Alright, so the madness really began in June. It kicked off with Sweden Rock Festival, which is my second home. I’ve been to every single festival since 1994, with the exception of 1996 when I lived in the States. Working for the magazine (Sweden Rock Magazine) has made it a natural place to be every summer, doing reviews and interviews.
This year there was ONE main assignment, and it was altogether in my own name, for this blog and for YouTube.
After a few months of contact, I asked Gus G for an interview. I didn’t think he would be able to do it when he was out with Ozzy. I know that time is rarely the musician’s own when he’s a part of a huge machinery like Ozzy’s. However, he assured me that he’d be happy to do the interview and after a few messages back and forth with his manager, it was settled.
THE GUS G EXCLUSIVE SWEDEN ROCK INTERVIEW
That day was crazy. Cellphones never work on the Sweden Rock premises, so when the manager texted me to ask where the cameraman and I were, I couldn’t get my message through to him.He wanted us to get to the backstage area – and I know what that means. That means breaking into FORT-fuckin’-KNOX…! Are you kidding me?!? All the way back to Ozzy’s own backstage area, without the very exclusive pass that allows you through all the guarded gates to “the holy grail”? Yeah, that would be interesting.
But I was not about to let that stop me. After a few stressful minutes, I finally got hold of someone who had the right credentials to escort us all the way back there, so even with the extremely tight time-schedule it could be done.
We set up the cameras and lights while they went to get Gus. The timing was perfect. JUST as I had said the last finishing phrases to wrap up the interview – Thin Lizzy hit the Rock Stage. Some things are just meant to happen. I was very pleased with the interview (eventhough some internet trolls who don’t like Gus (Zakk-fans?), have done their best to “dislike” the video – f**k them, lol!)
WHITESNAKE WITH SPECIAL GUESTS BERNIE MARSDEN & ADRIAN VANDENBERG
The festival was definitely memorable for many reasons. The exclusive Gus G-interview was one of the highlights. Another one was the historic, fantastic performance by Whitesnake (that for some reason did not impress the colleague who reviewed their show, as much as it impressed me).It was an extremely emotional experience for me. When Bernie Marsden walked up on stage joining David, I couldn’t believe it. It was amazing, could barely believe it was happening. And as if that wasn’t enough – there comes Adrian Vandenberg as well! FOUR Whitesnake-guitarists on stage together at the same time…! How many times will I ever get to see THAT again?!
I uploaded a shaky video of it on YouTube that night before I passed out on the couch, and it’s one of the most viewed videos on my channel with its almost 18.000 views. Here’s another, shorter clip of are guys taking a bow:
JUDAS PRIEST – THE PRESS CONFERENCE
My main purpose with attending the Judas Priest press conference this time, was to get a feel of the chemistry between the “older priests” and the “new kid on the block” – Richie Faulkner. I was in the press-tent long before anyone else got there, securing my front row chair. That’s where the Russian girl from Classic Rock Magazine, Vera, found me. She remembered me from a few years before when she had seen me in the exact same place – also waiting for Priest. :-) This year we became friends and she visited me in Malmö a few months later.
As for the press conference, I got a very positive impression of Richie and it helped me to shake that frustration of K.K being out of the band. And although I, quite honestly, wasn’t that impressed by Judas Priest’s show at Sweden Rock, Richie did a great job. I hadn’t expected that – but he turned out to be a valuable addition to Priest with his youthful energy.
SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL 2011
JOAN JETT: The press conference was one of the best not only this year, but the past few years. I always imagined Joan being this moody badass “whattafuck”-kind of chick. But she was very warm and intelligent, and most of all the had a refreshing self-distance and sense of humor.
Once she got onstage, she showed why she has been on the top since the 70’s. She’s genuine and 100% rock’n’roll, there’s no question about it. The lady is impressive in every single way, all I can say is…RESPECT!
LEE AARON: Couldn’t believe how great she looked and the energy she had after all these years. Maybe I didn’t expect the “poppy” outfit, but she still had her powerhouse-voice and she definitely worked the stage when she entered it around noon, the last day of the festival. The biggest disappointment was that I LOST the video of her press conference!! I asked her a few questions that she really took time to answer, and then something went wrong during the transfer from the SD-card to the computer and it just disappeared. :-(( Gah!
MR BIG: I’ve always loved Mr Big. Call them whimpy or whatever, I don’t care. Paul Gilbert is a genious, Eric Martin is one of the most gifted singers in the business, Pat Torpey is a great but very underestimated drummer and Billy Sheehan – hey… There’s only one Bassplayer DeLuxe, and that’s Billy. Everybody knew their songs, they played like gods, and basically – my face ached afterwards cause I had been smiling way too much and too long!
Queensrÿche sounded terrible. I’ve never in my life heard them sounding so bad. Or maybe I should just say that Geoff Tate didn’t have a good day… Zakk Wylde left a very good impression at his press conference. He was cool, yet respectful and I think he handled the press very well. :-)
ROADTRIP TO OZZY – Germany & Luxembourg
After Sweden Rock Festival, I had a few days to prepare for my next trip – down to Munich in Germany to see Ozzy. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Munich, that I had a chance to drive around in, as I rented a car at the airport because I was going to continue down to Luxembourg as well two days later.
Anett (Jon Oliva’s European tour manager) and her husband Marcus, had invited me to come and stay with them on my way to Luxembourg, so after the Munich-gig I drove down there. It has its advantages to get a rental car, you get to see beautiful sceneries, so the drive to the little village was definitely worth the trip. :-)
After a really nice stay, catching up with Anett and Marcus (and meeting their rock’n’roll Dobermann-dog Slash! :-)) I continued on my way and drove down to Luxembourg. I stood in line outside Rockhal for several hours, cause I had nothing better to do, and when you travel like that to see a show, you don’t want to risk not seeing anything, so…
I stood there pretty much all day – then when the doors opened somebody told me that my “kind” of ticket had to be picked up somewhere else (WTF!!!) so I lost my place in line and was so pissed off, that people just moved out of my way when I walked back into the arena with black smoke coming out of my ears.
I made it all the way to the front row, much with the help of a really nice girl who let me have her spot, because she thought I “should” have it as I had travelled that far. That’s the kind of people you remember with thankfulness when you go on these road trips. :-)
Blogs from the Germany/Luxemburg roadtrips:
GRASPOP METAL MEETING in Belgium
The week after Munich and Luxembourg, I took off to Belgium with my friend Bianca, to my other favorite festival: GRASPOP Metal Meeting.
Bianca wanted to see Ozzy, because she’s never seen him before, and for me it would also mean a double-dose of Gus G because Firewind were also playing. Well… Ozzy got sick and the show was cancelled. As if that wasn’t enough, the rain was pissing down.
But… I got to see Firewind at least, and also discovered a freaking great band from Belgium, Channel Zero, that normally wouldn’t be the kind of band I’d listen to, but their energy was hard to miss…! Especially their front man Franky was impressive, his aggressive confidence fit the music perfectly and the crowd went wild!
THE CHANNEL ZERO BLOG HERE.
[This is what I tried to film during their set – as you can see, it was pretty wild, lol…!]
Dispite the mud and the very drunk rockers that we had to zig-zag to avoid stepping on, it was a great festival.
[Bianca and me being super-sexy in our blue rain ponchos, lol! ;P]
THESSALONIKI (GREECE) – Stop That Sound-festival
I went back to Sweden for a short break, before heading out on my next trip – all the way down to sunny Greece. Stop That Sound-festival in Thessaloniki, with headliners Judas Priest and Whitesnake, and of course home-boys Firewind. THAT story is way too long to even attempt summarizing, so I’ll just direct you straight to the blogs from that visit:
SONISPHERE FESTIVAL – England
Straight after that, I headed from Thessaloniki airport, to London – for the SONISPHERE festival.
Metallica headlined it, and I bet I must have been the only one who didn’t give a shit about Metallica. I never have, I never will. Never understood their greatness. However, I wanted to see Firewind and MEGADETH, most of all. I wasn’t disappointed by any of those bands. Megadeth always delivers. So did Anthrax by the way. :-)
JUDAS PRIEST in Manchester, UK and OZZY in Gdansk, Poland & Smukfest, Denmark
The weekend after Sonisphere, I took off back to England again. This time to Manchester to see Judas Priest. I loved the city, so much that I decided to choose Manchester in favor of London for concerts in the future. The show at Manchester Apollo was the best I’ve seen Priest do in a long time. Also met up with Ronnie, an internet friend that has been reading my diaries and blogs online since the very early days of Internet. Always nice to meet people in person too.
Next stop was Ozzy in Gdansk, Poland. I was really sick and should have been in bed, but there was no way I was going to cancel the trip. I slept everywhere I could. Spent the first day in bed at the super-cool designer hotel La-La-La, and most of the day of the show. It was raining anyway and of course I had forgotten to bring a rain-poncho, which I normally ALWAYS bring with me.
No matter how sick I was, it was worth it. Ozzy rules. And the Polish fans were definitely hardcore. I’m glad I went, eventhougI got lost and all that, but it goes with the territory. :-)
[OZZY played Ergo Arena in Sopot/Gdansk, Poland]
I only had one day to recover before I drove to Smukfest in Denmark to see the last Ozzy-show of the European tour. It was PISSING down all day, I had mud up to my knees! Crazy! The stage and the festival itself was kind of…different, and I suppose I expected something extraordinary because it was the last gig of the tour. But when Ozzy walks offstage – he’s done. So, no encores, no fireworks, no nothing. Yet, that was worth it too, I had fun!
[Ozzy finished his European tour on the left stage at Smukfest, Skanderborg, Denmark]
FIREWIND, FIREWIND AND MORE FIREWIND
Most of September was commited for Firewind. I spent most of that month on trains, buses, in taxis and on planes. Three gigs in England (and Scotland) – Manchester, Glasgow, Reading. Reading was Gus G’s birthday and he was celebrated with a cake onstage. Video was, of course, posted. This was also the tour where they had a “stand in”-singer, Mats Levén (who’s also fronted Yngwie’s band, almong others)
Then I took a break for a short while, before continuing down to the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany with yet another rental car (that I got at the airport – that roadtrip was described in the Firewind-blog, too much to tell for a short summary – check it out HERE).
You would have thought I would get sick of seeing the same band, travelling to some godforsaken places and sleeping in a car to save money, but no – I loved it! They are brilliant, I would do it all over again!
MEETING UP WITH CROATIAN TALENT – Vili Kovac in Split
The day after I came home from the Benelux/Germany-Firewind-tour, I only had time to re-pack my suitcase and head down to see my dad in Croatia for a REAL vacation. It was a vacation so much that I got restless, I’m not used to doing nothing.
But the vacation was saved by a meeting with a great, talented young Croatian singer, who I had first discovered the year before when I was on vacation, as he was competing in the Croatian version of American Idol. I thought he was great, one of those that stands out – not only with his voice but also with his personality.
He came to Split just for one day, so I got to meet the guy. Really nice dude, he played some of his own unreleased stuff for me and also some Croatian and Bosnian bands that I hadn’t heard before that were actually worth checking out.
Most of all I was a bit frustrated to learn that he might not be able to record something in English and reach a wider audience outside of Croatia – which I think he should. But – the modern world is shrinking so you never know. Maybe one day. Even on vacation I managed to squeeze in something music-related, thank god! :-)
[Ripper Owens and Vili Kovac]
And then when I came back to Sweden – there was reuniting with old friend SEBASTIAN BACH (video) and some other stuff… In part three which is coming up!