MARC STORACE - The Voice
1. How did the band name KROKUS came about and what does it mean?
The genus Crocus is placed botanically in the iris family. In Switzerland “Crocus” is spelled Krokus and can be found also in the Swiss Alps. On the other hand Krokus stands for the two words “krok” (English slang for “strangle”) and “us”. The most attractive part to the ears lies in the middle of the word : ROK!! (smile)
2. Originally from Malta, you played in bands as a teenager. Was “Cinnamon Hades” your first band in your native Malta? What style of music did you play in those days and is there a recording of those times, even if it’s only a “bootleg”?
I called the very first band Stonehange Union and we purely played popular 60’s covers. The second band started out as The Boys and I re-named it Cinnamon Hades. We were part of the peace & flower power revolution during the famous Woodstock era. So obviously, we were playing a wider spectrum of covers ranging from the Beatles and Stones to Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, The Who and Jimi Hendrix. There were various recordings done by Malta Television.
3. How did you end up in Switzerland?
My road to Switzerland started out with a plane ride to London in ‘69. All I took with me was a backpack containing my clothes and my microphone.
4. How did you end up with TEA, at that time in the early 70’s the #1 Swiss band?
Towards the end of a short stint with a band called Deaf, René Tinner, one of our roadies also worked for TEA and said the band would love to audition me. So I hitchhiked to the band’s little commune by Lake Hallwil and that’s when things really started happening on a professional level.
5. You recorded 3 albums with TEA and toured extensively, sometimes with KROKUS as “supporting act”. Looking back, what did TEA bring to you in your musical development and what is your fondest moment as a member of TEA?
With TEA I was happy to intensely develop my singing and writing skills. I learned to co-exist within a small do-it-yourself family, sharing daily chores on a little commune by a lake. For the first time in my life it all became “for real”. We were writing songs, made demos, got a record deal, recorded albums and went on tour with great bands like Queen, Nazareth and Ginger Baker’s Airforce. Today I feel so lucky to still have Roland Eggli, TEA's ex-drummer and Peter Waelti, the band's ex-manager contributing their skills on the Krokus Team. Roland is on the Board and Peter is President of our “Globe Club for Clan & Fan”. A golden friendship that started over 30 years ago! You’ll find some fun pictures with both from the early days on my web site www.storace.ch.
It’s hard to pin down only one “fondest moment” within that 6-year span in those early 70’s but the first British Tour was probably the biggest highlight for me!
6. At the time when KROKUS prepared for their next album (“Metal Rendez-Vous”), you were still living in London. It was said that initially you were not at all motivated to join the band back in Switzerland. What changed your mind?
Well, I had moved back to London and got married to my English girlfriend Alice. I had a band called Eazy Money with whom I was looking at signing a deal with Chrysalis, and there were talks of touring the USA with Genesis … so you can’t really blame me! Then suddenly, things within Eazy Money turned sour and immediately afterwards I was flown in to Geneva for an audition with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. The second call from Krokus came shortly afterwards and this time I flew over for a weekend jam. I soon discovered that the Krokus boys had come a long way since I had heard them last. The rest is history.
7. The first release with you on vocals is the triple platinum album “Metal Rendez-Vous”. You toured Europe extensively , including playing Britain’s Reading Festival and embarking on your first ever US tour. Go back in time with us and share with us how you felt at that time as first Swiss rock band to tour America?
It was simply ecstatic! After all the “ups and downs” since leaving home, I really felt it was starting to pay off big time!! Not financially yet, but achievement-wise. Not without a continuation of “ups and downs”, but with more experience on how to handle them, at least on a personal level!
When we arrived in San Diego we first did what every rock band does, turned up the radio, popped open a can of beer and dived into the hotel pool, under that hot Californian sun … wow! We were already stars back in Europe, and almost as big as the Beatles in Switzerland, but after our first live taste opening for Sammy Hagar, I became aware that we had a hard climb to the top, if we wanted to make it high in the charts, here in this blessed US of A!! We basically still had a lot to learn about the American way of life, their business mentality, lots of people to meet, lots of work to do! The comforting bottom line for me was that Hard Rock was back, and we were there, and it was for real, and now it depended on our individual talents as performers and creative artists, plus a hell of a lot of team spirit and energy investment on the long dusty roads, to succeed.
8. Following your 1981 release “Hardware”, current lead guitarist Mandy Meyer replaced the charismatic guitar genius Tommy Kiefer, one of the original founder members of the band. Fans of Tommy know that 2006 will mark the 30th anniversary of his suicide death on December 24th, 1986. Tell us your fondest moment with Tommy!
Tommy was a real darling when I first joined. So much that I never even noticed he was on heavy drugs at all. We all had our drinks and smoked some harmless grass, just like we had done in earlier days backstage during the TEA tour! So anyway, whilst recording my vocals for Metal Rendez-vous, my debut album with Krokus, Tommy would always be present listening intensely and giving out some very good vibes through the glass. I would take a break from singing and sit next to him on the couch and I remember how he brought out the best of my good humor by laughing so loudly at my jokes! It was hilarious! He helped me relax.
9. During the breakthrough years of the early 80’s, at the height of your career (so far) and with the release of “Headhunter”, an album that sold over 1 million units then (and is still selling strong) and placed you in the US charts at #25, you toured as “special guest” of Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” tour (2nd largest US tour attendance that year) for parts of your North American tour. Tales are still being told that you “abused some privileges” and ultimately were kicked off the tour. You can’t “pay” for rock press like that these days. Would you mind sharing what caused the untimely departure on that tour?
Well, back in 1983 our “Headhunter Tour” started out with a LIVE-Nationwide TV Concert in Los Angeles. The reaction was incredible. Our new album started selling and climbing the US Billboard Charts faster than all the others did so far. When we hitched up with Def Leppard’s “Pyromania Tour” things really took off! We were suddenly playing in huge sold-out arenas with a rock band that was in 2nd place in the charts after Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”, and our “Headhunter”album was still rising!
Our Live performances turned into pure ecstasy every night. The kids loved us and cheered us back for multiple encores. So we were all having a hell of a good time and partied together. At times Phil Collins and I would jam with a local hotel bar band till the early hours. Pure bliss … an ideal musician’s life!
So you can imagine how shocked I was to suddenly hear that the Leps were angry at me for trespassing over marked areas on “their” stage, or to hear that Joe Elliot was pissed off at me for “stealing” his stage-talks with “his” audience and imitating “his” sing-a-long. Gimme a break!!
Krokus was a tough and experienced LIVE –ACT, more than anything else, and we were very well known for being very disciplined. How could you not be after being “on-the-road” for 4 years running even prior to that Def Leppard Tour? We had routine. We had stamina. We always worked with the same experienced tour manager called David Glover or Little Dave. We were like a little family and LD always kept an eye on keeping things top-professional! Time-schedules, stage rules and restrictions were respected!
I’m sure Sammy Hagar, Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, or AC/DC or Judas Priest, The Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Ted Nugent, Rush, Gary Moore, Cheap Trick, Van Halen, Kiss and many others would vouch for that! Krokus played hard, partied hard but stuck hard to the road rules!
10. As part of the “Headhunter” world tour you also played in Chile/South America in front of an 80,000 capacity crowd. In retrospect, how would you compare the concert in Chile with the same capacity crowd a couple of years later at the “Texas Jam Festival”? Are rock fans in Chile different from the ones in the USA or in any other part of the world? And if “yes”, what are the differences, even if only subtle?
We’re talking about two different countries with two different governments. In Chile, I could actually feel the oppression in the streets and on the market place before the show. This all took place back in the days of a dictatorial “Pinochet” rule. I went on stage with a slightly different emotion that evening!
I had spent some of the afternoon learning a few key words in Spanish. My teacher was the chief of police! He told me it was forbidden for me to hold up a fist on stage and instead of the American flag I was to carry a Chilean flag on stage when performing the song American Woman!!
The high society would be in the highly exclusive and securely secluded front rows whereas the rest of the people would fill up the rest of the huge stadium. They would hold up lit torches at the end of the show to emphasize their gratitude. This looked incredible under the stars. The audience behaved just like any other rock audience in the USA or any in another part of the world would do. They sang along to our songs, but the hundreds of pretty suntanned girls screamed a little bit longer and slightly louder in between our songs! That’s what’s so great about Rock Music. It unites thousands of souls and transforms their pressure and frustrations into a positive energy form producing mass-happiness and mass-elation.. Sometimes exploding into total hysteria!! I still cherish the “Torch Award” we received as a symbol of affection from the people of Chile.
11. In 1985 KROKUS toured the USA as headliners in support of “The Blitz”. The crowning end of that tour would have to be playing in front of 80,000 screaming fans as special guest of Van Halen during the “Texas Jam Festival”. Give us an idea on how that felt to face a crowd that size, and what went through your head when you took the stage?
Krokus had never played to an American crowd of such massive proportions before. I remember I could hardly hear myself whilst warming up my voice backstage. I kept control and calmed my nerves by doing what I call the “Tibetan Monk vocal chord drone”!
Our dressing rooms were pretty close to the stage area! LD popped his head in and called out “30 minutes” and I slowly did some stretching and finished the rest of my tea, honey and lemon mixture. Then I hopped out onto the field with the boys. The sun was slow in setting and it was very hot. We hit the stage like a whirlwind and immediately pounded our music with flesh and energy, hard into the great wide open!
One can only hear the stage monitors in most huge festivals, but we trusted our sound engineer and the crowd reacted very positively.
A sea of scantily clad bodies, some topless, stood up and waved their hands high into the air to the rhythm of our music. We had them all on their feet singing, till the very last rows …Long Stick Goes Boom!!! Heatstrokes (very appropriate considering they were sprinkling hundreds of sun-scorched fans with water to cool off!) Screaming In The Night! Ready To Rock! Midnite Maniac! Eat The Rich ! Headhunter! …. Phew!!!! … a day to remember.
Backstage, I drank cool water and breathed air through an ice-cold towel thrown over my face! It cools the head and lungs and then.. whammo!!! .. back out there with an assaulting band and a screaming crowd, drenched to the bone, rocking in sweat! The crowd and us, united in a sea of sound.
Minutes went by like seconds … and suddenly it was over, almost as quick as it had started! One long encore and finito! Ears still ringing, heart beating fast, I walked back into the dressing room and layed down panting with a shit-eating grin across my sunburned face … ain't life sweet!
12. In 1988 you released the album/CD “Heart Attack”. Co-Headlining with Ted Nugent, you tour successfully all over Europe and return as headliner back to America. Things appear to be going very well to the outsider. However, right thereafter, you and Fernando - as the cornerstones of the band - leave KROKUS. What spurred that decision?
The “Heart Attack” album was a futile attempt to resuscitate the 8-year old, dying New Wave Of Heavy Metal. Krokus had gone too far from the beaten track with “Change Of Address” and Grunge was taking over fast! We simply didn’t see it coming until it was too late, even though we had signed to MCA for the new release. We hoped for a new clean start.
The co-headlining tour with our old buddy Ted Nugent through Europe was a gas! I thoroughly enjoyed it and remember how we shared a tour bus with the motor-city madman and got to hear some first hand wild stories and look through pictures of his proud collection of hunting trophies.
Krokus returned to the United States. We headlined 2- to 5-thousand seaters, but it suddenly did not feel the same anymore. The band blamed it on the performance not being tough enough. I took it as a “sign of the times” and as we joined Iron Maiden for the very last gig in New Orleans, my statement was confirmed. The Stadium was only half full and even Eddie couldn’t change the path of destiny. The next day we shared a beer with the Maiden boys on Bourbon Street and I made up my mind to call it quits.
Fernando followed in my footsteps, but we went our separate ways.
13. During this time-out, you returned to Malta. Do you consider Malta to be your “real” home or Switzerland?
My home today is the place where I have lived, worked and matured as a singer, songwriter and person. It is where I have made new friends, it is the place I grew to love for it’s beautiful woods, lakes and mountains, pastures and architecture. It is the country where I am raising two lovely children, Luca and Giuliana, with my dear Swiss wife Cornelia. I love them.….. and this land is Switzerland of course! I think and feel like a Swiss man today, however, my heart is still closely attached to my Maltese background. I have never lost contact with my family and friends living there today. I left my natural home when I was 19 years of age, and it always will be a special part of me.
14. In 1990 you recorded your first solo CD called “Blue”, a rather critically acclaimed album. Although never really promoted, it sold out and years later it was re-released by BMG. This is one of the most sought after “gems” for the KROKUS fans that wanted to see the “other side of Marc”. Any comments?
I see a whole chain of events when I think of my Blue era. But the most rewarding one, apart from the beauty of the songs themselves, was the fact that due to this project I met my wife Cornelia and fell head over heals in love with her. That’s why I covered Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman”.
15. In 1994, with Fernando and Mark Kohler on guitars, Many Maurer on bass and drummer Freddy Steady you recorded BTO’s hit “Ain’t seen nothing yet” as a single. What made you join KROKUS again and why releasing a cover song of another band when you have such good songs of your own?
The reason why we recorded another Randy Bachmann song is because it had sort of become a part of our Krokus tradition. It all started when our manager suggested that we cover a song by a Canadian composer, in order to boost Krokus's airplay on Canadian radio. It worked…American Woman became a hit all over, and we still play it live to this day!
16. A year later, in 1995, you recorded the critically acclaimed comeback CD “To Rock Or Not To Be” and secure a strong presence in the rock world. The CD reaches #5 in the Swiss music charts, earning you a gold record sales award. One would assume that this was a great start to get KROKUS re-ignited and yet (and unfortunately for your fans) that line-up splits again. What happened?
Times were still hard because internationally, Hard Rock was still back in the underground. That’s how it had been in the late seventies before the New Wave Of Heavy Metal Revival exploded. Our success in Switzerland did not guarantee the same income from outside our borders and Freddy, Mark and I had more than just our own mouths to feed!
Fernando took this badly and we simply lost communication.
17. In the year 2000 you recorded the AC/DC cover album “DC World”. Bearing in mind the AC/DC comparisons that had dogged KROKUS especially in the beginning of their career, “DC World” was a brave move! Was this just a tribute project for the deceased Bon Scott or was there more to it?
First and foremost it was a tribute to a great singer and a great band! Secondly it was a bold mature step from my side. I felt there was nothing to lose and just went with the flow and really enjoyed it too. I still love singing AC/DC songs till this day.
18. In 2002 KROKUS officially announced the return of Marc “the voice” Storace. Up to that point it was widely publicized that you and Fernando Von Arb had differences. Who was responsible for the reunion of two of the original members of KROKUS and how did this all come about?
As I said before, after “To Rock Or Not To Be” we all “silently” went our different ways. The only real conflict was created by the media!
So, after being involved with several projects, I started writing songs for my next solo album. In the meantime I sensed that Hard Rock was slowly returning from the underground and I called Fern to ask if he was into re-joining our Rock Forces, before I committed myself totally to my solo project!
19. In 2003 you released a new studio CD called “Rock The Block”. Did that re-open the doors to the Hard Rock Heaven?
This was such a confidence booster. It was a “first” for Krokus in the band’s whole history to shoot from “0 to No. 1” in the charts of our native Switzerland. Successful touring followed and the band’s first visit to Sweden at “Swedenrock 2003”. It also marked a “first” ever Live performance at the renowned “Montreux Jazz Festival”, which for years has included more than just jazz on the agenda. What a great new start!!!
20. In 2004 fans awaited eagerly the arrival of another double Live CD called “Fire & Gasoline”. You already had recorded earlier in your career (1986) “Alive & Screaming”. Why another Live CD?
Twenty years had passed since the last “Krokus Live” recording. Many more hits were penned since then that never were recorded live. Technology improved over the last 20 years as well. Basically, the band released a compilation of 20 of their best songs, recorded during the “Rock The Block” tour of the previous year at the Swedenrock Festival and some concerts in Switzerland. “Rock The Block” introduced us back as a force to be reckoned with. The idea with the Live recording was also to introduce a younger audience to our material and at the same time reward the loyal fan with classics, recorded with today’s technology instead of having to listen to just the 80’s originals. In Europe, this release also included a DVD as a bonus from our Live performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 20, 2003. And we had astounding results!! None ever expected a double Live CD to go to #6 in the Swiss charts ever. A clear sign that the band was again experiencing it’s second coming since my debut with “Metal Rendez-Vous”, which sold triple platinum in Switzerland.
21. Also in 2004 you agreed to act as guest lead vocalist for veteran Californian Heavy Metal band “Warrior” on the CD “The Wars Of Gods And Men”. What made you decide to participate on that project while still fronting KROKUS?
It was a nice change for me to record with American musicians for the first time and sing at full blast using my lower vocal registers. What really made me decide to sing on The Wars… was because the music sounded so aggressive. I really got off on that. It was all so honest and I never had been given the opportunity to venture into the lower realms of my vocal spectrum, with lyrics so cryptic and a message so positive!
However, Krokus remained my priority. Getting involved in other music projects stirs my creative juices and gives me objectivity for Krokus. I come back to my main thing, refreshed and all the wiser.
22. In 2005 you acted as guest vocalist on an album for “Biss”. How did this come about and was it for the same reasons as your recording with “Warrior”, whilst a member of KROKUS?
Yes, this was a repetition of the Warrior adventure, except that with Biss it happened in Germany with German musicians. The song material ranged between that of Warrior and Krokus. A very emotional melodic driving album, straight to the point!
23. What were the reasons that Fernando left the band for good in 2005?
After the release of “Rock The Block” and the encouraging success we had with this #1 chart topper in Switzerland, being invited at the prestigious “Montreux Jazz Festival”, we wanted to visit our loyal American fans and rebuild that relationship. However, whenever that subject came up, Fern pulled on the “hand brake” for no obvious reasons.
With the success of the follow-up “Fire & Gasoline” as a double Live CD in the Top 10 charts, another door opened in the States but Fern again did not wanted to go! This time he blamed it on a sprained finger nerve. Incidentally, he played his last tour with Krokus in the summer of 2004. The band’s US Record Company could not understand how Krokus could switch into a song-writing mode after they had just spent a hefty budget on promoting the band’s comeback to the North American Live Circuit that autumn.
Early in 2005, Fernando said he was tired of it all and no longer wished to be part of Krokus. Feeling quite short-changed, I immediately called my old comrade-in-arms Mandy Meyer to take over as new lead guitarist of Krokus. Mandy joined and Krokus immediately re-visited the good old US of A!!! In the “gallery” of our web site www.krokusonline.com you will find many pictures of that tour.
24. There are a great number of Swiss artists that had “measurable” success like chart positions, gold and/or platinum awards for record sales, etc. However, KROKUS is the only Swiss rock band up to today that “made it” big internationally, especially in the United States. What did it take to accomplish this, and, as a follow-up question, why do you think no other Swiss rock band has accomplished this up to today? It would appear that you paved the way and following it would have been easier!
There are music schools and loads of band autobiographies have been written, but there is no real school of rock'n'roll or “savoir vivre” (Know How). One has to create his own way. There is no formula.
Krokus was at the right place, with the right music, at the right time. One can copy, imitate or follow, but in the end it’s one’s own very talent and personality that’s gonna get you there! One is always searchin' because success is never guaranteed.
25. Your album/CD releases “Metal Rendez-Vous”, “Hardware”, “One Vice At A Time” and “Headhunter” are considered “classics” today in the hard rock genre. How does that make you feel to be a “classic”?
It makes me feel good to be a living part of a culture that respects it’s past! I cherish my roots and respect most of what I grew up with because that’s what shaped me. My past is a part of me. That does not mean that I’m not open for the new. The modern world has much to offer but I like to remember where it all came from.
26. You reached platinum sales, sold out tours, KROKUS even became honorary citizens of Tennessee-USA. Although the nucleus of KROKUS remained, mostly you as the most distinguishable band identity as the vocalist, there were a significant number of changes in band line-up over the years. Do you feel that this was a main reason why the steady progress and success of KROKUS was slowed down?
One could say that every new change brings new blood, and it started with Mandy Meyer coming to Krokus aged 19, as the new lead guitar player replacing Tommy. Maybe not yet experienced, but very talented and he had this charisma and good looks. Still he never was given the chance to record on any Krokus album…until now! Things went “full circle” and it took us 25 years to get into the same recording studio together. Everyone contributed great song material to the new Krokus album before Stefan came to the band and I have a good feeling, Krokus is gonna go places again! So we finally found the perfect Krokus team. Will it last? That’s something one never knows, the road is hard at the bottom and hard at the top, but I certainly hope so, from the bottom of my heart.
27. How do you account for the renewed interest in rock and heavy metal?
We’ve watched it come…we’ve watched it go…and now it’s simply back!!! Just like the tides and moon cycles. Great for all rock bands of course!!!!
This is how I see it:
The natural cycle of music-evolution originated in the 50’s. It came from the black folk in the USA and developed into that old rhythmic rock'n'roll. As we know, it was soon developed into a commercial force of craftsmanship and passion by the likes of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and many, many others.
Then came the first wave of Disco-Pop and Soul Music, e.g. Diana Ross and the Supremes, Otis Redding, James Brown, Sam & Dave etc. and flooded the scenes. In the meantime, rock'n'roll developed a harder edge and the first wave of Hard Rock exploded with the memorable Woodstock Festival in the late sixties. Bands like the Who, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath appeared and left their everlasting trademark.
The second wave of Disco arrived and had evolved into whole big Musicals like Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Of course artists like Herbie Hancock and the Crusaders or The Average White Band provided good dance music too! Hard Rock then re-emerged from the underground as The New Wave of Heavy Metal with new bands like Iron Maiden, Krokus, Saxon and AC/DC!
Then we got Rap, Techno, House, Hip-Hop etc. and for a while Hard Rock or Heavy Metal went back to the underground.
These cycles of “music evolution” help musicians to develop new angles to their creativity!!
So anyway, Rock is Back (smile).
28. You and Mandy Meyer go back a long way; what’s it like working with the “new boys” of KROKUS, who weren’t members in the ‘80s?
First of all, I must say it is very heart warming for me to sing with younger musicians who treat our mostly “Classic LIVE Repertoire” with such passion and enthusiasm. One simply can’t get away from playing a lot of the old Krokus hits “live”, because our fans demand them and so it’s important for me to have the privilege to sing with ever excited band musicians who show a fresh enthusiasm for every performance.
I need that energy to boost my power in order to hit the same high notes I recorded on those classics when I was much younger!
I also appreciate the fact that younger musicians are up to date with modern technology and open about other musical trends. This gives a modern outlook within a basic structure that exists since the late seventies.
Thanks to all this, our new album Hellraiser retains a traditional Krokus sound but yet aspires to new frontiers. The new song material touches a wider spectrum of color and sound, with driving rhythm and enhanced lyrical ideas. We’re moving along with the times without abandoning our Krokus “core”, and that’s where it’s at!
29. How does your work with your side project “Acoustical Mountain” differ from that with Krokus?
These are two worlds! Acoustical Mountain is a semi-acoustical trio open for “live” improvisation. We hardly do any rehearsals except during sound-checks or when we introduce a new song into our repertoire. It’s purely a fun, sort of “party project”.
Krokus is more concrete, due to the fact that we are a five-piece band; we need to stick to fixed arrangements. We also rehearse often in order to deliver that hard rock precision punch!
Both musically and logistically, they are different but I get a great kick out of both. It feels just as good for me to be able to close my eyes and sense the energy of an audience in a sold-out club as it feels to sing for 40,000 thousand screaming fans at an Open-Air Festival!!! The two demand a very, very different approach but the energy return can be just as intense.
I simply need to keep both in harmonic balance on my agenda and in return I get a balanced heart and soul.
30. You’ve been quoted as saying that Mozart was a rocker at heart – why?
Well, he loved to party, played snooker, and was pretty non-conformist to the aristocratic “snobby” way of life or people who imposed stiff or unfair rules within the Viennese hierarchy. He was rebellious. He was able to relate to the underdog as well as the upper crust. He was a people’s musician. He was romantic. He was passionate and temperamental and sometimes very sad and secretive. His music reflects it all.
31. Let’s switch gears quickly and move from Mozart to deceased vocalist Bon Scott of AC/DC fame. During a “live” interview & acoustic set in October 2005 during the “Lewis & Floorwax” show in Denver, Colorado you answered to a caller a question that I would have expected some 25 years ago. However, wherever you go, whatever Continent it is, the question whether you were asked to replace Bon Scott for AC/DC is still going around. And the stories are getting better and better over the years. It’s time to set the record straight! And you’re the only one that can tell us what really happened?
I simply was approached by the boss of our new production company from Birmingham. They delivered the gear to Solothurn/Switzerland for a tour. After one of our rehearsals I was pulled to the side and asked “the” question, but I was really enjoying my new found success with Krokus and couldn’t imagine leaving my new mates in exchange for a risky situation! I mean, who was to guarantee that I would have been accepted by AC/DC fans as Bon's replacement after all? This was simply a case of “a bird in the hand”.
32. How have things changed touring around the world since the start of your career? Any new routines or habits to keep fit?
Much has changed since those early seventies touring days but it still takes basically a sound health, a voice and a microphone for me to do my work well. I more or less kept the same singing technique, coupled with an eye on staying ready for action! I cannot expect to sing the many high notes that I recorded in the eighties without putting the physical power behind to deliver them. I stuck to my self-taught disciplines and rituals, in order to be able give the audience their money’s worth! Recently I found out that a little grappa (Swiss grape brandy) before a performance does wonders ha, ha !!
33. You’re married with a family … does this protect you from groupies when you’re touring?
Groupies became sparse compared to the swinging eighties. We are still occasionally approached and I treat them like any other normal fan and move on.
Nowadays musicians have to really be very much into their music or they might as well stay at home.
34. How do you pick a set list for your concerts? You’ve got so many good songs to choose from!
Not an easy task, but for starters we know that our fans would be disappointed if we left out the cream of our classics. Then we try to pick the most popular new songs according to the territories/countries!
35. You’ve recently broken into film, both in “Handyman” and “ANUK – the Path of the Warrior”. How does the making of a feature film compare to the making of a music video?
In music videos one usually mimes and performs or acts to pre-recorded music in front of cameras. In a feature film you hear no music and you talk and act in front of an open microphone and cameras. They both demand endless "takes", so endurance is a must!
36. KROKUS just recorded and released their 15th studio album called “Hellraiser”. That song was written by you exclusively and appeared on a European movie soundtrack CD called “Handyman”. What is the connection between the movie and the title track to KROKUS’s new release?
I originally wrote the song for the new album. When the question came up about which song would suit the movie “Handyman” best, Hellraiser was chosen! We did a funny acting part in this hilarious comedy film. We played a chaotic Krokus rock'n'roll band (smile)!!! For the new Krokus CD, the music of Hellraiser was re-recorded, the vocals stayed the same. The ultimate fan will find slight differences between the soundtrack version and the new release version. This could become a trivia question of the future.
37. The new “Hellraiser” release has all members of KROKUS with the exception of Stefan Schwarzmann (who had just joined the band immediately before recording) contributing to the songwriting. Tell us your experience to work with Mandy, Tony & Dom on an individual basis, as you worked on your lyrics to fit their music compositions.
The songwriting for this new album started in the autumn of 2004, when the band unexpectedly was forced to switch to “writing mode” instead of heading out to the USA for a Krokus comeback tour.
Midnite Fantasy was one song out of a whole bunch that I had written earlier, for my 2nd solo album. Had Fernando not accepted my offer to re-join the Krokus forces in 2002, that’s where this song would have ended, together with Justice, which also came from the same bunch.
Writing with Tony and Dominique was cool and easygoing! They presented me with very inspiring demos of their new musical ideas and I recorded all my vocal melodies and wrote all the lyrics at home.
With Mandy it was a more physical and a challenging experience from the very start! I sweated behind a drumkit, singin' out loud and jammin' to his great riffs! It all worked out great! We made rough arrangements out of the new ideas and took a long break while I finished all the vocal melodies and all the new lyrics at my home too. Mandy laid down some cool demo musical tracks and we got together again and recorded my vocals.
Later the band met and we made pre-production demos for Dennis, together with Stefan on drums.
38. In the 80’s the biggest seller for KROKUS was “Headhunter”. The biggest hit (and crowd-pleaser on tours) was “Screaming In The Night” on that album. In 2006 you release “Hellraiser”. The single is “Angel Of My Dreams” and insiders are excited about your newest work. Coincidence or faith? The fans will decide! Could “Hellraiser” be the “Headhunter” of the year 2006? And “Angel Of My Dreams” exceeds all expectations, similar to “Screaming In The Night”?
It’s not so easy to predict the future, when you’re emotionally so close to your new babies or songs, as I am. I obviously wish every song the very best. We have touched a wider spectrum with this album, so that it definitely never has a dull moment. “Angel Of My Dreams” was the most obvious radio orientated single. This mid-tempo ballad is what one expects to hear as a main music theme in some movie.
However the new “Hellraiser” CD also contains many other melodic songs with the same potential as “Screaming In The Night”, or more?!
Take My Love is a phenomenally new and original sounding song within “the whole” Krokus repertoire, and so is the more melancholic and big sounding Hangman.
The speedy Spirit Of The Night is a great metal scorcher in the same league, I do dare to say, as the merciless “Headhunter” itself!!!!
Love Will Survive grooves from side to side like our good old “American Woman” and emits the same fun and party vibes that get you movin' down in the groin and in the hips!!!
Then we have our spectacular “no-frills” tracks like Too Wired To Sleep, Turnin' Inside Out and No Risk No Gain.
Fight On is very heavy and full of attitude that spirals into an epic emotional intruder!
So Long and Midnite Fantasy slow you down with feelings and emotional heartbreak whereas Justice gets you back and rockin' on your feet!
This album is very rocky but colorful …….as you already can tell by listening to Hellraiser and Angel Of My Dreams on www.krokusonline.com !!
Then, to top it all, we bash out a last frenzied and potential future encore called Rocks Off !
39. If life were a journey, how would you sum up yours so far? What’s next?
I was lucky to have been born into a family where we shared love and music and now I feel lucky to still be sharing love and music with more than just my own dear little family.
My life has been a rewarding experience of ups and downs. It left many scars, but I look around at the rest of the world and thank my lucky stars.
If God grants me the strength, I wish to continue to be musically active and be able to enjoy the fruits of my labors for many, many more years to come.
Hallelujah and Rock On!