Yeah, I've got this band. This band is like an NFL football team. You can't keep a lineup more than one record or one season for a Super Bowl.
You have a new vocalist. What happened to the old vocalist and how did you hook up with the new one?
Me and James have been friends for a long time and I think it got to the point where James was honest with me. His opinion was the band really wasn't going anywhere where it was. It was at one level and it wasn't getting more known. I was surprised but that's his opinion. He came to me straight out after we shot the DVD and he said he was probably going to be thinking about leaving the band. I understood and I'm happy for him because he joined Vicious Rumors and he's got other projects going on. No hard feelings. I wish the guy the best. He's a great singer. Am I sorry to see him go? I'm sorry to see our friendship because we were good friends but I'm not very sad to say. I'm very happy with the new guy. Alan Tecchio was in Hades for about 20 years. Non-fiction and another big Texas band, Watchtower. It's funny how this happened. About a year ago this January, I was at NAMM appearing and I met Kevin Bolembach the bass player that's in Witches too now. I've known them for years from the local scene and I was doing my second solo record. I said "hey, what's Alan been up to these days?" James wasn't even out of the band yet. This wasn't even a known thing because we hadn't shot the DVD until February. He gave me Alan's number and I called Alan up to see if he wanted to sing a tune on my solo record that I thought would fit him well. Kevin came in and played bass on it and that was really how it started. I love working with those guys and we did "Hell Or High Water" on my solo record and that was it. I didn't talk to him again for months after that. After James left I talked to a few other singers like Neil Turbin, the guy from Morgana Lafey, and you know I had Alan in the back of my head. It just happened really naturally. I called him up and told him I was wondering if he was into doing this again. He said he didn't know because he hasn't really been in the band scene for a year. We talked and it was a really slow process which was pretty good. It wasn't like "yeah okay dude, I'm in." We felt each other out. We talked about what the vision was and it probably was the best way I've ever gotten a singer before. Usually it's a rush job and I didn't get to know somebody. James just came in the band out of nowhere because we had festivals booked and that's how he joined. It was just a great natural process and to me he's one of the best singers I've ever worked with in my life. I'm not just saying that because people always go "is this your best record you ever did?" I hate that question. No, I'm not going to say that because when you say this is your best record you ever did, what are you saying for the other 20 records you made in your life? They're shit? I think every record is what you're doing at the time. That's the best way of saying it. I'm extremely happy.
Saying that Seven Witches isn't getting much notoriety, I think it's a little more difficult these days to get the notoriety that you could get in the past when you had radio working in your favor. You have to be a little more patient now I think.
Well, I have a little story to tell you which is kind of funny. James made the statement to me and do you realize the record has already sold out in America? It has sold out in Europe already. This is the first time ever in the first week of release to repress a record in America. This is the biggest selling record in America and we broke even in Europe already. That's never happened in the five records before.
See? He wasn't patient.
We already did a tour with Kamelot and we're leaving in two weeks to tour with W.A.S.P. so it's kind of funny that that statement was said and now this is our biggest selling record to date.
It's called being patient.
We have five great records out before this and we did some amazing tours. You know what? We've got lots of notoriety. We've seen the world lots of times with this band. I just don't agree. Like I said, I love James but I don't agree with that statement.
You guys came out with a new record called Amped. Tell me a little bit about the new record.
It's like something we've never done before. It's Seven Witches on 11. We really turned up the notch on this one. We added a little bit more modern tones to the sound. I always produced the records and mixed the records. This record I went back to the raw sound. Like when Metallica first came out and like when Pantera first came out. I stripped it down. Everything wasn't so polished and neat. It sounds like we went in the studio and recorded like a live band and that's what we tried to do for the first time. Everything else was always like this has to be slick and that has to be slick. This time we took chances and that to me was a major step for us. Number one, going back to basics. We wanted to go for the throat. We wanted to rip people's heads off on this one and I definitely think we accomplished that. We wanted to be more to the American market. Don't get me wrong. Europe has been great to us but we live in America. We're an American band. We wanted to have that American sound more. We combined the old Witches elements with the new Witches elements and I'm really proud of this. That's why we called it Amped because we were very amped about this record.
That raw sound. It's kind of funny because I remember when KISS was coming out with these remasters of their records. Everyone asked if I was going to get the remasters and I said no, I'm keeping my old shit and I'm not getting the remasters. Why not they asked me. I said well, it was that raw sound that attracted to me to KISS to begin with.
Yeah, like should I get Led Zeppelin remastered? Why? The first two Zeppelin records are timeless. Why would you want to mess with that? Well, the sound quality is better. What was wrong with the sound quality back then?
Yeah, you liked the sound quality back then so what's the big deal now?
Eh, it's because they're losers. I think it's more of a money net. It's all about money.
They talk you into wanting that so they can make an extra buck.
Yeah, really. Get the remaster. It's a gold CD. Oh, okay. And it's only 20 bucks more than the regular one.
Yeah and you get the same shit you got the last time.
Well, that's cool. When people go back and buy the remasters then you can go and buy the old records for like four bucks which is cool. Build your collection up really easy.
You produce and mix all the records that you guys do?
I would probably say that Xiled was mixed by Joey Vera and me. From Xiled up to now I've been always pretty much involved in production and mixing, yeah.
What got you interested in that side of making a record?
Because after so many years of working with such great producers and engineers and people, I've learned so much about it and I'm really into guitar sounds and tones. It's just something that gradually fell into place for me. I do that for whatever I do and I've done four more bands since then. I've been producing other bands and mixing records so for me it's my other real love. If I'm not playing, I love to be in the studio. I'm not really a guitar player, I'm more of a songwriter. I've always said that. That's my main thing I like. Don't get me wrong, I play guitar. I write all the stuff on guitar but I think at the end of the day what really gets it for me is the song at the end. Not how fast I can play or check this out or check that out. I like to start a record and to finish it. I like to be there from the beginning to the end. You have a kid, you watch the kid grow, and you put the kid through college. To me that's how I feel about my records.
You basically did the songwriting for this new record then.
On all the Seven Witches records pretty much since Xiled and all of that, but then Passage and Years Of The Witch, Joey and I wrote the music but on the new record I wrote all the music.
When you were writing the new record what was going through your mind as you did it? I know some people have themes to their records.
That's the funniest thing about me. The only record that I ever had a theme for was probably Years Of The Witch because I had that concept piece but I just write every day of my life. I don't have a certain work routine. Like "okay, today I'm going to write a song about the flowers" or "tomorrow I'm going to write about..." It's just a natural approach. I don't rush myself. I just let myself be me. That's why I do solo records. That's why I play with DD and the Casket Company, because I have other outlets and I write so much that a lot of my stuff I couldn't use for Seven Witches. My thing is I just write what I feel at the moment and I never push myself. When I was writing this record I really didn't have any idea to tell you the truth. I wrote these riffs. I come up with stuff and it just fell into place. I know it sounds weird but I try not to look or focus too much on it because I think I'm going to mess myself up. It's worked for me for 20 years and I guess I'll still work the way I do.
You guys made a video for "Sunnydale High".
Yeah, we did. I'm a really big fan of how the Foo Fighter videos are. They're playing out in fields or something like that. I had some dumb stupid concept of where we recorded our record, Mixolydian. It's a big open field and like an idiot, in the middle of July in 150 degree weather, you know about weather honey. I can't say nothing to you. You could beat me any day. It was a brutal day and we're setting our equipment up out in a field and we just played crazily. Honestly after the second take I had to sit down and I work out every day. I really take care of myself and the sun was just so brutal that it kicked my ass and everyone was like "yeah, great idea buddy." It was just more of us playing live, fun out in the field, and it's a bouncy video. It's got the Foo Fighters "The Best Of Me" style of video. Really cool. Very stripped down, no weird stuff going on. If you've never seen Seven Witches this gives you a vibe of what we're all about.
I saw on your website, the last time you updated it which was back in October, you guys need to be more up on that.
The webmaster is pretty good. He just updates the news. If you look at the news on the front page, there's a bunch of updates about NAMM and about us touring and stuff and the new record coming out. We try to keep up with him. If he's got a lot of stuff going on I'm not going to harass him too much.
You guys have a DVD coming out then?
Yeah, it's been done since last February and just a lot of legal problems with the label. They've got a few offers on the table. They don't like the offers so it keeps going back which really sucks because it's pretty amazing. It went from day one to the day James left the band. When you look at the DVD you're going to say we must have spent at least 50 grand on it because it's pretty incredible. There's a live thing from the last show with James which is pretty interesting. It's the last show he ever did with us pretty much to all rare footage of every singer that ever was in the band. Every musician that ever played in the band. A retrospective of behind the music. How the band was formed to where we are now. It's three hours worth of really killer footage. It's called Years Of The Witch.
If we ever get our hands on it.
No, you will. Hopefully it will come out by March. It's all done. Everything is ready. I guess they're looking for a certain dollar thing and I just wish they would put it out for the fans because it's really incredible.
It's cool to get your hands on something like that. It's a history of what all went on and there isn't really that much narration. It's just the music and the band telling the story.
You're going to really dig it. It's really cool. I'm really proud of it. I think you're going to watch it and go "wow, this is really great." We took our time and we did it right. How's that?
That's the best way to do anything.
Yeah, we didn't rush it. I'm a fan of music. I have a huge CD collection. A huge DVD collection. I wanted to be able to sit back and not to be in the band for a minute and watch it like a fan would watch it. To me I really enjoyed it.
You guys are fixing to go on tour with W.A.S.P.
Yeah, we leave March 1. We're doing eight shows with them. We would have liked to do a lot more but the way the tour ended they're going to Spain so we're doing eight shows in the mid-east coast area with them which will be great.
What are your plans after W.A.S.P.?
We're going to Europe in April to tour with Demon. We're doing the Keep It True festival and we're doing a bunch of festivals over there with Demon. We're doing two weeks over there and then we're going to California sometime in April for four shows. Like Utah, Vegas, and L.A. and Anaheim. Then we're not sure yet but we're waiting for Kamelot to get back because they might go back out in the States again but that will be a lot of shows already. We've probably done 35 shows already off this record. We would love to come back to Texas but don't know if that's going to happen. Talking to a bunch of my friends that I have in different bands out there and it would be cool. Every time we've played there with James, it was really great so hopefully we'll get back into Texas which would be great. Hopefully the record keeps selling like it is, maybe we'll get onto something much better this summer as a bigger tour.
Summer time is festival time.
If the people take notice of what this record is doing, then we'll be okay. If we're doing that good and we're selling out, SoundScan is pretty impressed with what we're doing, we're doing it the right way. We're not pushing anybody. We're going to go out there with W.A.S.P. and show what we've got to offer. Already we've had an incredible year already with this record so we're just going to sit back and wait and see what they have in store for us out there.
You said you have another band called the Bronx Casket Company?
Yeah, with DD Verni from Overkill.
How does that band differ from Seven Witches and how does your solo material differ from Seven Witches?
The Bronx Casket is night and day. I don't know if you've heard much of it but we have our third record out and it's doing really great too. It's more of a Type O Negative/Black Sabbath kind of gothic Cradle Of Filth vibe. It's really cool. It's very different. It's downtuned and it's very sludgy. Actually my solo stuff is definitely more '80s. More in a Dokken vein, Whitesnake Slow An' Easy vein. Kind of like Ratt. It's more commercial rock. There's a little bit of country in there too.
How the hell did you manage that?
Keith Urban is my favorite musician these days. I love country music.
I've noticed a lot of rock and metal guys seem to get into country. I never could get into it that much.
Country is different now. Country is what 1984 was. Big concerts, lots of hair, and rock and roll.
Yeah, that's true. When I was a little kid living in El Paso, the only stations you could get in were country stations. Back then it was more of a rockabilly thing. Later on it turned into this whining, twangy shit.
That was all the stuff like I lost my house, I lost my wife, I lost my dog Spot. The stuff today is just really cool rock and roll. It's like all the '80s guys are producing country bands. If anything, pick up Keith Urban. That should be the first thing you check out. I think you'll be sold. I'm telling you, you're going to dig it.
Any other thoughts or comments?
I hate to sound like a broken record but I always say this. I'm 37 years old and I've gotten to play in some of the biggest bands. Being a member of Savatage was a dream come true for me. I got to see the world 10 times over with them and all I can say is, the easiest thing is, I just thank my friends as I call all my fans because they're my friends. I hang out with them after the shows. I'm not the type that stays in the bus and doesn't have time. My thing is, what can I say? Thank you so much for letting me do what I love for a living and always believing in me. Without my friends I wouldn't be able to do what I do and I'm going to try my best to keep making the best music I can possibly make and I just thank them for sticking with me. It's a rough road out there and you've got to believe in what you do and I believe in what I do. I think that's why I've had such longevity because my friends know that I'm a true guy. I don't do this for the money, trust me. I live a middle class life. I survive and that's the way I wanted to do music so thank you so much for believing in me and really letting me breathe the air that I breathe.