KERRANG magazine - UK
December 1-15, 1983
"Screaming For Vengeance"
Interview With Vocalist Marc Storace
CREEM magazine USA
K R O K U S:
"Swiss Metal Gods"
Interview with bassist Chris Von Rohr
It’s round about midnight and I’m sitting in the Morrisey Tavern watching John Cassavetes blow the hell out of Las Vegas in Machine Gun McCain, wondering what Ponch and Jon’s feeble debut made no one forget the rockin’ Landers Sisters.
I can say about Krokus that won’t sound as it were written by some anonymous hack cranking out yet another boring record company hype sheet.
It isn’t easy. For one thing, the weather – even at this late hour – is far too humid for the kind of serious thinking a deal like this needs; and for another, I sense the beginnings of a massive headache aimed straight for my temporal region.
The heat I can live with, but the headache … ah, well, that’s rock’n’roll for you - and seeing as how I’d just subjected myself to almost four and a half hours of back to back sets by Gary Moore, the Kroke, and Def Leppard (and that doesn’t take into account the soundchecks, nor the fact that I spent most of those four and a half hours in front of a side column of speakers large enough to house a family of five with two cars), anything less than a migraine at this point in time would be a blessing.
So I suppose I should be grateful that my brains aren’t leaking into my shoes and leave it at that.
Amazing. Here it was, more than two and a half hours before showtime, and already the crazies had taken to the sidewalks for their weekly Friday night block party.
Maybe it was the heat – or maybe some of them had been spooked totally over the edge earlier in the day when NASA’s space shuttle Enterprise, atop a 747, cruised the rooftops at the comfortable altitude of some 2,000 feet, making it, at 4.4. million pounds, the closest most people in Toronto would ever get to heavy metal in their lives – but that was their loss.
Me, I had a far more serious handicap to confront; namely, the prospect of wading chin-deep into the slavering maw of heavy metal and coming out of the other side with… what? A portrait of five Swiss guys in a rock’n’roll band? Who was I kidding? No, clearly this was an assignment to be taken seriously.
Pulling out the record company bio, I skimmed it for the usual key details and came away with the usual dry facts instead: how the band (Chris Von Rohr, bass and percussion; Fernando Von Arb, lead guitar; Marc Storace, vocals; Mark Kohler, rhythm guitar; and Steve Pace, drums) formed in Switzerland in 1974; opened for every "has-been" and "also-ran" in the book from Cheap Trick to Ted Nugent; recorded six albums (two of which you can’t find these days even if your life depended on it); toured wherever and whenever to make it… all in all, it was the usual scam.
When I read that, according to some acid casualty in people, the Kroke made “power chord demolition music so awesomely loud and fast it’ll scorch your rugs and curl your linoleum”, I had to admit that the prospects for this band looked possible, if not passable.
After their show (an alright amalgamation of Kiss, Aerosmith, and Queen, when they were all in their early days – only a zillion times louder), I cornered bassist Von Rohr for the usual post-concert CREEM interrogation:
CREEM: How about clearing up this whole AC/DC thing once and for all? You guys have been compared to them for quite a while now.
CVR: More than two years. (laughs) We used to be compared to Status Quo. But I’m glad you asked this question. The thing is, both Krokus and AC/DC have the same roots, the same influences. We’re both Chuck Berry-age, guitar-boogie, rock influenced bands. We have a raunchy sound, but we can’t see AC/DC playing some of the songs off our latest album, "Headhunter". I mean, can you imagine “Screaming In The Night” played by them?
But there is now war between Krokus and AC/DC, regardless of what the rock magazines say.
CREEM: You guys aren’t exactly heavy metal in the same sense that, say, Motorhead are heavy metal.
CVR: We don’t even see ourselves as heavy metal so much as a melodic rock band. We give a good show, a good performance, and we get the adrenaline going. We’re into songs, not just riffs. And our fans like Krokus, Scorpions and Def Leppard: those bands that play more than just riff songs.
CREEM: Alright, enough of that. So tell me, is life in Switzerland all that’s it cracked up to be?
CVR: It’s so boring.
CREEM: C’mon, don’t give me any of that. What about all those chocolates and Swiss maids?
CVR: You’ve got a couple of cows, farmers, and boring girls. We had to work double hard to leave because we were bored to death. There’s nothing there except a jazz scene in Montreux – and that’s boring too.
CREEM: So, where did you go?
CVR: We consider ourselves to be an International band now. We’ve been all over the world. We spent a year in Switzerland, escaped to Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, across Russia border, over to England, and now we’re in North America.
CREEM: Alright, enough of that. So tell me, is life behind the Iron Curtain all it’s cracked up to be?
CVR: Here, you have everything: records, rock’n’roll programs… I like the way North Americans stick to something – like hard rock. They don’t run into new fashion like they do in England.
As far as audiences go, there’s no audience who can party as long and as hard. We love it. Fans all over the world are great; it’s just the bands that are good or bad. We never blame a mediocre gig on an audience.
Over there, however, it’s the pure opposite. You have no idea. Over there they have only one Marshall amp and only one Hammond organ, which is up in their radio studio. People were coming up to us begging, ‘Smuggle me out in the bass drum! Get me out of the country!’ Every time you play, there’s nothing but a lot of police in the first five rows. There are no fans talking to the band, and if you throw a bass string away, everybody dives for it. They beg you for a second bass string. And if you’re a girl, there are no stockings, no lipstick…
Over there, on the black market, people tear through any tape they get. I’m sure that even CREEM is there somewhere. And you can’t take any money out of the country, so you get paid in vodka and goulash. You have no idea how lucky you are to be born in a different place.
CREEM: Speaking of being born in a different place, what’s a guy like Rob Halford doing on Headhunter? From what I read about him in CREEM, he’s a real wimp.
CVR: Wimp or no wimp, he’s a great guy. To me he’s real humorous and a great character. We were both working in the same studio. We were doing “Ready To Burn”, and Rob was next door working on a live Judas Priest tape for MTV. He heard the track, jumped into the sound booth, and just started singing along.
CREEM: OK, fair enough, but what about Randy Bachman? What’s with the Guess Who/BTO fixation?
CVR: We were told that a certain percentage of music played on Canadian radio stations has to be Canadian, so we recorded “American Woman” to get on the radio in Canada. Then Randy Bachman heard it, came to see us, and suggested that we record “Stayed Awake All Night” as a follow-up.
We do it a bit heavier than they originally did it. It was heavy for it’s time, we’ve just updated a bit.
CREEM: What about “Eat The Rich”?
It’s a science fiction song. A future vision about social imbalance. About the very rich and the very poor. You do not have to go to India to see it, just take a look at the people in the Bronx. The song is about taking it away from the rich and giving it back.
CREEM: I take it then that Krokus means some kind of avenging, all-powerful mutant Jap baby eater, right?
CVR: It is the same as your ‘crocus’, just spelled differently. It is a red flower you can smoke; very strong grass which makes you forget everything…
So, it’s around 1:15 in the morning, and last call was close to half an hour ago. John Cassavetes got his from the mom long before that, and I’m at the stage where I’m watching the white noise generated by from a television station which has packed it in for the night – and making sense out of it.
Walking towards the Yonge/Bloor subway, I run across three teenagers coming in the opposite direction. And, although I’m in no mood for conversation, the Dep Leppard backstage pass still stuck to my jacket (nice move, Morgan) ensures otherwise.
“Hey,” says one kid, “you know Def Leppard?”
“Nor really,” I answer. “Did you see the show?”
“Yeah”, answers another kid, his eyes wide and glued to the bright green pass.
“You don’t know Def Leppard?”
“No”, I foolishly admit, “I’m doing a story on Krokus. What did you think of them?”
“They’re OK”, says the third kid. “Their singer sure sounds like Bon Scott, doesn’t he?”
“C’mon”, I reply, “can you imagine ‘Screaming In The Night’ played by A/DC?”
The first kid nods slowly, then his face lights up as if I know what I’m talking about. “Yeah, I see what you mean”
“Listen, do you think Krokus will make it big?”
“Sure they will, they’re OK. Hey, if you’re writing a story, don’t you want our names?”
As it happened, I didn’t, but I took them nonetheless (no use putting your life on the line at 1:45 in the morning over a lousy couple of names).
But thanks to that encounter, I flashed on the angle I was looking for: mainly, that no matter what you or I say, those three kids, and the 20,000 others just like them who gave Krokus a standing ovation before they even hit the stage, know what they like.
Tomorrow, the Bachman Turner Overdrive reunion.
But that’s another story.
CIRCUS magazine UK
September 30th, 1983
K R O K U S
"Too Hot For Their Own Competitors?"
Interview With Vocalist Marc Storace
Marc Storace lets it rip with a vocal as Swiss guitarist Mark Kohler joins him in a metal rendez-vous.
Founding member Von Rohr (inset) is the "overseer" of Krokus's songwriting; Von Arb is the main melodist.
Drummer Steve Pace, Krokus's only American, came from Hydra and Whitford-St.Holmes
WAS KROKUS KICKED OFF A DREAM TOUR ?
By Richard Hogan
Only eight weeks into the biggest hard-rock tour of the summer, Krokus was already having trouble with Def Leppard’s management.
“They’re worried because of our hot live performance,” scoffed Krokus lead singer Marc Storace. “They can shoot tank shells into our show and we’ll carry on rocking. We’re contracted to this tour, and we’ll stay on it till it ends.”
Two days later, Storace was on the brink of eating his words. Leppard manager Peter Mensch had reportedly convinced the agency that books both bands, ATI, to remove Krokus from the tour. Krokus – a band that may well have been interested in top billing anyway – landed on its feet, playing a headline show in Michigan and gobbling up spots on double bills offered by Blackfoot and Foghat. At press time, however, the Swiss band stood to loose about $6,000 a night for every show dropped in August – a month for which thousands of Def Leppard-Krokus tickets, according to manager Butch Stone, has already been sold. Only make-up shows, replacing the dates missed when Joe Elliott lost his voice, were still scheduled to be played late in the month.
With four American album releases and several tours to its credit, Krokus is a band of seasoned rockers who can take care of themselves. The real losers were the fans holding tickets to a package tour they never got to see.
The dust from the alleged management battle was still clearing at press time, and the reasons offered for the removal of Krokus were sometimes contradictory. The Leppard organization denied having any problem with Krokus. What did emerge from the cloud of bad feelings and cross-accusations hanging over the two camps, however, seemed to be a case study in “How Not To Run A Happy Group Tour”.
It wasn’t the band-members, though, who weren’t getting along. “Musicians are usually comrades,” said Marc Storace. “We get along great with Def Leppard the band. We have a common language, music, and there are no passports and no order.” During Krokus’s stormy Harrisburg set, Leppard’s Phil Collen, Rich Allen and Steve Clark came out in the rain to listen and to watch. Collen also jammed with Krokus backstage at other shows. And Storace said of Leppard: “Their songs are great.”
According to Krokus, the same cannot be said about certain people working for the band. While no one had a bad word for Cliff Burnstein, Leppard’s savvy U.S.-based manager, Peter Mensch took a real drubbing in the Krokus popularity parade.
“I’ve enjoyed about all of Peter Mensch that I can stand,” said Butch Stone, barely containing his language. “It’s a breach of good faith, and I’m really upset about it. This is wrong. I don’t like the new trend of paranoia between bands. It’s not healthy.”
“They wanted us off first of all because we’re very heavy live competition,” Storace added. “But they’re not making enough money. Their album [Pyromania] sold two and a half million and they’re selling millions in T-shirts, but they thought that if they had Uriah Heep on and Krokus off, they’d save a couple of thousand bucks a night because they can pay them less.” Storace sounds level, business-like, and speaks without any malice towards members of Def Leppard. It’s more like $4,000 a night,” said Stone.
Krokus negotiated with Leppard and ATI to stay on the tour. The band failed and, according to Storace, it wasn’t without Mensch’s help. “They [the management] started picking on us, here and there and there, making us angry and trying to make us become so aggressive that we’d end up in a fist-fight and have to leave the tour – the bottom line of what they wanted.
“Why wouldn’t they want us on tour? Because I stepped up on the P.A. one night, as they claimed? That’s not the real reason!”
Leppard’s people had a different story. “There was no problem at all with Krokus,” said Cliff Burnstein. “They were on the whole tour, but they wanted to do some deadline dates and some co-headline dates because their record is breaking. They were talking about leaving…. When decisions had to be made at a certain point, we got Uriah Heep.”
The reception isn’t usually so mixed for Krokus, one of Switzerland’s biggest exports since cheese with holes. On the eve of the North American tour, the band’s newly released Arista album, “Headhunter” was approaching 250,000 copies sold. Even people who hate heavy metal lauded the signature song of the LP. “Screaming in the Night,” and promoters reportedly were telling Krokus that the band was responsible for 30 percent of the advance ticket sales on the Leppard package tour. “I think Krokus will be next year’s Def Leppard,” boasted a happy Butch Stone, at that time oblivious to the irony of his remark.
Krokus was formed by bassist Chris Von Rohr in the Swiss hamlet of Solothurn in 1974. Besides Marc and Chris, the band now includes guitarists Fernando Von Arb and Mark Kohler, and drummer Steve Pace, who hails from Atlanta, Georgia, and who joined the group less than a year ago. While Von Rohr and Von Arb form the composing backbone of Krokus, it’s the flamboyant Storace who began interpreting their songs late in 1979, and who helped carry Krokus to the threshold of international stardom.
Mark Anthony Storace Crockford was born October 7th, 1951, to an Italian operatic tenor father and an English pianist mother. The Storace (STOW – RAH –CHEE) line includes at least four professional opera singers, among them the classically renowned Ann Storace. Her composer brother, Stephen Storace, was a close friend of Mozart. “I want to know more about my family, to find out what branch I fell from,” quips Marc (he changed the spelling from “Mark” when he abbreviated his name for the stage).
“When I was a child, my family would meet in our home with cellists and opera singers. I wasn’t allowed into their little concerts because I used to steal things, play with the strings, untune the cellos and wreak havoc.” The young Storace brought home Beatles records to convince his reluctant parents that rock, too, was acceptable music.
Marc’s first band was Cinnamon Hades, a Maltese aggregate whose name gave a new color to hell during the 60’s. “Those were the hippie days,” he explains; “flowers, beads, bracelets; walking around the beach with a loin-cloth on, with a big smoke in my mouth.” At 19, Marc headed for London, and a year later went to Switzerland to see what brewed with Tea. He ended up making three albums with them. Tea and Krokus shared many a tour dressing room together; they shared women on the road as well. Says Marc: “ We were loch-schwager” – Swiss German for “cousins of the hole.”
When Chris and Fernando demo’d “Metal Rendez-Vous” in ’79, they sent a copy to Storace – by then back in London with a band called Easy Money – and asked him to join. Since then, Storace has sung all Krokus’s songs, from “Smelly Nelly” (the lyrics of which he was reluctant to sing) to “Long Stick Goes Boom” to “Eat The Rich” and the moody-sounding hit “Screaming in the Night”.
“In Krokus,” he explains, “I felt more comfortable. The music was to the point. All this new-wave shit was being played; I thought, “Now’s the time to come back with the type of music Fernando and Chris are writing” – a heavy style somewhere between Foghat’s and AC/DC’s. “From then on,” adds Marc, “it just cemented itself together like Super Glue.”
The glue that stayed fairly tight. While guitarists, drummers and roadies have come and gone. Von Rohr, Von Arb and Storace have remained together, and plan to continue that way. After performing at rock festivals in France and Switzerland this month (a headline show at the London Hammersmith Odeon is also on the agenda), Krokus will buckle down and make another record. And even if it blows the competition away and sells two million copies, Storace and Co. won’t rest on their achievement.
“We have our fixed bulldozer attitude,” says Marc softly, hoisting a snifter of Courvoisier cognac to his lips. “But what we do is no different from trying to perfect the art of dart-throwing. You have to keep at it.” In the hotel bar after the show, some of the locals are already starting to walk over to ask who Storace and his partners are.
“The moment you feel you’ve reached the top and you’re a king,” he continues, “that’s when you have to watch your ass. You have to put a pillow under it.”