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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Brazen Abbot

Interviewed by Greg Olma
Interview with Nikolo Kotzev of Brazen Abbot from 2005
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at

Your new album is called "My Resurrection." Is there a deeper meaning to the title?
No. This is a question I get a lot. The thing is, usually when I give a name to the album, I always wait until the last moment. I wait until I see how the songs will turn out. Usually, when one of the songs, has a special quality that I really like, I consider calling the whole album after it. This particular song, that just happened to be called "My Resurrection;" that's how it went. So, there is no deeper meaning, it was just that the song "My Resurrection" felt like a good opener. It had a strong name and I just went ahead and used it for the album.
MSJ: In a lot of your albums, you have many different subject matters in the songs. What do you use for inspiration; books, movies, life experiences?
I wish it was that simple. For this album, the latest album, My Resurrection; first of all, it's not me who writes the lyrics. It's the singers, and I will give them directions, I will try to guide them, probably jump in and help out in some places, but mostly the singers come up with the main ideas. And what I usually do, I will call every one of them and give them guidance or direction for this particular album. For this album, all I told them was "we are not going to have any love lyrics, not going to have any politics, so write about anything, Earth, people meeting from philosophical angles, your projection of things, the world through your eyes, your personal feelings about life" and stuff like that. I just wanted to try to spread to more philosophical subjects than just the simple rock subjects that are being used by so many bands.
MSJ: When you write music, do you write for a specific singer or do you let the singers choose their songs?
Well, it is both actually. I usually, I often don't know who all the singers will be on the particular album. Obviously, my main objective is to make a Brazen Abbot album and which I'm writing the music which will fit with the album. Half way through, I kind of start feeling, this song would fit this and that singer, and this song would fit the other singer. Once I get that feeling, I kind of use it to mould and shape songs more towards the style of a particular singer. So, my main objective, my goal, is to write a good song and after that, I will try to adjust this or that. Sometimes when it's ready, I feel in the end, the song is best for this or that singer. I will call all the singers and I will tell them "I feel like this, I got 11 or 12 songs, and I feel we should have this, and this, and that, and you should have this and that, whatever is left is for the 3rd one. Usually, that's the way it works. Sometimes the singers kind of feel stronger for another song and I'm flexible, and we'll see what we can do. In case we are all unanimous about it, we just switch, but it doesn't happen really often. Since I know the songs very, very well and I know the singers as well, usually my first pick is OK. We always want to do the best possible for the songs and since I have been blessed with such fantastic singers, it usually turns out very good.
MSJ: Even though you have different singers, there's such a consistency that I don't realize I'm listening to a different singer.
Thank you. That's nice to hear. That's very, very important for me. This was my biggest consideration in the beginning. I was really, really afraid at how it's going to go down. I am actually the first one who started doing that. I think I'm the first guitarist who has a project with three different singers and I carried on with that concept ever since. I didn't do it because I wanted it or because I kind of created it this way. It didn't happen out of choice. Actually, Goran Edman, the Swedish guy, was meant to sing the whole first Brazen Abbot album, but then there was some record company trouble and I was lucky to get Glenn Hughes on board. But he couldn't sing more than 3 songs and I needed a third singer. I was just put to the wall. I couldn't do anything more than that so I just went ahead and made a record with 3 singers. I was really spooked on how the media and the fans are going to accept this fact. Obviously, it went quite good and I kept doing it ever since. So, I guess it's the musical content that keeps the album together. Obviously, these are very, very good singers. As soon as a singer sings good, you accept him, even though he's a little different that the other ones. It's a dangerous situation but I have succeeded in finding the advantages rather than the drawbacks to the situation. It worked out.
MSJ: Would you like to record with Glenn Hughes again?
Oh yeah, definitely. He's, without a doubt, one of the most incredible musicians on the planet. It's just that our schedules haven't been compatible for such a long time. I would love to work with him again. I know that he would like to work with me, so I'm just waiting for the right moment to call him again.
MSJ: Is there a singer you haven't worked with that you would like to collaborate with ?
Well, there are a couple of names but that was in conjunction with Nostradamus, the concept album that I wrote a few years ago. I used 7 singers there. I asked Ronnie James Dio to be a part of it, but he couldn't do it because he was busy in doing some other stuff. There are some other singers that I really respect and I would love working with. Some of them I haven't asked yet, some of them I probably won't ever ask because I kind of know what the answer is. These are real idols of mine, guys that created that kind of music. I'm thinking about people like Robert Plant, David Coverdale, you know, those guys. You know, Alice Cooper would be really cool to work with. He's a legend. Ozzy would be cool to work with. I'm pretty sure I will never work with these guys although I can keep dreaming.
MSJ: Speaking of Nostradamus, are you thinking of doing another rock opera?
As a matter of fact, I am writing one right now. I'm on the 8th tune out of 22 and it's gonna be pretty much the same format even though it's gonna probably be a little longer; I think maybe 10 minutes longer than Nostradamus. It's going to have 8 singers; 5 will be male, 3 will be female. I have a great story which I have worked on for quite some time, and I still work on it. I am still putting the finishing touches on it. The music, I'm very pleased with what I have written so far. It's quite heavy but very symphonic, you know, dark, because the whole theme, the whole story is quite dark as well. I'm looking forward to it; I can't really wait to get it finished. I will have to wait a long time because I still haven't written it yet. I guess it will take a couple of years.
MSJ: Moving back a bit, I noticed that SPV is re-releasing Live and Learn, Eye of the Storm, and Bad Religion, which were out of print or hard to get. How did that come about?
I always make master deals, licensing deals, with the record companies. Obviously, when some of them have exported them for the contractual length of time, like a couple of years, 3 years, then I will just shop for another record company and ask some other people to release them. So I was very lucky that SPV picked them up. It was just a part of the deal I made with them for the Guilty as Sin record which was the last Brazen Abbot record. So when I made the deal with them, these 3 records were part of the deal. I am really happy they are re-released now because they have been out of print for quite a long time and it's very frustrating. I have people asking for them; I can't really supply these records. They have been out of print so now they are out there with brand new re-designed artwork which is really cool. I t feels like I have 3 new records on the market because Brazen Abbot's style has not changed that much. It's always been about good songwriting and high musicianship. Suddenly, these 3 records are out there with completely contemporary artwork and all. It's really cool. I feel like I have 5 records on the market.
MSJ: Do you have any bonus tracks left over from recording?
No, I never have bonus tracks because I hate making a progression or writing songs that I can't really use. And this is what bonus tracks are. Usually, you know, anything that is not good releasing becomes a bonus track. I'm very, very demanding towards myself. Whenever I make a song, I make sure that it's good. If I don't like it, I will just trash it; I will just throw it away. I never leave anything standing around. So it has happened that I had a bonus track but they are different versions of the song I have on the record; like an acoustic version of one of the songs or something like that. And I always hate doing that. I just don't know why I don't like bonus tracks. It feels to me like this is something sub-standard.
MSJ: You have a lot of fans in the United States but your main success is in Europe and Japan. Why do you think it's difficult to crack the US market.
Brazen Abbot has never been officially released in the states to begin with. I don't even know what the presence of My Resurrection is, how well it is, what territory has been covered and if you can at all find it on the shelves. But it's never been released officially. It's been very, very difficult. While I appreciate the fact that you say I have fans in the United States, which is flattering and I really like that, I never felt that. I have ever been able to convince a promoter or a record company that a tour in the United States would be something sensible to do. So I have never put an effort on the United States territory. I have never been present at interviews, in fact, this is the 2nd for the United States that I'm doing; or maybe the 3rd.
MSJ: Have you ever thought of touring the United States?
I would love that but it's not up to me. I would love to tour the United States because I know it would be cool. But if we didn't draw big crowds, we would at least have a blast on the tour. It's a very, very good band. People appreciate good bands regardless if they are famous or not.
MSJ: When you were touring, you used Joe Lynn Turner for the whole show. Have you thought about touring with another one of your singers like Goran Edman?
I use Joe Lynn Turner because he's an incredibly good performer live. He delivers and he knows how to make a show. This is very, very important for a live band. Obviously, Joe Lynn Turner has a very big name throughout this continent, I'm talking Europe of course. I didn't want to experiment but I would probably be very careful if I used another singer when I go out live because many of the people turning up to the Brazen Abbot shows are people who know Joe from Rainbow or Deep Purple, all that stuff. These things should not be neglected. This is very important stuff because you want as many people to come to your shows regardless of who they come for. You reach a wider audience and you want more fans. If some come for Joe Lynn Turner, next time they will come for Brazen Abbot or for me. Maybe he will like the drummer, or the bass player, stuff like that. These are very, very important things when it comes to making a strong line-up. There should not be any compromises made. Joe Lynn Turner is a name that is hard to beat.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended as a fan?
As a fan? Oh God. I saw Deep Purple twice in Germany. That was 2 years ago in the summer. They just released Bananas.
MSJ: Did they do the whole Machine Head album?
I don't remember if they did the whole album but they did "Highway Star;" they didn't do the whole Machine Head album. I heard about that. They played the whole Machine Head album at some shows.
MSJ: What was the last CD you purchased?
That was recently; that was TNT, their latest album because I wanted to hear Tony Harnell.
MSJ: When you toured, were there any Spinal Tap moments?
Yeah, definitely. There were a lot of Spinal Tap moments during that tour. It was on the 2nd show actually, I won't tell you all the stories but I will tell you one. We played three shows. The first 2 were outdoors and the third was in a hall. We go to the 2nd show. It was in a city where I was very well known; I studied there and people knew me. There were many people. It was in a park which was right in the middle of the city. People already started to come to the show in the early afternoon. So there were people out there during the soundcheck pushing to try and get in. It sold great. We were very , very energized. We knew it was going to be a fantastic show. We got on stage, by the 3rd song, it started to rain and it wasn't a small rain. It just poured. And it rained until right at the end of the concert. The show was 1 hour and 45 minutes. No one left; maybe 2-3 people left. About 3,000-3,500 stayed. The funny things started to happen there. The crew started to run out on stage and pull out the monitors because they were completely drenched. They were collecting water so they pulled the monitor system. The stage was covered with what they used to make tents with, and it collected water and at one point, it flipped over and all the water fell down on the monitor mixer. Now on stage, it went into drums only mode, so we didn't hear anything else in the monitors except drums. The amp started stopping. The bass player who was wired, he actually had a wire on him, he went out into the audience and got hit with 220-volts. It was very dangerous. Most of it was filmed on the DVD. You should get that and you will see all of this on the DVD. My straps were giving up and breaking in the middle; it was a really, really heavy rain. The funny thing is, we just couldn't stop because everyone was there; no one left. The promoter guy was looking at me and I said "I can't really kill the show now because the people are here. We have a band that is playing. Why stop the show"? It was a dangerous endeavor but it was really, really cool. At one point, I didn't have guitars to play anymore because I broke strings and straps went off. Finally they came with a guitar, my guitars were not good enough to play anymore, so they run this guitar up, which was from the support band, and gave it to me. I had never seen that guitar but I continued playing with it until my roadies got one of my guitars in shape. Full mayhem. It was a very tough show. It was first class Spinal Tap.
MSJ: You're an accomplished musician. Have you ever been asked to join a major rock band?
No, not really. I've been thinking about that. I haven't been asked to join any bands. It might be because people probably think I'm a control freak and I want to do everything myself.; which is actually not the truth. I do everything because there is no one else to do it around here. I live in this small isolated island with about 10,000 people on it. I own the studio where I record and I don't have a 1st engineer, 2nd engineer, or a co-producer. I'm all of it. When you see the credits on the album, you see that I do everything and people think this is what I really want. No one realizes that I have no other choice. But, maybe one of these days, one of the bands will ask me. That would be cool.
MSJ: What's next for Brazen Abbot?
Well, right now, I hope to get a touring situation going on. If not, we'll just wait and see. For the summer, we'll get some festivals going. Right now, I'm very busy writing the rock opera but it's more or less going to be the same people that were involved in Brazen Abbot, they will be part of the rock opera. Even though there won't be a Brazen Abbot studio album next year, I hope we will still be busy, you know, keep working.
MSJ: Any last words for your fans?
I thank everyone for the attention and for being fans. I would like to ask everyone I could reach to fight illegal downloads because that kills musicians. We are going down if people continue stealing music and not buying records. We're going down, that's for sure. So I ask everyone to just go out and buy the records of their favorite bands. That's going to keep them alive.  

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