Rock Impressions

by Massimo Salari

Let’s start speaking about your last strong album “The Usual Suspect”, in my opinion it’s a sunny work, it makes oneself happy… does it is a happy moment for you?
I agree that there are some positive messages on the CD. And, there is a lot of melody even in the heavier songs. So yeah, as opposed to an album like "Slam," that was very dark in content and sound, this is more positive.

The guitar playing of Al Pitrelli it’s always great, how have you met, how is born your musical collaboration?
Al is an old friend of mine. I knew him from the club scene in Long Island, NY (USA). He kept saying to me, "I am going to work with you and I would say 'yeah ok' and after a lot of that talk back and forth we finally started writing and doing demos. He played in my "JLT All Stars" band and has gone on to his own fame and fortune.

It seems to me that the new album is oriented to the NWOBHM sound, i’m thinking about songs like “Power Of Love”, “Rest Of My Life” and “Finished Business”, in particular i’ve found some referencies to Saxon, it’s only an impression of mine or do you really wanted to play that sound?
I respect your impression and opinion but I would not compare "The Usual Suspects" to Saxon. Most people have told me the new CD is more like Rainbow. Rainbow was instrumental in defining the melodic hard rock sound.

What is that push an artist like you to write power songs like “Devil’s Door”, “Jade Knife”, “Blood Money” e “Ball And Chain”, why do you still have got so much love for hard rock?
It's in my blood....part of me and my soul... part of my whole career. I love that stuff!!

Who are “The Usual Suspects”? Which is the idea behind this title?
I collaborated on the songs with some of my favorite people, hence the name “The Usual Suspects.” The musicians on this record are people who have always been there for me They have devoted their time, energy and talents when I have been up and down. We all toured together as the ‘JLT All Star Band’ in the 1990s. Withe exception of David Z they playd on one or more of my records in the past.

Do you believe that this kind of hard rock will survive in the years or do you think that there will be some changes in future?
Only time will tell. I would hope so.

Which is the song that represent at the best the new album and why?
That's a question I would rather have journalists, radio people, music industry executives and fans answer ;-).

In your career you did a lot of songs, do you find easier or not to make a good new song today?
Writing is writing and if you are good eriter you can always come up with songs. It's important to keep the quality and integrity. It's not like I run out of ideas. The world is full of miracles. I look all around draw from inspirations in everyday life.

Looking at your past which is the song/band/period that you like the best?
It's really hard to answer this question because each project I was with had a major impact on me at the time. In otherwords, when I was with Fandango, that seemed bigger than life because we were signed to a record deal with a major label for 4 albums (which is rare for artsists today). Then, when I joined Rainbow that was one of the pinnacles of my career. Fronting Deep Purple was like a lifelong dream because I honed my chops in a band, Ezra, that was known for its DP cover songs. I could go on and on. Every year of my career has been an a roller coaster rode. Good and bad moments but all equally important for the time.

There will be a time in which you don’t want to sing again “I Surrender”?
I found it re-inspiring on the HTP tour to sing it again! It's so well received and such great song. I do not get tired singing it.

Deep Purple, Rainbow, Malmsteen, Fandango, Huges, Brazen Abbot, if you must choose one of these to leave, which ---one do you would choose and why?
I am not sure I understand this particular question ;-). But if you are asking out of all these projects which one is my least favorite then I have to say there is none, See answer to question #9 ;-).

I like a lot the stuff made with Brazen Abbot, what would you say about this project?
Nikolo is brilliant! All of the music we made I am very proud of. There is a lot of diversity. We did some real heavy rockers and then a softer song like "Love Is On Our Side." Then there was the incredible orchestral stuff we did for "Nostradamus." We just finished working together on another album. It’s called “My Resurrection.” Nik and I co-wrote that song as well. I can say there is absolute magic between Nik and I. Something chemical and spiritual happens and we embrace it and the result is great music.

“Holy Man” was a good album, “Slam!” was better, “JLT” a great album, there is a secret behind this progression or it’s only a matter of growing experience?
Thank you for your opinion and compliments. If you think the albums got better and better over time then I rspect your opinion. I do not look at this as a progression in my opinion. I view each album as a different entity. It is hard for me to compare them but the fans and journalists compare them all the time which is fine with me ;-). So, no, there is not any secret to the progression because each album has it's own unique sound.

Looking back there is something that you would change in these albums?
No I couldnt change anbyting way it went down looking back in that what public may wanted slam was dark holy man going in the direction apparently people like more positige but i would not change anything because it was an evolution that happened naturally.

Your voice is always great, which is the secret for it’s longevity?
I try to maintain a very healthy lifestyle and believe in moderation of all things. I did have some formal training when I was younger and that has always helped me. Years of experience has also taught me what to do to preserve my voice. I try and get at least 8 hours of sleep or more whether I am home or on the road. Staying hydrated is also key.

Hard Rock is huge in Japan, but there aren’t a lot of hard rock bands that came out from Japan, do you know why?
I am not sure. I have played with many great Japanese bands and artists who sing and write GREAT in English.

What do you think about the new medieval project made by Blackmore?
As long as I have known Ritchie he has always wanted to make this type of music. He was a big fan of other artists who make music in this genre as well. I am happy that he is happy. He seems really at peace with the musical direction he has taken and I wish him all the best. In fact, I was recently asked by Carol Stevens, the band's manager, if I would like to sing a duet with Candace. I told them I would love to!

If he will call you to sing again together will you accept his offer?

Can you tell me more about your friendship with Glenn, what kind of man he is?
Glenn and I have been friends for a long time. He is an incrdibly talented and gifted songwriter, singer and musician.

When it is born your collaboration?
When I did a tour in Japan for my Holy Man album, Glenn played bass and he also did some vocals plus a few songs of his own. It was great! People loved it! Then my manager and the Japanese record label agreed that we should do something together. We had tremendous success with 3 albums…”HTP”, “HTP2”, and the “Live in Tokyo” disc. And, touring Japan and Europe twice in 3 years was also amazing. It was great to re-connect with the fans.

Will you do a third album together?
It's possible but right now he and I are focused on promoting our recent solo CDs. I sincerely hope Glenn and I can do another studio album at some point in the future.

In my opinion HTP is more than a project between two great artists, what’s your opinion?
Yes I think Glenn and I were at a similar spiritual place and time during HTP. There was more than music going on. There was a friendship of nearly 20 years, the fact that we always wanted to work together. There was definitely a spiritual connection.

Glenn has got a great commitment to Jesus, what do you think about?
I think it is great for Glenn if it works for him. It has brought to a very good place in his life and I am very supportive of his decison.

What do you think about the Queen with Paul Rodgers? Does it will work?
I was surprised when I heard about it at first but the more I think about it the more I believe it can work well on certain songs. I am sure they will play Bad Company, Free and Paul Rodgers songs as well. It's a very interesting project! Paul Rodgers is one of my favorite singers of all time.

Which projects do you still want to realize?
Naturally I would love it if Ritchie were to decide to reunite Rainbow and ask me to join him. That would be awesome. There is some discussion about Mother’s Army getting back together. I am also working on a rock opera called “Stargazer” about Galileo. The people who are planning to produce the rock opera are the same people who brought the world the “We Will Rock You” show. So, it would be great to see some of these things come to fruition.

Why have you choose to work with Frontiers?
Frontiers has been courting me for a long time and we finally decided to take them up on their offer to sign me. My manager and I were very happy with MTM and they did a great job. They are excellenet people as well. We just thought a change would be interesting. So far, Frontiers has been great and talking to magazines and e-zines like yours has been wonderful. The support has been amazing. I am very thankful.

Will you come again in Italy to play live?
If we can arrange a tour I would hope that we would make a couple stops in Italy ;-). After all, Frontiers is based in Italy and I am of Italian heritage myself. It's always great to go back to Italy.

What kind of music do you like to listen to in your free time?
I have very diverse taste in music. I listen to all kinds. Rockwise, I have ben checking out Nickelback, Maroon 5, Train and Gary Moore's latest recently.

Which is the most weird thing that happened to you?
There are too many things to name. This is not the wierdest but certain very memorable and metaphysical. Rainbow was in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. We were changing bus drivers because our current driver had to go on vacation. Ritchie and I came down late morning to get in the bus and Ritchie said, "Do you see his aura? It is black we are not going on." We paid the original driver enough money to make it worth it for him to cancel his vacation. The upshot of this whole story is that this bus driver with the black aura ended up being the same pilot in the plane that killed Randy Rhoads of Ozzy fame.

Your musical carreer is very impressive, do you were only luky or it was made by hard working?
A little of both. Luck always is a factor to some degree. Like I feel that luck and Fate had something to do with the fact that my work with Fandango ended up in Blackmore's hands and that when he needed a vocalist that I was available and won the audition with Rainbow. I have always been a hard worker and there is no doubt that hard work pays off most of the time.

These are very dark times, in your opinion there is still something good in the world?
I'd like to quote something from a piece called Desiderata by Max Ehrman. "In the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy."

Reviews (in italian): The Usual Suspects

Related Artists: HTP, Brazen Abbot, Sunstorm


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