Tagged: Vilibald Kovač

The wrong country for a rocker

After about a week of regular “vacation” in Split, Croatia, I was saved from super-boredom by a visitor. Visiting me was young singer Vili Kovac who I got to know last year, and enjoyed yapping music with. This year he had a bit of more time on his hands to spend in Split. It’s been enjoyable and informative for sure.

[Haven’t got any pics of my guest, so I just stole one; This is from his video-shoot]

It’s been fun and interesting. I learned a lot about rock in Croatia, sides of the music business here and we also met up with one of his friend here, guitarist from the band StimulanS who told me a little bit more about the reality for bands – especially metal bands – trying to survive in this country.
It was pretty oppressive hearing about how things are here, cause eventhough it’s tough for musicians everywhere, it’s on different levels in different countries.

– There is nowhere to play around here. No rock clubs, venues, nothing. Promoters will only book you if you’re already a “name” and rather book the same artist ten times in a row, than take a shot at something new. And rockers are lazy asses too – they’ll rather just hang outdoors somewhere with their beers than support the bands that actually manage to get a gig. And then they will stand at the door and argue about the price and want it a few bucks cheaper. It’s a pain in the ass, you don’t get gigs here and you can barely get a record deal playing this kind of music.

Then I wondered howcome artists don’t try recording anything in English, to make it easier exporting and reaching a wider audience. The guys explained it with record labels being interested in fast buck, period. The faster and easier, the better. They are only interested in what will get airplay on Croatian radio. That’s the main problem – in short.

Like I said last year when I was here and learned about how things were, it’s really sad to hear, because there is great music here, talented musicians with the same fire and will to make it as anywhere else in the world, but it’s ten times harder to make it – especially if you’re playing metal.

This, for instance, is one of the bands Vili turned my attention to: Manntra. A mix between folklore and metal, members from a band that has had some success out in Europe, Omega Lithium, and a damn cool video – check it out:

I’ve watched a whole bunch of great videos the past two days from Croatian bands, and there’s true potential there for many of them to have a great career outside the country if they only got the opportunity. Somebody has to get the ball rolling, somebody needs to be brave and look outside the box and just take a chance to release and distribute music from here out to a wider audience.

I hope that will happen, maybe it might help when Croatia enters the European Union, who knows.

Either way, had two great, half-lazy, music-nerdy days in the company of a talented young musician who I really wish all the success he deserves. I love his voice and hope to hear a lot more of it in the future:

He sure as hell has the drive and the will to go places, while still maintaining an integrity that is rare in new, aspiring musicians – especially considering the circumstances mentioned above.
You would think that with the difficulties musicians already need to deal with here, that he would be willing to do anything people tell him in order to get an album out. But dispite his young age, he has a very clear vision of what he wants to do and what he will absolutely not do. Respect to that.

[His power-ballad single “Kraj” – which means “The end”. A compromise between what the label wanted and what he was willing to do]

Interesting days in the name of music-nerding, I just wish that my ability to speak Croatian was a lot better, as the language was the main barrier and the reason why I couldn’t get into any extended discussions. After two days of searching for the right words I was exhausted and I still hadn’t brought up half of the stuff I would have wanted to know. Maybe I’ll need to go and get evening classes in music-Croatian for next year. :-)



My Year In Rock – retrospect 2011 (part 2)

CONTINUED from http://lita77777.posterous.com/my-year-in-rock-retrospect-2011

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.


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!)


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:


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.



There is a whole blog about that (to be found HERE and HERE) so there’s no point repeating it all, I’ll just mention some of the highlights in addition to the ones mentioned above:

ROB ZOMBIE: The most pleasant surprise. I’ve never been a big fan of his “industrial metal”-style before, but he blew me away! I loved it! I hope he comes back, that kicked major butt!

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: 


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!


[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:






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]




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!




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! :-)

BLOGS: http://lita77777.posterous.com/?sort=&search=vilibald&x=7&y=8

[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!

PART 3: http://lita77777.posterous.com/my-year-in-rock-retrospect-2011-part-3


A day in the name of music

Well, for being a vacation where nothing was supposed to be happening except eating and sleeping, I had a really nice day yesterday – in the name of music.

“The Croatian dude”, i.e the singer I mentioned two blogs ago, Vilibald Kovac, came down to Split for a short visit.

I was curious to meet him in person. A very nice guy, so yesterday was without a doubt the best day I’ve had since I got here. Ten days of just being “normal” is enough to drive me nuts! So, it was refreshing to meet this super-talented guy, share some music and talk about everything and anything related to the music business.

It was a challenge for me though, cause although I know Croatian, sort of…, it was difficult to talk music because I’ve never used the language for that. So my brain was working full-time to find the right words. Exhausting. Still, it seemed  most logical, otherwise he would have had the same problem with English, I assume.

I learned that artists here have the same label-bullshit to deal with that artists in other parts of the world also get headaches over. The contract is for 5 albums I think, and these albums are required to be in Croatian. So – no chance to get this talented guy out to a larger audience worldwide anytime soon. That sucks and most of all frustrating when you see and hear someone who could actually do very well out there.

The stuff that he did at “Idol” doesn’t really represent what he’s capable of, I think. Not even his latest single, although it’s a good song and he sings it well (I love that voice).

Quite incidentally, he played a song that he had performed live some time ago, a slightly downtuned version of Queen’s epic “The Show Must Go On“. His vocal performance on that left me absolutely speechless, and I rarely get speechless.
Seriously. I took a quick look at the very humble guy that was sitting right next to me with his hair in a pony tail, looking very “everyday-normal”, while I was listening to this VOICE that was out of this world. It was hard to imagine it was the same guy!

He was apologising for fucking up some guitar-part somewhere in the song, whatever – DUDE, nobody would care if the whole BAND had stopped playing! That VOICE is amazing, jesus christ, I just gave him his headphones back without a word. Sometimes words are just redundant – it was more “Okay, that was fucking brilliant and I’ve got nothing more to add“.

Anyway, it was really nice to meet Vilibald, very easy guy to talk to and very down to earth. I don’t have that version of The Show Must Go On, and even if I had, he wouldn’t let me publish it anywhere (damn…! ;P).

But if I could play it for you guys, you would understand why I’m all “Holy-fucking-shiiiit!” here! You never know – maybe fate brings this guy out of Croatia someday and to the stars where he, in my very humble opinion, belongs.

Two more songs from the “Idol”challenges:

Alright, I really didn’t want a Justin Timberlake-song in this blog, but the guy spiced it up to be a rock-version, so OK then. ;)
[Tip: Check out the scream at1.21]


This one was chosen for him by the jury for the finals. From what he told me, he was very sick that day and had to get shots and all kinds of shit to even be able to stand upright that day. If I hadn’t known that, I would never have guessed, not based on this interpretation of a song that’s so hard to cover (and get away with).


Vacation in Croatia, but still rockin’

Funny to be “back” to writing here again, got used to the Firewind-blog after all the gigs the past few weeks. It’s been hectic travelling from place to place – cause while the band can just pass out whenever they want on their tour bus and have their driver take them to the next venue, I have to take care of the logistics myself. :)
It’s a good thing I got such kicks from the shows, or else I have no idea how I would have survived that crazy lifestyle.

Right now I’ve had a chance to sleep – get LOTS of sleep here in Split, Croatia. For once, I’m NOT travelling to go to any gigs, I’m just having a vacation like normal people.
But I was just sent a video by a young, Croatian singer who I’ve been in touch with back and forth for about a year. That will be the theme of today’s blog. Maybe a bit unusual, but I’m on vacation, that IS unusual, for me. :)

There is a version of American Idol in every European country, and last year I was watching a few of the Croatian episodes when I was here to see my dad. I missed most of it, think I only had a chance to see maybe 3 or 4 episodes altogether. There were two “rockers” in the competition, but one of them stuck out more than the other.

First of all, his crazy NAME! If you think that people in Croatia normally go by names like “Vilibald” you’re wrong. Actually, the hostess asked his dad why they gave him such an unusual name and I think he answered that he and his wife couldn’t decide on a name for their son and so they just picked the name that was in the calendar the day he was born – and went for that. It just so happened to be Vilibald.

Pretty cool when you think about it – cause there’s NO way you’ll ever forget a name like that. Couldn’t be more rock’n’roll. :)
Secondly, the guy had one hell of a voice!! Holy shit, for such a tiny guy, there was a lot of voice and although he seemed very shy in the interviews, he came alive when it was time to rock the audience.

[A heartfelt version of Deep Purple´s “Soldier of Fortune”, one of my favorite songs ever]

I had to go back to Sweden before I knew how the contest ended – but I asked my dad to watch the last episode cause I wanted to know how the Vilibald-guy had done in the finals. Of course, he didn’t win. Rockers rarely do, usually when it comes to business and selling a new artist, they want something more mainstream to sell to an audience consisting of anything from old ladies to teenage girlies.
Maybe he would have done great with the girls, but maybe not so much with the older record-buying audience.

I don’t remember exactly how I got in touch with the guy, but I think I found his dad on Youtube or something, who in turn gave me the contact info to Vilibald and I’ve kind of followed his challenges on and off ever since.

Being an artist in Croatia is difficult to begin with, if you want to make it internationally, and even moreso if you want to ROCK. The guy wanted to record a real hard rock album but, of course, was not allowed to.
However, he sent me this video a few days ago, that he just completed and I guess it’s a good compromise. It’s a power ballad that works with a wide audience and is still rock. He didn’t sell his soul 100%. :-)

Of course, it had to be in Croatian, cause I assume it’s a record company requirement, but I thought I’d share the video with you guys eventhough you won’t understand a word of what he’s singing (just pretend it’s death metal, you never understand a word of any of that either, no matter what language it’s in…!).

So, it’s just interesting to follow a new, up and coming artist this way, and maybe with the new rules of the cyberworld we’re all part of, the guy might actually attract a bit of attention beyond the borders of Croatia. Seems to me like the world is getting smaller each day, who knows. Either way, I’m keeping my fingers crossed! :)

 [Vilibald hanging out with Tim Ripper Owens]