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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Krokus

Interviewed by Greg Olma
Interview With Marc Storace of Krokus
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

The new album Hellraiser has more of that classic Krokus sound. Did you consciously go into this project to recreate that sound?
Well, not really that conscious. Of course, in a way you’re right, we try to consciously be Krokus. Every one of us has different influences and we try to meet in the middle. But we also try to go a step further than Rock The Block, which was more like boogie, good-time rock. Rock The Block was deliberately trying to imitate Krokus within a restricted era which was more between 1981-1983; you know, Hardware, One Vice At A Time, and Headhunter. With Hellraiser, we just let loose and we actually had a hell of a load of songs to choose from. So we managed to pick the cream of the crop and keep everything diluted and sort of take the essence of what we wanted to project. There’s also some new stuff in there. There’s some bluesy stuff, some power metal stuff, and then there’s the typical Krokus. The middle of the road Krokus, so to speak; “Hellraiser,” “No Risk, No Gain” and “Turning Inside Out.”
MSJ: What is the process of picking the songs for the album?
We try to be diplomatic as possible. Putting songs on the album sometimes makes or breaks a band. I mean, some bands break up because some members get offended that their songs weren’t chosen for the new album. It’s like a big sacrilege in their minds and hearts. Some people can’t distance themselves from their work and be objective about the whole thing and look at the whole thing as a masterpiece with certain parts that should fit in like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s difficult for one person to decide. It’s better as teamwork. Apart from the band members, we also take people’s votes around the band; around the infrastructure, from management to record company and our fan club president, Peter Waelti, who just took over US management recently. We even listen to our webmaster’s opinion and our producer’s opinion. Each individual obviously has his wife or his girlfriend in the back breathing down his neck. So this way you have 10 people who are voting. They give their song list of 15 best. Then you have to consider that up to 2 -5 people are behind each individual. So that brings it up to a nice number and it makes it all very democratic. I think that’s a good way to go.
MSJ: I heard the Japanese version contains 2 bonus tracks? Do you write tracks specifically for other markets?
No, not specifically. For example, this song “Walking In The Spirit Of True Rock ‘n’ Roll.” That’s a song which I had written. I wrote the lyrics a long time back and then I put some music to it. Towards the end of our pre-production sort of songwriting period I presented it to the band thinking it’s not hard rock enough but it’s got a good groove. It’s got a good melody but it didn’t make it to the top 20. We just simply took the next 2 down that didn’t make it on the album. That’s all really. We’ve got another 15 where those [came from]. That was one of the longest pre-productions we ever did, songwriting periods, because we had quite a few stones laid in the path to finish the album. It took a long time but we stayed creative and productive in spite of the “against all odds” situation. I think that’s why it came out as such a strong album.
MSJ: What is your favorite Krokus album and why?
It’s become very difficult now after the release of Hellraiser to say which is my favorite album to date.
MSJ: I guess it’s like asking which is your favorite child?
You have fun at the conception, you’ve been through the whole growing thing, and you’ve witnessed the births and pains. You love them all. You wish them well but obviously, how can I say this, the other children have all grown up and left home for me. This one is still growing. It’s still in school. Hahaha. This one is still being nurtured and we’re still promoting it and pushing it. I’m a little biased. Also deep in my heart, as I said before, it’s one of the strongest, if not the strongest album. I know we have very strong songs on Metal Rendez-vous, One Vice At A Time, and Headhunter. I think Hellraiser goes with those three.
MSJ: Mandy Meyer recently rejoined the band. How did that come about?
That was kind of like everything coming full circle. Mandy was a band member in Krokus in 1981-82 and we were doing the Hardware world tour when heavy metal and hard rock had their heyday. When things were really going fantastic for rock music throughout the world. He replaced Tommy Kiefer because Tommy had been having problems with drugs and his health and couldn’t keep the pace. We needed a replacement and Mandy was only 19 then, so in certain things, he was like a kid. There was a rift between him and a couple of band members plus a bit of a jealousy thing because he was the new pretty boy who was getting all the attention from the press all over Europe. So the whole thing disintegrated in bad energy and intrigue and Mandy got thrown out. I kept tabs with him and we celebrated some feasts and barbeques. When my son was born in 1993, Mandy was one of the first to meet him. He’s been hanging around backstage with us since the revival in 2003. So when Fernando finally ditched his job with Krokus in the beginning of 2005, Mandy was top of the list in my mind. The rest of the guys were doubting whether we should go for Mandy because of a recent alcohol problem he’d had. I said “no way, that’s just what he needs to get him out of it.” He played with Gottard for too long and Gottard was too soft for Mandy. When I asked him that night, he grabbed the bull by the horns. He was really happy, like a pig in s**t. He said “yeah, I’m going to give it my best.” He’s great. When he gives it his best, I knew it was going to sound fantastic.
MSJ: Last year, when you toured the states, you mentioned that you would be touring here more often. Will you be touring in America in the coming year?
2005, towards September, we hit the states once again. First time after 17 years and it was fantastic just being back there. We had a hard time; it was 22 gigs in 30 days. Only a couple of days off in between. I celebrated my birthday on stage in Salt Lake City. The whole audience sang “Happy Birthday” to me. I’ll never forget that. We met up with Peter Waelti in Denver. He was my ex-manager from the early 70’s, when I sang in the band Tea. He is so full of enthusiasm, we immediately gave him the honor of being president of our fan club. This thing is going incredible since he took it into his hands. We’ve been wanting to start a fan club going for ages but we’ve never had the right guy show up. It’s a hell of a responsibility. It involves a lot of hours and dedication. And through that, he became so close to our fans and they love him. Now we have a USA manager who is running our fan club. What better way to have a manager who understands what the fans want. That came out of the states too. Plus the US comeback made us realize what our weaknesses were because 22 gigs in 30 days; that’s tough with all the distances. Plus, we didn’t even do our strongholds. We came to the states and played the east coast which was always a tough nut to crack for Krokus. Instead of going to Texas or coming to Chicago, or going to the west coast. Then we realized we needed a new drummer. Patrick just didn’t hold out. He just didn’t hold out. He couldn’t keep up with the pressure. All of us were having fun. We didn’t want it to stop. Patrick would have been happy if it stopped a week earlier. That was also not the kind of spirit we wanted to have in our organization. It’s not easy, we’re not in the 80’s, and one has to work harder to earn his stripes.
MSJ: Do you feel that your brand of heavy metal is making a resurgence?
Yes, of course, it has been. I recall in 2002, I realized that there were all these revival bands coming back. People like Whitesnake, Deep Purple. I mean Deep Purple never stopped. They’re one of the lucky bands that can go around through thick and thin and keep touring. I think there was a package of Whitesnake and the Scorpions in 2002. They did well. That’s when I picked up the phone and called Fernando and said “it’s time to join forces, let’s give it another try together rather than the way things are now. Because Krokus is rock bottom and if you release one more bad album, like you just did, you’re gonna really ruin the name.” The same with me. I just finished a bunch of songs and I intended to make a solo album. I was about to go shopping before I called him. I waited for his answer. I was determined to get out there, tour, release albums, and enjoy the resurgence while it lasted.
MSJ: Going back a few years, you sang on a record by Warrior. Were you a member of the band or were you just asked to sing on the album?
I was asked to sing on the strength of our success with the revival Rock The Block. Being connected, a friend of mine, Christof Berger(sp?), who was directly connected with Reality Entertainment which was Warrior’s record company. Reality also had this studio where Joe Floyd was working as an engineer and producer. So Christof knew that Warrior was looking for a singer so after Krokus’ success, he gave me a ring [and said] “if you’re not doing anything, we just need you for a couple of months. Learn the songs. Write some stuff together with the guys. You can do it by Internet. All you need to do is fly over and record it. Let’s see what happens. Take it step by step.” I’m a glutton for creativity. I just like to let my juices flow. I seize any opportunity to work with musicians that I think are good.
MSJ: What was the last CD you purchased?
I usually get freebies. I did purchase one lately. It was Glenn Hughes’ Soul Mover with the drummer from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He’s a great singer and a great bass player. I’m always amazed by this guy.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended as a fan?
I just saw “We Will Rock You” twice but that’s a musical. But I enjoyed it. I saw the premier in Zurich. Brian May and Roger Taylor were there. I had the honor of meeting them once again. I have toured with Queen, with Freddy, in Europe when I was in my diapers, in the days when I sang for Tea. We toured with them. It was really great.
MSJ: What is your favorite Spinal Tap moment from your career?
They left me. I stepped off the bus to take a pee and the bus left without me. I spent the whole night, well, quite a few hours, at this truck stop. Luckily for me they were all Krokus fans. I got treated very well. This was in Denmark.
 
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