Πέμπτη 31 Ιανουαρίου 2013

TEN / Gary Hughes interview

TEN is a melodic hard rock British band formed in 1995 by singer/songwriter Gary Hughes. That's for those unfamiliar with TEN... For the rest, TEN is one of the best bands of its kind. Sounds simple and becomes simpler when you experience the music. There is a new album out there called "Heresy & Creed" and TEN will play for first time in Greece, so there is no better opportunity for me to exchange a few words with Gary Hughes.

So, what took you so long to come at Greece for a live show?

Greece has always been a country that TEN wanted to play but it can be very difficult to schedule in a one off show in the middle of a European tour. In the past when TEN toured it was done in a tour bus and as much as possible the gigs were all driven to this was to keep the costs to a minimum as flying a band a crew is very expensive. The exception being Japan when we always played at least three show which made the tour financially viable. The Athens shows we’re about to play have been kindly organised by our good friend Jason Thanos who’s arrange everything for us. He’s been telling us for years that the Greek rock fans are the best in the world, so now we’ve got the chance to come and find out for ourselves and play for everyone which we’re so excited about.

“Heresy and Creed” is your last TEN album, just one year after “Stormwarning”. What is the response to these two albums from press and fans?

The response has been tremendous. It’s was always a concern after our hiatus of five years between “The Twilight Chronicles” and “Stormwarning” if the fan were still out there? Thankfully we needn’t have worried because our fans are some of the most loyal in the rock work. The press we’re also very complimentary and we got some really great reviews. All in all we’re happy to be back and I can promise we won’t be leaving it five years to do the next record. We have many ideas and plans including an un-plugged DVD and also a Live DVD/album.

It is obvious that most of your songs are lyrically inspired by life, what surrounds you, and personal moments, so what grows old and dies after the love has gone? What’s more important in life?

The lyric in “After the Love Has Gone” is basically saying that your soul and reason for being is eternal and that’s what’s important but love can be a fleeting, passing moment, enjoy it for what it is because it might not be there forever.

Musically, where does your inspiration dwells?

Many things inspire me to write songs but with the “Stormwarning” album for example I wanted to go beyond the standard love or tragedy songs on previous records. My inspirations come from instances and experiences in my own life, news stories and the events in the lives of people around me. For instance with “Endless Symphony” which is a comparison between someone’s life and a musical score. The idea being life goes through many moods and emotions just like the music in a symphony the light and shade thing again. Music and life are very much paralleled and I though it would be interesting to make that comparison in a song.  I’m also inspired by Sci-Fi books and films, the dark side of the mind and strange phenomena. The song “Centre of my Universe” is based on the idea that a person can instantly become everything to you, you’re reason for being and the strengths created when those two factions meet. Another concept I had was “The Wave”, this is based on the idea that waves come onto the beach and then retract and head back out to sea. I compared the tide to the ebb and flow of our lives, again a very emotional song.

In the times of downloading and “free” music, how easy or difficult is for a band like TEN to survive? What’s your opinion about the present situation in music industry?

Each year it gets tougher and tougher for a band such as TEN to balance the books and continue. Record companies are continually reducing the advance which can make it even harder to produce a quality product with less money available. The record companies are not making what they used to so cuts have to be made. Last year we got a clear example of this when “Heresy & Creed” appeared on various free download sites before it had even been officially released. It doesn’t take a genius to know this is really bad for the band and the record company. I don’t know what can be done to stop these things from happening but I think you have to look at the bands that are still successful and it appears that the shift has taken place from making money on CD’s to making money on touring and merchandise. This is now the market place, the album is now only a vehicle for a tour and that’s where the money can be made for a band to survive in this difficult financial climate.

In the second half of the 90s, you came up with “Ten”, “In the Name of the Rose”, “The Robe” and “Spellbound”. Four melodic hard rock landmarks released in less than five years. Which are your memories of that era?

It’s interesting now thinking back to that era because at the time you’re too busy experiencing everything and living the dream that you have no time to stop and really analyze what’s actually going on. It all seemed to take place in a flash and you left thinking how did we fit it all in, in such a short period of time?  The most memorable period being for me were those first Japanese shows when we really didn’t know how we’d be accepted. We needn’t have worried, it was TEN mania from day one. I remember us being followed by fans from the airport to the hotel, then from the hotel to the show and then from the show to the “Hard Rock Café”. It was so intense but also very enjoyable, after all this is what you do it for and you have to embrace and soak it all up while you can because it definitely doesn’t last forever.

You had too many line-up changes over the years and you are always the main composer. Is TEN really a band or just a vehicle for Gary Hughes?

No one likes to see a band change personnel but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Musicians feel the need to move onto pastures new and that has to be expected. TEN is no exception but having said that we still retain 50% of the classic line-up with John, Steve and myself. TEN is still a band and everyone contributes their own ideas and styles when recording and playing live. I’m not averse to collaborating on tracks but when I write I have a complete vision of what the songs should be. It’s a system that’s served us well for the past 17 years and I don’t see any reason why it should change now.

If you could turn back time, what would you change and which are your best memories in TEN?

I’m not the kind of person that looks back and has any regrets, the past is the past and there’s nothing we can do to change it. I’m more interested in the here and now and what I’m going to be doing in the next few weeks and months As the song says “Don’t look back”. I stated in the previous question about the first Japanese shows which hold my fondest memories of the early days of TEN.

What the future holds for TEN and Gary Hughes?

TEN will continue, as always, to release records for as long as the fans want us to. We have no intention of stopping anytime soon let me assure you of that. As I stated previously we have many great ideas for the future including an unplugged and live DVD/CD. We’re also looking into the possibility releasing all the previously un-released material, studio and live, possibly as a box set containing a booklet and rare un-seen photography.

Give a message to the TEN/Gary Hughes Greek fans and what should we expect from your upcoming live show?

We’ll be hitting the stage with all the good stuff, the best of the best from each album. We simply can’t wait to be over there playing for our very first time on Greek soil. It’ll be an honour and a privilege to play in the birth place of civilization, where it all started. You guy’s have a lot to be proud of in your beautiful country. I know you’ve gone through some tough times recently and so have we over here in the UK but hey just for one night we’re gonna forget about all the negative stuff and have a real party. So please come along and help us take the roof off!

TEN latest album "Heresy & Creed" is released from Frontiers Records.

TEN will perform in Athens - Greece on March 1st, at Kyttaro Live Club. One day before, there will be a special acoustic show at Bat City Club.

Τρίτη 22 Ιανουαρίου 2013

ALIEN interview with Ken Sandin

ALIEN is a Swedish AOR / Melodic Rock band formed in Gothenburg  in 1986. Two years later they released their first self-titled album, a landmark of AOR, recently re-released from EMI/No Remorse Records. The band is active and they enjoy what they do, more than ever! At the moment, they're writing a new album and Crystal Logic speaks with bassist Ken Sandin

First of all, you will play in the next Firefest, on October 20th. It is the 10th Anniversary of the festival and also the 25th Anniversary since your debut album! What does it means for you?

Firefest is asking us back for the 10th Anniversary and of course, this is a great compliment! The reunion was all about nostalgia, we're having so much fun performing the (debut album) songs again. What could be a better place to celebrate than at FF, together with fans from all over the globe!
I’m also performing with Fergie Frederiksen (TOTO), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow) and Eric Martin (Mr. Big), in “LEGENDS - Voices of Rock”, headlining the festival. So, the 20th will be something else!

Your debut album was recently re-released in its original form and it seems that there are people that didn’t forget you! How important do you think is “Alien” album for AOR fans and the band?

I've come to understand it's considered an absolute AOR classic around the world. It's a cool thing to be part of the legacy of 80's melodic rock, especially since there's a new wave of bands now - some of them list us as major influence. 
For us it's THE most important record, as far as experience and success. An unforgettable insight in the process of writing, arranging, performing, producing, dealing with producers, major label A&Rs, managers, agents, media etc. Those memories will always have a special place in our hearts!

Back in 1988. What do you remember from the recordings of “Alien” and how did you sign a deal with a world wide major label like Virgin Records?

I remember it well... First session was at (ABBA's) Polar Studio, Stockholm with producer Mark Dearnley. We cut three songs, one being “Only One Woman” released as single. Relocated to Sound City Studios, L.A. with producer Chris Minto and cut a whole albums worth of songs. The U.S. recordings, plus “Only One Woman” (just had to be in there, being a #1 hit!), made up the debut album (Scandinavian version).
For the international version Virgin America had some remixes done, new album cover. Should've been Simon Fowler pics, shot in London. Scraped, of course, when Jim quit. Made new pics and the “Tears Don't Put Out The Fire” video in L.A. and the first single (2 songs) with Pete were added to the album, to introduce him.
Virgin Scandinavia had their eyes on us, so we recorded two songs (Dec ‘86) which became the first two singles (they’re both on the “Best & Rare” compilation). Our CEO presented coming releases on a Virgin head quarter briefing in London, they believed that Alien would appeal to further territories and hence rewrote our contract into a worldwide deal!

The cover for “Only One Woman” was a major hit back then, but I always preferred your original material! How did you come up with this cover and what’s the story behind “The Blob” film and “Brave New Love” in its soundtrack?

It had been 20 years since the Marbles had a hit with it (with Graham Bonnet singing his heart out!). Virgin saw the potential in an 80’s take on it, and asked us to. Turned out great!
Hollywood made the remake of “The Blob” while we were working in L.A. and our music was recommended. “Feel My Love” is in the film and “Brave New Love” in the end credits.

What do you remember from your live shows back then?

Amazing! Coming back from L.A. to find “Only One Woman” sky-rocketing the charts. Bringing the album on tour, beating box office records, being all over media. The time of our lives. 

Later there was a re-worked version of your debut album for US market with different track list and a new singer for two songs. That seems complicated, so, what Ken Sandin’s diary writes for that time?

We had to release the Scandinavian album asap, expectations were high after our chart topping single and successful tour. Preparations for the international one were more thorough. Guess it’s confusing with the change of singers. For instance, in the “Tears…” video you see Pete but hear Jim!

“Shiftin’ Gear” followed, but it seemed that something was missing from the success link. What can you recall from that time and why did you left the band?

First of all, I never left the band! We split up in the end of ‘89, disbanded. Mutual agreement, no one to use the band name without the others. What happened later is another story, out of my control.
We had the follow up album written and made a first session at Townhouse Studios, London with Mark Dearnley. “Easy Livin’”/”How Long” released as (our last) single and “Wild, Young & Free” and “21st Century Man (demo)” later on the “Best & Rare” collection. Four other songs are on “Shifting Gear”, but EMI actually plan to add our original versions as bonus for digital download.

There was quiet a difficult era for Alien during the 90s and 00s, but first at 2005 original singer Jim Jidhed rejoined the band - and also recorded a new album with the rest (“Dark Eyes”) - and finally, during 2010 the original line-up came up together. What made you guys work together again and how were these two last years for Alien?

From what I heard, “Dark Eyes” was a solo album project of Tony, with different singers (Jim being one of them), to start with. I was sure that calling it a reunion of Alien meant the original lineup would never get together... can’t make a reunion twice. But, here we are.
As I’ve said, the one album we did together has so much sentimental value to all of us. To consider playing those songs once more was a no-brainer! We’ve done few but very cool shows, like Sweden Rock Festival, Firefest, Live4AOR (Madrid) etc. …sounding as good as ever. It’s been a blast!
A new single, “Ready To Fly” (released 10.10.10), to mark the reunion. Hope you all liked it!? 

Do you think you had a missed chance for a huge break-through?

Possibly, back then. We had everything set for the international launch - major label/publisher and management backup. Supposed to open for a major act, had Jim only stayed. Who knows…

So, what the future holds for Alien?

There will be more shows. As for new music, we’re writing a new album right now, taking our time. We decided early on that if we make a new record, it shall be a natural follow up to the 1988 debut  in terms of style, melodies etc. …with an up to date production, of course.

Best regards // Ken Sandin (ALIEN)