Saturday, 17 November 2018

Interview: Q5

Having never graced British soil before, we grab some time with Seattle's phenomenal Q5 before they bring the light to the Camden Underworld, London with their first ever UK performance before moving onto Edinburgh to continue their European Tour!

Everybody has that list of 'must-see' bands and tonight it's definitely time for one of ours. We feel privileged to welcome Q5 as they prepare for their first show in the UK! It's clearly been one hell of a tour already as we step backstage to a tranquil room set with a sea of sleeping bodies.

However, clearly running on adrenaline and excitement, we are greeted by a very tired but elated Jonathan Scott K (vocals), Jeffrey A. McCormack (drums) and Dennis Turner (guitar). After a long and somewhat troublesome journey from Germany's Trveheim Festival, the lads are here and ready to give many London fans what they have been waiting for, for a very long time. 

Welcome to London- show number three of the tour! There's a long road ahead but how's the tour treating you so far?

Jonathan Scott K: 
 Oh it's very tiring but so so great, really great. Especially last Last night was absolutely brilliant.

Michelle: At Trveheim?

Jonathan: Yes- Trveheim Festival in Germany!

 What with it being a relatively new festival, we are curious to know what you think...

Jonathan: It was perfect. No other way to describe it really. They were so kind. They are doing it all just right and that's why they're successful. We really enjoyed it.
Jeffrey A. McCormack: Yeah, seriously so good- they made us feel right at home. What a brilliant festival.
Dennis Turner: One of those shows you'll always remember.

Kayleigh: ...And sold out! The reception must have been great?

Jonathan: Oh you know, I wish I had my phone- would have loved to have filmed a video. The reception was incredible!

Kayleigh: That’s so great- and nothing more than you deserve.

How does it feel to look out and not only see fans that have stayed loyal over the decades but also many fans who are clearly very young, yet so dedicated and knowledgeable when it comes to Q5's history?

Jonathan: It’s awesome, I mean when I look at someone, I don’t think about their age, I think "that’s someone who loves music!”
Jeffrey: It’s a family thing and that's what's so great. Everyone together. Age doesn't matter. Where you're from doesn’t matter. All the music, all the classic bands. It’s a family.

Kayleigh: After Headbangers Festival in 2009, Q5 didn't remain as active as people expected them to after such a successful show. Was there a reason why?

Jonathan: We were doing stuff semi-steadily but just in the States. You have to know how hard it is, I mean we went from playing huge venues, packed out with large crowds to… well, no one. 
After we started, people only cared about this new music coming from the underground, 'grunge' and what have you. Which was occurring in the very tiny clubs…everyone was focused on that. Bands like ours weren't getting a look in. But then you also had bands like KISS. They came along and would perform to 20,000 people each night. Lots of bands crashed and burned. 

We spent 10 years or so going through some big changes….with name changes, line up changes, as well as keeping up with other things like social media, no one knew what to expect of it all. So, we carried on playing a lot in Seattle. With three albums over the years, we are so happy with what we have achieved but we couldn’t get that break because we refused to do the ‘grunge thing’.

We stayed true to what we are. Hard rock. And here we are where things are starting to look real good for us and most importantly of all, it’s so much fun.

Kayleigh: 2014 Sweden Rock must be implanted in your memory. Is that when it all exploded for you again?

Jonathan: Well our minds exploded, anyway (laughter). Although, we had an incomplete band then. We had to discuss how we were gonna go forward because we had such a good connection. Social media helped us a lot, and we went from there. However, it all takes time. I wish it could happen overnight but it doesn’t. Radio is dead now and back in the beginning, that was the real shaker and mover.

Kayleigh: So we’ve caught you today on the third date of your European tour- you’ve said you're feeling very tired but how do you feel about your first London show tonight?

Jonathan: Oh, tonight is very special. Tired or not,  this is a very special night. We’ve been waiting for this tour a long time and here we are now!

Kayleigh: Well we know there are a lot of fans just as excited to see you perform tonight.
So, now for an inevitable, albeit important question...we know founder and original guitarist Floyd Rose wishes Q5 well and supports you all in moving forward, however he chooses not to play live anymore. Do you still speak with him regularly? Any chance of any future collaborations?

Jonathan: I literally spoke to him the day before we left. I always call him, I told him to come here to London and asked him to do one song,  just one song, maybe… 'Steel the Light'. I said "come on Floyd!" but he said …."no" (laughter). He does wish us well though and we still talk a lot.
Jeffrey: We wanted to have the blessing of the other guys too...original drummer Gary Thompson for instance… he came to our album release party and said how he actually thought we were tighter than the original line up!

Kayleigh: Well that’s a compliment and a half!

Jeffrey: Sure is- hey, we’re a family!

Q5's first studio album Steel The Light (1984)
Kayleigh: So great! Moving on to discussing your first 2 releases. Steel the Light being the first with its classic, heavy, guitar driven sound making it hugely successful within the underground. How did you feel when releasing When the Mirror Cracks with its more melodic, AOR-esque vibe?

Jonathan: Q5 is Q5. We can do whatever we want! Back in the old days, we were told “great song- but we need a more commercial hit to be on the radio!” so we did write a few, although it always had that Q5 edge.  Our third album is back to that guitar driven sound- back to the heart and roots! It has some of the elements of the second album in there because we’re proud of what we've learnt and it brings it all together.

Kayleigh: Is there any news on your upcoming album? Still set for the end of 2018?

Jonathan: We’re gonna try for then, but when it does come it's going to be amazing!

Kayleigh: We don't doubt it! Any secrets you'd like to share?

Jonathan: Well, it's gonna be seriously guitar driven,  a touch melodic, classic vibe, very hard rock… We've got these two monster guitar players…
Jeffrey:  And what about me? laughter

Kayleigh: Oh you're a monster too, just on a different instrument!

Jeffrey: I've definitely been called worse!

Kayleigh: Any ideas for the album title yet? Or is that under wraps?

Jonathan: None yet!

Kayleigh: Well, we're looking forward to hearing it. Jonathan- have your vocal influences changed over the years?

Jonathan: Oh well I have loads of influences…Sabaton are a favourite. He is no Steve Perry but his vocals are unique and interesting. Different to other influences like Udo for example. I like a voice with a bit of the X-factor.

Kayleigh: And you guys? We always love hearing about people's influences.

Jeffrey: My earliest influence was Liberty DiVitto, also John Bonham, that's a token answer but nobody cannot dispute it. Tommy Aldrich too. When I was 9, I was taking piano lessons, my uncle (who was a professor of piano) knew I was into it as much. He knew I liked KISS so he took me to a concert and as from that moment I said  "I'M DOING THAT!" so thank you to Peter Criss.
James: Man, it's all about Zeppelin…I don’t play like Page, but every time you hear him, you get those goosebumps you know. Also, Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, Neal Schon… those are my faves for sure.

Kayleigh: So, what's in store for Q5 in the future? Do you have any dreams or goals or are you happy with living in the moment?

Jonathan: My dreams have never changed. I'm doing that right now by playing in London tonight. This, our first UK show is a dream. This is where it started, this a dream. Anything beyond this is something else.

Kayleigh: Well, we are beyond excited for tonight's show and we will be keeping our eyes and ears open and ready for news of a new album on the horizon! 

Visit Q5's offical page at and on facebook for more band news!

Interview: Kayleigh Valentini
Photo: M. Godding

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Interview: Mindless Sinner

Moods are soaring on the second day of Trveheim Festival as we have some time with Mindless Sinner to delve deep into their past and hear their thoughts on the current state of affairs in the world of heavy metal.

Louise: I’m going to start by asking about the very beginning. You’ve had quite a few different names in the past and I wondered if you could tell me a bit about what inspired each of them.

Christer Göransson: The first name was Purple Haze.  It was two of us and two other guys but they didn’t have a singer. They played under that name and then I came along and we changed the name to Genocide after a Judas Priest song because we love Judas Priest. We changed the name to Metal Gods for one gig and then we changed it to Mindless Sinner.

Louise: And was there anything in particular which inspired the final name?

Göransson: It was a friend of ours who came up with the name.  “Why don’t you call yourselves Mindless Sinner”“OK will do!”

Louise: Despite being a bit on and off over the years, you’ve kept a really stable line-up.  How did you manage where other bands didn’t?

Göransson: Why we didn’t kill each other?
Christer Carlson: We do try occasionally (all laughing)
Göransson: This is the same line-up since late ‘84. We’re good friends.
Carlson: We’re good friends and we stayed in the same town – Linköping in Sweden.

Louise: And were you good friends before the band?

All: Yes
Göransson: I didn’t know you (pointing at Jerker Edman)
Jerker Edman: No, you didn’t but when you came along, we became good friends.
Carlson: We’re from the same part of Linköping as well so we went to the same school although we’re a little bit different ages.

Mindless Sinner - The New Messiah
Louise: I’ve read in a couple of other interviews that you’ve described The New Messiah as a follow up to Turn On The Power but with a 2015 touch.  I want to know about that last part, did you try and give the record a modern touch?

Göransson: No, we wanted the record to sound like it was from 1986 but that’s a hard thing because it’s not 1986 anymore.
Carlson: I think the aim was to avoid new touches and to keep it as eighties as possible.
Göransson: We tried to record it as we did back in the day but we did record it digitally which was pretty different to analogue and that’s the 2015 bit.
Carlson: It’s hard to avoid, it’s been many years developing and playing and so that was tough going back but we did good work.

Louise: It’s interesting because so many bands seem like they aren’t as focused on recording albums that sound like they used to.

Göransson: You can’t be stuck in the past, you know. You’ve got to progress and move forward but we have a sound and we wanted to preserve that, with a new touch. We have no aim to sound like another band or like 'new metal'. That’s not our thing, so why should we?

Louise: Can you tell me about the best live show that you played back in the eighties?

Magnus Danneblad: I can’t remember the eighties (laughing).
Edmund: We did a show in our hometown and it turned out to be a big crowd that came along, we didn’t expect that. It was a great gig. The skin on the snare drum broke so we had to cut it short. We only played seven songs, we didn’t have a spare.
Danneblad: That was a great gig, a short gig. It was in a kind of school hall and it was so crowded that they had to take away the temporary wall between the theatre and the dining hall.
Göransson: I like to say that we haven’t done our best gig, yet.
Carlson: Hopefully tonight! And then a better one after that.

Louise: Well the next question was the same but for gigs since 2014. Do any of the shows in recent years stand out?

All: KIT (Keep It True Festival)
Göransson: Yes, KIT was great and we had a great gig in London at Live Evil.
Tommy Viktorsson: I think the first gig we did at Muskelrock. We didn’t have any expectations whatsoever and the crowd was great. It was quite surprising.
Carlson: Funny story there. We had a meet and greet and we hadn’t played for ages. Magnus said “what the f**k are we going to do at a meet and greet, who is going to want to meet and greet us, I’m not going”. We all said “come on, come on, we’ll try it”, and we sat there signing on shoes and people and meeting fans for half an hour, 45 minutes. We didn’t expect that and then the gig followed in the same footsteps.
Danneblad: It was overwhelming.

Louise: How is it with those younger fans who weren’t born yet when you were doing your thing in the eighties. What does that feel like?

Göransson: It’s crazy
Carlson: It’s weird.
Viktorsson: It’s very hopeful for the future, seeing these young people makes me think, actually we did something good back in the eighties, we must have.
Carlson: It’s amazing, the whole scene of this underground type of heavy metal. We went to L.A, London, Athens and wherever you meet people, if they’re young or old, they sing along to your songs and it’s hard to grasp.

Mindless Sinner in 1985 (via Mindless Sinner Facebook)
Louise: Taking those two time periods, in the eighties and now. Are either of them better or more fun than the other. How do you compare them?

Göransson: Now or then? It’s better now.  Because we are better musicians, we play better, we sound better and the crowds are bigger.
Carlson: We’re doing the gigs we never got to do in the eighties. There weren’t any opportunities to go around the world the way we have the opportunity to do now. It’s a dream coming true. We’re around 50 (years) all of us, so it’s a weird feeling. We couldn’t dream that this could happen.
Edmund: This isn’t even the dream we used to have, this is a bonus.
Carlson: I guess it was more frustration in the eighties. We had a record contract quite young, 15 or 16 years old. We had big beliefs and nothing really came through. We did quite a lot of gigs and a few albums but I guess this is when the dream comes true.

Louise: Since the end of the eighties had you always wanted to get Mindless Sinner back on stage?

Göransson: No, we didn’t but some things happened that made this opportunity for us. So it was not planned. We split up in 1990, Tommy left and then the four of us had a band called Skinny Horse with the drummer from Axe Witch. We made an album back in ‘93 and then we split up as well.
Carlson: We all stayed in the same town, we had contact. Me and Jerker also played in other bands and so everyone kept on playing. We had a bit of contact so we thought, let’s grab a beer and play a few old songs.
Göransson: We thought we’d play this gig (Muskelrock) and that would be it. But then more opportunities came along. We’ve always been friends even if we weren’t playing together. We’ve never had any hard feelings.
Carlson: When we broke up in the nineties, everyone wanted to do their own things. We were finished for that moment.
Göransson: It was strange you know, because when we first met to play the gig, we rehearsed, we plugged in and started to play and it was like we had never stopped.

Louise: During those years that you weren’t active with Mindless Sinner, have you still been going to heavy metal shows, listening to new bands? Has it still been a part of your life?

All: Yes
Carlson: You can add that there’s a lot of things happening privately with families and kids.
Edmund: Life came along and that’s good. It’s still always been a part of our lives. 

Louise: Have your musical interests changed much over the years?

Danneblad: New music always comes along year after year but you still have your roots somewhere in there.

Louise: Are there any young bands who you can see reaching the potential or quality of the likes of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio?

Göransson: That’s a hard question.
Carlson: There’s loads of good bands around and all these great old bands are still touring too. Then guys like us turn up and with all the new bands and all the revival bands it gets so crowded and there’s so many good bands around so we’re so grateful and thankful that we get asked to play here or wherever else.
Göransson: I can’t see it. The new bands, they are great but still nothing like the old ones but there’s plenty of music I haven’t heard.
Carlson: Of course there’s going to be great new bands and new icons but I think in this genre the old bands are iconic and have a special status.
Göransson: The music scene is different now. We didn’t have the internet in those days. Now anyone can record anything in their living room and everyone around the world can hear it. Back then we were sending tapes to record companies.
Danneblad: Back then you had mail correspondence all over the world. You would write to a fan and maybe you’d get a response in a couple of months. It was a really different time to communicate.

Louise: Do you prefer that as it is these days? Or how it was back in the day sending tapes ?

Göransson: It’s yes and no. Because there’s so many bands now. There were many back then as well but it’s so easy now for everyone to send out their song, recorded at home. The amount can make it drown a bit, it can be easy to get lost a little bit. Of course it’s positive and also positive for us. That’s how we’re here now.

Louise: Is there anything for us to watch out for coming up with Mindless Sinner?

Göransson: We’ve got a new album in the works. It will be out next year sometime.
Carlson: It’s going to follow the footsteps and progress we’ve made before. We can’t be standing in one place all the time but it’s going to have a lot of good things from the past and other things to bring it along and a little bit forwards.
Göransson: We have recorded everything but the vocals so that’s next.

Louise: And that’s everything, thank you so much guys.

Carlson: We could just add what we feel about coming to places like this. It’s amazing to find all these volunteers and of course we chip in as a band too. There’s no money in this scene. Everyone’s working hard, there’s a lot of love and positive vibes at these places across the whole circuit. That’s probably the most important thing.
Göransson: They’re working hard for free, for the love of the music.

Mindless Sinner at Keep It True Festival 2015
( photo from Mindless Sinner Facebook)

Stay up-to-date with Mindless Sinner via their Facebook page.

Writer: Louise Dornan

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Live Review: Saxon @ Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle

Newcastle City Hall was opened in 1927 and has a long and storied history as the city’s first dedicated concert venue. The hall has hosted The Byrds, Lindisfarne and Emerson, Lake and Palmer among others but has a particularly niche place in the city’s musical history when it comes to heavy metal.  A keen observer will recognise the concert hall interior in Iron Maiden’s video for 'Number Of The Beast' and the majority of Motorhead’s seminal No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith was recorded here. Joey DeMaio and Ross The Boss reportedly met here at a Sabbath gig, forming the core of Manowar's classic lineup.  This rich history can seem odd or even jarring to the visitor who walks through the fancy portico into a 100% seating grandiose concert hall  for a heavy metal show, but the building has its own considerable charm and one gets the sense that bands who played here “back in the day” and keep coming back to do so out of a genuine affection- adding to the atmosphere.  That’s certainly the case with tonight’s triple-header, a sort of 'coda' to Saxon’s Autumn tour of the UK, with Wayward Sons and Doro in tow.

Wayward Sons kick the evening off.  Fronted by ex-Little Angels frontman Toby Jepson, this five piece are every inch the gestalt Planet Rock band and deliver everything that description entails:  Simple, energetic blues-tinged rock occasionally flirting with AOR (of course they’re signed to Frontiers).  While not necessarily earth-shaking, the band acquit themselves well, clearly have a lot of enthusiasm and deliver a solid set, whetting the early arrivals’ appetite for the rest of the evening.  Set highlights are most certainly “Crush” and “Until The End”.

The uninitiated and largely unfamiliar author doesn't quite know what to expect from scene veteran Doro Pesch.  Doro quickly appraises the City Hall of the situation: Launching onto the stage and into Warlock’s “I Rule The Ruins” she establishes there is to be 0% fucking around here.  The majority of Doro’s set consists of Warlock songs which serves to ensure continuing familiarity and participation from the expanding audience, played with the consummate professionalism one expects from a well-seasoned band such as this.  Some crowd banter early on harks back to a previous appearance by Pesch with Warlock in Newcastle supporting the late, great, Ronnie James Dio which feeds into favourite “Burning The Witches”.  By the time “All We Are” starts up the concert hall is buzzing and the grandeur of the place feels more in keeping with what’s happening on stage. Doro follows with “All For Metal” and closes out her set with “Revenge”, leaving Newcastle set up for main event.

Saxon approach tonight’s show with an admirable confidence in their new material for a band originating in NWOBHM. Thunderbolt, 2018’s release, boasts six inclusions in tonight’s set alongside a broad spread of classic numbers.  The title track opens the set and is swiftly followed by second album track “Nosferatu” and relatively recent “Sacrifice”, leading into signature song “Motorcycle Man” to much appreciation.  The only really questionable song choice of the night is “Predator” – understandably present in the set but slightly throwing the watcher off due to the ill-advised growl section originally handled by Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg – it doesn’t really suit the song and takes one out of the moment.  In the grand scheme of things this is a minor mis-step and the band quickly course-correct with “Strong Arm of The Law”.  The rest of the set continues to flow well throughout, with Biff Byford’s now-classically “cozy” sense of showmanship and banter (an admiral commitment to the correct, ie. Northern pronunciation of the word “bath” is shown in a brief exchange with drummer Nigel Glockler), with references to previous shows at the Hall and a touching tribute to Lemmy and Motorhead leading into “They Played Rock ‘n’ Roll”.  We move into the home stretch after this:  “And The Bands Played On”, “Sons of Odin”, “Never Surrender” and “Princess of The Night” close the main set but Saxon aren’t done yet.  It’s tough to imagine a stronger encore selection from their back catalogue than a powerful “The Eagle Has Landed” leading into “Heavy Metal Thunder”, “Wheels of Steel” and “Denim and Leather”.  For the final number Byford encourages a couple of denim vest donations from the crowd who oblige him eagerly, setting up for some solid call-and response on the chorus to end the night. 

The word that frequently comes to mind with Saxon is 'consistency'.  Consistency in quality of recorded material, consistency of competent live performance. This night demonstrates that in a nutshell.  Saxon remind the audience, once again why they stood out within the British metal scene of the early '80s and continue to enjoy a respectable profile within the scene now.  Crackin'.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Craig Stewart