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!
I sat down last night to write a summary of my year 2011. I was amazed to find how just one year, can feel like ten. 2011 has been a fantastic and memorable year for me.
I have travelled all over Europe, squeezing in a short visit to the States as well. I took the interviewing to a new level, by introducing video-interviews for this blog.
Speaking of the blog – it’s hard to believe that I launched it in February 2011, less than a year ago. Since then, it has established itself faster than I thought was possible.
Maybe because some readers who have followed me online since 1996 continued to follow my scribblings here, and it kind of went from there.
The past few months, I’ve ended up on Blabbermouth several times, which automatically drew a few thousand readers more than usual.
But, here’s how I remember my rockin’ year of 2011:
New Years Day 2011. I was browsing the web for info on gigs w. Gus G, who I had seen with Ozzy at Madison Square Garden in NYC a few weeks earlier. He totally blew me away. I found his MySpace-page and saw that Firewind had a gig in London only 7 days later.
FIREWIND in London – first gig of 2011
I found myself taking off to a rainy London a few days later, for the first gig of 2011. It was great, and also what started the Gus G/Ozzy/Firewind-galore of 2011, where I deliberately, and undeliberately, ended up seeing mentioned super-guitarist no less than 19 times… All of which could be followed in the separate blog Setting The World On Fire.
[Front row, Relentless Garage, London, UK – some blonde girl (=me), and a bunch of dark-haired guys…!]
TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra) & JON OLIVA – no goMarch included a few concerts, but also a planned but missed one. I was supposed to go to Zurich to see the TSO (Trans Siberian Orchestra)-gig because Jon Oliva was going to be a part of that tour, and as JOP (Jon Oliva’s Pain) hadn’t toured since the fall 2010, I wanted to see him. Was curious to see the US-phenomenon TSO at the same time, on their first tour to Europe. Due to personal issues, Jon couldn’t make it and I decided not to go either – money spent on the flight ticket went down the drain, but shit happens.
BAD HABIT – the first video interview for In The Rearview Mirror
One of the best classic AOR-bands in Sweden, Bad Habit, announced a release-party and gig at Club Stairway To Heaven in Malmö. I’ve been a big fan of these guys since 1987, so I called the “band boss” Hal Marabel to set up a time for a video interview.
I’ve done TV-hosting, but video-interviews for the web was completely new to me.
My friend Henrik Hansson, former bassplayer of the band Hollywood, is good at filming and editing, so I asked him if he was in. He took it as a new challenge that he was happy to take on. Since this first “test-round” with Bad Habit, we have continued doing more and better video interviews throughout 2011.
Bad Habit kicked it all off, and they played a great gig that night, on the 11th of March 2011.
MEGADETH & SLAYER – Aarhus, Denmark
I took the day off to go to Aarhus, Denmark, a three hour long train-ride, to see Megadeth on March 21. Oh, headliners were Slayer, but I must be the only person on the planet who isn’t a huge fan of Slayer. I LOVED Megadeth’s performance, they kicked ass, had so much energy, it was just top notch. When Slayer went onstage I stayed for one song, then I had more than enough and went down to the train station to catch the night train back to work…REVIEW HERE.
MIKE TRAMP – I remember you (interview and release party at The Rock, Copenhagen)
Only a few days after the Megadeth-gig, it was time to head back to Denmark to meet Mike Tramp, former singer of White Lion. Before the interview, I had e-mailed a photo taken at the last interview I had done with him in The tivoli in Helsingborg, Sweden, a few years before.
Funny enough, he remembered me. So, he took time to do the video interview during sound check the day of his release party for his new album “Stand Your Ground” on the 24th of March.
He is a very easy guy to interview, talks a lot, is very open and easygoing, every journalist’s dream. He is also a skilled artist and frontman, definitely enjoyed the gig later that evening.Funny enough, I enjoyed the slightly “different” in-store gig that he did in a record store in central Copenhagen two days later, even more. More about that in the blog from that day: http://lita77777.posterous.com/in-store-gig-the-way-music-is-supposed-to-be
DORO – The Metal Queen visited Malmö
April was a pretty slow month by my standards. One of the highlights was Doro visiting Malmö on April 9, for an acclaimed concert at KB (Kulturbolaget).
Was also glad to see Chris, the merch guy, there. I first met him on tour with Jon Oliva, then with W.A.S.P and now with Doro. He was going out on the road with Arch Enemy as well but I never met him on that tour. Always nice to meet people you know, he’s a really cool guy.
There wasn’t enough time to set up an interview with Doro, but her record company and management were nice to deal with, so hopefully it can be arranged next time she comes to this part of the world. :-)
REVIEW & VIDEO HERE.
K.K Downing left Judas Priest
April was the month when one of the legends in the world of metal, announced that he was calling it quits. K.K Downing left Judas Priest under the most strange excuses and curcumstances. I got the news on Facebook April 20th… It was just two months before their Farewell tour was supposed to start, and I for one was shocked and pissed off all at the same time. The frustration didn’t go away until I actually saw Richie Faulkner on stage with Priest, and got a chance to ask him a thing or two at the press conference at Sweden Rock. But more about that later….
Matt LaPorte – guitarist of JOP, R.I.P……
Terrible news reached me on April 21st. A friend from the band (JOP) sent me a message so that I wouldn’t have to hear about it online. Matt LaPorte, guitarist with Jon Oliva’s Pain, and an important part of the “JOP-family” that I have so often described, had passed away in his sleep.Nobody knew at that point what had happened, his room-mate found him when he came home, nothing more was ever mentioned. It suppose that the details didn’t really matter, it was sad news. He was my age, a life ahead of him and a very talented musician.
But, something positive comes out of even the most tragic situations. A tribute-concert was held for him in July, which gave his friends and bandmates a chance to get together and remember…. R.I.P Matt.
Blogs about Matt: Matt 1 — Matt 2 — Matt 3
AMARANTHE – best debut of 2011
I was sent to interview this band in Gothenburg for Sweden Rock Magazine, but the article ended up being so short and isignificant in the mag, that I decided to give them the exposure they deserved elsewhere – on YouTube.
The first time I saw them was when I went to meet up with my friend Hanneke, light tech for JOP who was out with Kamelot (or possibly with the other act on the tour, Leave’s eyes) in Gothenburg. (Mentioned HERE)They played Trädgår’n and it’s one of the few times that an unknown opening act gets my attention. Amaranthe were amazing. I’ve never seen such perfectionism on a stage by a “debut band”. I didn’t know at the time that the members were anything but new in the business.
Henrik and I drove to Copenhagen and Amager Bio on May 15th, to talk to this kick-ass band (whose debut album had pretty much just been released. I wrote a very positive review in SRM, which guitarist Olof later on mentioned had helped a lot in the initial stage of promoting the band).
I predicted a very bright future for this band, and it turns out that I was right. In a very short time, they have definitely gotten a LOT of exposure for their deathmetal pop. 2011 was Amaranthe’s year and I’m really happy to see that they have done so well. Not only are they talented, they are also damn nice people, so – thumbs up and the best of luck in 2012 too guys!
ARTICLE AND VIDEO INTERVIEW HERE.
HELIX – Brian Vollmer talks about the ups and downs of stardom
My Canadian friend Sean e-mailed me one day and asked if I would be interested in doing an interview with Canadian band Helix. They had a few things going on, so I figured why not. Just like most rockers out there, I only associate the band with “Rock You” and “Heavy Metal Love”. As it turned out, there was a lot more than that to this band. It was published in this blog May 14th and can be found HERE.
JUNE was a crazy month. That’s when the ball REALLY started rolling. So, I’ll stop right here and continue this New Year’s blog 2011 with a part 2 – stick around! :-)
Now that K.K Downing has “OFFICIALLY” left the building, I went back to my latest interviews with him, trying to find clues…Did he say something, imply something, was there even a way to know that it would come to this?
I can’t find anything. I’m horribly angry and disappointed by the way Judas Priest and their management have handled this, but I won’t get into that. I guess it doesn’t even matter anymore. It’s all about money and business. Ideals don’t exist anymore, nothing matters but the mighty $$$$.I suppose people are ok with that, I’m just a dinosaur who expected so much more from people I have loved my whole life. Judging from the comments on the judaspriest.com message board, people don’t care about being tricked into buying tickets under false pretenses.
I’m a fan, not an idiot. I can’t imagine how I will ever be able to look at that band feeling that they are genuine.
Anyway…. The sound quality of this interview is pretty bad – because I pushed the “Long Play”-button by mistake. Very very annoying when you’re talking to one of the Metal Gods, but nothing you can do about it unfortunately. :-(
“I live and breathe Priest” – was one of the quotes in this interview.
He also wanted these words to be on his tombstone: “The sinner rider has ridden into the storm”. How very true.
And this interview (below) was made just a few months before the one above.
This is from Sweden Rock Festival, I remember how it was like a Fort Knox to even get to the area where Priest were. You had to pass one security gate after another, have people escorting you, it was like going to meet the president or something.
When I stepped into the portakabin where K.K was, it was like entering a SAUNA. For some reason he was freezing and had heated the place up and seemed to think the temperature was perfect. Ugh! :)
Didn’t have much time, other people were waiting to talk to K.K and the others, just a short hello-and-see-ya. Just another interview to add to my “rearview mirror”….:
I’m in shock… Went for a walk at lunch and checked Facebook on my phone before I went back to the office.
One of the headlines in the news feed said: K K Downing retirement press release
I’m at a total loss for words right now. Will have to get my thoughts together and try to accept yet another sad fact about the band that’s #1 in my book and always have been.
Not only did I have to accept that this tour will be the last with Priest. Now I also have to accept that the man who’s been in the band from the beginning, who founded Judas Priest – is gone and we won’t see him on stage again.
We get to say goodbye to Judas Priest – but not to all of them. Doesn’t feel good at all.
What the reason is, I don’t know. As usual just a bunch of secrecy around the band. It’s always been like that – just shut up and come up with something diplomatic to say.
What REALLY happened will be left for fans to speculate on.
I’m just speechless.