some rock and it just sounded so great. We hadn’t played together in twenty seven years and it literally sounded like it had only been twenty seven minutes. The chemistry was just there, it had never gone away and it’s so tight just to play with those guys.

Then one thing led to another. Vinny said he knew this singer called Andrew Freeman so he invited Andy down that day. Andy came down and knew the songs so started singing. Then we talked, jokingly that we should do a gig or two. One thing led to another and we ended up doing a handful of shows last year despite a lot of setbacks and we managed to get the ball rolling on it. We started with a few local shows in Southern California, Las Vegas and what not. Now we’re actually going in to record some new music, even though that was never our intention. It just seemed the next logical step after we’d done some shows, it just seemed right to take it a stage further and try to create a sound that’s ours, not just trying to recreate the DIO sound.

Tickets There: You mentioned earlier that the DIO was such a major factor of the original band, how is the new music sounding and how can you avoid DIO’s legacy hanging over it?

VC: It’s obviously always going to sound a bit like DIO, We’re playing those songs that we wrote and recorded. The difference is that Andy doesn’t sound anything like Ronnie and that’s actually what motivated me to go out and do some gigs. If he’d come in there being a Ronnie clone I’d have been very disinclined to go any further with it because I don’t want it to just be a tribute to Ronnie’s voice. Furthermore I think that Ronnie is a really, really tough act to try and duplicate. He had such a unique sounding voice. So the fact that Andy didn’t sound anything like him really appealed to me. The reason for that was that it put the focus on the songs and the original band. The focus goes to the guitar, the bass and the drums and therefore the guys that made the records. Not only did we make those records, but what a lot of people don’t even realize is that we wrote the songs […] obviously including Ronnie’s input which was monumental but there was a real sound that we had, the fact that Andy didn’t sound like Ronnie somehow resonated with me that it was ok to go out and play those songs and have the focus somewhere else.

1013077_497595363668699_1603434518_nPeople then started asking me, ‘are you going to start making new music’. At first I said no because it was never on my field of thought, but then it became more apparent that for Last In Line to move forward and to be taken to that next level, that’s what we needed to do. Furthermore we got into the studio just a few weeks ago, in early January and started writing. Just Jimmy, Vinnie and myself and it was so effortless that way we came across new music it just fell out of us like it did on the first record, on Holy Diver. It was so easy for us to come up with musical ideas. We act as great springboards for each other. Like when I play something for the guys, they instinctively know where to go and vice versa. We came up with a half a dozen song ideas in a matter of days. Then Andy came in and we exchanged vocal and melody ideas and we’re kind of kicking around in the middle stage between now and April 20th when we’re going into the studio to start recording. Hopefully it’ll finally gel and that final 5/10% will come into place. It really is an exciting thing for me, but it’s a very different way to the way Def Leppard writes and records which is also equally invigorating.   

Tickets There: And will you be letting any ballads through on the Last In Line album?

VC: Fuck no (laughs)

Tickets There: As if Def Leppard and Last In Line wasn’t enough, there’s also reports that you’re planning a second solo album. Have you found time to work on that at all?

VC: That’s kind of open ended for me. There’s no actual agenda for it. Obviously the Leppard thing is what it is and I’ve told you the schedule or the proposed schedule for that. With Last In Line I would hope to have a record done at some point this year. As regards my record I’ve already gone in and started on six tracks. I’ve six backing tracks completed and I’ve got the songs written, I’ve got the lyrics and melodies or them. I will at some point this summer get those six finished. My only real concerns with regards to that is if I can physically sing all of them. There might be one or two of them that are out of my range and out of my comfort zone as a singer.

I won’t really know till I try how it happens, but I may have to bring in a guest singer. At this stage it’s my intention to do it all on my own and it’s going to be very much be rock record. That’s not to say there might not be a ballad on that (laughs), but my focus is on making a rock record. There’ll be a lot of guitar, riff oriented songs. On the tracks I’ve cut so far I used some of the guys from a bar band I play with back in Los Angeles occasionally, all stellar musicians.

Tickets There: Moving back to last year, you went through a very traumatizing experience and I believe you were forced to cut your hair for the first time since you were eleven?

vivian4VC: (Laughs) That was actually one of the benefits. Long hair, I let that identify me. It becomes so much part of your identity when you have your hair long your whole adult life. Then there’s this fear of letting go of it. I would never, or at least very, very reluctantly ever have had my hair cut. Of course then when you have chemo you don’t have a choice, it just falls out. I was kind of forced into the issue and I’m actually very thankful for it because I’m enjoying life with short hair and the convenience of it. A lot of people have actually said it makes me look younger so I’m fine with it (laughs).

Tickets There: And how has recovery been going?

VC: I completed around six months of chemo and so far so good. Although truth be told I have to go in and do another biopsy when I get back to LA in two weeks as my last scan wasn’t very clean. It might be nothing or it might be that it hasn’t all gone away yet, in which case I’m really not that concerned about it. It’s a process that you just have to go through and it’s one of the most curable forms of cancer and I’m very fortunate that mine was caught very, very early in its progression. I’m not very worried about it, but it’s an inconvenience to go through the process.

Tickets There: Rather than back down or let it affect you, you went out last year and did a massive amount of work and touring with Leppard and Last In Line. How were you able to put yourself though all that and still deliver every day?

VC: Well actually I was very thankful that I could. I think it would have been physically and mentally more difficult to go through for me if I didn’t have my work to do. I actually wished that Leppard had some more shows last summer. I’m not tooting my own horn here, but I was physically very strong going into it all. Even before I was diagnosed I was relatively fit, being vegetarian for thirty years or so. I work out a lot, play football a lot and run a lot and I’ve been working with a trainer regularly for years. Then when I was diagnosed I ramped up my training and built up a lot of muscle mass as I knew I was going to lose a lot through chemo. With cancer there’s all sorts of different levels and of course people personal pain management threshold and tolerance levels so either my chemo wasn’t as severe as I have just enough stubborn Irish tolerance that I was able to keep going (laughs).

Tickets There would like to wish Vivian many, many thanks for participating in this interview and we wish you well with your treatment, the Last In Line album and of course the next sessions with Leppard.

INTERVIEW: Mark Hamilton (ASH)

Posted in Interview, IRISH NOISE!, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2011 by Tickets There

© Phil O'Kane - http://www.icedcoffee.ie

Since forming nearly two decades ago, ASH have become the brightest champions of alternative / pop / punk rock to emerge from Northern Ireland. Their career is practically one long repertoire of greatest hits and there’s no sings of stopping them, especially since they’re all at least ten years younger than any other band with similar life spans. In 2009 they embarked on the extremely adventurous challenge of releasing 26 singles within the space of 12 months, working out at a new single every fortnight. This was done to combat the boredom they had begun to encounter while strapped into the machine that is, the music business. Titled the A-Z singles, the project proved to be a massive success and not only showed that Ash could more than hold their own in the ever changing landscape of releasing music, but it also added a healthy new dose of incredible music for fans to enjoy.

2011 sees the band gearing up for a summer tour that’ll take in dates across mainland Europe, Japan the UK and Eire, including dates in Dublin, Portrush, Belfast, Sligo and Cork. We managed to catch bassist Mark Hamilton for a quick chat while the band were camped in London rehearsing (or ‘messing around’ in Mark’s words), to discuss the success and challenges of the A-Z project, the forthcoming tour, band changes, grotesque videos, debauchery filled documentaries and parenthood…not in that order.

TT:       So the tour kicks off this weekend, are you looking forward to it?

Mark:   Ah yeah, obviously there’s a lot of things to get ready. Number one we haven’t played in six months and number two we’ve got a new drummer, or a stand in drummer for this tour because Rick’s (McMurray) about to become a da.

TT:       Really? I hadn’t heard. When is the baby due?

Mark:   It’s overdue now so he’s waiting with bated breath for the baby to arrive and we’ve got in Alan (Lynn) from LaFaro, who are friends of ours from Belfast. Rick’s at home with his feet up, having his last few days of freedom before the baby arrives. I’ve got a two year old and he does not know what’s about to hit him (laughs).

TT:       Speaking of bringing in other musicians, Last year you roped in Russell Lissack from Bloc Party for your live shows. Will he be joining you for this tour?

Mark:   Russell’s got some other things he’s got to do for the next couple of weeks so unfortunately he won’t be with us for June, but he will be back in July. We’ll just be a three piece in June and then Rick and Russell will be back in July so the four of us will be back again, just in time for the show in Cork.

TT:       Before you hired Russell, did you have anyone else in mind for the spot?

Ehm, he was the first person we thought of. We knew that Bloc Party were taking a bit of a break, cause Kele (Okereke) was doing his solo album, so we’d met Russell on tour in the past and he seemed like an obvious fit. We knew that he’d played in an Ash covers band when he was younger so it seemed like such an obvious person to ask and it worked out really well. We didn’t really think of anyone else, it was just perfect. So, the answer to that’s no (laughs). The first person we thought of worked out.

TT:       You’ve mentioned before that you miss Charlotte in the band and that having another person on stage helps add layers to your live sound. Would you ever consider recruiting another musician full time or do ye want to remain a three piece?

Mark:   I think it works in the studio and creatively and stuff to just be a three piece, but it’s been fun having Russell around on tour and it’s certainly worth while having another guitar. A lot of the songs have more than one guitar and have dual guitar parts so it works live. Going forward Russell will go back to Bloc Party whenever they start up again. I don’t know, we haven’t really looked that far ahead yet.

TT:       Going back to the tour, Any hints about the set-list you’re planning or will it change from date to date?

Mark:   Ah we’re just working that out. Obviously all the core singles that people expect to hear will be in there and then we’ll mix in some of the new A-Z songs and I guess a selection of albums tracks from all the years. We’ve essentially got eight albums worth of material to choose from so…

TT:       You’re not stuck for a few tunes?

Mark:   We’re not no (laughs), everyone’s going to hear what they want. We’ll go up and play for an hour and half and hopefully everyone will be happy enough.

TT:       Have you ever considered doing a full tour of every A-Z single?

We talked about doing that once, but then we just thought it would be too much new music for people. I don’t know, we talked about it very briefly and maybe it’s something we could look at again, but I’m not sure. It would be a pretty long show (laughs). Would anyone have an attention span to listen to like, three and half hours of new music? (laughs).

TT:       Speaking of the A-Z, A few years ago you publicly announced that you would stop using conventional album formats to release your music and soon after you released the A-Z single series. Now that it’s all over, are you happy with the decision you made?

Mark:   Well, I think we said that knowing what we were going to do next, well having an idea of what we wanted to do next with the A-Z and it was the biggest artistic challenge and project we’ve ever worked on. I don’t know if we’ll every try to do something that big again because it’s essentially four albums worth of music when you count all the tracks that we didn’t use, because we recorded something like 56 songs.

It was the biggest creative challenge that we’ve ever undertaken but we’ll try to do something inventive and something different again, but maybe not quite as BIG (exhausted sounding). I don’t know how we’ll go about doing that yet. You have to come up with new ideas and the idea of releasing another 12 track album just doesn’t sound very appealing. The A-Z idea was a very daunting idea and that fact that we were going to be making it up as we were going along was quite exciting as well.

TT:       You didn’t have all the songs written in advance?

Mark:   No, not all of them all. We certainly had a bunch of then but not all. We were still writing them as they were being released.

TT:       Did you find it harder to promote the series compared to an album?

Mark:   Well the art work was very generic, it was basically just a colour and a letter (laughs). That was the thing that tied everything together. For videos we kind of picked 5 main singles and we allocated small budgets for each one. It was funded from our own pockets so there were only low budgets allocated for those (few singles) and you can’t afford to make 26 videos.

They were mostly pitched on-line and that’s the way we did it. Most of the things we did were on Facebook or social media on the net. We released through our own Atomic Heart label so we didn’t have the big machine of the record company advertising campaign behind us with back pages of the NME advertising our album ya know? It just wasn’t there any more so it was more streamlined, a different kettle of fish altogether.

TT:       You  mention that you wrote almost 50 songs for the release. Did you hold back at all for future projects or are you working on all fresh material for the next release?

Mark:   Ah no as most of them have been released in some shape or form. A lot of them have been used as bonus tracks in different ways. Some were given away as bonus tracks in Japan, a lot of them were given away as bonus tracks to subscribers on the website. Some were also given away on ITunes and websites, so they all ended up getting used inevitably. There’s probably a handful that are still left but they will get used, probably not on a new project but they’ll get used as bonus tracks in some shape of form in the future.

TT:       Did you worry at all about trying to keep people’s attention for the year while you were doing the project?

Mark:   It was much more low key because of the very nature of it, but I think our fans were very engaged with it because they had new music coming every two weeks and they had something to look forward to and that was quite exciting. Obviously we didn’t have the big public profile around the whole thing but, the core fan base were very engaged throughout. It was interesting to see how it played out.

TT:      Over the past few years you’ve been filming footage for your very own ‘slasher’ flick and last year finally saw some of this footage appear. The one question of everyone’s mind is what happens next and when do we get to see it?

Mark:   Oh yeah, there’s more. We kind of did a bit on the Binary video, but there’s a good bit more. I don’t know when it’ll drop it though, but we probably won’t wait too long. There’s a lot of the Coldplay boys in it so we’re kind of holding it until they come back with new material. Whenever their profiles back up it’ll come out (laughs).

TT:       The question of adventurous music videos has come up in the past with the video for ‘Carnal Love’ being an excellent example. Have you ever entertained the notion of exploring further into the film field?

Mark:   Carnal love, the weird food fetish one (laughs), very strange. I guess, when you start a band you don’t do it to make videos let’s say, but it’s one of those things you end up having to do. Whenever we started we thought they were really annoying, ‘oh you’ve got to make videos, you’ve got to enjoy making them and look the way the director’s making you look’. They kind of annoyed us to start with and then after a while we realized we should probably get a bit more involved in them and start, you know, have a bit of fun with them. So over time we got more involved and have more fun making them. The Carnal Love video is quite twisted (laughs).

TT: ASH fans are always speculating about another notorious video you made during the making if 1977. Any chance that’ll ever see the light of day?

Mark:   Yes actually, we had a meeting about that this morning. It was a tour documentary filmed over a year and a half  after 1977 came out and It’s been hidden away in a vault for almost fifteen years. We’ve always been wondering when we’re going to release this thing and I think we’ve worked out a way how that’s going to be done. It’ll probably be released before the end of the year.

TT:       Are the rumours about the bands various ‘Dionysian’ escapades true?

Mark:   Well, as you say at the time we didn’t want it to be released because we didn’t want out parents to disown us (laughs).

TT:       For nearly twenty years Ash’s core line up of yourself, Rick and Tim have survived massive success, line-up changes in one form or another, major label backing, DIY creativeness, constantly changing styles of popular music, all the while never losing your energy or ending up in court suing each other. What’s the ASH secret that as alluded so many other popular bands?

Mark:   Ah, I don’t know. We’re basically just mates from school. I guess it’s become like a second family and families have fights and feuds or whatever but you always get over it. When you’re younger you can be a lot more precious about your music and more stubborn and not willing to bend or try new things out. Now we’re older and we try to change and experiment more and try things out that we wouldn’t have when we were younger. For example, ‘Twilight of Innocents’ or ‘White Rabbit’, are maybe not what you’d call ‘classic Ash’.

TT:       A few years ago you set up your own record label to release music through. Have you enjoyed the freedom this has brought you?

Mark:   Oh yeah, you can do exactly what you want you know? We didn’t have to answer to anybody so in that way it was nice (laughs).

TT:       Have you found it any harder getting your name out there without the record company backing and Do you think things have changed a lot since when you first started out?

Mark:   To some degree you’ve got a prejudice there, or preconceptions of who you are. You know, we’re not a new band so we’re not going to get that media hype around us because we’ve essentially got two decades of what people think we are. So, even if we come out with new material which sounds like nothing we’ve done in the past, people will still think ‘oh it’s Ash’. To some degree you’re always going to be fighting against that, but you also have to respect that. We just have to go out there and try to think of clever ways to catch peoples imagination and that’s what we’ll keep trying to do.

The A-Z single Vol. I & II or on sale now. Catch ASH on tour in 2011 at the following dates.

03/06/11 – Rock im Park Festival, Germany
04/06/11 – Rock am Ring Festival, Germany
06/06/11 – Dublin Whelans, Ireland
07/06/11 – Portrush Playhouse, N. Ireland
08/06/11 – Belfast Empire, N. Ireland
10/06/11 – Temple House Festival, Ireland
11/06/11 – Pinkpop Festival, Holland
12/06/11 – Breda Club Mezz, Holland
14/06/11 – Abart Zurich, Switzerland
16/06/11 – Roma Vintage, Italy
17/06/11 – Rock Planet in Pinarella di Cervia, Italy
18/06/11 – Trouble Festival, Italy
16/07/11 – Naon-Mugen Festival, Japan
24/07/11 – Sheffield Tramlines Festival, UK
25/07/11 – York The Duchess, UK
27/07/11 – Coventry Kasbah, UK
28/07/11 – Bath Komedia, UK
29/07/11 – Southend Chinnery’s, UK
30/07/11 – Indiependence Festival, Ireland