This week begins the “Summer of Sarzo” here at Dare to Support Rockers Who Care! Robert Sarzo and Rudy Sarzo are the main inspirations for this page. Not only are they fabulously talented musicians, but they are kind, sweet, and respectful to their fans, AND they are both involved in numerous charities, most notably as animal rights activists. Laura and I cannot think of any musicians whom we love and admire more than the Sarzo brothers! Look for tour information for both Hurricane (Robert Sarzo) and GUNZO (Rudy Sarzo) over the next few months, especially as GUNZO launches a national tour! Stay tuned for everything Sarzo, folks! <3 AB
Since its inception, heavy metal has borrowed liberally from the work of classical composers – what is Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath,” after all, if not a reworking ofGustav Holst’s “Mars”? Since 1993, the cello-based Finnish group Apocalyptica has been working to reverse engineer that formula, first reimagining Metallica’s compositions before branching out to include their own work, drafting in vocalists from the likes of Slipknot and Bush to round out their sound. For their eighth studio album, Shadowmaker, the group (which now includes full-time vocalist Franky Perez) hunkered down in a Tennessee studio to produce their most cohesive release to date. Lead cellist Eicca Toppinen and drummer Mikko Sirén recently spoke with the Post’s Jonathan Dekel about refining their sound, the stale metal scene and finally becoming a band two decades after forming.
Q Your last release was a live album with a full orchestra celebrating the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner. How did that evolve to Shadowmaker’s relatively minimalist arrangements?
Sirén: As we flirted with all these large bands we had an urge to go small, back to the essence of the band.
Toppinen: After we finished the last orchestra tour we wanted to focus on ourselves — to put our musical interests in focus. And when it came time to record the vocals we decided to only have one singer because that helped us not depend on anything outside the band, so the band could deliver everything. Metal music has the inclination to try to make everything sound bigger and [the result is] nothing sounds personal. Nothing touches you anymore; it’s just a wall of sound.
Q: As instrumentalists, how do you find that personality?
Toppinen: When we started writing this album we were listening to bands like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down– all the bands who have a really strong character. That was something we really wanted to approach.
Q Do you see yourselves as outsiders in the metal community?
Toppinen: There has always been difficulties defining Apocalyptica because we’ve always been moving and changing and that’s something we wanted to eliminate: make the whole package more tight. We wanted to be treated like a real band.
I think we are very much in between [worlds]. We combine a lot of elements from pop music and aesthetics from electronic music with the metal elements. Old school metal is old school metal and there are some cool metal bands today which are trying to refresh the scene but I think there’s too much metal without the metal attitude. There’s no feeling of anarchy or challenging authority.
Sirén: Now-a-days it’s enough if you have distortion and a double bass drum. In the beginning it was punk, it was rebellious; it was dangerous. You could smell the music. Now it’s super clinical. All of a sudden the music which began as a way to go against rules and storm barriers is suddenly the most protective and most conservative.
Q Do you think your name’s connection with Metallica has helped or hindered your success?
Toppinen: That’s part of our history and we wouldn’t exist without Metallica so we have no problem with that. Of course, it’s funny to see in reviews that the intro is always about the Metallica covers and stuff like that and it’s f–king almost 20 years ago that we made the Metallica record. But it’s still a way for journalists to explain the band and we’re totally fine with it.
Shadowmaker is available now. Apocalyptica play Vancouver May 30, Edmonton June 1 and Calgary June 2.
Apocalyptica, Finland’s top musical export, performs on May 30 at the Commodore Ballroom.
May 30 at 9:30 p.m. | Commodore Ballroom
Tickets: $32.50 at ticketmaster.ca
What began as a Metallica tribute band with cellos has evolved into Finland’s top musical export. Since 1993 Apocalyptica has released eight studio albums, each staying true to its heavy metal/classical roots while relying increasingly on original material. Shadowmaker, the latest, follows this pattern, but with a difference — rather than welcoming a number of guest vocalists, as on previous albums, the new record features just one, Franky Perez. Now a full-fledged member of the band, Perez — whose previous gigs include playing with the band Scars on Broadway and with Guns N Roses guitarist Slash — talked about his future with Apocalyptica, staying true to metal roots and being a Yank in Finland.
Q: Have you noticed anything different about playing with a bunch of Finns compared to being in American bands?
A: There’s definitely a little bit of culture clash. They live on the other side of the world, and I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s polar opposites. But, without being cliché or cheesy, we speak one common language — music.
Q: Did you make the album in Finland?
A: We did some pre-production in Nashville. Once we got the songs where we wanted them, we went back to Finland and rehearsed them for a couple of weeks and got them really nice and tight and went back to Nashville. I’ve been to Finland three times now, and come July, I’ll be there for awhile. I’ll be hubbing out of there while we do festival appearances in Europe.
Q: It seems you’ve been kind of a floater, leading a nomadic musical life, playing in a bunch of different bands.
A: One steady thing I’ve had in my career is my own stuff. But I’ve been a singer and musician for hire for over 10 years. This is a bit of a change. You have to find ways to provide and make a living. I’m very fortunate to have been a professional musician all my life. In the same sense I’ve been looking for that project. I thought Scars on Broadway was it, then the plug was pulled on that. I went back to being a musician-for-hire. Then when this came up — I’ll be with these guys as long as I can, they’re a great band, the music’s amazing. I’ve been offered full-time positions with other bands but this one really hit home, and made me want to be a part of it full-time.
Q: What was your relationship to Apocalyptica before you got the call to sing with them?
A: About four or five years ago, Scars on Broadway was playing the Area 4 festival in Germany. We were on the same stage as Apocalyptica, a few bands before. There’s been a big buzz around the festival about them, so I made a point after our set to stick around. So I sat on the side of the stage and watched them play, and now five years later I’m in the band.
Q: Apocalyptica started out playing Metallica covers. Is that something you still do?
A: They’re very true to their roots. There’s a part of the show where they throw it back to Metallica. They let the crowd know this is where they started, and they do (Metallica song) Nothing Else Matters. They might do a couple. They know where they came from. These guys are standup guys. They know what fans want and they do it.
Q: And Apocalyptica is going to be on a stamp in Finland. What do you know about that?
A: It’s amazing. From what I was told, they’re doing a whole series on Finnish artists and music. Apocalyptica was the biggest musical export from Finland, so it was a no-brainer that the Finnish government would give them a stamp. I was there when they got the email. Paavo Lötjönen, the bass cellist, was reading it. He looks at me and goes, “Hey Frankie, do you have a stamp?” I said “No.” And he said, “I do.”
According to MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx, his SIXX: A.M. band — which also features guitarist DJ Ashba and vocalist James Michael — will enter the studio in late June to begin work on its fourth album, tentatively due in 2016.
SIXX: A.M.‘s recently completed “Modern Vintage” tour included a limited number of dates all across North America. While on the road, the prolific band was in the process of writing music for its upcoming CD.
To round out its live lineup, SIXX: A.M. added drummer Dustin Steinke of BLEEKER RIDGE into the mix for the tour, as well as backup singers Melissa Harding and Amber VanBuskirk.
He continued: “When we put out the first single, ‘Gotta Get It Right’, it was a daring choice for us, because we had other songs on the album that were so much more what SIXX: A.M. fans are expecting. But because of how different this record is and how important it is to us, we wanted to put out a single that kind of set the stage for what is to come.”
Michael added: “DJ and I got back from Europe [where] we were doing a bunch of press, and I was kind of blown away with how positive the reaction has been, because when you take risks like this, you fully expect to get some pushback. But it has been wonderful so far.”
Read more at http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/sixx-a-m-to-enter-studio-next-month/#Qbg5u5f2g6vvsqH0.99
We might like to imagine that it was us clever North Americans who came up with the awesome idea to play Metallica songs with cellos – or that we had the shameless determination to make it more than just novelty.
But no, Apocalyptica is another fine Scandinavian import.
Part of the rich legacy of music from the dark, cold region that brought us Bjork, ABBA, Ingmar Bergman, death metal and Vikings, the Finnish cello trio guarantees no guitars will be used during its show at the Union Hall on Monday, June 1. Hard to believe, but it’s true. Those cellos can really rip through a good Blackstar guitar amp – which also provides the best clean sound a real cello craves.
Apocalyptica first popped up in mid-1990s, armed with heavy metal covers played by a classically-trained string quartet – which attracted an unusual cross section of fans from both the metal and classical worlds. At first, the group members didn’t think it was much of a novelty. They were simply playing the music they liked with the instruments they knew how to play. Then a record company guy caught a show and saw dollar signs, or Euros, anyway, and tried to talk the guys into making a record.
“The record company needed to convince the dudes, hey, let’s do this anyway,” says drummer Mikko Sirén, who joined the group 13 years ago, well after Apocalyptica had ditched the cover band shtick. “They were concentrating on classical careers back then so it took them a long period of time to realize, that yes, there is a bigger interest in this kind of music. Maybe the guys were being naive or dumb not to realize it.”
That didn’t last. With some members changes here and there, and cellist Paavo Lötjönen the only original left, the group has released seven albums since the 1996 debut Plays Metallica By Four Cellos. The latest, all original, is Shadowmaker, the band’s first with a permanent vocalist (Franky Perez; they’d previously worked with guests that include Corey Taylor from Slipknot and a host of other stars of the North American metal scene), and an album that certainly sounds as dark and heavy as anything from the modern Scandinavian metal scene. And as fans know, that’s pretty heavy. You can just hear it.
That’s because rock bands are a product of their environment, Sirén says. “Heavy metal,” he says, “especially in Northern countries, in Finland and Norway, it’s very strongly connected to our folk music, chord progressions, even the instruments used, and how we feel we are so close to nature. Nature over there is wild, untamed. However cliche that might sound, I feel that reflects in the music that people from the North do.”
He adds, “No matter what you do, only American bands sound like American bands, only British bands sound like British bands. Your culture, your heritage has a lot to do with how you sound.”
On May 20 and 21, 1985, one of the greatest heavy metal summits of all time took place at Los Angeles’ A&M Records Studio for the creation of a charitable single, “Stars,” later issued by the project known as Hear ’n Aid. The cause was raising money for famine relief in Africa — as it had been for recent efforts undertaken by pop musicians, in both the U.K. (Band Aid) and the U.S. (USA for Africa), but that’s where the similarities ended and Hear ’n Aid stood alone.
But it was in fact 1984’s Band Aid that sowed the general seeds for Hear ’n Aid’s existence, along with a 48-hour radio telethon hosted by L.A. radio station KLOS, specifically, which happened to be attended by Dio members Vivian Campbell (guitar) and Jimmy Bain (bass), among many other stars. Together, the duo crafted a new song and asked their boss, Ronnie James Dio, to help with some lyrics and, before anyone could count to 11, heavy metal had an answer to Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” and USA for Africa’s “We Are the World.”
Its name was “Stars,” and the roll call of hard rock and metal stars eager to lend their talents to those sessions was nothing short of astonishing. In common with those pop music efforts, “Stars” witnessed a string of leather-lunged singers trading lead vocals lines — namely Dio, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Blue Oyster Cult’s Eric Bloom, Quiet Riot’s Kevin DuBrow, Queensryche’s Geoff Tate, Y&T’s Dave Meniketti, Rough Cutt’s Paul Shortino and Dokken’s Don Dokken, as well as dozens more providing backup, including members of Motley Crue, Twisted Sister and W.A.S.P.
Distinct among all these musical charities of the time, “Stars” did its metal heritage proud by boasting an extended jaw-dropping guitar solo that collated fireworks of shredders like Yngwie Malmsteen, Dokken’s George Lynch, Craig Goldy, B.O.C.’s Buck Dharma Roeser, Twisted Sister’s Eddie Ojeda, Journey’s Neal Schon, Quiet Riot’s Carlos Cavazo, Night Ranger’s Brad Gillis and co-songwriter Campbell, who also contributed rhythm guitar parts, along with Iron Maiden’s Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, who flew in from their band’s massive World Slavery Tour to do their part with harmony parts.
Unfortunately, obtaining legal clearance for so many artists signed to so many different record labels proved a daunting task that would delay the music’s release for months. The Hear ’n Aid compilation LP finally arrived in stores in January 1986, packing recordings donated by major names such as Kiss, Rush, Motorhead, Accept, Y&T, Scorpions, the Jimi Hendrix estate and Dio.
By then, “Stars” had also been made available as both 7” and 12” singles (peaking at No. 26 in the U.K., No. 39 in the U.S.), and the entire historic event was eventually celebrated by a 48-minute documentary filled with interviews, outtakes and behind-the-scenes clips. And while some of those involved feared that the legal delays had diminished Hear ’n Aid’s impact, one could likewise argue that they also extended awareness for famine relief for a few more months, well into 1986.
In any case, the nearly $1 million raised by Hear ’n Aid speak for themselves, and the still-unmatched collection of heavy metal star power that came together during those two days in the name of a good cause.
The 10 Most Important Moments in Dio History
Read More: 30 Years Ago: Heavy Metal Legends Convene for ‘Hear ’n Aid’ Sessions | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/hear-n-aid-stars/?trackback=tsmclip
A behind-the-scenes interview with QUIET RIOT drummer Frankie Banali filmed during his recent appearance on VH1 Classic‘s “That Metal Show” can be seen below.
Asked how well he knew late OZZY OSBOURNE and QUIET RIOT guitarist Randy Rhoads, Frankie said: “Not as well as people would assume that I knew Randy.”
He continued: “It was really funny, because I was a in a three-piece band called MONARCH, and it was all originals, and we were playing the same circuit — you know, the Starwood [in West Hollywood]. We actually played with QUIET RIOT a few times. And that band was a cross between LED ZEPPELIN and FREE; that kind of material. At one point, QUIET RIOT were thinking of getting rid of the drummer they had at the time. And so Rudy [Sarzo, QUIET RIOT bassist] had already known each other since 1972, so he wanted me to come down and audition. And I agreed — reluctantly I agreed — because Rudy and I were friends, and because QUIET RIOT were a great band, but, to me, QUIET RIOT was more of a pop band than what I was into. So I went down and played, and all sides agreed that maybe it’s not gonna work. But because of that, he was the one that told Kevin [DuBrow, QUIET RIOT singer] that he should get me in Kevin‘s new band after Randy left to go play with Ozzy. But when Randy went to audition for Ozzy, afterwards, he called me up and he goes, ‘Hey, Frankie.’ I said, ‘Randy?’ [He said], ‘Yeah. You wanna come and play with this guy Ozzy?’ And I said, ‘The guy from BLACK SABBATH?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah.’ And I said, ‘Okay. I don’t have a car.’ He goes, ‘I’ll pick you up.’ And we went down and we had some rehearsals, and it sounded great, and that was gonna be the band. But, ultimately, the label decided they were only gonna spend money on one guy, and the guy was Randy. But we kept in touch. He actually called me… I was in Germany doing a record for Tony Carey, who had just left Ritchie Blackmore‘s RAINBOW. And [Randy] called me up when he was in England doing the first Ozzy record. So we stayed in touch.”
“Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back”, the feature documentary on QUIET RIOT, screened this past Thursday, May 14 at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France.
The inspiring and surprisingly relatable documentary is an inside look at Frankie‘s road to recovery after losing his best friend Kevin DuBrow to a drug overdose in 2007 as he forges ahead to conquer his loss, regain his life and put the band back together.
The film begins in 2010, three years following the loss of Kevin DuBrow. Frankie Banali faces a crossroads in his life and finds himself talking to former QUIET RIOT bassist Rudy Sarzo who said, “If you don’t carry on the legacy of your friend, nobody else will.”
At times both utterly tragic and downright hilarious, like an outtake from “Spinal Tap”, the film follows Frankie‘s journey through the emotional feat of trying to fill the void left by his singer and best friend.
The 105-minute character-driven documentary looks beyond the guts and glory of the common getting-the-band-back-together tale. “Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back” reveals an unforgettable man who uses ambition, relentless determination and principle to navigate through the obstacles that attempt to control his fate.
Watch for cameos from Matt Sorum and Steven Adler (GUNS N’ ROSES), Glenn Hughes (DEEP PURPLE), Dee Snider (TWISTED SISTER), Rudy Sarzo (QUIET RIOT, OZZY OSBOURNE), Dana Strum (SLAUGHTER), John 5 (MARILYN MANSON, ROB ZOMBIE) and Martha Quinn (original MTV VJ).
“When Frankie told me he was planning to meet with Kevin DuBrow‘s mother to get her blessing to go on with the band and find a new singer, I thought this would be an extraordinary story for a documentary,” explains director and producer Regina Russell.
Regina gained access to the private video and photo archives of the band. She followed Frankie for four years and interviewed many of the integral characters in the band’s history.
Read more at http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/how-quiet-riots-frankie-banali-almost-ended-up-in-ozzy-osbournes-band/#1l3iYgBH7IOXDbYw.99
Vinny Appice, who worked with Dio both in Black Sabbath and the offshoot band Heaven and Hell, took part in a rendition of “Rainbow In The Dark” with former Dio band members Rowan Robertson, Rudy Sarzo and Scott Warren, among others. Dio Disciples, which features ex-Dio members Craig Goldy, Simon Wright and Warren, performed “Stargazer.”
Rock Feinstein of Elf joined figures with connections to Asia and Quiet Riot for “Mistreated,” which also featured Warren. Rainbow’s Jimmy Bain hooked up with Appice as well as members of Black Star Riders for “Stand Up and Shout.” Additional songs and performers, as well as video from the event, is below.
Great White, Rough Cutt and ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick were among the others who performed at the memorial, held at Los Angeles’ Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Dio died of stomach cancer on May 16, 2010, at age 67.
Songs and performers from the Ronnie James Dio memorial:
“Lisa,” Lita Ford, Patrick Kennison, Marty O’Brien
“Heaven and Hell,” Great White
“Last in Line,” Great White featuring Lorraine Lewis
“Take Her,” Rough Cutt
“Mistreated,” John Payne, Rock Feinstein, Christian Martucci, Sean McNabb, Roy Mayorga and Scott Warren
“Rainbow in the Dark,” Gabbie Rae, Rowan Robertson, Rudy Sarzo, Vinny Appice and Scott Warren
“Sign of the Southern Cross,” Ann Boleyn, Craig Goldy, Sean McNabb, Simon Wright and Scott Warren
“Stargazer,” Dio Disciples
“Stand Up and Shout,” Ricky Warwick, Robbie Crane, Chris Broderick, Jimmy Bain and Vinny Appice
See Ronnie James Dio and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the ’80s
10 Most Important Moments in Dio’s History
Read More: Ronnie James Dio Remembered by Former Collaborators Five Years After His Death | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/ronnie-james-dio-fifth-anniversary-memorial/?trackback=tsmclip
Most of you reading this are probably too young to remember, but back in the 1980s rock stars loved getting together to record songs for charity. They didn’t love it as much as cocaine, but celebrity supergroups where probably a close second. The two most well-known of these were Band-Aid, a supergroup organized by Bob Geldof that raised money to fight hunger in Africa with “Do They Know It’s Christmas;” a song that portrayed the continent as a Mad Maxian hellspcape, and USA For Africa, which was led by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and also raised millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa with the (noticeably less bleak) song “We Are the World.” Each of these projects raised millions of dollars for their respective causes and had the added bonus of inspiring Vivian Campbell and Jimmie Bain of Dio to approach Ronnie James Dio with an idea for a heavy metal and hard rock version of these groups.
The three went to work writing a song that would eventually be called simply “Stars,” and on May 20th and 21st assembled a murderer’s row of heavy weight singers and guitarists to record the song at A & M Studios in Hollywood, California under the name Hear ‘n Aid. Among the participants were Dio himself, Rob Halford, Chris Holmes and Blackie Lawless (W.A.S.P.), Yngwie Malmsteen, Kevin DuBrow (Quiet Riot), Ted Nugent, Don Dokken (Dokken), Vince Neil (Mötley Crüe), and Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche). Dio intended for the song to be released as a single shortly after it was recorded, but some legal malarkey with the record labels involved held the release up until New Years Day of 1986 when “Stars” finally saw the light of day. Dio and company also released a making-off documentary to and a full album featuring some additional songs by artists like Accept, Rush, and Motörhead to accompany the song. “Stars” peaked at #26 at the UK Singles chart in 1986, and, according to Ronnie James Dio, it raised $1 million that first year.
Now, nearly 30 years after the initial release of “Stars,” Dio’s widow Wendy has announced her intention to release the original song with loads of bonus material. On a recent interview with SiriusXM’s Eddie Trunk she said, “We are in talks right now with a couple of record labels to reissue Hear ‘n Aid, with the funds going to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund. She went on to say, “We have so much stuff that was never released before — behind-the-scenes stuff that was shot during the whole time. We have photos galore of everybody that was involved in it, and I think it’ll be fantastic. We just have to work on it. It may not come out this year, because I want everything to be perfect, as Ronnie would want it to be, but I am in talks about it, and that will be coming out, definitely.”
Additionally, Wendy stated that a new Hear ‘n Aid track will be recorded for charity, although she didn’t reveal the names of anyone involved. Just that the line-up would consist of current and classic artists and proceeds would go to the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund and it probably wouldn’t be out this year due again to legal bullcrap with some record labels. Below you’ll find the video for the original version of “Stars.” Yeah it’s cheesy, but it’s also a lot of fun and it was for a good cause. Keep your eyes peeled for more news regarding the new incarnation of Hear ‘n Aid.