You know how sometimes, when you have a secret crush on someone, you create all those wonderful fantasies in your mind, of what that person is like?
And then, one day, when you actually get to KNOW that person, and you see all their flaws, the fantasy dies right there. It was all in your mind. You created that perfect person. There ARE no perfect people, and the disappointment is very real.
Well… it’s the same with rock stars.
I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some of my teenage idols on a more realistic, human level, and it didn’t always go down too well.
It’s no wonder when you think about it. Because their music means a lot to you, so you think of the person who created it, as someone extraordinary.
When I was a teenager, rock stars were freaking GODS! They were larger than life, they were aliens, they were simply not regular people. Heck, I couldn’t even imagine that they went to the toilet like other human beings. They were from another planet and much like Wayne and Garth I would be like this:
So the leap from THAT to reality can be pretty harsh.
Suddenly you get to see the human side of these “gods”.
The primadonna behavior, the sad alcoholics and drug addicts who can’t even make it to the bathroom without the help of someone who drags them there, guys acting like pigs, treating women like trash, or even worse – treating their fans like trash.
Like one who shall remain nameless, who totally ignored a 10-year old boy who’d been waiting for him all day long with a poster he was hoping to get signed. There was nobody there, and the “Rock Star” didn’t as much as look at him. He walked right past him and treated the kid like he was invisible.
There was another Rock Star who I had idolized for a while, who I got to know as a friend over the years, and realized he was a whiny bastard who thought the whole world owed him something.
He accepted no flaws in other people, but expected everybody to accept and forgive him for HIS.
I was disappointed and for a while there I couldn’t even listen to his music because it had been somehow ruined by the realization of who he truly WAS. I would have been better off if I had never found out.
Same with another dude who I thought was a fantastic performer, whose records I would play over and over again… We got to know eachother well cause I was on so many tours, press conferences and interviews, it just naturally got that way.
And although I liked his personality sometimes, he could quickly and easily transform into this terrible egoistic asshole who I wanted nothing to do with.
The friendship had its ups and downs but I couldn’t stay a “fan” after that. When he was on stage he was a friend who was living his dream with his pals, the band. Not the Larger Than Life unobtainable Rock Star. Far from it.
These experiences taught me something. The Fantasy is better.
They can be whoever you want them to be. They can mean whatever you want them to mean to you, because you create their personalities in your own mind, and that way they remain the amazing Stars whose music means the world to you. They can never disappoint you, if you never get to know them.
Learning this made it easier to make my own decisions on who I wanted to befriend and who I would deliberately keep at a distance as much as possible, so that I could enjoy what they and their MUSIC has meant to me, without ruining it by getting to know them.
Rob Halford of Judas Priest would be one of those people. He’s the ultimate god because he and Judas Priest have meant so much in my life, it’s beyond what I could even explain. I wouldn’t be sitting here today writing about my life in the music biz, because without Priest it wouldn’t even have happened.
I’ve met Rob several times since that very first meeting back in 1990. I’ve talked to Rob on the phone many times. And I’ve been at hotels, backstage and on tour buses with Priest and with his own band Halford through the years. BUT, I’ve made sure to keep it on a very, very professional and manageable level. I didn’t want to even attempt to make friends with Rob on a level that I would consider a “real” friendship, because I want to keep him on his Metal God status forever.
It’s a conscious choice. I like Rob Halford a lot. I think he’s a great man and I have nothing bad to say about him whatsoever. I haven’t seen any bad sides of him, on the contrary, he’s been a very kind and inspiring man to talk to.
Others have been keen on telling me the “nasty details” about him, as if I wanted to hear about it. I’ve even told people NOT to tell me anything bad, if it’s truly bad, because I don’t want to know. It doesn’t bring anything I want to my life.
The way I look at it is this… Rock stars are two different people in one:
The STAGE persona – the side that the world gets to see, the person whose lyrics and music can be interpreted any way you want, and have it mean anything you need or want it to be. That’s the ROCK STAR side.
Then you have the PERSON, the human being, the one who might disappoint you because he/she doesn’t fit YOUR image of them. The person whose personality might be the exact opposite of what you see on stage. And in most cases, the stage person is NOT who you will meet once the spotlights are off.
Sometimes they’re better people in real life than they want the world to see when they’re playing the act of the Rock Star they want to be. Sometimes it’s the opposite. If you can’t handle the truth, then don’t seek it. That’s how I’ve dealt with it.
It’s not that I’m naive by any means. I know exactly how it is and somewhere in the back of my head, I also know that some of the “bad” things that people have told me about my “idols” are true – I just choose to block it out because I want the positive side of them to brighten my life.
Take David Coverdale for example. I’ve heard from so many people through the years how mean he can be to people, how egoistic and unpleasant he can be. Some of the stories have shocked me, why would someone BE like that at all?
But then I shove it aside because he’s been nice to ME through the years. ALWAYS. He’s made me feel good with his music, his voice . and the way he’s treated me every time he’s seen me – whether it was at an interview, a press conference, at a hotel or in a crowd – he has always had a smile to spare and a few lovely, kind compliments. So I simply choose to love THAT David Coverdale. Not that other person that other people have been unfortunate enough to experience.
Or Lita Ford. Twenty years ago I was talking to two guys who had been on tour with her, and they had a few select stories to tell about the chick I thought was so badass. She wasn’t badass, she was simply not a person you wanted to be around, apparently.
They weren’t the only ones who were less than impressed by miss Ford, to say the least, I’ve heard it a few times, so I’m aware of that too.
However – she’s played a BIG role in my life as well, serving as an inspiration and role-model in a world that was reserved for men. NOW people can’t understand what I’m talking about, because the scene has changed so much since the early 80’s, but back THEN it was a different ball game. There was no one to show you who you could be, what you could do, what you should look like as a young, female rocker.
For a teenager who needed “guidance”, Lita Ford was the heavy metal goddess. Regardless who she was behind the scenes, what she did, who she treated badly or who she screwed – to ME she was the icon who showed that you COULD be in charge of your own destiny, you COULD be respected in a male dominated world, you could be sexy and feminine without being a stupid slutty bimbo, and you could be in metal without looking like a dude (all the other girls looked like dudes – Joan Jett, Girlschool, Rock Goddess, it was just very much jeans and t-shirts, whereas Lita walked around in high heels and fishnet stockings. Somehow that appealed more to me than the “dude style”).
When I finally met her, for that interview in Malmo a few years ago (I was happy to find a pic of that meeting in her biography recenty!) she was just the way I imagined her and I could relate to so many things she said. The IDEA of her, and MY experience of her in REALITY was the same.
That doesn’t mean that she isn’t a pain in the butt to deal with, like some have mentioned, maybe she is. But again, I have no reason to focus on that aspect, I make a choice when I want to – to see the side of her that works in my life and serves as the inspiration she’s always been and continues to be.
It is what it is. But one thing is for sure. The FANTASY is always better than reality. Cherish it. :)
I was inspired by a friend to remember some of my fondest metal moments. Those that truly put a smile on my face when I think back on them.
A lot of those memories have to do with mutual appreciation. No matter where we are in life and what our roles are in the music biz, we all started out as fans. You can play cool and pretend that you don’t care, but I’m not kidding myself. If it’s an artist that I’ve admired since I was a kid, he or she will still make me feel like a star struck teenager to some degree.
So…. These are some of those “smile”-moments. :D
1. DAVID COVERDALE
David always puts a smile on my face. I consider the interview I did with him on the “Farewell tour” the best interview I have ever done. The circumstances were perfect. When it comes to David Coverdale, I was a fan first and foremost, and I always will be.
I was the last person on his interview schedule that day, so there was no stress. He was in a great mood, very open and incredibly easy to talk to. We talked about everything: Serious things, funny things, deep things…
The interview took place in a luxurious suite at the Sheraton in Stockholm. It didn’t feel like an actual interview. It felt like a conversation with a friend. Looking back on that today makes me feel so privileged and it was a day I will never forget.
But even apart from that interview (and a few other conversations with him), David always makes me smile. There has not been ONE single gig or press conference where he hasn’t spotted me within minutes, smiled up to his ears and adressed me by name. Or from the stage in front of thousands of people (several times through the years. Sometimes he’s had little dialogs with me from the stage, the last one being at the Graspop festival a few years ago, and of COURSE I had turned off my camera just minutes before…).
At press conferences he’s sometimes treated me like I was the only journalist present, or explained to the others, while pointing at me: “SHE will know, cause she’s followed my work for a long time…“.
I’m sure he does what with other, select people worldwide too, he’s just that type of person, but from my perspective it’s pretty darn fantastic because I’ve always looked up to David Coverdale.
So – he’s my #1 source for smiles in the metal world. :D
2. ROB HALFORD
A few years ago, I had been assigned to write the Judas Priest cover story for Sweden Rock Magazine. Since it was an in-depth piece, I ended up calling Rob several times that year (and also speaking with K.K and Glenn). In the end, he started joking and talking to me like we were the best of friends.
He’s always been one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, but particularly after those conversations things have been very relaxed and down-to-earth with Rob.
When I went to London earlier this year for an exclusive interview with Rob at Sony Music‘s offices, I was the only reporter who was privileged enough to get a one-to-one interview with The Metal God that day. And he was happy to see me. I’m no longer some anonymous nobody, he knows me by name.
Yes I’m like a kid. Judas Priest is the reason I’m even here in this rock’n’roll circus, Rob has a huge part in who I am today and the kind of life I’ve had. I’ve got a million Priest-stories from hanging out with the band through the years, but it’s enough to just say that every single one of those occasions makes me smile and feel incredibly lucky!
3. SEBASTIAN BACH
Baz is not an “idol” like that. It started out that way, when I was a big fan of the energetic, amazing Skid Row. But he and I are the same generation and had a lot in common (especially our love for Priest!) so we became friends. There are many “smile on my face” memories from the Skid Row-days but one of the more recent ones (even if it was a few years ago) was when Sebastian returned to Sweden to play at Sweden Rock Festival back in 2005. He hadn’t been in Sweden since the Subhuman Race Tour in 1995. I was really looking forward to seeing him again.
So, a few friends of mine and I were at the hotel Ronneby Brunn, hanging out, having a few drinks, when the band started coming in through the main entrance. I went over to Metal Mike, who I’d met with Halford, a really cool guy, and he said that Sebastian was outside collecting his bags, he’d be in soon.
I didn’t want to just stand there like an idiot so I went aside, figured that I’d let him check in in peace and quiet.
When Sebastian walked in – it was in the middle of the night, maybe 2 am, he looked tired and he was carrying a shitload of bags. One suitcase in each hand, bags on top of those and more bags hanging from each shoulder. At first he was just scanning the place with no particular goal or focus, but the minute his eyes landed on me, his reaction was so priceless that I’ll never forget it.
He screamed, in his typical Sebastian manner: “DANIELA!!!” and literally just dropped both those cabin bags so they just landed on the lobby floor, then dropped the bags hanging from his shoulders, so it was all in one big PILE right there on the floor, in the middle of the main hotel lobby – and with two steps he walked over to me, hugged me so hard that I thought he’d break my ribs.
“It’s been ten years!” he said and was sincerely happy to see a familiar face. I’ve honestly never felt more longed for or appreciated in my life. :) That was just such a sincere, happy reaction and I’m still smiling when I think about those bags just lying there in one huge pile on the marble floor.
There have been many similar occasions though. In New York, when he was performing with Steve Stevens at the jazz club Iridium, he dedicated a song to me which I never even noticed, and asked me backstage afterwards if I had heard his dedication. Basically, he can be the most appreciative person on the planet, then again, sometimes he barely notices one’s existence, it all depends, but all in all, this guy knows how to make me smile for the most part! :)
4. LITA FORD
That was a meeting I never thought would even take place. Lita has been my #1 female rolemodel since I first got the Out for Blood-album. I missed her when she played in Sweden or Denmark a few times either because shows were cancelled (she was supposed to come here with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow but the show was cancelled because the venue was too small for Rainbow’s…uh, rainbow-prop. :)).
Second time she was here with Bon Jovi I couldn’t go cause I had a gig of my own with my band. Then she disappeared to a desert island, literally, with her family for years and I guess we all thought that was it. Lita Ford, as we knew her, was gone.
However, last year she got on a plane and toured Europe. When Sweden Rock asked if I wanted to do an interview with her, I danced around the apartment like an idiot. FINALLY!
When I got to KB in Malmo, my home town (yeah, even THAT!) she was sound checking and I waited for her to finish. She came over, said we could go upstairs to the backstage area and do the interview. It was a hot day in July and we were DYING up there, it was unbearably hot. But, it was the most relaxing, unpretentious meeting I’ve ever had with an artist. Lita was down to earth, open, funny and very easy to talk to.
There were moments where I even forgot that I was sitting there with an artist that I’ve admired since I was a teenager. It was a great chemistry and she didn’t hesitate to speak about difficult or personal things. Much like with David Coverdale, it wasn’t one of those usual “come in, get out after 20 minutes“-type of interviews. We sat there for over an hour and she was in no hurry at all. On the contrary. Even after the cameras had been switched off (it was a video interview as well – still not fully edited…) she kept talking.
One thing you’re always worried about when you meet an artist you grew up with, is if they’re going to disappoint you IRL. She didn’t. Fantastic meeting, great person and a really good interview situation. And I got those old vinyls signed too (better late than never!)
5. TONY MARTIN (Black Sabbath)
I got to know Tony Martin when he was touring with Black Sabbath all over Europe. To this day I think he’s the best heavy metal vocalist ever, and the most underrated one for sure.
When Sabbath came to Copenhagen, I headed over to their hotel to get a chance to hang out a bit with Tony. I remember Tony Iommi and Geoff Nicholls (keyboards) coming out of the elevator with big smiles, letting me know that Tony was on his way (then we kept passing Tony and Geoff on the pedestrian street Stroget a few times, later on that day).
Tony came down and pretty much needed a guide to show him where he could buy a new leather jacket and he also needed to find an exchange office. So, off we went. It was a slightly chilly and cloudy day, so I remember telling him that if he wanted to walk into HMV to check if they had Sabbath’s latest album, he might want to take his sunglasses off if he just wanted to blend in. :) Luckily for HMV, they had all the Tony Martin-Sabbath albums. ;)
He visited a few leather-shops but couldn’t find what he was looking for. It was just nice walking through Copenhagen talking. I was a huge fan of his voice, and I thought he was a cool person to hang out with so that day is stuck in my mind to this day.
He was starving so we went to this Italian restaurant. I hadn’t counted on that, so my wallet was pretty much empty. Oh, well, I thought I could always find whatever was cheapest on the menu. Us Swedes aren’t used to the guy paying unless it’s a date, and this wasn’t a date. So I assumed that I would be paying for my own food and drinks.
I got a glass of cheap wine that tasted horrible. Tony immediately noticed my expression and asked if the wine was ok. I lied and said that it was fine, but he didn’t buy it. So he called the waitress and went “the lady doesn’t like her wine. Do you have anything else?” I was panicking because whatever else they had was out of my price range that particular day.
Anyway, as we were waiting for that wine, I said that one of my favorite songs, where I really loved his vocals, was a song from the album Eternal Idol, the title track. Next thing I know, he starts singing it, right there, a capella in the restaurant…
“No one said it had to be this way
Why are we the victims of their
Dying world is killing us so slowly
I believe no god may save us now
Can’t you see what I see
Sinners say your prayers tonite
Your judgement day is here”
I was in seventh heaven. Having your favorite singer in the world singing especially for you like that was beyond any expectation. Will never forget that. What an amazing moment that was.
[There’s no actual video to that particular song – but listen to this, this is amazing!]
This was pretty recent, but still one of those things I know I will look back on in a few years and think of with a big smile.
I was in Seoul, Korea for that one-off Ozzy show and had spent almost an hour trying to get my backstage pass that Gus G had asked the tour manager to leave for me in the VIP booth (apparently I was the only guest too. I’m guessing they didn’t know anyone in Korea. :) ).
That whole “going backstage“-thing seemed unthinkable to most of the security people I spoke to. Their attitude was “you can’t just go back there and meet the band?!?!“.
Yes I can, that’s what this pass is for – and if you show me where to go. :)
It took forever, involved a whole bunch of people and so finally I was escorted through a private steel elevator by two security guys on segways – one in front of me and one behind me (in case I would try to…run away??). Through doors and more security – I was finally let in to the backstage area and they went to go find Gus. I was so incredibly happy and relieved when I finally saw him – a familiar, friendly face in a far away land. :D
After watching the Korean superstar Psy, we went to the dressing room (Blasko, Tommy Clufetos, Billy Morrison, Adam Wakeman, Gus and me) and just sat there, talking while Gus was warming up. Ozzy was on his way and it was a little bit as if the president was coming, the crew very anxious to make sure he would be pleased with everything.
But Ozzy is a simple guy. :) Instead of sitting alone in his own dressing room, he suddenly showed up in the doorway of the band’s dressing room with this HUGE boyish smile that we all know and love, and immediately cracked a joke that had everybody laughing.
I was sitting on this 2-seat couch and he just crashed right beside me, going “You’re Gus’ manager, right?” I tried to explain that I was just a friend but he was already on the next subject (I’m smiling even as I’m writing this right now).
It was totally relaxed and simple. It didn’t really dawn on me until afterwards, that I was sitting backstage in Korea (of all places!) with Ozzy and his band, being the only guest there. I never expected that, cause I was there to see Gus.
People pay big bucks for those meet & greets with Ozzy, so I had ruled out the possibility of bumping into Ozzy at all.
The smile-factor was simply that it was so normal and so “every day-ish”. No big deal, no cameras, autographs, selfies, people running around adoring anyone. Just a bunch of people relaxing, cracking jokes. You can never plan that, when it happens it happens. And I cherish those moments more than anything.
It was slightly different getting up in the morning only to transport myself from one side of town to another – from one situation to another. From the Metal God to a guitar-gig.
I was still in Kensington where I had spent most of my day at Sony Music’s office, listening to the new Judas Priest album and talking to “The Metal God” himself, Rob Halford. NOW, I was checking out from my fancy Kensington high street 4-star hotel, to take the tube over to Angel station (funny – the song “Angel” by Judas Priest was in my head the whole time…!)
It was pretty easy finding my new hotel. What I didn’t realize was that it was right down the street from the venue where the Marty/Gus-gig was taking place later that evening: O2 Academy Islington.
I always pick hotels that are as close to the venues as possible, but this had to be a record! It was literally maybe 20 steps from the back door of the venue…!
I found a familiar face, Andy, sitting outside in the sun just chilling. It was the calm before the storm. Chatted for a minute or two, then I left him to just enjoy the few minutes of peace he would have that day, and went over to my hotel to check in.
After an hour, I went back out again, thought I would find something to eat, but after a short stroll around the block, I couldn’t find anything that I was in the mood for, so I went back to the venue.
During the 30 minutes that followed, I managed to steal a few minutes from the busy crew guys and a few band members who had been out for a walk and were about to start load-in. :)
There were two fans outside the club with plastic bags full of records, and I was wondering if they were there for Marty or Gus. Turns out, neither. They were there for Mats. They had every single CD he’s ever sung on…! And there was……a LOT. :D
Jo came off the bus, looking slightly dazed. So, while the load-in was in progress, I went inside the O2 with Jo and Or. They went looking for the dressing room, while I decided to just find someplace to make myself invisible, stay out of the way and just be a “fly on the wall”. :D
During the hours in there, I watched two sound checks, by Marty Friedman and Gus G, a video shoot for Marty’s new video and a “lesson”/rehearsal thing with Herman Li from Dragonforce who was going to join the guys on stage later that evening.
[Marty shooting a video] I bumped into Marty out in the stairwell. He smiled: “Oh, hi! You take good pictures. I like your photos.” I figured he probably must have liked them, cause I’ve seen a few of his updates that included some of my pics. I’m glad he liked them. :)
It was crazy hot inside so I went outside and found Or (bassplayer for both bands) there too. When Jo came out he immediately went: “Let’s go get some food!”. Food was the keyword. I was starving! So off we went.
Found a Vietnamese restaurant nearby, the menu sounded good, prices reasonable. And best of all, free WiFi (was pretty much the first thing Jo asked for, haha!).
I don’t exactly remember what I ordered but it was spicy…! And then we couldn’t quite figure out the currency (three people from 3 different countries, with the wallets full of various mysterious currencies, not necessarily the kind that is accepted in that particular country…!).
When we got back to the venue, the doors had already opened and there were people standing at the barriers, so I took my place there too. Last gig, thought I’d get a few pics and vids.
The opening act, Primitai, was okay. Never heard of them before – but they were alright. I remember thinking they had a good drummer. He didn’t look like a “powerful drummer” but he hit pretty hard and I liked his style.
Next on stage – Gus G. It was the perfect ending to my Guitar Universe tour, cause if I compare the level of energy at the first show in Tampere, Finland, with this one in London, it was very clear how much the band had grown into a true unity and what they were able to deliver.
Jo Nunez, drummer extraordinaire, impressed me more than anyone on this tour, funny enough. He’s always been an impressive drummer, but now he’s a full-fledged showman and entertainer as well.
He’s up there killing his drums every night but he’s gone from being a quiet guy that was almost invisible on his first tour with Firewind, to this mohawk-adorned, cool madman that’s spinning drumsticks, throwing them up in the air, challenging the crowd to make more noise, standing up behind the drum set letting his presence be known… He’s probably one of the best acquirings Gus has made for his band. :)
All I can say is: Jo-sus Christ!
Same goes with the new aquaintance, the bass-master from Israel: Or Lubianiker. Make no mistake, maybe people will take him for a shy and quiet guy seeing him offstage, but once he’s up there, he’s definitely not making any excuses. Just like Jo, he was working double-shifts, playing for Gus and Marty on the whole tour, keeping a steady and reliable rythm section for both guitar heroes.
While I guess that most of the guys in the crowd were guitar-geeks, I’m sure that there were some pretty impressed bassists there as well, who were checking out Or’s dexterity and experiencing total bass Or-gasms… (yeah, pun intended. ;D).
Mats Levén is a given frontman, he certainy has the pedigree to prove it too. He’ll sing whatever you throw at him, and he will do it well.
And Gus G himself? What can I say- I’m running out of adjectives! He was in a good mood which led to a more intense communication with the crowd.
The ONLY thing I would want to see more of from Gus, is an Yngwie-style guitar-pick rain during his set, to “feed” the hungry guitarists in the front row.
Those dudes down there would kill their own mothers for one of his picks…! More of that, and I think the “guitar geeks ” would walk on pink clouds for DAYS.
Cause needless to say, there are mostly guys in the crowd. How do you get more girls to the shows? My suggestion, from a female point of view, would be simple: Bring the “hair-fan” next time, it’s gonna work (well, it’s always worked for Steve Vai)! ;)
Other than that, he plays like a god. Always. I liked the songs from his solo-album before the tour, but I’ve gotten new favorites as I’ve kept hearing them live over and over again. “Eyes wide open” for instance has been stuck in my head for days already!
Also, their rendition of Thin Lizzy‘s “Hollywood – (Down on your luck)” was really one of the best so far. There was a drive and an energy in the performance of that particular song in London, that was really contagious.
Then, after the change-over, Marty time! Like I’ve said before, he’s got a very natural stage personality and that combined with his material, which is a winning mix between melodic, heavy and “riffy” instrumentals, simply makes time FLY!
He and his “partner in crime”, Takayoshi Ohmura, are constantly interacting with the crowd, making sure every single person out there feels like a part of the show. It’s virtuosity in every sense of the word, but not in a boring, nerdy sort of way, it’s made accessible and enjoyable for all kinds of people (providing of course that you like music…).
Before I knew it, he was done and it was time for that one last song, that one last little surprise…. Which this time wasn’t only Gus as a special guest, but also Dragonforce’s Herman Li. Yet another fast shredder to add to the equation. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, here we go!
After the show, I remembered that I was wearing high heels (I usually go to these gigs in sneakers cause I always have to walk a lot, but this time with my hotel being so close, I chose the heels instead). Those things were KILLING me after so many hours or standing and walking, so I figured I’d just go and say bye to the guys and then get a bit of sleep.
Flashed my laminate to the security guy and went to the backstage area.
My original idea was to wait at least 20-30 minutes so the guys could just get a break before people started barging into their dressing room, but when two guys just walked right in, I just went right along with them. What the hell, if nobody else thinks in my unfashionable “considerate” terms, then I’ll just go along with the crowd, lol! :)
It was slightly crowded back there, all kinds of people. Glad to finally have met Sharon from the management as well. She was actually the first person I was in touch with before that Relentless garage-gig in London years ago, and then I’ve seen her name online many times, but never actually met her. So that was nice. :)
Gus was stuck in this tiny production office with people walking in and out. I could only see a bit of his black Converse snakers and hear him back there somewhere – otherwise he was pretty much invisible.
When a handful of guests had left the backstage area I just stuck my head in and asked if I needed to take a number or something. :) It was kind of like in a dentist’s office. “Neeeext!”
He was talking to the guy who’s made Firewind’s cover-artwork and also for the latest solo-album. So as it turned out, the Firewind-symbol silver-pendant that I was wearing, had in fact originally been designed by him.
Pretty cool, you rarely ever meet those people. As always after a show, people just scatter all over the place so I never got to say bye to any of the crew guys, Jo had left to take a shower but it took a while so I just decided to call it a night and leave the area.
It’s been different, but good and I hope there will be more touring soon.
Reflections on coming home: Welcome to Tour Twilight Zone
I arrived at my hotel fairly early. Luckily, those “nicer”, more expensive hotels are more likely to have a room available even if you show up early, so I kept my fingers crossed. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything, but we got all the paperwork done and they asked me to come back around noon. That was still 3 hours earlier than regular check-in time, so I call that flexibility and good service. :)
I went to the little cafe in the back behind the elevators, to grab a croissant and a cup of tea and thought I’d be able to hang online for a while – but since the room wasn’t ready, I wasn’t “officially” checked-in, which in turn meant that I had no room to charge it to. So, I went back to the reception. One of the girls took a quick look around and whispered: “If you don’t tell anyone, I’ll give you this for free“. It was a £10 worth Internet code for 24 hours. :)
I’m lucky on this tour with the free internet. It was the same in Hannover, the hotel charged 1 euro per hour and the older lady gave me a 1 hour code. That didn’t last long – so I went back to the front desk and this time there was a young girl there. I told her that 1 hour was nothing for me, I was online like…ALL the TIME. She smiled, looked around and said the same as this lady today: “Here. It’s a 48 hour code, for free. Shhh….“.
I must look like someone who REALLY needs it, haha! But I appreciate it so much. Those kind ladies deserve a hug and a medal! :D WiFi when you’re out travelling is a lifesaver in so many ways – as an information source and as a way of killing time and getting in touch with people. It SHOULD be for free for travellers…! Always!
Anyway, my room wasn’t ready at noon but the same girl who gave me the free internet code, helped me once again. “I have a different type of room available if you don’t mind being on the 4th floor instead of ground floor?” I took it.
I had very little time to throw more “representative” clothes on and run off to find Sony Music’s London office. It was right on Kensington, and quite an impressive office I must say.
The talks about the music industry walking on their knees financially wasn’t evident there at ALL. On the contrary. The ladies at the reception had me sign in and I got my visitor-ID. “Please sit down and someone will come for you”.
There were lots of screens up in the ceiling, showing music videos, it was VERY spacious, had modern, leather couches, red designer swivel armchairs and wooden floors.
I was given a guest WiFi code so I could kill some time. Nice touch. :)
Eventually, a young lady with an orange file that contained a bunch of papers showed up and asked the guys next to me if they were there for the Judas Priest album-listening. There were 7 of us, some guys from Finland, one from Metal Hammer Germany, a radio station from somewhere… I don’t remember now but I recognized all those names/publications.
“Follow me”, she said.
And like a line of ducks, we followed her through the Sony offices, like through a maze. She stopped a few times to make sure everybody was still following.
We eventually reached a room with a huge, sliding door that she slid open, and it looked pretty heavy.
I walked in, and it was a big room, very modern and very expensive looking. Three leather couches, placed like an “U” around the table, looked like brand new, a big beige thick rug and a low black sofa table.
On one wall, there was this huge flat-TV (a Sony, of course) and speakers. When she turned up the volume, those things almost blew my ears out…! Not that I complained…! :D
We all took our pens out to make notes when she turned the new Judas Priest album on and left the room. After a few minutes she came back with the track-listing, but the paper also said that we weren’t allowed to take it with us. I wonder what the point of that was, as the tracks have already been revealed on Blabbermouth??
It was just a weird thing to experience a brand new Priest-album in the company of strangers and like THAT. I’ve always made sure that my “first
time” hearing a Priest-album was in a relaxed environment (=my home or my car) but this was…different.
Some songs sounded like they were off Painkiller. Some were so-so and some were absolutely killer. My verdict, all in all, is that I will love this album.
I wasn’t a super fan of Angel of retribution and I definitely wasn’t a huge fan of Nostradamus either. But THIS I do like! Rob’s voice is still great and because he can’t sing those high pitch songs anymore, he’s found a different way to sing and THAT makes it new and interesting! He does some “clean” singing on one or two songs, and he’s got such a beautiful, soulful yet powerful voice on those. It was such a pleasure to hear that. I must have smiled there in my left corner of the couch.
I quickly got a favorite song, which I can’t WAIT to get so I can blast it on repeat: Secrets of the dead. LOVED it!!
A few seconds before the last song had finished playing, our hostess sneaked into the room again (if there’s one thing label people are good at – it’s keeping track of TIME…!) :D
Some had interviews scheduled for later, some didn’t. I think that out of the 7 of us that listened to the album, 4 had actual interviews. The guy from Metal Hammer had a chat with Rob, Ian and Richie at the same time (personally I prefer one person, eye-to-eye). Another one said he was talking to Ian and Richie. So I’m guessing I was the only one who “got” the Metal God himself- Rob Halford – only…..
After the listening-thing, I asked if there was somewhere I could work (wanted to polish my interview a little) and she took me through the whole office once again (I think I would need a compas to find my way around there…!) and to the lunch room.
And when I say “lunch room” I don’t mean a tiny room with five tables. It was HUGE! Like an art gallery/industrial building type of huge, very bright with a ceiling that I wasn’t sure if it was actual daylight or “fake” light, but it was bright… Video screens playing music videos everywhere – a big billboard Elvis-sign in one corner, a slate that people “doodled” on… People having meetings in glass offices when I looked up and around… A very dynamic and cool workplace, I would have loved to work in a place like that.
I finished writing down a few more questions, when I looked around the lunch room and saw some blonde, long-haired dude. I thought it was Richie but wasn’t sure. Then I saw Ian Hill, elegantly dressed, getting himself a Fanta.
And a few seconds later – there’s Rob Halford as well. You can’t miss him anywhere. :) A tattooed bald guy with tats on his head and arms, and sunglasses. It was the Metal God alright.
And there I was, trying to look casual and cool. Oh,I don’t care, it’s just some BAND…. Yeah, right…!
I honestly didn’t know where to look. My gosh.
When they finished their lunch, they left – and I sat there for another 2 hours before it was my turn. The Metal Hammer guy kept me company for a while, talked a bit about festivals and the Priest album and stuff. I told him I was also going to the Gus/Marty show and he said he had no idea they were playing. He also happens to be writing for a German guitar magazine. I told him to go check out the Symptom of the universe cover from Tampere that I had on Youtube, if he wanted to know how those two guys sounded together and he seemed like he actually really wanted to see and hear that so… I think that if he hadn’t had his ticket back paid already, he would have gone to the Guitar Universe thing as well.
And THEN……..the girl came to pick me up and “take me to a room”. She showed me to a tiny room that had a TV, DVD, a conference call phone, two leather couches but no windows. Then she left with the words: “I’ll go get Rob for you”. And there I was, alone. It’s like waiting for a doctor. You’re in there getting nervous as f**k…!
I couldn’t sit, I walked back and forth getting more and more jumpy, getting a stomach-ache and the whole deal. Why, I don’t know. I’ve met Rob so many times, I’m a jaded rock journalist (pah…! I SHOULD be by now!) yet I get this way every damn time when it comes to any Priest-member…! ESPECIALLY Rob! I guess it has to do with the huge impact they’ve had on my life. No other bands have that kind of importance.
The door opened and there he was! He entered the room with the words: “Hi, it’s nice to see you again!” And all the nervousness just went away. He has a very calming effect (believe it or not) because he’s just so easygoing, so easy to talk to, no rockstar bullshit at all, no “are you an idiot or what?”-vibes. You can ask him anything, so far I’ve never seen him as much as frown, and it’s been 25 years since the first time I met him for an interview.
He spotted a chair and said he prefers that, for his back. And we went straight to business as to not waste any time. The interview will be published eventually, so I’ll just skip what the conversation was about. But I will say, that this man really makes me happy in so many ways. With the music he has brought to my life since I was a teenager, with his voice, his performances and the inspiration that he is as a person. I so enjoy talking to him, and I would love to just be able to sit there for hours and just talk.
You just feel very relaxed and comfortable with the man, and he has an interesting way of looking at things. Sometimes he says things here and there that just makes me smile. I mean, his attitude to stardom, life and whatever, is inspiring and sometimes while he’s sitting there talking, he says something that just makes me want to hug him! :)
Needless to say, it felt like we only just BEGUN when a label-guy knocked at the door and said: “Last question!”. My first thought was: “What?? We only just got STARTED!”
Even Rob was slightly annoyed, rolled his eyes and sighed “oh my god, aaah – never mind, ask me another question…!” But at that point I just felt like I had a million things to ask and I was nowhere NEAR being finished, which meant that I had no idea which question was the most “important” one. I just took whatever was right under my nose, about one of the songs I had heard three hours before. Suddenly it wasn’t a relaxed conversation anymore, it was stresssssful.
But I guess, looking back – Rob deserves a break. He had been talking for a few hours himself so if he had to be stuck with enthusiasts like me all day long, he would never get a breather…! :)
We took a few photos with a CD that was released through Sweden Rock Magazine, that included an obscure, unreleased Priest-song. He was happy to pose and help getting the best picture. Once again, no sign of stress – everything cool, just take your time… Did I mention that I love the man?? :D
He asked where I was going next, I said I was going back to Sweden, but first I was going to see the Gus G/Marty Friedman gig here in London. “Gus G? Give him my love. I love his style!” Those were the last words he uttered before he left the room.
The label guy once again entered and asked me to wait outside so I could be escorted to through the building (thank god, I had no idea where I was).
It still annoys me a bit – it’s such a privilege to talk to Rob Halford. I think that even if I hadn’t been a fan (which is hard to even imagine) I would have loved the conversations with him. I was just so glad that I got a good interview – for as long as it lasted, that I went back to the hotel to relax – and smile. :)
Today, I’m switching hotels and looking forward to the last Gus/Marty show of this tour (well, they’re finishing tomorrow but I chose London as my final destination).
There will be more stories to tell. :)
The next stop on my personal Gus G/Marty Friedman tour, is Munich and Hannover, Germany.
After that, London. And the London show will, funny enough, be the last date for me on this tour and the 50th time in 3 years that I see this guitar “wonder child” do his thing.
I remember pretty much every single gig and the details surrounding it. The trips, the people, the disasters, the adventures, the trips, hotels, venues, cities, shows….
I looked at the list of shows yesterday just to see if there was anything I might have forgotten. I’m probably lucky because I’ve been blogging about everything, so I tend to remember for that reason.
I have pics, stories and videos from every single place. Except for the Madison Square Garden gig with Ozzy because I didn’t want to risk getting my camera confiscated, so I never brought one.
[THIS was the first thing I saw, and here I am now, shitloads of shows and thousands of travelled miles later…!]
I did get a few clips on my bad mobile phone but those serve only as a memory, not as YouTube-material (I hate clicking on a live video on Youtube only to find that the audio sucks and that it’s been recorded by some drunk, jumping person in the crowd, with his/her BAD phone. Don’t upload it unless it’s at LEAST decent quality…!)
That gig got the ball rolling. The dude with the guitar left me absolutely speechless. I remember sitting at JFK on my way home, killing time, browsing the web for info about the new Ozzy-guitarist. Then I saw a video of The Fire And The Fury and that sealed the deal.
There I was at the airport, running that video multiple times, because I couldn’t believe how anyone could play like that! Just watching that pinky finger move like it was made out of rubber, was fascinating!
On New Year’s Day 2011, I was once again out there on the web checking out more stuff, when I came across info about a one-off gig for Firewind in London, at the Relentless Garage. Within five minutes, I had clicked my way through buying a ticket to the show and a flight ticket to London. :) Didn’t require a lot of thinking.
I remember that day in London as being grey, rainy and cold and I hadn’t booked a hotel. I just flew over, saw the show and went straight back to the airport and back to work.
But the show, once again, blew me away – and the minute I got home, I started checking for more gigs.
The journey has taken me all across Europe for the past 3 years. I’ve flown to places I barely knew existed, I’ve rented cars, driven in all kinds of weather, from one club to another, in the middle of the night, early in the mornings, getting lost… Or using the car as my “hotel” on a few occasions just to be able to afford the trips.
Sleeping in the car is not a comfortable thing usually. It always gets cold and damp in there at night, but I’ve done it because it meant being able to see yet another show instead of spending the dough on hotels.
I’ve visited several cities/towns/villages in the UK, Germany, Belgium, Poland, Luxembourg, Greece, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Netherlands, Finland, a few states in the US to catch a few of the US shows and last year I took that trip of a lifetime to Australia for the Australian tour. I had a blast in every possible way and it’s a journey I’ll never forget.
And the highlights with all these gigs? The reason why I started doing this was because I was totally blown away by the live performances and the high level of musicianship. But I’m also hooked on the travelling itself, just being on the go to anywhere. I’ve never been much of a stay-at-home kind of person. Hanging in front of a TV works for maybe a few weeks in the winter, but after that I get bored and restless and I need to get on the first flight, train or bus to wherever. It’s usually been to a Firewind/Ozzy/Gus G-show because they simply tour a lot. :) Suits me perfectly.
I’ve gotten to know the guys in the band and their crew, and I love these guys. They are awesome. If I had had to deal with a bunch of assholes it wouldn’t have mattered HOW good Gus or the band was, I would have found some other band or artist to go and check out. I’m lucky that the whole “package deal” has been perfect. :)
As for the highlights from the gigs, I guess I could easily pick a few to put on my Top 10-list:
1. Ozzy – Madison Square Garden – New York City – December 1, 2010
2. Firewind – Relentless Garage – London – UK – January 7, 2011
3. Firewind – Fuzz Club – Athens – Greece – January 14, 2012
4. Ozzy – Malmö Stadium – Malmö – Sweden – June 2, 2012
5. Ozzy – Westfalenhalle – Dortmund – Germany – June 4, 2012
[Steel Panther opening, had a great time with my friend from Germany, Su]
6. Firewind – Mylos – Thessaloniki – Greece – July 18, 2012
[I presented the band with a gold record for their sales of Wall Of Sound, in Sweden]
7. Firewind – Knust – Hamburg – Germany – September 28, 2012
8. Firewind – 8Ball Club – Thessaloniki – Greece – December 15 & 16, 2012
9. Firewind – Rock In Den Ruinen – Dortmund – Germany – April 27, 2013
10. Firwewind – Corner Hotel – Melbourne – Australia – November 3, 2013
There are many more, such as Ozzy at Sweden Rock and Graspop festival, Firewind at Sonisphere, and Kaftanzoglio stadium / Stop That Sound 2310 festival in Thessaloniki, many of the club gigs…. It’s hard to pick just a few but those did stick out for sure.
And now another page is being written, with the solo gigs across Europe.
So, on May 21st, in London, UK, I celebrate that 50th Gus G-gig since that Madison Square Garden gig. Will that mark the end of this journey or will I add another 50 shows to the list? I don’t know. I guess time will tell, but one thing is for certain, it’s left memories that will stay with me for a very long time.
Here are some of those highlights:
Ozzy & Friends – Graspop:
Gus G – my first interview , from Sweden Rock:
Gus G – second interview, from Thessaloniki, Greece:
Stop That Sound Festival in Thessaloniki, with Whitesnake and Judas Priest – a VERY very veryyy hot day in Greece. I almost passed out from the heat.