Just got home – after having been “on the road” for well… 29 hours in total – including hanging at airports just waiting and waiting for the next flight. The destination was São Paulo and the reason for the trip was of course the annual MONSTERS OF ROCK festival.
I went there to see Ozzy, that was my initial reason for going. And he didn’t disappoint me, he never does. But I’m happy to say that TWO bands/artists totally made my entire festival, and one of those bands was totally unexpected.
The first artist that totally blew me away was The MASTER: Yngwie Malmsteen. I’ve been a fan of his since the 80’s, and I always get a smile on my face when remembering the meetings/interviews I had with him back then, including a very spontaneous, informal radio interview live on the air when he was visiting Sweden back in the early 90’s and he just got engaged to his then girlfriend Erica Norberg.
Anyway, I’ve loved his music since god knows when, but I don’t get to see him that often, and so when he ran out on stage at the Monsters of Rock in São Paulo it was a treat like you wouldn’t believe. But what shocked me, was something that happened that was totally out of my control: I felt how I got all teared up….before I knew it I was crying like a baby!
I just don’t cry in public EVER, it totally ruins my image. :) And it freaking ruins my makeup too. Yet there I was in a crowd of a few thousand people, bawling my eyes out cause it was just so beautiful, so amazing, just so ridiculously BRILLIANT that I couldnt help myself. It touched me. One thing is for sure – that doesn’t happen often at ALL.
The last times I remember it happening was back in 2000 when Halford came to Malmo to perform with his own band Halford – and he started singing Victim of Changes. Somehow that just made me snap, hearing my greatest hero sing THAT song, in my home town, only an arms length away. I was crying like a kid – tears of joy. :)
Second time was Whitesnake at Sweden Rock Festival when Coverdale had a surprise. Well TWO actually. First he brought out Bernie Marsden on stage, which only THAT was enough to make me feel moved. Then he brings out Adrian Vandenberg as well and oh boy I cried and cried like a total FREAK and probably looked like a bad version of Alice Cooper with my makeup running down my face…! It was just one of those moments that grabs your heart. And now, it was Yngwie.
I don’t care that people call him “sloppy” when he plays live, cause even on his WORST day he’s better than anyone else, he simply doesn’t have ANY competition! There might be technical wizards out there, you’ve got the Steve Vais and the Paul Gilberts, and I love those guys, but when it comes to the WHOLE package – the music, the technical skills, the songs, the performance, the unique sound, the heart and soul in every single note he plays…
There is a reason why Yngwie is worshipped by every guitarist out there, and has been for decades. He’s just the Master, the One and Only and the best of them all. The biggest dream of any Strat must be to end up in the hands of Yngwie Malmsteen, that’s the ultimate honor. :) Basically – if ANYTHING touched me deeply and for REAL at that festival, it was Yngwie. He’s amazing and he brightened my day! I can’t wait to see him in Bucharest, Romania soon!
[Not sharing any of my own videos, as I hear that Yngwie is one of those artists that has “people around him” who love to report YouTube videos and get accounts closed down. I’ve had enough of that shit with Manowar, thank you very much. So, I’m stealing a video from someone else :D]
The absolutely biggest surprise though, was UNISONIC with Michael Kiske on vocals. Why was that such a surprise? Simply because I’ve had a Kiske-allergy most of my life, since I heard him with Helloween and developed an absolute resistance against that German galoping-style metal and Dickinson-wannabe vocals. And his vibrato got on my nerves, I just could NOT listen to Kiske or Helloween, not my cup of tea at ALL. That, of course led to that I ignored anything he did, cause I already “knew” that I didn’t like the guy.
Well… He totally turned me around. I have now officially resigned and can willingly admit that Michael Kiske is unbelievable. OR should I say EXCEPTIONAL?? :D
Somebody jokingly commented on my sudden change of mind with: “He just needed a couple of decades to mature and get over the helium phase for you, eh?” And yeah, I guess that pretty much sums it all up. :)
I love what he does now, his voice is a pleasure for the ears, and it’s impressive what he can still do – and nail it effortlessly LIVE! I found myself sitting at the airport in São Paulo digging through interviews and videos on YouTube to learn more about the vocalist that I’ve spent the last two-three decades being allergic to. ;) I’ve got some catching up to do!
Not only did I get blown away by Kiske’s vocals and presence on stage, I was also impressed to learn more about him as a person through interviews and essays he’s written. Holy cow, he’s not an airhead, that just adds to the plus side. I’m glad I was stuck there in the front row and I’m glad I got to see Unisonic’s show.
Kiske is a great commander of a stage and a big crowd. There is a Halford-element there, the very cool, laid back style that still exudes strength and confidence – yet also shows a great boyish sense of humor and self-distance. The whole band came to São Paulo, rocked a few thousand crazy metalheads, and could leave with a sense of pride and accomplishment! THAT, ladies and gentlemen, was just AMAZING!
I don’t need to sit here and talk a whole lot – just see and listen for yourself. This kicks major ass, and I can’t wait to see these guys live again, wherever and whenever! Alright…. “I Want Out” got over 12 000 views, but THIS is the song I want to share first, because I absolutely love it! Holy f***!!
And…the video that most people have wanted to watch cause it’s a classic…
It will be a quiet evening today. Things really happen very quickly in this fickle business…
An interview opportunity turned up only about a day ago and was supposed to take place here in Malmo this afternoon or evening.
The tour manager didn’t get back to me all day. But he finally explained why the whole thing fell through – in the last minute: The interviewee was sick and had to rest today, in order to perform scheduled duties tomorrow. An explanation and an apology is all I need. Everything OK, no prob.
Maybe sometimes it’s only a last minute excuse for something else, but that’s fine, as long as people don’t compromise my time.
Looking back, there have been a few interviews from hell. Artists that have only answered “yes” or “no” to everything, artists that got drunk, turned the interview into a circus, trashed the bar before passing out, artists who have flirted instead of doing their job, and well, a little bit of everything. ;P
Not only the artists, the people around them can be quite a pain in the ass too.
The first time I experienced it was back in 1990 when Alice Cooper was in Malmo and was staying at the SAS Royal Hotel. I had an interview scheduled and had booked a photographer as this was supposed to be a center spread. A professional photographer who charges by the hour. You don’t want to waste his time.
Alice’s assistant called me three or four times that day telling me that it WAS okay with the photo-session, then it wasn’t okay, then it was…and then it wasn’t.
I kept calling the photographer yes-no-yes-no... It was embarrassing and annoying. It all ended with this: I wasn’t allowed to bring a photographer, but was welcome to do the interview on my own.
Thank god I brought my own little simple camera – and then asked the assistant to take a pic of Alice and me. It wasn’t a good shot, but it’s the ONLY one from THAT particular meeting. I’ll never forget the drama though!
[Alice Cooper in his hotel room at SAS Radisson, 1990]
A similar thing happened with Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P) in the beginning of 2000 when W.A.S.P played in Malmo. My cellphone kept ringing off the hook that day. Blackie would do the interview. Blackie was not going to do the interview. Blackie WAS going to…. oh, geeez! The last thing I heard was that Blackie was fine with doing the interview and I was welcome to the venue at five o’clock or whatever it was, right after sound check.
I got there, set up my recorder, prepared my questions… I looked up, and in walks… Stet Howland (the drummer)!??
They sent STET to do the interview instead of Blackie – cause “the man” had decided to go and TAKE A NAP on the bus…. *sigh* Don’t get me wrong, Stet is a funny and a nice guy, but you want to know who you will be talking to BEFORE you get there.
Or Pete Steele – Type O Negative (RIP) he acted like a rock star diva at first. He did the interview alright, and it was a really good and interesting one by the way, but then he suddenly decided that he didn’t want to do the photo session. And the photographer was already on her way to the venue with all her studio equipment…!
But then, when she started taking pics of the other guys in the band, Pete got curious and walked over to check it out. He ended up getting so into it that it took hours before the photo session was done! Killer, killer photos! Wish I had a few of them….
Then there was Ville Valo, HIM-frontman. The first interview I did with him, he was great. Interesting conversation, very polite and all that… The SECOND time, maybe one or two years later, his attitude sucked..!
When I got there, Ville and the drummer were…not exactly sitting, more hanging, in their chairs looking bored before I had even as much as said hello. Oh, lovely… Didn’t matter what I asked, they just didn’t want to talk. Instead, they would give deliberately stupid answers or laugh at eachother’s jokes.
I was pissed off. We both have a job to do, why waste my time if they weren’t going to do theirs?! Got even worse when the photographer tried to take a pic of Ville. He had some beanie on his head that he had pulled so far down his face that his eyes barely showed.
She asked if he could remove it. His response was: “No!” So she asked if he could maybe lift it up slightly. He went: “No” then she asked if he could maybe look up a bit at least. He barely felt like doing that. She managed to take one – maybe two pics before he just got up and walked out of the room! WTF?!
Oh and by the way – I didn’t write a word about HIM after that. Total waste of time.
[Ville from the first interview, maybe a year earlier. Nice guy, good interview. Things can certainly change quickly]
Shortly thereafter, same venue – interview scheduled with German band Helloween. The guy I was about to interview was at the venue, but didn’t show until 2 hours too late. His excuse? He had to “take a shower”…. Must be the cleanest rock star in the business…
Mike Monroe – oh my god. This is a long story but the “worst” one yet. :) The photographer and I were working on a book project in collaboration with Sweden Rock Magazine many years ago, and Mike Monroe and Andy McCoy were to be featured in the book.
The photo session was supposed to take place at Savoy hotel – photographer had managed to negotiate an hour in a very old and cool part of this hotel’s restaurant, before they opened that day. When Mike didn’t show, I went to the hotel down the street to find out what was going on.
It didn’t take so long for Mike to come downstairs but…when he realized that there was a photo shoot involved (that was the most important part of the whole interview!) he disappeared back to his room, stating that in THAT case, he needed to fix his makeup.
It took FOREVER for him to get back and the clock was ticking… the location wouldn’t be available for much longer. Once he got there and did the shoot – he did a brilliant job I can’t say anything about that. He was an absolute pro in that respect. But then, before leaving, he climbed into an antique grandfather clock from the early 1800’s, causing us to get banned from the hotel because of it…
He and Andy wanted to eat “before the interivew” and asked if there was good Indian food somewhere nearby. There was only ONE, and a pretty expensive one, since it’s right in the tourist district… Neither me or the photographer had counted on anything like that, and we were both pretty much broke.
[Don’t take these guys to a restaurant if you’re short on cash…]
I ordered a soda. Mike and Andy (and Mike’s girlfriend) ordered starters, entrees, dessert, drinks –everything on the menu, well, not far from it. The table was FULL of plates and glasses. The interview? Well…. He said “ask whatever...” while eating, so it was an unusual scenario but he wasn’t really in the mood for an intrerview and I got some stupid or very short answers. Funny, cause I had spoken w. Mike the year before and THEN he had been really cool.
Anyway… Suddenly, Mike takes his napkin, wipes his mouth, gets up and says: “Thanks! Bye!”
Andy and the girlfriend followed him, left the restaurant…and left us with the bill! That bill was as long as my ARM! We didn’t have money for representation and this had not been in the plans at all.
The magazine, of course, didn’t want to pay for it, the record company said they had nothing to do with that and the management said they knew nothing about a restaurant visit. So, we emptied our pockets and used our credit cards to the last penny we had. And the interview hadn’t even been worth it….
Oh – and I’ve STILL got that receipt as a souvenir!
Interviews don’t always turn out as planned. But I guess that if they did, I wouldn’t have all this stuff to look back on – in the rearview mirror. ;)