Interview with Maverick singer David Balfour.
Interviewed by David.
I have been a huge fan of Maverick since they dropped their first EP in 2013 and since then these Irish rockers have continued to impress me more and more with each new record. Now, on the heels of their latest album releasing (an album that is being hailed by many fans as their best record yet), co-founder and frontman David Balfour kindly took the time to sit down and answer some questions for me.
Despite the band becoming a much bigger force in the melodic rock world with every new album and having shared the stage with such acts as the legendary Kip Winger, The Poodles and classic rockers Tigertailz, to name but a few, David is about as cool of a chap as they come and has remained humble and appreciative through it all, still happy to make this fan’s day by taking the time to speak at length with me about the band’s beginnings, the new record and a few other tidbits.
Below you will find the interview that took place.
MMR: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, David, I really appreciate it.
So let’s briefly jump right in at the beginning. When did you first become interested in music? And more to the point, when did you first become interested in this genre of music.
DB: Hi David! Good name, mate! Haha. It is my pleasure to do this interview! To be honest it is easier for me to remember a time when I was not into music!! It’s something that has consumed my life for as long as I can remember! I was lucky enough to have been raised by a mother and father who knew good music, the likes of Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin were every day listening for us! In terms of writing music I first became interested in writing this kind of music some six years ago. Until that point it was a genre I only listened to.
MMR: Oh wow, so you really had a strong foundation there with some amazing bands growing up. That is awesome, no wonder you guys have such a good handle on writing great music!
I think most guys, especially those of us who were lucky enough to grow up seeing and hearing the hair bands and all, most of us had dreams of becoming a rock star at some point in our lives and selling out arenas around the world, but few actually have the chops to make that dream become a reality. You are one of those few that does have what it takes, but we all know that this genre is not the most lucrative these days, so what made you decide that this genre of music was the route you wanted to take as opposed to a more profitable, popular genre that someone with your talent certainly could have taken?
DB: Yeah, I feel you are right, David. We certainly are not in it for the money!! Haha. It’s more as it’s a passion, it’s a style of music that we felt died an unlucky death in the early 90’s. This genre of music combines a mix of melody, heaviness and a fondness for harmony and melodic guitar skill not often found in other genres. Myself and my brother played metal in “bands” that never left the bedroom for many years. At that time I was a drummer and although we had a passion for listening to metal, we didn’t enjoy writing or playing it. Plus the desire to have soaring melodic vocals pushed us towards this genre! We consider ourselves very fortunate to have been embraced by the hard rock community like this, it is an amazing feeling to have others enjoy what you do!
MMR: Haha, yes, I had a few of those bedroom “bands” myself while growing up. Granted, I was the only member, but dammit, I was awesome! Haha!
But unlike me, you guys actually made those dreams a reality. That is so cool!
And obviously I agree 100%! The genre died an unlucky death, as you said, which also made a lot of talented bands die out before they ever really had a chance. Of course times change and had it not been that horrid Grunge that took over and pushed the melodic 80’s out then it would have been something else. Thankfully though some bands continued on regardless and kept putting out this style of music and now, of course, while still a “small” genre and criminally unknown, we have so many amazing bands putting out just stellar melodic rock!
One of those bands obviously, is you guys. So will you tell us briefly how the band got started? If I am not mistaken Maverick actually started as an 80’s cover band going by a different name, is that correct? Also you were originally the drummer, how did you make that leap from behind the kit to behind the mic?
DB: Yes, essentially we started off as a band, which was very briefly named Rhino and later Flash Damage, haha, just jamming 80’s covers in our rooms with yours truly still on drums. The main issue was we kept auditioning singers who couldn’t sing what they claimed they could. And I often found myself singing better behind the kit, demonstrating to them what to do. Whilst entirely untrained, I quickly realized I was naturally blessed with a better than average range and a “nice” vocal tone, I guess. Also over time it became clear that those melodic 80’s voices were by no means common! My brother and original guitar player Chris Van Engelen persuaded me to make the move to vocals. I was a good, solid drummer, but clearly I had more of a natural flair at the front of the stage. Once we convinced Mike Ross to take my place on the drums we soon realized that we had a rough, but good sound, then decided to start writing our own music.
MMR: Well thank God you did, man, because you have an insanely good voice! And to just one day discover you have that, you make me sick! Haha!
And you are right, these types of vocals are uncommon. Well, except for in Europe where they just seem to be all over the place. There must be something in the water over there because it is ridiculous how many amazing artists there are there. But for the rest of the world it seems to be a rarity for sure! Most definitely over here in the States. Aside from the few melodic rock artists we have here, and we have some absolutely amazing ones, don’t get me wrong, but it is rare to hear many soaring vocals coming out of the US aside from those few guys.
But don’t get me started on the crap that passes for music over here or we’ll be here all day! So moving on, you released your EP, ‘Talk’s Cheap’ in 2013 and then released your debut, the excellent ‘Quid Pro Quo’ the following year in 2014. I love both of those but in 2016 you released ‘Big Red’ and that seemed to be a turning point for you guys. I started seeing a lot more talk and excitement about the band in the melodic rock community. Did you notice a broader interest after that record released and did it start opening even more doors for you?
DB: Yes! Although ‘Quid’ was probably our biggest leap popularity wise. With it we were no longer just a Belfast band known in Belfast, we were suddenly talked about as far away as USA, Japan and Australia! So I guess to answer your question, ‘Big Red’ saw us with more critical acclaim and with better tour offers coming in, but ‘Quid’ was the biggest leap for us on a personal level. But with ‘Big Red’ I believe we refined our sound and had more of a personal identity to our music. Personally speaking, my voice improved a lot with ‘Big Red’, so I felt much more confident in pointing new listeners to it and saying “THAT is Maverick!” Additionally ‘Big Red’ was critically very well received and we had A LOT of support from fantastic fans helping to push us to a wider audience with ‘Big Red’.
MMR: I like the EP, but when ‘Quid Pro Quo’ came out and I heard the single, ‘In Our Blood’, that is the first time that I really sat up and said, oh shit, these guys are fucking GOOD! That is when I went from thinking that this band had potential to saying this band is going to be big!
Then ‘Big Red’ came out, you proved me right and just blew me away and that is when I realized that you guys had arrived, that you were in the big leagues now and could compete with the best the genre had to offer.
And I think your voice did mature some with that album, not that you ever sounded remotely bad of course!
So, you have had the privilege of sharing the stage with some big names, including Tigertailz, Kip Winger and The Poodles among them. What has been the biggest thrill for you so far with that?
DB: The single biggest thrill was getting the 19 date Poodles tour and seeing the tour bus pull up outside our hotel in Hamburg, it’s honestly hard to put into words how it felt. We were LITERALLY living our childhood dream. Going to sleep after a part in Paris and waking up in London? Awesome! Plus we literally became one big family on that tour, they are awesome guys.
On a personal level, touring with Treat, a band I love, was a big moment. And singing on stage with Kip Winger was just an incredible feeling. Linking up with Kane Roberts also was a huge moment. Hour long Skype calls with the big man and having him play a guest solo on our album, these are all things that we never, ever would have dreamed possible growing up!
MMR: I can only imagine the thrill, man! I have never had the pleasure of speaking with Kane or many of the guys from Treat but I am a big fan of both. I love Kip, who doesn’t! I have seen him several times in concert, always a phenomenal show. Just a very underrated singer and writer.
I do know Jakob (Samuels, The Poodles) though, he is definitely one cool cat! Super nice also.
And speaking of The Poodles and their energetic frontman, who has one of the absolute coolest voices of the genre in my opinion, Jakob lent his voice on a track with you from ‘Big Red’ as well as the incredibly talented Kane Roberts on guitar who you just mentioned. The guy worked with Alice Cooper for crying out loud! And his record ‘Saints And Sinners’ is a fucking amazing album! So how did you end up getting those guys to join the band on the song ‘Asylum’?
DB: We are in total agreement there! He (Jakob) has a fantastic range, a unique, gritty tone and a delivery full of emotion. I was a fan beforehand, but watching him night after night on tour, I fell in love with his voice. After the tour was over we asked if he could come over to Ireland to record a duet with me and we could combine it with a weekend holiday in Ireland. Much to our delight he accepted and we had a great time. Singing with Jakob was daunting, but very rewarding.
With Kane, we have been fans since we were children. My brother developed a cool back and forth relationship with Kane online, we asked him to listen to Maverick’s ‘Quid Pro Quo’ and he surprisingly loved it! We sustained a cool friendship online and whenever we asked him to play on a track he immediately said yes. Two fantastic talents and great guys that we are honored to have on ‘Big Red’.
MMR: That is so cool! As I said, I have never spoken with Kane personally, but Jakob is just as cool as they come. I know it had to be a thrill to have those guys on your record like that. And the songs kick ass obviously!! It is one of my favorites from your catalogue.
Well, as we just touched on, you have shared a stage with some amazing acts already, but who would be your dream band or artist to do a show with?
DB: Dream band?! Hmmm, tough! Probably KISS, Aerosmith or ‘Mindcrime’ era Queensryche!
MMR: Dream big! I like that. Santa Cruz got to open for Sebastian Bach and Tempt just got to open for Bon Jovi, so you just never know what may happen, man! Although that era of Queensryche may be a toughie to get now! Haha!
Obviously all of you guys in the band are very influenced by the 80’s music scene, who are some of your favorite bands that have helped contribute to the sound that Maverick has?
DB: In terms of contributing to our sound I would say Winger, Skid Row, KISS, Firehouse, Def Leppard, Whitesnake and Queensryche. They are also many of our favorite bands! We take little, small touches and flavors of each and try to combine in a soup to make Maverick!
MMR: All amazing bands of course, and some of my favorites as well. With the exception of Whitesnake, I have had the pleasure of seeing them all live. Incredible shows from all and the guys from Firehouse are just a group of awesome dudes! I have had the privilege of meeting them all a few times, very nice chaps.
And what about you, who are your personal influences vocally?
DB: Hmm, could be a long list! Haha! Steve Perry, Sebastian Bach, Geoff Tate, Steve Lee, Jimi Jamison, David Coverdale, Eric Adams, Paul Stanely (80’s era), CJ Snare, Milijenko Matejivic, Kip Winger, Bon Jovi and Danny Vaughn to name but a few! I claim in no way to be on the level of any of these men, but their amazing performances helped shaped my voice endlessly!
MMR: Wow! Some definite heavy hitters there! Certainly a phenomenal group of singers to have as your influences. Jimi Jamison and Steve Lee, RIP, were two of my favorite voices out there and the way Bach, CJ, Kip and Mili’s voices have all held up so incredibly well over the years is just astounding! And Danny Vaughn is just a freak of nature, the man sounds and looks exactly like he did when ‘Don’t Come Easy’ first came out. Just an amazing singer!
A lot of your singing with the band is done in a higher register, and you can certainly hit some damn high notes! I have spoken to several vocalists who have said that constantly singing in a higher register is very tough on your voice so what do you do to keep your voice in shape and keep on hitting those notes?
DB: Yeah, there is no doubt that whilst I don’t hit the extreme highest of the highs that some do, on average Maverick vocals are higher than most with verses, choruses, etc. all sitting pretty high in my register. I guess truthfully it’s where I feel my voice sounds best. I have to be at least 85% to do a Maverick set note for note, but if my voice is tired or I’m worn out from too much loud talking then I have a long night ahead, haha! But on tour I need at least 6 hours of sleep with no loud talking and loud singing during the after parties, lol. I’ll talk with the fans for an hour or so after the show then I’ll hide, as I have a naturally brittle voice which needs looked after unfortunately! But I’m doing okay so far!
MMR: Well whatever you are doing is working because you sound awesome, dude!
Speaking of those high notes, you seem to have hit an even higher place on the new record, I am thinking of that note in ‘Ex Machina’ in particular. I have always been a big fan of high vocals and high notes and have always been in awe of you guys that are able to do it and actually sound awesome when doing it. I can hit some fairly high notes myself but there is a big difference in just hitting a note up there briefly and being able to sing up that high as well, something I cannot do. Do you just keep stretching your vocals further and further to reach these notes or is it something that you just discovered you could hit completely naturally?
DB: Firstly thanks, man! You are too kind!
Yeah, as I have improved over the years I’ve noticed that I can now just hit notes that, in the past, I stretched and injured myself to get to. I’m lucky that I have a professional vocal teacher as a fiancé! She’s been an amazing help! Over time I’ve just been able to stretch and improve my range while still sounding good. I guess it’s a combination of lucky genetics and hard work/good technique. My technique during the ‘Talk’s Cheap’ and ‘Quid Pro Quo’ era was much more limited than now. I think a strong diaphragm is the key! And the way I see it, my voice won’t be this high forever, so while I have it I’ll use it and see what I’m capable of. I’m working on some higher registers for the next album too.
MMR: Oh yeah, I can’t wait to hear that! Bring it on!!
Well let’s move on to something very exciting and that is the new record. First of all congratulations on it, you have read my review and know that I simply adore it. I swear you guys somehow just keep getting better every time you release something new. There are really only a handful of bands that can brag of staying on that upward trajectory like that and it actually be true, but somehow y’all manage to amaze with every record!
The new album is called ‘Cold Star Dancer’. If you don’t mind my asking, what inspired this title?
DB: Thanks very much, my friend! Means a lot to hear this. Your review was one of our very favorites! Honestly we’ve been blown away by the feedback from across the web. Many first time Mav listeners giving this one a crack! Plus it seems that virtually everyone who has heard ‘Cold Star Dancer’ thinks that it is a step forward for us. Even if ‘Quid’ or ‘Big Red’ are musically more up someone’s alley, our efforts to evolve whilst retaining our melody should be obvious, we hope!
As for the album name itself, we’ve intentionally steered clear of more conventional sounding album titles for the genre, we want a title where people may ask “what does that mean?” which we also had with ‘Big Red’.
The ‘Cold Star Dancer’ title actually came from a Facebook app, ‘What is your Native American name’ or something silly like that. My fiancé was trying everyone’s names in our family just for fun and my mother’s came out as Cold Star Dancer. I was immediately grabbed by the name, it sounded mysterious yet cool. And Native American culture always fascinated me so I tentatively showed it to my brother without suggesting it as an album title and he immediately loved it! I always think of Ryan as a barometer for quality control, haha! So it got his seal of approval. After this I then wrote a song, the title track, from a concept I developed and the lead characters name was Cold Star Dancer.
MMR: That is a cool story of how it came to be, and certainly a unique one, and I love that title.
One thing I love about you guys is the consistency with how quickly you release albums, every two years it seems. It is tough to have to wait years to get a new record from a band you love and some bands you have to wait three, four, five or more years between albums. Of course it is far easier from my standpoint as a fan to want records more quickly than it is from the artist’s standpoint of having to write and record and afford to make a new album.
But you release steadily, and tour, always staying busy, so when did the writing for this record actually begin?
DB: Yeah, we have tried to keep it consistent as best we can! Glad you noticed, dude! Yeah, growing up that is always something that frustrated me, many bands that I loved were a little lax in releasing new albums. Now that I’m in a band though I can of course understand how difficult it is to release them consistently, tours, other work, families, etc. etc. But I guess we feel like we are slowly making waves with growing the band and carving out a Maverick fan base and unique sound. If we waited 3-4 years for a new album we may have forgotten or moved too far away from what Maverick is all about. Every band evolves, and if they don’t they will stagnate. A few bands like AC/DC don’t follow this evolutionary pattern, and it definitely works for them! Haha. If we release albums reasonably regularly then our sound will evolve naturally, organically and without extreme leaps, which will be more enjoyable for fans and will make any organic evolutions easier to get on board with!
‘Cold Star Dancer’ was definitely our shortest writing for an album. ‘Quid’ was the result of a couple of years of songwriting and juggling songs we’d written over a long period, whereas ‘Big Red’ was more rushed as we realized that now we had to write music with a timeframe. But the writing went very well! With ‘Cold Star Dancer’ we lost a key co-songwriter in our ex-drummer, Mike Ross.
So this time around me and my brother had to write the album ourselves. We had small contributions from Richie and Terry but the album is 99% us. So this was more difficult as the process had changed somewhat and also because there wasn’t the third creative mind to alleviate pressure when any two of us hit a brick wall. So it was harder work! Plus we went through line-up changes during the process which meant we had to cram.
We are unbelievably proud of the finished product, but next time around we will make an active effort to spread out the writing so that it is less stressful!
MMR: I imagine losing a key writer really put a kink in things for a while as you all tried to process on how to continue and write without that third mind helping out. But hey, it worked because the record is out and is amazing! So great job on everyone stepping up and taking the reins on that!
When the band decides to start writing for a new album what is the process like? Do you just start writing blind or do you have an idea of where you want the record to go or what?
DB: During the year I record riff, vocal and melody ideas constantly on my phone. I use the voice recorder and hum ideas, haha! But I do this all of the time so we never have a shortage of ideas. The issue is making the ideas cohesive and come together, filling the gaps if you will. If you have a great chorus and riff but just can’t get a strong enough verse it can get quite frustrating, haha! My brother writes guitar riffs and parts year round himself, then we just get together periodically to try and flesh out and combine ideas. The problem with these sessions is that both of us need to be in the mood and reasonably happy for it to be fruitful! I’d say songwriting is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration! Maybe even less! Haha!
MMR: Haha! Yes, as someone who has written songs before I can certainly understand what you mean there! And you are just constantly coming up with ideas, how cool is that! I have to be pretty inspired to sit and write one out and I certainly don’t have this endless well to pull ideas from, so I find it incredible what you artists do with that.
You touched some on this earlier, but when writing for a new album, just how involved is the entire band in that process?
DB: At the moment it is pretty much me and Ryan. Although others helping is encouraged. But we all have to go into sessions with a thick skin and the willingness to be super honest. Richie is contributing more and more often now, which is great, we want to continue this into album four. Also now with Steve Moore in the band we have another songwriter to add to the mix. Although Steve is not a permanent member at present we hope one day he may reconsider or stay long enough to help write a little, just to see what we can come up with!
MMR: I think if you can’t be completely honest with each other when it comes to writing the music then you are doomed from the start. You need to have that openness to say “hey, that one just doesn’t work for me” or something like that so that you can all work together to flesh out the absolute best music possible.
A lot of bands fall into the trap of sounding the same on everything they write, how do you manage to keep things new and fresh sounding when writing a new record, or even just a song for that matter?
DB: I guess it’s because we have never written a song yet with an idea in mind to make it sound like something else. If a song ends up being similar to another Mav tune we will change it. Plus a lot of our songwriting ideas do tend to come organically and are rarely forced. We also tend to dwell on the weak points of our previous albums and listen to them with critical ears so that when we write the new material we make an active effort to right the wrongs and intentionally change things up so that we don’t repeat ourselves. Plus many of our favorite bands have released albums that sound far too much like previous albums, so we know how much that can be boring as listeners ourselves. So we hope that we can continue to change things up and not stagnate!
MMR: Gianluca Firmo (Room Experience) and I were just talking about this very thing the other day. How a band needs to evolve and change their sound with each release and stay fresh, but it is a very fine line of changing things up while also staying true to your original sound and not straying so far off course that you alienate your fans. Maverick is great with that, you have evolved with each new release and changed your sound ever so slightly each time around but have never lost sight of your sound and of how you started out as far back as the EP. I love that.
One of my favorite songs on the album is ‘Devil’s Night’, what a great tune! It starts with a quote from a classic film that I love (The Crow), was the song actually inspired by that film?
DB: Thanks man! It’s one of my favorites too! Yeah, the song is written from the perspective of T-Bird talking to his boss, Top Dollar about their plan for devil’s night, almost like a conversation between the two of what the residents of the city will experience as they enact their violent plans. So we thought, considering how many great lines Top Dollar has, and how great Michael Wincott’s voice is, that a quote from him would be the coolest way to start it. Also we kinda twisted some quotes from the film into the lyric lines during the song also. As a final touch, the outro solo played by my brother is the same solo Eric Draven plays when he is on the rooftop only pitched to the key of the song.
‘The Crow’ is a movie that I’ve always wanted to write a song about, so when I pitched making a song we were working on about ‘The Crow’, my brother was totally onboard!
MMR: I love it! It was a great idea for a song and as I said, it is one of my absolute favorites from the record as well. Actually one of my favorites from the band period. And I like that you used Michael’s voice at the beginning, he has such a great, creepy voice.
You included a cover on the new album, your first cover you have released on a record if I recall correctly. It is the classic Rick Springfield song ‘Jessie’s Girl’ and you guys did a great job on it, what made you decide to cover that one in particular?
DB: Well it was always our intention to do a cover on this album. Everyone had ideas and suggestions about which song would be best to do, but it was our manager Eddy who suggested and pushed ‘Jessie’s Girl’. He quite rightly pointed out that it has never been famously covered, so if we got lucky and someone picked up on this cover, it could be our ticket to thousands of new listeners!
It’s a great pop rock song, it’s popular and it’s a lot of fun to sing and play. Not everyone was 100% in agreement to do it at first, but we agreed as a band that the reasons behind doing it were sound. It’s a nearly perfectly crafted song so we didn’t have much room to change it. It’s with that in mind that we kept it very faithful to the original. Really happy with how it came out!
MMR: You know, I said in my review that, while you guys sounded terrific and did a great job on the song, it was not my favorite because it didn’t really have a Maverick sound to it and was basically identical to the original. Metallica’s ‘Turn The Page’, Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ or Disturbed’s ‘The Sound of Silence’, to name a few, are covers where the bands have stayed true to the original while also putting their signature sound into each one. That is how I typically like cover songs to be.
But I’ll be honest, after talking with you about it and seeing that it was a conscious decision by the band to do that, to sound like the original and not change it at all, and was due to wanting to pay tribute to such a classic song, realizing that you could not change such a song to make it any better than it already was, that makes me really appreciate the song and you guys a lot more. Instead of trying to take glory for a cover by making it your own, you pay tribute to it by NOT making it yours. I really like that, dude.
So how any songs do you typically write for a new album before narrowing it down to what makes the cut?
DB: We actually only write the amount of songs that end up on the final album. We don’t massage egos in this band and we believe that we have good ears for spotting filler. So if any chorus, hooks or riff ideas just aren’t cutting it we will put a sword in them before they waste our time in fleshing out something that we know in our hearts isn’t up to scratch. Sometimes we will have left over chorus ideas or riffs that are still good but just weren’t coming together well or needed a lot of changes. So we can come back to those in the next album if we still like them then. Ryan and I have an unspoken bullshit detector so if we are flogging a dead horse we will both know it and will amicably decide to stop trying with that song.
Sometimes people can’t “hear” the final vision for a song that someone has in their heads, so they will want to axe the song based on the version they currently hear, which in theory is totally fair. BUT, it the writer insists on fleshing the song out there will be argument, but ultimately we will trust the person who refuses to let an idea go as perhaps in their heads they can hear what it has the potential to be. Which could be something great when all is said and done.
MMR: Very cool. And again as I mentioned earlier, that kind of honest openness is needed in a band so that you always put out the absolute best material you can.
So the band had a bit of a lineup change with this record with Terry McHuge leaving the band. Did that have much of an impact on the dynamic within the band? And cheers to your brother for taking over the majority of the guitar on the album, he did a magnificent job.
DB: Yeah, it changed the dynamic playing-wise. Terry is, simply put, one of the best players on the planet. His abilities blow away MANY “top virtuosos” who are famous for their playing. We were lucky to have him and with him the album may have been quite different. We miss him in the band but unfortunately on a personal level it was no longer working and was putting a strain on the band and putting a strain on us personally. We often lost sight of just how little time we had left to complete writing for ‘CSD’. So it was a decision we felt we had to make, we wish him all the best.
Yeah, my brother Ryan stepped up big time and worked his ass off. He took the weight of all of the rhythm playing and the vast majority of the solos. Luckily we had Steve Moore and Anders Wikstrom (Treat) to help out with some of the remaining solos. Adittionally Ryan became the studio general this time. Overseeing all proceedings and staying in the studio throughout to make sure the album came out as well as it did.
The rest of us had trouble getting studio time to work so Ryan stepped up and carried the project on his back in the studio. I’m very proud of the way he handled it. He was no doubt very frazzled at points, but that’s to be expected. I believe guitar wise that ‘CSD’ is by far and away my brother’s greatest guitar work yet and I think he will be stepping it up even more on the next album! But this time with more support from the rest of us in the studio.
MMR: Well he certainly did a hell of a job! The record sounds great and he sounds incredible on it! Well done!
Going back a little, with ‘Big Red’ we saw the band change record labels, moving to the great folks over at Metalopolis Records. This marks your second album with the label, how did you get involved with them?
DB: Yeah, we are very lucky to be with Metalapolis, they are music lovers like us first and foremost. And they actually believe with us, it’s a great feeling and we know we are lucky to have them on our side! We actually met one of the label heads whilst on tour with The Poodles back in late 2015. He was the tour manager! We immediately hit it off, had similar music tastes and he loved out live energy. We had a verbal contract offer before the end of the tour! Great memories, I believe everything happens for a reason and we are fortunate!
MMR: That is fantastic! Having a good relationship with the label is definitely something that is needed and finding a label who are still fans of music first and foremost like that instead of viewing it strictly as a business is important and it definitely shows in the finished product as well.
Any touring plans in the works in support of the album yet?
DB: Yeah, we had the first short Euro tour with Crashdiet then a short run of headline shows! We also just agreed to another tour leg in the U.K./Europe in a few months time, soon to be announced! And there are many more plans in the pipline! We will tour ‘Cold Star Dancer’ on and off until probably 2019!
MMR: So you have already done a few tour stops, with more to come, what has the response been like so far to the new material in that live setting?
DB: To be honest, the response has been fantastic! Obviously our more well-known songs, if you could call them that, haha, like ‘In Our Blood’ and ‘Whiskey Lover’ always go down the best, but songs like ‘Myrmidon’ seem to whip the crowd up in a way others don’t. It could be the speed and power of it. Additionally we open with the title track, ‘Cold Star Dancer’, and I’ve noticed that the longer the album has been out the more people actively sing the call and response back at us! For example, we played a headline show in Switzerland to probably about 150 people but they were all there for us. Having this feeling 1,000 miles from home was simply amazing and we noticed that the new songs were almost cheered more as they started! I think it was the fans way of saying that we had done a great job and they had embraced them. Full choruses were being sung back at us. It’s honestly an amazing feeling. We are a VERY lucky band to have such great audiences who embrace and love the new material so quickly!
MMR: That is awesome! I am still holding out hope that I get to see you guys live over here in the States sometime soon! One of the main reasons for the great response, I imagine, is that your music is so catchy that you can’t help but start singing along when you hear it, so I imagine it translates very well live! But I am very happy to hear the response has been so positive, and rightly so I must say!
The band hails from Ireland, I know we have a few bands in the genre from over there but what is the musical landscape like there? Is melodic rock even a blip on the radar there or is it the same old radio crap we are fed here in the States?
DB: To be honest, Dave, melodic rock is virtually non-existent here as a scene. There are a handful of bands and a small, but loyal, fan base that attend most shows. Ireland and Northern Ireland are more “metal” I think, there are no shortage of heavier bands. But I think that in general, much like in the States, it’s pop dominated. And instead of Country in the States we have Folk and Trad here. Which I can respect and at times enjoy, but it’s just not my passion. Most of my friends are great musicians of all genres, Ireland as a whole is certainly a verrry musical country, but unfortunately rock and metal is not a huge part of it. Still, we have a blast!
MMR: So basically you are like every other place in the world where the radio friendly pop rock shit pervades the radio waves and melodic rock is nothing. Ugh!!! I have so much respect for all of you artists for continuing to put out this music when, in the majority of the world, it is not known or appreciated. Thank you, and all of the artists, for continuing to carry the torch for melodic rock! You guys kick ass!
Going off topic for a second here, I know you are a bit of a movie fan, as am I, what is your favorite(s) movie?
DB: Ahhh, dude, I love movies almost as much as music, at time perhaps even more! Haha! So it’s good to talk to a fellow movie nut!
I guess in terms of rewatch-ability my favorite films would be The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, Predator, Terminator 1 and 2, Highlander, Alien, Aliens, The Last Samurai, Braveheart, Rain Main, Demolition Man, The Wrestler, Total Recall, Ghostbusters, Schindler’s List, Titanic, Minority Report, Jerry Maguire, The Last Of The Mohicans, The Crow, etc. I also love British crime comedies like Snatch and Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels! To be honest, mate, I probably have over 200 favorite films!
MMR: Haha, I can relate to that! I love movies. While I am not even close to owning as many DVDs as I do CDs, I still have a pretty large collection of movies and every one of those you just named are in that collection. Some great films there!
Well again I thank you for taking time out of your schedule, man, I appreciate it so much. It is always so much fun getting to pick the brains of artists that I admire and it is even better when you talk and find out they are just as nice and down to Earth as can be. Thank you!
So last question, top three albums and why?
DB: It’s been an absolute pleasure, mate, I honestly love doing interviews like this with great questions! Big thanks for helping to promote us by taking the time to do this! You are a gent.
Ooh great question! I’d firstly have to go Blind Guardian ‘Imaginations From The Other Side’. More a power metal album. I am a total fantasy (J.R.R.) Tolkien nerd and these guys even moreso! Great escapist lyricism, huge Queen like vocal harmonies along with complex melodic arrangements and a totally unique vocal tone. They are simply wonderful, this is their transition album they evolved from a speed metal outfit to a fully fledged epic power metal band who are musically capable of anything. Secondly, Queensryche ‘Operation Mindcrime’, what can I say here? The vocals, the melodies, the arrangements, the storyline, the atmosphere, the luch, 80’s production. It’s all absolutely amazing. At this point I believe Queensryche were simply the greatest band on Earth. Perhaps my most listened to album ever! I’ll NEVER tire of this masterpiece!
Lastly Whitesnake ‘1987’, the absolute pinnacle of lush 80’s melodic, reverb-laden hard rock! (David) Coverdale’s bluesly, emotional delivery and (John) Sykes’ shredding are in perfect synchronicity here. Great hooks, great riffs and a real “big band” feel to it. You can tell it’s a landmark album from the first 20 seconds of ‘Still Of The Night’, amazing!
Thanks for this opportunity, Dave. Take care of yourself and ROCK ON!