Right. I have. I have been extremely busy since then.
You had just finished your latest album, Building The Machine. Can you tell us about your latest effort?
The album for me is a return to the roots from which I came from. To me it sounds like my first band, Trapeze, like we were in '71 or '72. I wanted it to be more of a simple album, not so much flash and pomp. I wanted it to be more guitar based, drums, and organ and a lot more simplicity in the songs. Songs like "Out Of Me" and "Don't Let It Slip Away". The opening track. They're all pretty much rawer sounding and I didn't want to overproduce the album. I also wanted it to be acoustic in a couple of areas. I wrote the album in the space of a week or two weeks pretty much with my guitar player. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. It's getting the best reviews of my career. I knew when I was writing the album, that I was going to have a great record. I also knew when I was singing it, that it was a special album. Unfortunately I've been gifted, either as a curse or as a blessing, it all depends because I might have said this to you in April that I feel very comfortable singing and very, very fond of music. On this album I thought that the soup I mixed together worked well. Let's write a rock track that's very funky and soulful and that's what we did on this album.
Are the members of your current band the same as on the last album or did you make some changes?
Yeah, with the exception of the keyboard player, it's different. His name's Vince Di Cola. He specializes in Hammond playing and I needed a real Hammond player on this album. A special Hammond organ playing. It's got that '70s feeling. It's very bombastic in a way. I need someone to really aggressively play it in that form and that's really the difference.
Do you have any special guests on the album?
Yes, Pat Travers plays guitar on one track, "I Just Want To Celebrate". I have John Beasley, one of the best keyboard players, plays on my blues ballad, "I Will Follow You". He's a fantastic keyboard player. Brett Ellis plays acoustic guitar on "Big Sky".
You did a recent European tour. Did you play some material from the new album?
No, I didn't. I didn't. When I tour, in the last couple of years I've been going as a trio. I went as a trio because I wanted to get back to the roots of who I was and still am which is a funky...the rock trio thing is very important for me. I can't play a lot of new songs on the road unless I have a Hammond player to do loops and stuff. The good news is that when I go out again as a solo player, I'll be taking keyboards. My desire is, Angela, and this is really truthfully, is to play a whole set of brand new songs. Only solo material. I'm getting to the point now where I have to do that because it's important to move away from the other stuff.
You did a new version of Deep Purple's "Highball Shooter" which I thought was very cool. Why did you decide to cover that song?
Thank you. The Japanese record company wanted a bonus track consisting of a Deep Purple cover. I initially did it for the Japanese and then when I finished it, my co-producer and my engineer said this is such a strong version. We should keep it for the album.
What are some of your favorite tracks off the new album?
"Beyond The Numb", "Out On Me", and "Don't Let It Slip Away" are my favorites but you know, I love it all. I think the album flows very well. So I thought with "Can't Stop The Flood" which is extremely powerful. I was listening to it. Somebody had it in the car. Actually in Russia last weekend, some guy was playing it in his car. It just sounds so bloody good. I'm really excited about the album.
I was listening to it this morning. I absolutely love it.
Well thank you. We love it. It's getting reviewed in a lot of magazines that never normally reviewed my work before. More mainstream magazines. We're crossing into the Rolling Stones and the key magazines and things like that so it's important to keep plodding away.
You had returned from a trip to Russia. What did you get to do over there?
I just did two shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg to a lot of people. MTV were there. I do really well in Russia. I've been going there every three years for the last 10 years. I've been building a following there as I have in South America and in Europe. It's just that in North America it's been difficult to tour extensively due to the fact that it's such a huge country and you need massive tour support to do it. It is my desire to do this in America. We're working on that actually.
I hope so because I'd love to see you.
We're working on that. In the next six months there should be some development on that.
Going back in time a little, you had completed the lineup in Black Sabbath for their Seventh Star album. Eric Singer was also a part of that lineup. What was it like to work with such a versatile drummer?
I must say that when we talk about a name, anybody's name, I always think about before the musicianship, what is their human condition like. Eric Singer happens to be a sweet guy. A dedicated musician as well. Also a guy that you can actually depend on. Eric's one of those guys that really deserves to be known as a great drummer, but you must understand that Eric is a sweet guy. Working with Eric was a dream because he's a professional. He's a guy you can rely on.
He is a sweetheart. He's done a number of interviews for me.
I like him a lot too.
You participated in a rock opera called Nostradamus. Can you elaborate on that project?
The idea of me doing a rock opera wasn't my number one thing to do because I'm a diverse artist in a way but I never thought I'd end up doing a rock opera because it's not my cup of tea. The guy that put it together happens to be a good friend of mine, Nick Kotzev. It's a double CD and he didn't have any other singers at the time. I knew Joe Lynn Turner was going to sing the lead part and I knew he was going to ask my friend Sass Jordan to sing and a couple of other people but he hadn't gotten any vocals on the album done yet. He hadn't written a part for me. I said well write a part for me and send me some music. It's got to be somewhat balladwise and somewhat a little bit more funkier than your typical white metal sounding stuff. He wrote a couple of ballads which I thought were very cool and he wrote something that he could particularly write that he thought was particularly funky which wasn't. But I ended up singing some songs that I actually made come to life. I studied this whole Nostradamus thing and I wrote what I thought would fit for that part. For me it was a challenge. I did it for that reason. I did it as "okay, it's something new". Just something that is a little different. Nick's a genius in this format and it's always good to sing with Joe of course and Sass and the other people.
You were Henry II, the king of France.
I certainly was. It was fun. I tell everybody I recorded it in Nick's home studio which is in between Finland and Sweden in the middle of the Baltic. It's on this little island called Oerland and it's about 50 degrees below. I had a raging cold and I did it in one evening. I wasn't feeling very well but it turned out okay.
That must be a really beautiful part of the world.
It is. In the winter all you see is white. It's very, very cold.
I understand you recently did a show in New York with John Cafferty, Jimmy Jamison, and Bobby Kimball.
Since we spoke I think I might have told you I've joined this Voices Of Classic Rock which consists of 10 singers from the '70s and '80s that had big hits such as Mike Reno of course and John Cafferty and Bobby Kimball from Toto. Joe Lynn Turner's in there. I've got Alex Ligertwood from Santana to join. Leslie West, Pat Travers, Mickey Thomas, and myself. We've been playing pretty much outside of America, in South America a lot where I've got a stronger following. We're now actually starting to play public appearances in America so you might be able to see something coming up in the next year. Look out for Voices Of Classic Rock.
You all are featured on a forthcoming CD that benefits the American Red Cross.
That's right. My wife produced that. We did it two months ago right after that horrid thing in the Trade Center. It was a beautiful thing.
I was woken up that morning and told to turn on the TV. I thought I was watching something out of the Twilight Zone.
It was vile wasn't it? We got a call from Washington D. C. as the second plane was hitting and we were just mortified. Still are mortified. We travel a lot. It's difficult but we must understand that's what it's going to be like for a while now.
I understand you'll also be in Orlando, Florida on December 14th.
Yes, I'm going to be there next Friday. Being the featured soloist singer at the Orlando City Walk.
It's possible for people to download your rendition of "America The Beautiful".
It's true. That's exactly right.
You were also involved on a tribute CD to Queen.
Yeah I've done a couple of tributes. I've done three. I've done Queen. I've done Aerosmith which is coming out and I've done Megadeth.
We talked about Nazareth.
For the life of me I can't remember what song I did on the Aerosmith tribute.
I saw those guys last night with The Cult. Great show. I understand you knew George Harrison. It's hard to believe he's gone.
Briefly when I was in Trapeze. When we were actually recording the first record we were down in Apple Studios. He was there and I was having a problem with my bass. George Harrison had basses as well as guitars and he let me borrow one of his basses. It was very sweet. Very gentle man. Deeply kind. I was very young at the time and I was very moved by all that. I think he became really good friends with John Lord later on in the last 20 years from Purple. They lived sort of in the same town in Henley in Oxford down there in England.
Fans can now order directly from your label?
You can. Once again my Christmas CD is out right now which is doing really well. We're going to put another out, Angela, next early summer called Songs From The West Side. I'll continue to release my own music on my own label.
Any other thoughts or comments?
I just want to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. In these troubled times stay close, love your families, and be good to one another. I just want to say thank you to everyone I've ever met in my whole life. Those that I haven't, God bless them all.