Posts Tagged “80s”


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Voivod have been pushing genre boundaries since they formed back in the ’80s. They have released a string of influential albums over the years. It looked like they would split after the death of guitarist Piggy in 2005 and the subsequent release of two albums that used music that he had written, but they continue on, making great music. We’ve compiled our list of the band’s top albums. What do you think was Voivod’s best release?

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Peter Hodgson of Gibson.com recently conducted an interview with Sammy Hagar (CHICKENFOOT, VAN HALEN). An excerpt from the chat follows below.

Gibson.com: I’ve always wanted to ask you how you rank yourself as a guitarist. It takes balls to stand up there with Eddie Van Halen or Joe Satriani. I’ve been lucky to jam with Satriani and Vai, and to a certain point it’s intimidating but also at a certain point you’ve just got to tell yourself “Screw it, this is what I do.”

Sammy: I’m a little bit intimidated if we go too long, but in CHICKENFOOT and VAN HALEN, I just put the guitar on and got a big cheer always, and then I’d burn for a little bit and then take it back off before I ran out of chops, y’know? I rate myself as a guy that can play, and I can express myself extremely well but only in one language. I can only play blues-based guitar. And when a guy like Joe steps up there, he can play. Once he finishes with my repertoire, he can go into French, Spanish and Russian on the guitar! He’s just so versatile and fluent. Eddie‘s not as fluent and versatile. Eddie‘s got a style for himself and he’s very much in that pocket, but Joe can play anything. He freaks me out. When Joe and I start to write together, he’ll show me some chords and I’ll start singing, then I’ll pick up a guitar just mainly to figure a lick out: “What chord is that? What are you playing?” so I can know what notes I have to choose from to sing. Then he’ll go “That was a cool lick, what did you play?” and I’ll go “[Expletive], I don’t know!” I don’t get it. I just play.

Gibson.com: There were so many great guitar players to come out of the ’80s where you knew they’d kind of fade away, but even early on it was apparent that we’d still be hearing about Joe Satriani in 40, 50 years.

Sammy: Oh, Joe‘s here to stay. I think he’s going to have a kind of Jeff Beck career. He’s going to have these little windows where he gets a little bump, a little more publicity, a little more recognition, and then he kinda just cruises along, then all of a sudden somebody’s gonna say, “Wow, Joe Satriani‘s the best guitar player in the world” and everybody gets hip again. He ain’t going nowhere. The thing that amazes me the most about Joe‘s guitar playing over any other musician is he knows exactly what he’s playing and he can play it twice, three times exactly the same. He works his parts out but he does it really quick. It’s not like it takes him forever to come up with a part. He comes up with it, BAM, instantly, and he knows every note he’s playing and I don’t know how he does it. He’s too smart for his own good. But you’re a lucky man if you stood up and played next to Joe Satriani. What I do is, I learn. He immediately makes me better because it makes me aware of what I’m playing, because if I see him solo I think, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” So I start to think a little more, like “Oh I know why that note works.” So he just enlightens. He’s enlightening to play with. I don’t know if that works for you, but that’s how it works for me.

Read the entire interview at Gibson.com.

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On September 27, RockNLive.org conducted an interview with ’80s hard rock queen Lita Ford. You can now listen to the chat in the YouTube clip below.

Lita Ford will release a new live album, “The Bitch Is Back…Live”, on November 5 in North America, on October 25 in Germany and on October 28 in the rest of Europe through SPV/Steamhammer. The disc features a recording of Lita‘s October 2012 performance at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California.

The album will be released as a digipak with a special booklet including fan photos and download.

Where does the title come from? Lita opens the show with her rendition of the classic Elton John track “The Bitch is Back”, which was previously released as a bonus track on “Living Like A Runaway”.

“Well, I heard [the original version of the song] on the radio and I just thought it worked for Elton John, and it works for Lita Ford,” Lita explained to Metal-Rules.com when asked how she came to cover the track. “It kind of makes a statement, saying, ‘She’s back,’ and this is me saying this, not anybody else, you know?! It came from me, and I spoke to Elton John backstage before we released the album and I wanted his blessing. I didn’t want to just take his song and do it because I’ve done my own version of it. It’s more guitar-orientated instead of piano. So I said to him we’re doing ‘The Bitch Is Back’ and we gave him a copy of it, and his tour manager wrote back and said, ‘It’s one rocking version.’ But I went backstage because he came through town and I went backstage and said, ‘Hello!’ and he said, ‘That’s my song,’ you know, ‘That’s my song,’ and I said, ‘Yes, it is your song,’ and I said, ‘Thank you for letting me do it,’ and he said, ‘Thank you for doing my song.’ So I thought, ‘Right on, I got his blessing.’”

“The Bitch Is Back…Live” track listing:

01. The Bitch Is Back
02. Hungry
03. Relentless
04. Living Like A Runaway
05. Devil In My Head
06. Back To The Cave
07. Can’t Catch Me
08. Out For Blood
09. Dancing On The Edge
10. Hate
11. Close My Eyes Forever
12. Kiss Me Deadly

Ford has recruited Bobby Rock (VINNIE VINCENT INVASION, NELSON) to sit behind the kit for her shows in Australia, Europe and the U.S., as well as the recent Monsters Of Rock cruise in the Bahamas.

Lita‘s touring drummer for much of 2012 was Scot Coogan, who has previously played with BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION, ACE FREHLEY and LYNCH MOB.

Lita‘s current touring lineup:

* Lita Ford – Guitar, Vocals
* Mitch Perry (MSG, ASIA, EDGAR WINTER) – Guitar
* Bobby Rock (VINNIE VINCENT INVASION, NELSON) – Drums
* Marty O’Brien (WE ARE THE FALLEN, TOMMY LEE, STATIC-X, DISTURBED) – Bass

Lita last year filmed a video for the song “Mother” in Joshua Tree, California. Directing the clip was Ford‘s former THE RUNAWAYS bandmate Victory Tischler-Blue, whose film “Edgeplay” was based on her tenure in the 1970s all-girl teenage rock act. “Mother” is dedicated to Lita‘s estranged sons, Rocco and James (father is former NITRO singer Jim Gillette).

Ford‘s latest album, “Living Like A Runaway”, was released on June 19, 2012 in North America. The effort was made available in four configurations: a double LP, limited-edition CD, standard CD and digital download. The artwork for the album was created by famed rock photographer Mark Weiss.

litafordbitchcd


litafordbitchpromo

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Former THE HAUNTED and current AT THE GATES guitarist Anders Björler will take part in the reunion show of Gothenburg, Sweden-based thrashers PAGANDOM at the Gothenburg Sound Festival, set to take place on January 4-5, 2014 at Trädgår’n in Gothernburg.

Says Anders: “I am happy to be a part of PAGANDOM‘s reunion show at Gothenburg Sound Festival in January 2014.

PAGANDOM was a thrash metal band from Gothenburg formed in 1987, which had a huge impact on the local scene in the late ’80s/early ’90s. This is pure nostalgia on my part.”

PAGANDOM was:

Martin Carlsson – Guitar (1987-1996)
Christian Jansson – Vocals, Bass (1987-1996)
Rikard Ligander – Drums (1987-1996)
Johan Zackrisson – Guitar (1988-1991, 1994-1996)
Jens Florén – Bass (1993-1994)

PAGANDOM‘s reunion lineup 2013/2014:

Christian Jansson – Vocals
Martin Carlsson – Guitars
Anders Björler – Guitars
Sören Fardvik – Drums

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AltRockLive.com conducted an interview with drummer James Cassells of the British metalcore act ASKING ALEXANDRIA at the Aftershock festival, which took place September 14-15 at Discovery Park in Sacramento, California. You can now watch the chat below.

ASKING ALEXANDRIA‘s third album, “From Death To Destiny”, sold 38,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 6 on The Billboard 200 chart.

In a recent interview with Kill Your Stereo, ASKING ALEXANDRIA guitarist Ben Bruce stated about the band’s musical progression on “From Death To Destiny”: “When we recorded ‘Stand Up And Scream’, we were kids — we were 17 to 19 years old. We all loved ’80s music then. [However] I don’t think we were brave enough or competent enough to show our passion for ’80s rock back then at the time. With ‘Reckless And Relentless’, it was the same thing; there was a little bit more of it and you could see our ’80s rock ‘n’ roll love coming through, but again, I don’t think we had the balls to go out and fully do it. But this time around, we sat down and intentionally said, ‘OK, we want to show our love of ’80s music in this record.’ But we don’t want it to sound like a regurgitated ’80s album because we’ve been there, we’ve done that. It wouldn’t be fun, it wouldn’t be fresh and it wouldn’t work, so we had the challenge to try and incorporate modern day rock and metal into our love and passion for the ’80s. I think we did a really did a good job of it.”

Asked how important social lmedia is in promoting a band like ASKING ALEXANDRIA, Bruce said: “I think it’s a vital part of promoting a band. There are so many different bands out there. It’s not like back in the day where you were put in a magazine and everyone would subscribe to that magazine. You knew lots of people were going to read about you in a magazine. These days, magazines still sell but they’ve taken a huge hit, just as record sales have. The biggest platform anyone has these days to release any information regarding whatever it may be, for instance, our new album, is the Internet. The harder you work at that and try and connect with your fans, the more they feel a connection with their favorite band and therefore the more interested they become. It grows. We have 3.5 million followers on our Facebook page, which is a shit-ton of people. [laughs] You can’t even imagine 3.5 million people. Although it’s just a number on a screen, essentially you are writing a letter to each one of these people to tell them about our album coming out or we’ll be playing this city on this day, so I think it’s absolutely vital these days to make the most of your social networking.”

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Greg Prato of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with legendary rock singer Graham Bonnet (RAINBOW, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, ALCATRAZZ). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Songfacts: What are you currently doing musically?

Graham Bonnet: Well, at the moment, Mandy Wheatcroft, who’s looking after my business in England, we’re putting together an album that’s like a special edition of tracks that have never been released. She’s putting that together right now. And what we’re going to do is put it on my site, GrahamBonnet.com, folks. [laughs] How’s that for a commercial? There are some songs that I’ve had, they’ve been put away on a shelf and have never been released. It’s a mixture of different kinds of music, different kinds of styles, and it’s really more where I’m at with my music, because I started off as doing R&B and more pop stuff and I was suddenly put into this bracket of being called a heavy rock singer, which is not what I wanted to do at first. So this shows different sides of my singing and songwriting. It’s kind of like Paul McCartney‘s albums when he went solo after he left THE BEATLES: a bit of reggae, jazz, a bit of everything. So that’s what’s happening right now. We’re putting that together and getting the booklet together with some photos and all that kind of stuff inside. It will be interesting to people who like what I’ve done in RAINBOW or in ALCATRAZZ or other bands I’ve been in. It’ll be another side for them to listen to.

Songfacts: How would you compare playing in the current ALCATRAZZ lineup to the ’80s version of ALCATRAZZ?

Graham: Well, it’s completely different. We have no keyboard player, so it’s a smaller band of musicians. What we’ve done — a secret — is we’ve pre-recorded keyboards. We play to a click track when we go on stage, because a lot of the music I made in the past has been very heavily keyboard-oriented. So we’ve had to do that, unfortunately. Our keyboard player actually left — he went to get a real job, like big men do. He decided the music business wasn’t for him anymore. He was our keyboard player and second guitar player. His name’s John Thomas, and he’s a really great guitar player and worked very well with our current guitar player, Howie Simon. He left, so it’s completely different. I often think about the original band, the first band we put together with Yngwie Malmsteen playing and then the second band with Steve Vai, and it was a completely different world then. It was very exciting, it was all new, and everybody’s going, “Who are these guitar players?” But now there are so many guitar players that have that same kind of style, as well as singers who sing high, it’s becoming done to death. But I do miss that feeling of the first band. The first lineup we had was great, with Yngwie playing, and the second with Steve. Then the third one was with Danny Johnson, who eventually went to play with STEPPENWOLF. Danny‘s a very bluesy player, so he found it hard to fit. He said: “I can’t play all this heavy whittley whittley stuff.” But he did. And he could. But a better job come along, so he went with STEPPENWOLF for about 13 years after he left ALCATRAZZ. But the first lineup was a great lineup with Yngwie, because it was all new and fresh with this new guitar player, this young kid who everybody loved to death. I kind of miss that. It’d be nice to do it again, but I don’t think that will happen. I don’t think there’ll be a reunion.

Songfacts: How did you originally cross paths with Ritchie Blackmore?

Graham: That was through Roger Glover. One of my friends, Mickey Moody, was playing for WHITESNAKE at that time, and I think Roger was producing their album. This is 1970-something. Mickey told Roger that I was doing some solo stuff, which was successful in places like Australia and New Zealand. Weird places — everywhere but England. Roger wanted to know what I was doing, so they invited me over to this chateau on the border of Switzerland and France, and they gave me a song to learn. I had to learn a song called “Mistreated”, which I didn’t know anything about. I didn’t know anything about RAINBOW at all, to be honest with you. So I had to buy the albums and learn one song as an audition. Roger phoned me up and said, “Will you come over and do a song with us?” And so I went over there and sang at them and they gave me the job. That was it, really. Then I went home, thought about it, and I said to my manger, “I’m not right for this. I’m not like these other guys, long hair and all the rest of it. I don’t fit.” But I did in the end.

Songfacts: Would you want to set the record straight once and for all regarding if Yngwie is hard to work with or not?

Graham: He wasn’t at first. [laughs] But he became… he suddenly was engulfed by people telling him how wonderful he was. And when a kid is 19 years old and everybody’s telling you how marvelous you are and you could be better than this, how you could be the next Jimi Hendrix, it was very tempting for him, and his ego suddenly inflated. He became not a band member anymore — he wanted to go off on his own. And eventually, he did. It just wasn’t working. I could see it happening.

Read the entire interview at Songfacts.

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Cayem Interviews spoke to the British metalcore act ASKING ALEXANDRIA at the Aftershock festival, which took place September 14-15 at Discovery Park in Sacramento, California. You can now watch the chat below.

ASKING ALEXANDRIA‘s third album, “From Death To Destiny”, sold 38,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 6 on The Billboard 200 chart.

In a recent interview with Kill Your Stereo, ASKING ALEXANDRIA guitarist Ben Bruce stated about the band’s musical progression on “From Death To Destiny”: “When we recorded ‘Stand Up And Scream’, we were kids — we were 17 to 19 years old. We all loved ’80s music then. [However] I don’t think we were brave enough or competent enough to show our passion for ’80s rock back then at the time. With ‘Reckless And Relentless’, it was the same thing; there was a little bit more of it and you could see our ’80s rock ‘n’ roll love coming through, but again, I don’t think we had the balls to go out and fully do it. But this time around, we sat down and intentionally said, ‘OK, we want to show our love of ’80s music in this record.’ But we don’t want it to sound like a regurgitated ’80s album because we’ve been there, we’ve done that. It wouldn’t be fun, it wouldn’t be fresh and it wouldn’t work, so we had the challenge to try and incorporate modern day rock and metal into our love and passion for the ’80s. I think we did a really did a good job of it.”

Asked how important social lmedia is in promoting a band like ASKING ALEXANDRIA, Bruce said: “I think it’s a vital part of promoting a band. There are so many different bands out there. It’s not like back in the day where you were put in a magazine and everyone would subscribe to that magazine. You knew lots of people were going to read about you in a magazine. These days, magazines still sell but they’ve taken a huge hit, just as record sales have. The biggest platform anyone has these days to release any information regarding whatever it may be, for instance, our new album, is the Internet. The harder you work at that and try and connect with your fans, the more they feel a connection with their favorite band and therefore the more interested they become. It grows. We have 3.5 million followers on our Facebook page, which is a shit-ton of people. [laughs] You can’t even imagine 3.5 million people. Although it’s just a number on a screen, essentially you are writing a letter to each one of these people to tell them about our album coming out or we’ll be playing this city on this day, so I think it’s absolutely vital these days to make the most of your social networking.”

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Justin R. Beckner of Classic Rock Revisited recently conducted an interview with legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Classic Rock Revisited: Do you ever get caught up in thinking about commercial appeal of what you’re writing or composing?

Yngwie: I did at one point, when that actually existed. The radio format doesn’t exist, the singles don’t exist. The record label doesn’t exist. The record stores don’t exist. That whole entire thing is gone.

Classic Rock Revisited: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Yngwie: Well, first of all is very bizarre, especially for someone like me. When I started out, it was very much like the guy with the big cigar in a big office saying, “I’ll give you a record deal, boy.” You had tour support, tour buses, local A&R people, the whole nine yards. I did that, but it’s all gone now. It can be for better or worse, because if you don’t have name recognition now. If you want to start out now, how the fuck do you do it? Back in the day, DEF LEPPARD said if they could get a few singles on MTV, they’d be able to make it, and they did. That happened with a lot of bands who did that back then. Now we have YouTube, but there are billions of videos and musicians on there and if nobody knows your name, nobody’s going to look you up. It’s a little bit weird, but in that sense, the music industry situation is really bad for whoever wants to start out now. The good part is that there is no longer this slavery to a certain format going on, where in the ’80s, if you didn’t follow format, they wouldn’t give you the time of day. You had to conform to get a shot at a record deal. That’s gone now, and it’s bizarre.

Classic Rock Revisited: The Internet changed a lot for the industry; piracy has certainly had a hand in changing the game. Do you think that piracy can be beneficial to some of those bands starting out? How has it affected you?

Yngwie: How could it possibly be positive? If you go into a store and you see a car that you like, you can’t just drive off with it. The cost and the blood and sweat and tears that go into making music is the same thing, it’s not free. Try telling the engineer and the producer that they have to work for free. It’s utterly bizarre. It’s like just going into a store and taking things off the shelves. It’s stealing. The reason there are no bands coming out now is that the money that was once there is not there anymore. So what happened was, in essence, by pirating music, you kill the music industry. The music industry died because of the piracy, and now all the fans will have no new music. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s a direct consequence of that.

Classic Rock Revisited: I think that, with piracy, we’ve lost the album art, the liner notes, the waiting in line to get the next record. It seems that there used to be this aura of awesomeness that used to surround a new record being released. Now it’s just a click away. One sad little click.

Yngwie: Yeah, that’s another aspect of it that I totally agree with what you’re saying. But I think that kind of got lost with the CD a little bit too. I think when the LP went, that’s when the art went. You know, when I was a little kid, I used to record cassette tapes for friends. So this music-sharing thing has been going on for a long time and the Internet just sped it up.

Classic Rock Revisited: It seems to me that over the years, you’ve been portrayed as a musical dictator of sorts. Most bands talk about the glory of collaboration and all the great things that come out of that. I find it interesting that you feel differently.

Yngwie: It’s funny; I was just talking to someone about this the other day. Yeah, you’ve got Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and you’ve got VAN HALEN, who wrote as a team, and that’s great for them, and I love that. For me, I look at it in the way that I am an artist. An artiste. When you’re a writer, you write the whole book. When you’re a painter like Da Vinci, you don’t say to someone, “Hey, come over here and help me with my painting.” There are a few reasons why I work this way. First of all, I’m so full of creativity that I don’t need any other input. The other is that I feel so strongly about my work; it’s like a burning passion to create something that is uniquely me. This comes with the full realization that you may love it or you may hate it. But this is what I’m going to do, and I’m not about to have any kind of discussion with anybody about how it should be done. I’m a very serious creative person. I don’t compromise, because I don’t collaborate. I tried it and I hated it every time and I was never pleased with the end result. I’ve been doing this way too long to change how I do things now. I’m not doing things this way because of some egotistical dictator type of reason. Ask Rembrandt if he would have liked for someone to come and paint in his paining. That’s exactly how I approach it. I have to love what I do. If other people love it, I’m happy. If other people hate it, I’m still happy because I’m doing what I want to do. I’m a tennis player, I’m a boxer — I don’t play team sports. I’m not a team player; I never have been and I never will be. In tennis, if I win, it’s because of my serve or my backhand. It’s a battle and is a challenge to myself. After it’s over, I don’t want to say, “Good job, pal, I couldn’t have done it without you.” I can’t live like that. It’s a lot of work to do things like that, but that’s how it has to be.

Read the entire interview at Classic Rock Revisited.

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During an appearance on this past Sunday’s (September 8) “Heavy Metal Mayhem” radio show, drummer Gene Hoglan (TESTAMENT, DETHKLOK, FEAR FACTORY, STRAPPING YOUNG LAD) spoke about the status of the planned reunion of his former band, classic late ’80s/early ’90s California thrashers DARK ANGEL.

“We are trying to see if it can be something that we can all pursue. We all are in discussions,” Gene said.

“[Original DARK ANGEL vocalist] Don [Doty] got a little rambunctious, a little enthusiastic with some of the things that he put there [on the Internet regarding a ppssible reunion]. And we had to speak to Don for the first time, I guess, to get him to go, ‘Hey, wait a minute…’”

He continued: “We all understand — we all should understand — that this isn’t really just a matter of calling up the guys, saying, ‘Let’s put the band back together,’ and then doing it. There’s a lot more involved with it than that. So we’re in talks and we’re trying to see the future in it. And things are going well. We’re all entertaining the idea, definitely, rather than somebody going, ‘Nope. I’m not gonna do it.’ And we even reconnected with [guitarist] Jim Durkin and we’ll see what the possibility might be. And I’m trying to see if this works in my schedule, because I am of the mind — and this is just my opinion — but I am of the mind that a DARK ANGEL without Gene Hoglan is not a proper representation of the music, just like… If you’re gonna reunite, I would want the entire band to reunite — the band that made the records. And that means the entire band. We had two vocalists. So we’ll see where that goes even, you know?! But we’re in talks and we’re trying to see if we can make this a viable thing.

“The most important thing for, I think, any of us, and especially me, and I know a couple of the other guys that are involved that the legeacy of the band is very important. And if the band has attained some of kind of underground legendary status over the years, then if we do wanna return, a lot of people have great expecations of us, we’d better exceed those expectations.

“Like [former DARK ANGEL vocalist] Ron Rinehart said yesterday, the definition of ‘good’ is ‘not bad.’ [laughs] We don’t wanna come out and even be great; we wanna be No. 1. And that’s a very heartening attitude.

“If some of the people that might wanna get involved with this… You’ve gotta do it for the right reasons. This is for the fans. And we’re gonna come out and disappoint the fans, don’t do it. If we’re gonna come out and make the fans go, ‘Yes, I expected something great and I got godly.’ Then there’s a reason for doing it. And we’re just trying to see if we’re all on the same page for that. And so far we are; everybody wants to come out and do a great job, if we get to do this. Scheduling is the main issue, but we are trying to see what we can pull off, actually.”

DARK ANGEL‘s management issued a statement last week accusing Don Doty of displaying a “lack of responsibility” by posting “false information” and starting “unfounded rumors” that have been “creating confusion” among the group’s fans. The management confirmed that DARK ANGEL will reform for a limited number of appearances in 2014 with a lineup that will feature Gene Hoglan (drums), Jim Durkin (guitar), Ron Rinehart (vocals) and Michael Gonzalez (bass). Guitarist Eric Meyer is also expected to be involved.

Doty made an online posting last week in which he claimed that Hoglan would not take part in the DARK ANGEL reunion because Gene was “unable to make the practices” due to his “many commitments.”

DARK ANGEL guitarist Jim Durkin said in a statement last month that any talk of the band’s reunion was “premature,” and added that “when I was last in the band, Ron Rinehart was my singer. And IF the band were to come back and continue. he would STILL be my singer. He was our rock when we needed him and there is NO WAY I would do this without him. He and I talk daily and are as close now as ever. If anything, all this talk has brought us all back into more frequent contact! Which is a wonderful thing.”

DARK ANGEL released two albums with Don Doty on vocals — 1984′s “We Have Arrived” and 1986′s “Darkness Descends” — before he exited the group and was replaced by Ron Rinehart (after a brief stint with Jim Drabos in 1987). The band issued two more studio LPs — 1989′s “Leave Scars” and 1991′s “Time Does Not Heal” — before calling it quits in 1992. Rinehart, Hoglan and Meyer reassembled DARK ANGEL more than a decade ago but were forced to abandon their reunion plans after health issues reportedly put an end to Rinehart‘s singing career.

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Greg Prato of Songfacts recently conducted an interview with Jon Oliva (SAVATAGE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, JON OLIVA’S PAIN). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Songfacts: Would you agree that SAVATAGE was one of the first-ever true prog metal bands?

Jon: Absolutely. No doubt about it. I think that really started with “Hall Of The Mountain King”, but then definitely from “Gutter Ballet” on, we definitely expanded. We had done three or four records that were basically the same, except for “Fight For The Rock”, which we don’t count. That’s like the red-headed stepchild. But yeah, we started going that route, definitely with “Gutter” and “Streets”. I had never heard of the term prog rock until a few years ago. I didn’t know what it was. Back in 1987 I don’t remember that term being around. Was it?

Songfacts: The only other band that may have been described that way is maybe QUEENSRŸCHE, but I really don’t remember them being described like that around the time that also SAVATAGE was around, back in ’87.

Jon: Yeah, it’s weird. I’m wondering when that prog base first started popping up as a new genre. I’ve got to check that out. That’s going to bother me all day now. I want to know when the first time someone said “prog rock.”

Songfacts: I think DREAM THEATER may have been the first band to be called prog metal.

Jon: If you really think about it, the first prog-type band was probably ELP. But I see what you’re saying. DREAM THEATER to me, I like that band a lot. I think the drummer is amazing, just too many solos for me. I can’t help it, man. They’re great players. You can’t take away the talent. These guys are unbelievably talented. Some of those solo sections are just like, “Okaaaay,” but great band. People like ‘em, so people like 20-minute guitar solos.

Songfacts: Why do you think that TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA has reached such a huge audience, but SAVATAGE in the ’80s didn’t? Do you think it was just a matter of timing or just listeners’ tastes at the time?

Jon: Well, I think what happened with that mainly is that the name SAVATAGE, we ran the course with it. And because of some bad mistakes that we made business-wise in our younger days before Paul O’Neill, we never could quite recover from that and get into the bigger level. I mean, we did well. We did really good in Europe. But we never got SAVATAGE to that level, and after 20-some odd years and then losing Criss [Oliva, guitar] in the middle of that, we just weren’t ready to continue. The fatal thing that happened was with the song “12/24″ off of the “Dead Winter Dead” album [1995]. We sent the song out around Christmastime, and a station down in Florida started playing it, and it became a hit down here. Atlantic Records sent that CD to every radio station in America and nobody would play it. They said, “Why didn’t you play the song?” It’s like, “Well, SAVATAGE, that’s a heavy metal band from the ’80s. We don’t play that shit.” They never even listened to it. You know how we know? Because the next year we sent the exact same song and put a Christmas tree on the cover and an angel and called it “TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA,” and it was #1 on 500 radio stations. So that just goes to show you that what was holding SAVATAGE back was SAVATAGE. It wasn’t the songwriting. It was the same, Paul and I, and before that, Criss, Paul, and I. You know, the proof was in the pudding. “12/24″, which is technically a SAVATAGE song from the album “Dead Winter Dead”, has sold millions of records. I’ve got them hanging on my wall. But when it was released as SAVATAGE, it sold 30,000. So what does that tell you? It tells you that the name’s turning people off for some reason, and that’s what it was. Now look at what’s happened. TSO is one of the biggest bands in the world, it’s unbelievable. It’s funny to me, because it’s SAVATAGE. [laughs] I get a kick out of this. I’m like, “It’s SAVATAGE with tuxedos and a bunch of other people from all around the world.” We bring in people from all around the world, which makes us kind of international, which I think is cool. But the thing that sells it is the music, Paul‘s stories, and Paul‘s poetry and the lyrics, and the way that Paul and I work together when we write. There’s a chemistry there.

Read the entire interview at Songfacts.

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