BONHAM: Mad Hatters Tea Party (1992)

image8By STEVE MASCORD
FOR TWO members of a gold status rock band, Ian Hatton and Daniel MacMaster aren’t exactly megastars yet.
Bonham guitarist Hatton sits across from me in a Sydney coffee shop with vocalist MacMaster. Unless you were a bigtime fan, you wouldn’t even recognise either of them in the street.
When it comes to Stateside record sales, Bonham are hot property. But when the discussion turns to personalities, well, Bonham is son-of-Led-Zep-drummer Jason Bonham, isn’t it? With the Anglo-Canadians’ second offering, the more adventurous ‘Mad Hatter‘, upon us, MacMaster admits there’s a little work to do in that department.
“Eventually they’re going to identify with the rest of us,” the man recommended to the band by Bad Company singer Brian Howe grins.

BONHAM – Hatton, keyboardist/bassist John Smithson, MacMaster and Jason Bonham – are in Australia to record the first video from Mad Hatter under the direction of vid-clip svengali Ralph Zimerman. Filmed in an old mansion in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney. and near the entrance to Sydney
Harbour, the clip is “gonna be good” says Hatton.
“It’s got a lot of effects, a big crew. We were all quite surprised because it was more like a film set than a video clip. Just working with him you can see his mind’s always going. He’s always thinking of something.”
Bonham’s debut, A Disregard For Timekeeping was poorly received in Europe, where comparisons with Led Zeppelin were a major drawback. Mad Hatter sees the band stretching out, experimenting with a variety of styles and coming out more or less on top.

“We actually started to record it in May last year,” former Honeydripper Hatton reveals. “We did about eight weeks of recording, and mixed it in LA with Dave Thoener so it was finished in July. Then we took a few weeks off and listened to it, came back and decided it was great but we wanted a couple more tracks to make it right.
Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 09.24.13“We carried on writing and/ the guy we wanted to produce, Ron St Germain, had to keep us waiting ’til January. We went in with him for a couple of weeks, did three tracks and that was it.”
The band only played four shows in Britain when they hit the scene three years ago, despite the fact MacMaster is the only non-Brit in the band. But things’have changed now they have new management.
“Four gigs in England,” Hatton laments. “It was pretty appalling. We’re with Part Rock now. They manage AC/DC and Gary Moore. One of the first things they said was, ‘Great, you’ve done well in the States, but the rest of our acts do just as well in Europe, Japan and Australia as well as America’. I think we really need to push that.”

THREE YEARS is a long time in rock ‘n’ roll, and Bonham are banking that, in MacMaster’s words, “people remember what they like”. The four-piece start an American club tour shortly, and there’s no doubt that they’ll be winging their way across the Atlantic before long.
Hatton: “On the first album we hadn’t played live together. All we’d done was write in the studio. Since then we’ve done nearly 300 shows so it’s turned four people into a good, strong band.”
The new material, such as ‘Chimera’ and ‘Good With The Bad’, certainly shows more subtlety than much of the first album. MacMaster has no trouble admitting they aimed at radio when they started work on Mad Hatter.
“I think it’s in the back of everyone’s mind, because you’ve got to sell your album and if they’re not playing it on the radio you’re in trouble,” MacMaster says.
“If I’m going to go into a record store to buy a CD, I’m going to buy it because I’ve heard it on the radio. Most of us don’t listen to the rock ‘n’ roll of today.”
kerrang buttonHatton: “Jason’s the one new stuff. He knows what’s going on. He was rushing out and getting Pearl Jam…”

BUT HOW do these guys feel about being in a band with a bloke who could jump ship at any time to join Led Zeppelin? The reformation rumours have been around for a decade but were particularly strong 12 months ago. Did you ever fear you’d find yourself without a band after all that hard work? After all, Jason’s been quoted as saying ‘if Zep reform tomorrow and I get the call, I’m off’.
Hatton answers anxiously: “We all pretty much know they’re not gonna tour again, but even if they did they’d only do six weeks and that wouldn’t be such a big deal. I don’t think any of us ever thought, ‘Oh Christ, he’s gong to leave Bonham and join Led Zeppelin’.”
MacMaster: “Sure, we could all go away and do another project, and hats off to it. We all feel the same
image9-2way; it would be great if that happened. But Jason’s going to want to be back with this unit because it’s ours and it’s t- something we’re becoming successful at.”

HATTON has no doubt where he’d be had Jason Bonham and a record deal not come along. “If we were a band playing together in England, we’d never have been signed,” he says. “I feel real sorry for bands in England because it’s terrible. There’s no gigs at all.”
The only way these guys can beat accusations that they’re in ‘Jason’s band’ is yo outlast them.
MacMaster: “It was great initially because it opened a lot of doors for us in the business. People wanted to see what we were about.”
Hatton: “But the record company look at us as a band that’s going to be here in 10 albums’ time. There aren’t many bands like that now; there’s so many bands that just come and go.
“That’s why this album is different from he first one and the next one will be different again. You move with the people who like you.”
Oe, in some cases, the people who know you.
This story first appeared in Kerrang! magazine


SLAUGHTER: KISS Off! (1991)

slaughterBy STEVE MASCORD

DANA Strum is a remarkable talker. There can be no doubt about that. Whether he is the former member of the Vinnie Vincent Invasion who Vincent told us in it 320 joined without once having to play his instrument is anyone’s guess.

But right now, bassist Strum is rather stunned. Here he is, sitting in a Las Vegas hotel room, his new band Slaughter sailing further into multi-platinum territory by the minute. He is doing his first telephone interview with Australia, a place he has possibly only ever seen via Crocodile Dundee. And here I am, only seeming interested in his least favourite subject.

Vinnie Vincent.

“You’re bringing up all this Vinnie Vincent paraphenalia,” he says, sounding genuinely surprised. “I don’t know how it looked in Australia but the band really didn’t do any business anywhere. It’s funny to hear this stuff, because we didn’t sell any records.”

kerrang coverStrum and vocalist Mark Slaughter have been reluctant to discuss their involvement in VVI since Chrysalis released Stick It To Ya at the beginning of 1990. Their split with Vincent had been acrimonious to say the least but what really happened has never been uncovered.

“The Vinnie Vincent Invasion were damn near ‘f**k you’ed off every stage we ever walked on. And it certainly wasn’t only mine or Mark’s fault. The fans went to see Vinnie and were obviously not pleased with what they saw.”

THE lead-up press to the first Slaughter album painted Vincent as an egotistical maniac. Strum and Slaughter kept promoting this concept until Vincent finally answered his accusers last month in Kerrang!

With the transcript of that interview in front of me, I’ve got a few new questions to ask Dana Strum. But right now, Strum is reciting his Slaughter sales pitch and it would be rather impertinent of me to interupt.

“All the guys in Slaughter are really down-to-earth, real guys,” he says, with not a hunt of a self-deprecating giggle. “They’re not pretentious. We do believe in posing. It’s just a real good honest down-to-earth rock band.

Invasion - Vinnie Vincent invasion“The whole rock star mentality just doesn’t exist with Slaughter because we’ve been fighting for so long just to be musicians. None of us wants to be a rock star. We just want to play music and make people feel good, make a living a go for it.”

I won’t let him continue. You get the picture … There can, of course, be no doubt Slaughter have moved onto a commercial level far above anything Vincent attained.”We tasted a little bit of success but we had no idea what major success like this was,” Strum says enthusiastically. “You lose a great deal of your life. It’s over. They tell you you’re going to have a day at home and it turns into an orchestrated day of: ‘all the pictures are used up and we need a good day for new pictures and we’re going to shoot a new video because we’ve sold over a million records and there’s no video for sale out in the market’.

“I never quite realised it would be like this. If that’s the price you’ve got to play to have success then, you know, that’s what you pay.”

SLAUGHTER’S success in the US has been nothing short of spectacular. A multi-platinum chart hit powered by dumb-rock anthem “Up All Night” and a fruitful tour with KISS have highlighted a very big year for the screeching foursome. I don’t like them but at least a couple of million shopping mall bound American wet dreamers do.

“At least half of the KISS audience is there to see Slaughter,” Strum says of their tour. The reception has been amazing. It’s not uncommon in America for Slaughter to make $30,000 to $40,000 in t-shirt business – a night.

“It’s changed our lives considerably but we’re quite proud of the opportunity to play on that tour and regardless of the amount of people who come to see us, it’s a learning and building experience every night.Slaughter centrespreadBut Slaughter have been even more important to Chrysalis, a label on the brink of bankruptcy when Stick It To Ya was released. Chrysalis picked up Mark Slaughter and Strum’s solo option when the Invasion broke up only a couple of records into its contract. Vincent used an army of lawyers to escape his option but his bassist and singer took what must have been a huge gamble and stayed. Chrysalis was subsequently bought out and its artist roster – including Aussies The Angels and Johnny Diesel – queued up to leave. Still, Slaughter stayed.

“Our record company was damn near out of business,” says Strum. “We’re aware of that. “Quite frankly, originally we were very scared we were on Chrysalis because they had a hard time breaking anything.”

But you didn’t have a choice, did you? They had you under contract… “There was a choice. You have a lawyer and you have the ability to fight contracts. You also have the ability to say ‘look, we’ll buy our way out. We’ll make you the only profit you make this year without selling any records’.

“But in America, this is the strongest year they’ve had for 10 years. They’ve made millions and millions of dollars here. For every million the band makes, they make six million. They’ve got Slaughter, Billy Idol, Sinead O’Connor, all selling like Hell…”

WHILE Slaughter are at pains to separate themselves from their previous project, Stick It To Ya carries a somewhat hypocritical credit, saying ‘Thanks to KISS fans around the world’. Isn’t that just name-dropping?

Slaughter 2Strum sounds annoyed. “No, since the guys in KISS use our names on there videos to say their favourite band is Slaughter! Is name-dropping?

“We played with this ex-KISS guy and we met a lot of great people, great fans who were KISS fans. They were very supportive. They called radio stations and demanded to hear our new record. When they did that, our record just flew.”

So doesn’t that mean you owe KISS – and therefore Vinnie – more than you’re willing to admit? “We didn’t get a fanbase that way,” Strum stresses. “The Vinnie Vincent Invasion were damn near f**k you-ed off every stage we ever walked on. And it certainly wasn’t only mine and Mark’s fault. The fans went to see Vinnie and were obviously not pleased with what they saw!”

Vinnie now says he was badly advised when it came to hiring Slaughter and sacking Robert Fleischman (who is now reunited with Vincent on his upcoming return on Enigma). Who gave him that advice?

“I admit I brought Mark in but my intention was to have a real band and we were all turned into sidemen,” says Strum. “Mark Slaughter was a young, energetic guy who wanted to go on the road so I went and I met Mark. Vinnie was working with a guy in Europe who couldn’t even pronounce Vinnie’s name!”

Strum says Fleischman had to be outed because of his flat refusal to go on tour, “Mark was brought in at that time because we had to go out on the road to try to suppor that record (Invasion) and there was no way Robert was willing to go on the road.

“He still isn’t willing to go on the road. I’ve heard that Robert sang on this Vinnie Vincent record that’s gonna come out but no-one in this country much cares and Fleischman’s not going to perform again.

“Robert Flesichman’s about 38 years old and looks like an insurance broker.”
IT seems that Strum won’t stop talking about this once he’s started. “I think Vincent wanted total control over his records and he should not have told people he wanted a band situation when in fact he wanted complete control. That’s really what it comes to.

Vinnie Vincent Invasion“But more than that, even if he had the control, he should have worked on his performing ability a bit more and worried about soloing in the studio less because … we were booed off almost every stage we played on.”

What about Vinnie’s accusations about Chrysalis cutting solos out of the record without his permission? “Quite frankly, the record company was very lenient wit hi over his solos. That second Vinnie Vincent record had a great amount of guitar soloing in it, in fact. More soloing than the craziest guitar record available in your market, other the Yngwie.

“It’s been a long time now since he performed live and he probably can’t remember the disappointment we all experienced, including me. The band was just not good live and he was a big part of that.”

THERE are rumours that financial matters also drove a wedge between Vincent ands band, rumours which Strum is naturally unable to comment on for legal reasons. He answers in a flash, though, when I ask if he and the ex-KISS man are still on speaking terms.

“No and I have no desire to be. For the record, I hope that the guy does whatever he sets out to do and that there’s a market out there for people who like to listen to nothing else but guitar solos.”

This story originally appeared in Kerrang! magazine on January 12, 1991

This story originally appeared in Kerrang! magazine on January 12, 1991

Ouch! The bitch…

Slaighter, meanwhile, are touring Britain this month with Cinderella as part of Strum’s grand play to be the ‘rock band of the decade’.

“We want the world markets,” he explains. “The record company was quite happy with us doing the business we were doing in America and Canada. We reminded them there was a whole world out there and North America doesn’t mean Jack Shit if you can’t make an impact on the rest of the world.”

For now, Dana Strum seems to have had the last laugh on Vincent. “In this country, a few hunded Vinnie Vincent albums sold,” he says, “and there’s been over a million of Slaughter records. “You tell me the reason for that!”

Filed for KERRANG MAGAZINE

AEROSMITH: About To Get A Grip (1991)

By STEVE MASCORD

WE HAD to break the ice, so we DID it,” a buoyant Steven Tyler explains, when asked how he spent his first night in Australia.

The pretty blonde make-up woman next to him doesn’t bat an eyelid. “Yeah, we did it… and, boy was it good,” she says with an unmistakably sordid intonation. . They both grin devilishly at me, like your best mate did when he claimed to have beaten you to losing his virginity.

Nothing happened last night, but that’s beside the point. What about your wife, Steven? Did she come along? “Oh yeah,” the girl says, before Tyler can open those lips, “I love threesomes!”

Without appearing to struggle for a tenuously linked sentence, I must say 1990 was indeed the year Aerosmith ‘did’ it. With a multi-Platinum album, three hit singles, an appearance at Donington and a from-all-accounts cosmic Marquee slot afterwards, last year will be remembered as the one in which Acrosmith went truly global.

Hell, they even toured Australia for the first time in 20 years – and had their first hit single there! The miraculous comeback of Permanent Vacation’gave way to the timeless naughtiness of’Pump. Across the world, Acrosmith were simultaneously cool AND popular, a rare achievement which finally won them a place on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. After 20 years, sudden popularity.

“It’s not sudden,” fires back Joe Perry, who joins Tyler on the couch of a top-floor room at the Sebcl Townhouse in Sydney. “It took us five years to get back together. It’s only sudden because one day you’re not on the cover of Rolling Stone and the next day you are.

“But to get to that point, it took years and years. It started when wc first started putting the band back together in 1984. For my money, I think wc should have been on the cover of Rolling Stone back then, just for the fact we’d && got back together… If I gave that much of a shit about it.”

THEIR TWO year long tour is over, and the ‘SmifFs are set to take some time off then go into hiding to write a new masterwork. But long before their follow-up, there is the Making Of Pump video just out, the follow-up to Things That Go Pump In The Night video collection.

As The Making Of…. hits the shops, it’s time for the Big K! to find out where the Boston noisemakers are going – and where they think they’ve been.

Perry: “What’s happened is, by sticking to our guns, more people have wanted to hear our kind of music. I’m not just saying Aerosmith but our genre. The fact that Motley Crue can come and sell all the records they do and do what they do, or Guns N’Roses, shows that people have finally decided that that’s what they want to hear.

Tyler and Perry appeared on the ‘Cruc’s Dr Feelgood elpce, of course, and seem to have well and truly embraced today’s Top 40 Metal, pre-packaged as it is. They even feature in Sam Kinison videos!

But they’ve managed to do it with their hard-won new ‘credibility’ intact.

]

Tyler, his jaw going through more muscular contortions than most people’s entire bodies, theorises: “Look at Guns N’ Roses. The reason they’re so popular is that they’re sickeningly f**kin’ real. Slash goes up on TV and says, ‘F**k!’ in front of so many people.”
I’m afraid I have to stop him here. Wasn’t doing something like that simply sickeningly contrived?

“I don’t know if it is,” the scrawnier of the Toxic Twins replies, quickly. “You know what I think is contrived? These managers who go out and say, ‘Buy ’em a set of clothes, cut their hair, sing to some tapes’. That’s contrived!

“But to get abunch of guys up there who’don’t give a f**k but can write some real good songs – now that’s your real meat.”

Drummer Joey Kramer takes the topic on board. “Skid Row, to me, that’s also the real thing, like Guns N’ Roses. The only thing that comes to mind is a band like Warrant, OK?

“To me, that’s the kind of thing that’s contrived. All the leather suits and dyed girly hair.

“Not necessarily to say they can’t play, but it’s something that’s a bit more contrived and the sort of age group they appeal to is that much younger than what we do.”

“ALL OF you together against the wall!” a pushy photographer shouts at the conclusion of another banal press conference. Tyler, shark-tooth necklace a-danglin’, leers back: “That was a big saying in the ’70s!”

Perry doesn’t bat any eyelid: “Yeah, only it was facing the wall.”

Throughout our interview the next day, Tyler – late, as is apparently quite usual – is animated and appears to be genuinely having fun. Kramer is lucid, as is Perry. But when Steve ‘n’ Joe pose for a photograph, Tyler pulls faces at a rather sombre Perry, who’s obviously less than impressed with his partner’s lack of punctuality.

With everything that’s going right, have you ever wondered, Steven, if Aerosmith would be alive today had Joe not returned to the fold?

“It’s hard to say,” he says, chewing on the proposition. “I don’t know if I can answer that. When you’re in the shape that we were in, we would have done anything for the rest of our lives, we would have done it, done it, done it until we had no more fans.

“I was getting fan mail saying, ‘When is Joe gonna be back with the band?’. But we kept it going. There’s a lot of bands… KISS will come back in another five years, these guys will be all old and grey, and they’ll do a reunion tour.
“They’ll always have the core that’ll be there for ’em.

“But nothing would have really happened unless we stopped the substance abuse, cos we were doing that more than anvthing else.”

THE SEBEL townhouse is a plush establishment just down from seedy Kings Cross, Sydney’s red light district. So seedy, in fact, that the band requested to be moved to – and were later moved to – a city hotel to – as I was told “escape the temptations” of the area.

Tyler doesn’t hesitate when I ask him if – after two long, sobre tours – he’s finally recovered from the addiction which inspired “Monkey On My Back”.

“No, and if I ever said I had, I’d be fooling myself,” he says, looking me right in the eye. “You don’t know, because you’re not a drug addic. For me, that’s the height. I love that. I could go grab a gram of blow and some needles and I could go down and get some hookers and have them suck me off while I’m shooting coke.”

But the longer you’re off it, surely the easier it gets?

“I’m no fool, it’s my best friend, that shit. I just don’t see it now. The whole thing, it’s a mind game thing. I don’t really put much weight on it. All I do is, I simply say that I ain’t gonna do any right now, today, until I go to bed tonight.

“Tomorrow, I might do a line with you. You might come back here and we’ll do a line on the table. But today, I just ain’t gonna do it until my head hits the pillow.”

You’ve been through this; could you predict Guns N’ Roses’ substance problems before they happened?

“I could sit here and say on one hand I knew that was going to happen because theywere all f**kcd-up back then. On the other hand, as Joe says, it’s a personal thing.

“We would never tell anyone, “Just don’t!’. That’s like telling a manic depressant to cheer up.”

AEROSMITH’s 173rd show on the Pump World Tour, at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, was probably a long way short
of their best out of the previous 172. Tyler gallivanted aaround the mock hotel rooftop like a gymnast on acid, Perry concentrated on his licks, grooved memorably and was maybe the closest I’ve seen to cool personified. But, I suspect, a shadow of how they would have been at Donington and the Marquee.

“Donington was incredible,” Tyler had told the Sydney press conference. “It was the hugest gig. We hadn’t hit our core audience in Europe in 13,14 years so it was good to get back.”

Soaking up the superlatives, Perry commented dryly: “Plus it wass a good warm-up for the Marquee Club!”, illiciting a couple of halfwit giggles.

“We’ve done big shows before and it was another big festival but playing with Jimmy Page was great and playing with him at Donington was a good warm-up and we got into the real thing at the Marquee.”

Tyler: “We cut our teeth on so much Yardbirds stuff that to have that guy with us up there on stage was a magic moment…”

Filed for: KERRANG!

POISON: Bouffantery In The UK (1990)

By STEVE MASCORD

YOU’VE GOT to give Bret Michaels one thing — he’s a hustler.
Ten minutes ago, he had just one shiny billiard ball to sink on his miniature pool table, and I had five. An embarrassing defeat was looming for yours truly.
Now, we’re both shooting for the black.
“I can’t get beaten on my own table,” Bret exclaims, pressing a bangled right hand to his forehead- It’s as if he doesn’t realise I have the billiard-playing ability of a watermelon.
Glancing around at the platinum discs adorning the wall of Bret’s games room, it occurs to me that he might let me win. As a good-will gesture, to put me in a good mood for the interview.
Yanking gently on his cue, Bret sends the white ball gliding across the baize,  striking the black just so, and it goes tumbling into the left pocket.
“Aw, bad luck,” he opines, replacing his cue on the rack.

BRET MICHAELS lives in a rather impressive, but by no means obscenely plush, two storey house just 15 minutes from Sunset Boulevard. The door is answered by his girlfriend Suzy Hatton (for whom he is currently producing an album) and she takes me onto what seems at first to be a video set, but which is actually a lounge.
The acoustic guitar bearing a painted rose sits on a stand in front of the fireplace, like a freeze frame frons the ‘Every Rose…’ vid. Everything is bathed in a luminous green light.
“I thought it was about time to do something worthwhile with my money, so we moved into this house,” Bret explains on his descent from upstairs.
“You should see my room. Everything’s in suitcases — it’s like a hotel!”
Bret, now 27, is eager to impress. He’s about to go out, wearing an ebony cowboy hat and a pair of jeans fit for an anorexic scarecrow.
With Flesh And Blood still fresh on the shelves and a do-or-die Donington appearance approaching, we don’t have to scrape the barrel for topics of conversation. The LP has only spawned one hit single to date, “Unskinny Bop”, but Michaels says he’s elated with it and thanks mogul producer Bruce Fairbairn.
“Bruce is great with melody,” he says. “I’d try  something and he’d say, ‘That’s cool, but I think you can do it better than that’. So I’d try something else and we’d finally come up with something unique.
“Lately I’ve been trying a lot of different things vocally. I’ve really spread my musical wings — or my vocal wings, you might say. I’ve been trying a lot of new things since we ended the last tour.
“There’s a song called ‘Souls Of Fire’ which was the only song that didn’t make the record because I think we need to work on it more. It’s a real, real soulful song. I think we’re gonna hold off until the fourth record on that one. It has a great riff and a great melody but I don’t think we’re ready to put it on a record yet.”

WHILE POISON’S new platter has been received reasonably well, their first visit to Ole Blighty has the potential to start the world tour on a bitterly flat note.
Hardly universally liked in this country, the thought of what a few well-aimed bottles of  piss could do to their confidence is frightening.
And the situation isn’t helped by the fact that the Glamsters have never visited these shores before, and so will have fewer supporters on hand at Donington than any other band on the bill.
Why, when their last tour went  for 15 sweat-soaked months, did they not bother to include Europe?
“We’ve just never played there yet. I don’t know why, we just never scheduled it,” Bret says, holding outstretched hands above his head.
“No reason, we just never thought about it. Good or bad, we just didn’t do it.
“But Donington will be raw. It’ll just be some drumkits, some amps and us. No explosions, no nothing.
“We’re not that big over in Britain. We won’t make any money, believe me, but I know we’ll make some good fans. What’s interesting is that it’s like America; we’ve got to build our following there first. We’ve got to go over there and prove to a lot of people that we’re good.
“You can’t just go over and expect the world to love you. It doesn’t happen like that.
At least with us it doesn’t, anyway..”
‘Lord I’m feeling lonely, Feel like like I can’t go on/The streets have all grown cold now/The mystery’s all gone.”(‘Life Loves A Tragedy’) 

POlSON ARE the ultimate rock stars. Big cars, big arenas, big wallets, big sex, perhaps big drugs and – yeah -big, loud pop-rock. I toured with Poison during the final stages of their last tour—just two cities in Australia. And, for them (stealing a phrase from Bruce Dickinson) life really was ‘a limo and a bottle of Jack’.
There were models applying to be included on their infamous ‘groupie computer’, the arenas were sold out, their albums and singles were riding high in the charts and every day was a party. This was the dream of every red blooded, starry-eyed kid, never mind musician, in the world.
But now, Poison are serious. There are no real dirty songs on this album, no boasts that ‘I got a girl on the left of me/A girl on the right/I know damn well I slept with both last night’ Yes, Poison have got serious. On the surface it seems to he just another exercise in tasteless marketing, but it maybe not.

AT CHRISTMAS 1988, Poison bodyguard Kimo died alone in a Palm Springs hotel room. A close friend of the band, a night’s heavy drinking didn’t mix with his daily insulin shot.
Two weeks later, another dream came true — ‘Every Rose Has It’s Thorn’ went to number one in the US. But what should have been pure euphoria was only numbness.
A year later, in a nearby Palm Springs bar, guitarist CC DeVille’s former girlfriend was busy fixing drinks on a still night. A violent drunk stumbled in and started harassing patrons. He was thrown out, but when he returned he brought a shotgun and the blast could be heard around the block.
A grieving CC flew back from Vancouver, where Flesh And Blood was being recorded, to attend the girl’s funeral. They had only just decided it worked better if they were friends. In the meantime, a girlfriend of drummer Rikki Rockett died in a car accident.
Something very sweet had patently gone very, very sour.

THE very problems which may prevent Guns N’ Roses from ever releasing another album, the consequences of excess, the untimely reminders of mortality that haunt anyone who thinks he’s immortal, produced Flesh And Blood.
Then, at the other end of a harrowing emotional spectrum, the band’s arch party animal and leading hedonist, bassist Bobby Dall, got married. The ‘Flesh’ component fell into place. Bret wrote “Flesh And Blood (Sacrifice)”about that.
If you try to tape this LP onto one side of a C90, “‘Life Loves A Tragedy” won’t fit. You’ll miss the one song that’s worth the cover price alone, in which Bret admits: “One more step and I swear I go 0ver theedge/I’ve got to stop living at a pace that kills/Before I wake up dead’.
Michaels pauses and winces just a little, as if he’s recovered a painflul memory.
“That’s kind of a hard one to describe,” he says, when asked about the song. “Actually, that was about a night when I was in Hollywood, and I did some substances I shouldn’t have. It was a party night, it was the first time of trying it – it was pretty heavy stuff and it gave me a bad experience.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those nights, where you’re partying with not quite the right partyables. I won’t go into the explicit details. But I stayed up all night, needless to say, and next morning I was still up and I etched some things down for ‘Life Loves A Tragedy’.
“It’s just a growing up process,” he theorises. “It just reflects that the more experiences I got, the more I had to write about. When you’re 16 years old, you just care about getting laid, y’know what I’m saying?
“You care about gettin’ laid – and where’s the party? When you turn 21, by then you’ve had your first break-up. You went out with a girl, you dug her and she.., screwed you over, and you take something to heart. As I get older, the more things I have to write about.
“And although I don’t want to get older, unfortunately that’s the way it goes…”

THE FIGURE sitting next to me on the sofa seems a world away from the mascara-masked lead singer who once admitted that he always wanted to prove ‘I drink too much, I fight too much and I fuck too much.”
“We were young and innocent when we did our first record,” he remarks. “We didn’t know about anything. That’s the best thing about our band, we just don’t know any better.
“My theory on making a record is: make everything louder than everything else!”
But has that changed now?
“No. With everything we do, you can’t take away two things: the honesty and the heartfelt quality. You can’t take it away. We’ve made some mistakes, we’ve screwed up, we’ve gone on stage drunk when we shouldn’t have. We’ve done a whole lot of things that we shouldn’t have.
“I went on stage at Madison Square Garden when I was shitfaced, off my brain, collapsed because my blood sugar level was low (Michaels is a diabetic Ed.), and we took shit for it. And we should have. We didn’t mean to do it, it was just one of those things we felt like doing.
“We were partying all day. We loved it; we were in New York, it was great… then you turn around and you have a touching moment…”
Relapsing back to his usual self, however, Michaels assures me that Poison have not totally de-sleazed themselves.
Reaching down to the torn knee on his demins, he says “we start from here, go to here, and….”
All well and good but with this new heady subject matter, are they growing with their audience or simply making an over-obvious pitch at longevity?
“Put it this way, I want longevity. There’s nobody that doesn’t. I want Poison to be around forever, or for as long as we can do it. But you can’t force anybody to like your band. You can only play what you play and do what you do and there’s only so many people who are gonna like you.”

BUT IF you’re planning to toss any bottled bodily fluids in Bret’s direction this month, don’t expect him to stand there and take it. Poison aren’t in the habit of scampering meekly offstage if their make-up streaks or someone calls them names.
“Y’know the World Series Of Rock?” Bret recalls. “We played that. We were headlining, our first night headlining, two nights sold out. The first time we went on stage our complete back line shut down. We had to stop the show. It sucked. We just kept on going. My mic worked, I clapped for a minute, rapped, the crowd loved it, and we got the guitars back up, and the sound and we were playing again five minutes later!
Last time I spoke to Bret, he had become cynical. With all the misfortune since then, surely he must be worse by now.

“I never became cynical about playing live. I just became cynical about some of the red tape that’s involved in whether your song gets played on the radio, like whether you said hello to eomeone’s daughter. Because you forgot to, maybe you were sick that night, in the next day’s newspaper it’s written that you’re the worst band in the world. There’s a lot of red tape that’s involved between rock bands and the media. That’s the truth.
“I don’t mind someone having an opinion about me. If you leave here tonight and you write, ‘I thought Bret was an asshole’, that’s your opinion and you’re entitled to it. I just don’t like it when someone puts words in my mouth, and that’s been done a lot. I’ll do an interview and the interviewer will write whatever they think should have come out of my mouth.
“Sometimes, it seems, if you’re cool it all gets bubbled away, but if you’re an asshole what you said gets in there.”

YOU MAY think Bret is an asshole. You may hate Poison’s new album. You may think they’ve grown up and bccome boring.
Even if you do, they say they’re coming back to Europe early next year to give you another chance to like them.
They’re not thinking about failure. They’ve already met the biggest challenge imaginable — surviving.


Filed for: KERRANG!

 

ROCK IN RIO III: Brazil Goes Nuts (2001)

By STEVE MASCORD

IT WAS the moment which put the ‘rock” into Rock In Rio. But in the shadows of the enormous main stage, it was followed by an incident of insidious brutality which reminded horrified onlookers just how far from home most of them were.
At around 8:20pm on a steamy Brazilian evening, Nick Oliveri walked onto the main stage with the rest of Queens Of The Stone Age in front of some 200,000 people at the gargantuan shanty town dubbed the City Of Rock, in suburban Jacarepagua, and strapped on his bass. Stark naked.
It was not an unusual gesture at an outdoor rock concert. Had it not happened eventually during this seven-days-out-of 10 extravaganza, it would have been a surprise. But what was to follow ensured that the third Rock In Rio, which featured the full-scale return of Guns N’Roses and Silverchair, and the ascent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to world domination, had found its martyr.
The crowd took a while to cotton on, Queens had already played on the same bill as Iron Maiden in South America earlier in the month and, according to an under-the-weather Oliveri at a media conference a few days earlier, “everyone in the crowd wanted to fight us”. He obviously thought there was little to lose in creating a scene.
When Oliveri’s pale, tattooed, naked figure appeared in the huge screens on either side of the stage, the boos began. They did not abate, and were soon accompanied by projectiles and a steady chant of “Sepultura, Sepultura…” – the local heroes due to play next.
“They say that unless I put some clothes on, they are going to call the courthouse,” he announced. “Apparently nudity is not okay.”
One song later, Oliveri was wearing black Levis, QOTSA closed their set with a rare dip into the Kyuss back catalogue and walked off, partially smashing their equipment on the way.
What happened next depends on who you speak to. According to the Rock In Rio organisers, the bassist was “escorted to a room in the backstage compound, where an on-site Judge decided to let him off with a warning. No big deaL
Oliveri himself told Kerrang! the next afternoon that the Queens were threatened with having the “plug pulled” on their show unless he got dressed, that he was manhandled by a couple of goons as he left the stage, and had some anxious moments in front of a tribunal before escaping a jail sentence.
But those who saw the incident at close hand believe Oliveri deliberately played down what happened in order to ensure be got the hell out of Brazil, to the Big Day Out in Australia. without complications. K! photographer Ross Halfin saw the incident first-hand.
“As soon as he walked off, these guys grabbed him and threw him into the back of a van,” states Halfin. “These guys, they were plain clothes security, they came from everywhere. You couldn’t tell who they were until they acted. It was one big scrum.”
Everyone from Five to Iron Maiden had gone to Rio de Janeiro, on Brazil’s west coast, expecting a tan and a fat cheque. In the end, it’s what they got. But in a country still a long way off rock’s beaten track, in a city where one-f ifth of the population have no access to welfare and education, and rampant sexuality fights a confounding, constant battle with devout Catholicism, it was never going to happen without some anxious moments.
Welcome to Rock In Rio Ill — an event subtitled, with supreme irony, ‘For A Better World’.
RIO IS a city of extremes. On the one hand, you’ve got the beautiful weather (permanently sunny), the spectacular scenery (Sugarloaf Mountain is visible everywhere) and the stench of money that emanates from a handful of the city’s wealthier areas. And then there’s the flip- side: the traffic, the heavy police presence and the crippling poverty.
In the middle of it all stands the City of Rock, a purpose-built 250,000-square metre arena with a spectacular mountainous outcrop behind the backstage compound that, for seven days over two separate weekends between January 12 and January 21 is playing host to somewhere in the region of 150 bands ranging from rock royalty (Sting, REM, Oasis) to local Brazilian bands with unpronounceable names (Cidadao Quem, anyone?) under the banner Rock In Rio.
There are, it has to be said, worse places to hold a festival. If you’re lucky enough to be able to see your favourite band, with a cold beer in your hand, on a warm night under clear sky, you’d swear you were in paradise. Unfortunately, 200,000 other people have the same idea, but the view of the stage, even from the furthest reaches of the compound, is amazingly good and the acoustics only rarely betray their weaknesses.
The five stages are set on palates — when one band’s set is over, the entire floor under their equipment slides to the side and the next act’s slides on. The main stage, a white-domed structure with huge spikes, is 40 metres high and 88 wide. The dressing rooms and VIP area are in a gargantuan aircraft hanger so far from the main stage that bands have to catch a shuttle to get there.
For the punters, there is also a folk music stage and a techno tent, along with shopping centres and food stalls selling sandwiches in foil bags which look like they’re packed for a lunar landing. By day two, the toilets are rank. By the end, there is no word in the English language for how harrowing using one of them has become. Perhaps there’s a term in Portuguese for foul to the power of 1000.
Fleets of buses carry fans from all over the city and wait for them in a line which stretches to the horizon at the end of each night. If you had to work the next day you could forget about sleeping; the headline act is rarely onstage before 1am, often as late as two.
Stepping off the bus at the venue, you are besieged by a mob of touts and vendors which made Delhi look like Derby, with local hawkers yelling, “Agua! (water), Skol! (beer), T-shirts! (TShirts).” Not understanding most of what they say is a blessing.
Inside, the atmosphere depends on the night. On Day Two (REM, the Foo Fighters and Beck), for instance, there’s understated excitement; plenty of people without it being too claustrophobic. For the heavier bands, the atmosphere has a touch of foreboding without ever really looking like it would get out of control. There are few fights, about 30 reported pick-pocketings a night, and no harder drugs obviously in use than dope. But it’s not unusual to see a drunken young audience member walk up to a girl he’s obviously never met and begin groping her. Bizarrely, the women on the receiving end continue to ignore this as if it’s a daily occurrence. There doesn’t seem to be too much security in the crowd but no-one misbehaves, perhaps because of the same reason officials over-react to nudity — they’ve had no practice at lighting bonfires, raping drunk girls or burying knives inside the arena and digging them up later.
Or maybe the same plain-clothed secret police who seized Oliveri are in the crowd, too.

IT’S MONDAY, January 15 and W AxI Rose is sitting by the pool at the Intercontinental Hotel at Sao Conrado, five minutes west of the glistening Ipenema and Cococabana beach strips. Like Rio, the hotel has a plush exterior but is showing signs of wear and is way overdue for a refit.
The day after Guns N’Roses’ second show in seven years, AxI is addressing a group of people which — of course — does not include any journalists. Instead, some fans who are staying in the hotel or have outwitted external security have also managed to bluff their way past the doorman and rope at the entrance of the pool and sit transfixed by the hazel-headed one-time recluse.
One of them later tells a reporter that Axi claimed former GN’R member Steven Adler had to record some drum parts 80 times, that guitarists Slash and Izzy Stradlin battled for leadership of the band, that bassist Duff McKagan’s drug use made his position untenable. There are reports a negative review was read to Rose by one fan and that he responded by returning to his S1000-a-night Presidential Suite — with a giant jacuzzi which he ordered to be filled with roses — and trashing it.
Rewind 48 hours. Last year, Dave Grohl spent his 32nd birthday on stage before 2,000 people at an AIDS benefit at Hollywood’s Palace. Tonight, as a buoyant Foo Fighters warm the stage for REM on Day Two of the festival, he’s celebrating his 33rd in front of 100 times as many people. And sure enough, five songs into a feverish set, the message ‘Happy Birthday Dave’ flashes across the football pitch-sized video screens around the site, and Grohl’s girlfriend, former Hole and Smashing Pumpkins bassist Melissa Auf der Maur, emerges from the wings with a cake.
The Foos don’t play perfectly but they are possibly the best act of the entire festival. Opening with “Breakout”, Grohl, guitarist Chris Shiflett, bassist Nate Mendell and drummer Taylor Hawkins whip the multitudes — familiar only with their singles — into a frenzy. “Stacked Actors” sees Grohl — who, unlike many of his peers, has put modesty on the backburner and taken the stage in shorts that show off some unpleasantly knobbly knees — joining Hawkins for a 10-minute drum-jam, before “Monkeywrench” and a goosebump-inducing “Everlong” bring the set crashing to a close.
At the end of it all, Grohl just stands on the edge of the stage and says: “So many people, so many f**king people”. Next year, stay home and invite a few close friends over for your 34th, Dave.
IF THE Foos light up Day Two like a bonfire, then Day Three is nothing short of a blazing inferno. And it’s all down to one man: W AxI Rose.
Excitement is at fever pitch, thanks largely to the comeback of the decade. After a small- scale show in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, Rock In Rio is the perfect event for AxI to relaunch Guns N’Roses on a frankly slavering public. It’s no understatement to say that every single person in this crowd is here to see whether he stands or falls.
But before the main attraction, Papa Roach are faced with the task of entertaining several thousand elated Brazilians. It is strongly suggested by those behind the scenes that Guns insisted P-Roach be on the bill — and not below a local act, as Deftones and Queens Of The Stone Age are — as a condition of them playing.
Hampered by poor sound and almost complete ignorance of their material among the local crowd, Papa Roach struggle. Only “Last Resort” brings a flicker of recognition from the multitude, the wind having briefly stopped blowing their songs to Paraguay.
Before he takes the stage, Axl Rose insists that the photographer’s pit is cleared, and his performance is peppered with tantrums directed at stage hands and security guards (“Get him out of here, are you listening my security man?”; “This is going to cost a fortune and I ain’t paying for it”). Finally appearing 40 minutes later than planned (rumours  suggest that AxI refuses to go on unless the flowers backstage are changed), they hit the stage with “Welcome To The Jungle”, following a bizarre animated intro on the big screens either side of the stage, which feature an apparently bedridden Axi taking a crap.
Guns’ set is dominated with material from Appetite For Destruction, but Rose’s repertoire of rants is all new material. Introducing ‘Live And Let Die’ via a Brazilian translator, the singer says:
“I know many of you are disappointed that people who you have grown to know and love could not be here with us tonight. I am as hurt and disappointed as you that unlike (support) Oasis, we could not find a way to all just get along. People worked very hard meaning my former friends — to do everything they could so I could not be here today. I say f**k that.”
When they do pause to play music. Guns are frequently good and occasionally astonishing. They play for a marathon two hours and 20 minutes, which are alternately rewarding and frustrating. It’s odd seeing such a disparate set of faces collected together under the GN’R name. Ex-Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck is a stalking goth with a face painted like a skull and cadaverous haircut, bassist Tommy Stinson is a rockabilly punk, with a singlet and a kilt, and guitarist Paul Tobias is a surfie, in jeans and a T-shirt. And then there’s the legendary Buckethead, a man who makes Slash look like a bank manager. He wears a KFC bucket on his head and a white mime mask with flashing green eyes for special occasions.
Their show is spectacular to look at, musically sound, and the old songs do not come across as cabaret numbers. But toward the end, things start to get sluggish. Axl’s rants become more frequent, there are long breaks while grand pianos and such are wheeled on and off. The use of Samba dancers before finale “Paradise City” is badly miscalculated; people have already started leaving.
They tease us with a smattering of new songs. “Madagascar” is a high-vaulting epic in the vein of “November Rain”, the blistering “Chinese Democracy” is as raw and energetic as anything they’ve recorded in the past, the piano-heavy “The Blues” owes as much to Elton John as it does Aerosmith, and the throbbing techno complexity of “Silkworms” finally shows off Axi’s much-vaunted industrial fascination.
Pyro, flame-throwers, Axl sprinting along catwalks from side-to-side — good energetic stuff, but at this stage little more than an exercise in nostalgia. Still, Guns N’Roses are playing again and that’s enough for Rio’s rockers, who dawdle off to the buses with broad grins at 3:30am, the temperature still balmy. For the rest of us, we’ll have to wait until June, when Chinese Democracy finally emerges, to discover if they have actually made a comeback.

BETWEEN FIVE and seven per cent of the profits of Rock In Rio go to charity mainly education. But it seems no-one has told the bands. Nick Oliveri is asked at one stage how he can reconcile the event’s anti-narcotics, ‘Better World’ message with the Queens’ lyrical drugs references. He replies that drugs “make it a better world. I like it better that way, don’t you?”.
Iron Maiden, however, are smarter than that. During their packed conference, they produce none other than Jimmy Page to underscore their social conscience. They present a guitar to Page, to be auctioned by festival sponsors America Online with the funds to go to Casa Jimmy, a local refuge for single, unemployed mothers named in the Led Zeppelin legend’s honour. Page himself sticks around for the duration of the festival but, despite rumours, does not join anyone onstage.
A sunglasses-wearing Bruce Dickinson, when asked what his band is doing to make the world a better place, admits:
“As of this morning, I really have no idea because I’m getting over a hangover. I may have been contributing to greenhouse gasses since breakfast.”
Maiden are headlining Day Five of the festival, above Halford, Sepultura, Queens Of The Stone Age and local bands Pavilhao 9 and Sheil Tosado. Maiden are huge in Brazil — one soccer club uses Eddie as its emblem, and even homeless people seem to be wearing bootlegged Fear Of The Dark T-shirts as they beg on street corners in Copacabana.
But Sepultura run Steve Harris and co a close second for the accolade of Band Of The Day. Opening with ‘Roots. Bloody Roots’, the Brazilian titans have 190,000 people in the palm of their collective hands. Frontman Derrick Green sings in English: talks in Portuguese and leaves Rob Halford with a hell of a job to do.
The main thing you need to know about Halford’s set is that their eponymous leader is clad head-to-toe in leather, in temperatures which must be approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit, for his entire hour-long slot. A couple of Priest numbers liven proceedings, but the metal icon disappointingly opts not to sing the chorus of ‘Breaking The Law’, letting the crowd do his work for him.
Iron Maiden’s staging is easily the most elaborate of the festival, with a latticework of ramps and platforms and ropes to swing from; the full European set plus more explosives. Material from ‘Brave New World’ segues seamlessly with Maiden’s classics; tellingly, the crowd knows it all equally well. The encore is a rare (these days, anyway) rendition of ‘Run To The Hills’, before Maiden run to the helipad, one of the biggest nights of a distinguished career having finished triumphantly.

OVER THE course of the festival, press conferences with foreign bands are conducted with the help of an interpreter, as most questions are in Portuguese. The middle-aged female interpreter at first seems reluctant to translate u f**k” but by the end of the week is swearing like a Brazilian trooper.
It’s a tiresome process. Most of the questions are along the lines of “What do you think of Brazil?” and “What are your influences?” and the time it takes to translate a question gives musicians too many opportunities to joke around. When Deftones bassist Che Cheng first hears a question in Portuguese, he answers immediately, “But she said she was 18”.
But then the Deftones have reason to be in a good mood. About an hour before the Sacramento troupe are scheduled to play on the seventh and final day of Rock In Rio, news filters through that the night is a sell out. A 250,000 sell-out, lifting it in the pantheon of the biggest rock concerts of recent years. That established, black-clad singer Chino Moreno sets about attempting to make it 250,001 by repeatedly throwing himself into the heaving human sea at the base of the stage, despite being warned by security guards not to do it.
The ‘Tones set is tense and enthralling; the band’s themes of angst and tension no doubt reflecting the emotions of those down the front who have five hours of an increasingly intensifying crush ahead of them.
The members of Silverchair are each just 21 and have played precisely one concert in the last 12 months. Singer Daniel Johns looks like a star when he strides on in a jacket covered in tiny mirrors and launches into ‘Israel’s Son’, but between songs he’s a deer in the headlights, unable to think of anything coherent to say.
But if you think Silverchair playing two spots up from the Deftones is incongruous, think again. During ‘Anthem For The Year 2000’, a multitude that matches the population of the boys’ home city of Newcastle starts singing before Daniel does. ‘Freak’ inspires one of the biggest mass-pogo orgies in human history, and Australia’s biggest resident rock star leaves his guitar wailing in front of his amp as he departs, leaving new songs ‘Hollywood’ and ‘One Way Mule’ hanging in the air.
Silverchair might have given it their best shot but tonight the Red Hot Chili Peppers leave no doubt as to who is in charge. In front of an assembly so vast it stretches as far as the eye can see, the Chilis justified the hysteria with an athletic, dexterous performance.
People who have seen them over and over again voice the opinion that the band should be renamed the Hot and Cold Chili Peppers, so inconsistent are the quality of their shows. Tonight, however, the whole thing just clicks. Singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith and guitarist John Frusciante are now more characters than real people. Flea ducks and weaves, John twists his body into amazing contortions, Anthony has those mechanical movements which have even extended to his behaviour away from the stage, and Chad’s chops drip of showmanship.
This is a triumphant moment for the Chilis, but there is a dichotomy; on one hand they have taken the trouble to learn Portuguese for their spoken parts, but on the other the set-list has the feel of a club show with a number of curious inclusions, including one from the Circle Jerks. It sounds good and looks good, but to the Chilis it is just another big gig. No one standing stageside is even checked by security. Another day at the office, indeed.
The Chilis, with their funky rhythms and cartoon posturing, don’t please everyone, but 250,000 people is a good start. The night, and the festival, ends with fireworks.
ROCK IN Rio’s last media conference is hosted by it’s last band onstage, the Chilis — or rather just Kiedis and Frusciante.
“I saw that guy playing naked,” says Kiedis, referring to Nick Oliveri, “and I thought, ‘Why is he stepping on Flea’s turf?’. Flea is known for playing naked, he plays bass and here is this bass player in a band that is quite ‘now’ doing the same thing. And he’s doing it without half the physique… so why bother?”
Oliveri himself, beer in hand, shows no physical signs of being beaten about upside the head a few days ago.
“You know, people have made a big stink about it but I’ve played naked all over the world,” he grins. “It’s summer, there’s women everywhere hanging out… I would have thought that they’d see plenty of nudity.
“We were warming up with some local dancers and bongo players we used late in the set and it just occurred to me to do it. There was a judge on the side of the stage with his 12-year-old daughter and he wasn’t too impressed. They were going to pull the plug on our show unless I got dressed and we definitely didn’t come all this way for that to happen.
“These two guys grabbed me afterwards but when I got into the room where they were deciding what to do, I noticed this woman on the panel had a Harley Davidson hat on so I knew I’d get off.”
A 15-year-old girl gets his autograph. “We have pictures of you naked,” she says, almost innocently.

A RIO cab driver has negotiated himself a day off. Three US flight attendants and three Australians have agreed to pay him to ferry them to the Sheraton Hotel, near lpenema. One of the flight attendants has a drumstick discarded by Chili Peppers drummer Chad. Engraved on the personalised stick is the phrase “South American F**kfest 2001”.
A few hours later, sitting at one of the kiosks which dot Copacabana and sell green coconuts with their tops hacked off and a straw sticking out — or Skol beer — for around 40p a pop, a middle-aged man sits alone waiting for the sun to rise.
In front of him are half a dozen empty Skol cans. He repeats one phrase, in perfect English, over and over again as the buses disgorge haggered-looking youngsters, two weeks of wide- eyed indulgence in youth culture decadence having finally come to an end.
“No sex, no drugs, no rock ‘n’ roll, No sex, no drugs, no rock ‘n’ roll,” he repeats.
No one pays him any attention.

Filed for KERRANG!

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SILVERCHAIR: From Despair To Here (2001)

Daniel Johns at Rock In Rio/chairpage

By STEVE MASCORD
“This is SO Spinal Tap,” says Daniel Johns, busting to use the men’s room. We have just been led down a secret passageway at Rio’s Intercontinental Hotel, into a kitchen. We may be lost. No, there’s another secret passageway, leading to secret room with blacked-out glass doors. When he finally finds the toilet, Johns is escorted there by two six-foot, suited Brazilians who you suspect were never taught, as children, to smile.
Welcome to The Biggest Day In The Life of silverchair – a day which almost never came.
This afternoon, the band which does more for Australia’s GDP than any other is back on the media merry-go-round for the first time in a year. Tonight, they are to reach the giddiest height of their live career, playing Rock In Rio to no fewer than 250,000 people.
Yet seven or eight months ago, this trio of 21-year-olds from Newcastle, New South Wales, at least considered never playing nor recording together again. Singer-songwriter Johns, suffering from chronic depression and an eating disorder, had brought things to a screeching halt just when they had begun to recapture the momentum of their early days as 17-year-old grungesters.
Weaning himself off prescription drugs, he had agonised over the decision to continue, a decision, which has brought them here, to pick up where they could never have dreamt of leaving off. Daniel Johns’ journey from the depths of despair and loneliness has just about reached its end. Relief is in sight.

JOHNS DOES not attend the silverchair press conference at the Intercontinental. His tanned, shorthaired associates, bassist Chris Joannou and drummer Ben Gillies, do their best to make apologies. “He’s decided to rest his throat, basically, because tonight’s a very big show and you want to give the best show that you can,” said Ben, a statement which his front man would later concede to be – well – a lie.
Waiting in an adjoining room, Daniel stands in the corner preparing to do a couple of television appearances. He looks enigmatic, in super-baggy jeans, sneakers, and a green t-shirt. Although friends say he has gained weight, he is still extremely thin, with longish blonde hair, stylish goatee and not a bit brown.
“They say I’m the palest man in Brazil,” he says idly. “It’s a title I’m proud of.”
When the band finished touring in support of their third and most recent album, the diverse and often splendid Neon Ballroom, Johns disappeared. Joannou and Gillies had little alternative but to sit on their hands.
Gillies, then a very wealthy 20-year-old, actually worked in a Newcastle record store – to find out how everyone else lived. Joannou surfed, hung out.
How close did silverchair come to breaking up? Is Daniel still sick? Are they ever going to overcome early perceptions of them as a some sort of loud, morbid Hanson? That is what we’re here to find out.
But questions like those can easily be asked and answered in a hotel room or record company office. Today we have stumbled across something much more special, a day when three kids who – metaphorically – have scarcely been near the water for a year are shoved firmly into the deep end.
“It’s really weird because we’ve just been home for 12 months and done nothing,” says Joannou, “and all of a sudden it’s whoosh, straight into it. “It feels like we don’t belong here. We feel like the odd one out. It’s gone from one extreme to another … to one of the biggest gigs in our career.”

HERE, AND at the Falls Festival in Lorne, Australia, on New Years Eve, silverchair debuted two new songs: “Hollywood” and “One Way Mule” (both tough works of rifferama). But when Chris and Ben are asked at the press conference what they are about, they look at each other and shrug.
“We’ve only played the new songs once live and at rehearsals,” says Ben. “When Chris and I are playing, we pretty much concentrate on what we’re doing. You listen to the lyrics but in a small room, where it’s loud, you can’t hear much. “So I couldn’t tell you.”
Later, in the room-with-blacked-out-doors, I suggest to Chris that Daniel could write a song hailing the joys of bestiality and the rest of the band would be none the wiser. “Yeah, probably!” he admits. “We haven’t sat down and talked about it yet, what the songs are about.”
American mall rats first became aware of silverchair in 1994, when they released “Tomorrow”, a Gen X anthem of musical power but lyrical naffness (they no longer play it live).
The Novocastrian schoolkids had come to prominence in the homeland by winning a contest run by national radio station Triple J. Originally called Innocent Criminals, they would later claim their new moniker was an amalgam of Nirvana’s “Sliver” and You Am I’s “Berlin Chair”. In fact, it was on a list of possible names their record company showed them and it was the best of the bunch.
Eventually, debut album Frogstomp was released and devoured by post-grunge America. As is unfortunately often the case, as silverchair got better, their sales in America declined. It is fortunately also often the case, everyone else began to switch onto them.
Freak (1997) was on a different plain to Frogstomp, with its diversity and musicianship, and Neon Ballroom (1999) was a spectacular leap forward again. There was thrash, there was rock, there were “Miss You Love” and “Ana’s Song”, twisted ballads which challenge the sure knowledge they were written by a 19-year-old.
Then came the Neon Ballroom Tour, then nothing.

SILVERCHAIR’s manager, former journalist John Watson, thinks for a while when he is asked to identify the precise moment Daniel Johns was transformed from being a scruffy schoolboy to a fully-fledged rock star.
“I remember once,” he finally says, “in Germany. The band was still feeling their way on big stages. There was a camera on a track in front of the stage. For some reason, Daniel started stalking it. “When the camera could go no further, Daniel spat on it and rubbed the spit all over the lens. There was this gigantic, blurry picture of his face on the giant screens.
“We looked at each other and said ‘where did THAT come from?”
Johns is not the tortured, awkward Cobain-esque figure you may expect but he is probably the most gentle person the writer has ever met. He speaks softly and deliberately and seeks consensus, with phrases like “you know when you ….” When he points out he did not become a musician to do interviews, he quickly adds “no disrespect to you, of course”.
Two more things: a dazzling set of milk white teeth and youth. Extreme, just-past-pimples youth. “I just get really uncomfortable around lots of people,” he says, coming clean over the press conference boycott. “I tend to get really nervous and do things I’m not proud of after I’ve done them.”
It turns out that Johns crying off sitting in front of a room full of Brazilian hacks actually quite significant. In fact, it’s a condition of silverchair still being around at all.
“After the recording of Neon Ballroom, it was like a whole weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt really free and happy that I’d got that out,” he explains.
“But halfway through the touring … the whole weight was back because I was constantly reliving the experience with interviews. It was like, every day I was doing two hours of therapy with those interviews. It kind of all came back.
“That’s why I needed that time off to understand myself better, do that therapy and get comfortable with myself again.”
Johns’ illness – clinical depression – is a savage double-edged sword.
On one hand, it provides him with inspiration for his music. On the other, it makes it difficult for him to go out and perform that music.
This, remember, is the man who wrote lyrics like “Hate is what I feel for you, and I want you to know that I want you dead” and “C’mon, abuse me more. I like it”.
Because they don’t listen to lyrics, Ben and Chris were unable to tell the media conference what the next album will be “about”. It’s a question Daniel answers readily.
“A lot of the stuff I was writing last year, after the touring of Neon Ballroom … I was in a pretty bad state,” he says. “Obviously that was one of the main contributors to having that time off.
“I was doing a lot of therapy, trying to sort myself out. But it was just getting worse. So a lot of it is about dealing with that and going through that. Neon Ballroom was more about … a lack of hope, I guess. This time, it’s more about the light at the end of the tunnel.
“There’s some stuff which is more positive than anything I’ve ever written before and then there’s some really dark stuff. It’s definitely not an “I’m Better” album, a happy-happy album. That’s definitely not where I’m at, where I was at the time.”
Where was that place? To quote “Tomorrow” “the only way to get there/Is to go straight down”. During 1999, Johns was in self-denial, taking handfuls of pills to get on stage every night and spending hours alone in hotel rooms.
“The key moment was … I realised I hadn’t gotten over a lot of the stuff that I’d written about and was claiming to have gotten over,” he explains.
“People were asking me ‘how did you deal with it’ and halfway through the tour I realised I was just hiding it with medication. In order to deal with it, I had to get off the drugs. I wasn’t doing coke or anything, I mean anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication.
“I was taking heaps of it just to tour, to deal with it and publicly I was claiming to have gotten over it which was, I guess, a defensive mechanism.
“You never know if it’s going to come back because it’s medical but at the moment I’m feeling really good. It’s because I’ve just had time to understand myself and realise that the things that are different about me aren’t faults. It’s just the fact that I’m different to the rest of the people that I know.
“Once you understand yourself and you’re comfortable with it, that’s when you’ve truly dealt with it.”
It’s quotes like these, which sometimes earn Johns derision. “He answers questions honestly, and people think he’s whinging,” says Watson. I put it to Johns that people do wonder what a rock star has to get depressed about.
“I think the answer’s really simple, actually” Johns replies. “A lot of people get depression and sadness mixed up, which is bullshit. I’m sick of people coming up to me and saying they’re depressed when they’re not, they’re sad.
“There’s a fucking huge difference. You can be sad for two weeks but it doesn’t mean you’re depressed. Depression is more medical. I was clinically depressed, I wasn’t sad.
“It’s got nothing to do with wealth or fame, it’s a medical thing.
“Obviously it’s not the best idea to take 12 months off when you’re at the peak of your career but you can’t put career first all the time.
“Also, I didn’t want to write another album of self-loathing, another album that was the same. So it was an artistic thing as well. I wanted to have something new to write about and be enthusiastic about life again, I guess.”
.
SO HOW close did silverchair come to breaking up?
“It was really close to the brink,” Daniel admits without hesitating. “But it was nothing to do with personal differences. There was never any tension in the band, we’ve always been really good friends.
“It was more a personal thing of: can I handle it and if I can’t, I’m going to leave. I’ve sorted myself out and I realise I can handle it as long as I avoid certain situations, such as the press conference.
“If I was to do that stuff, it would defeat the whole purpose of getting back in the band. The whole reason I did that was because I understood there were certain things I couldn’t do.”
Joannou remembers the decision like this: “We just went up to Daniel’s house, sat around as mates, really casual. Everyone voiced an opinion and everyone was still thinking the same thing. We said ‘lets do it’ It was good in a way, because we decided at the same time not to be half-hearted.”.
While Gilles and Joannou enjoyed a year’s anonymity, Johns didn’t have any such luxury. Sick or well, he has become a tabloid darling in Australia. Is he dating Natalie Imbruglia? Is he leaving silverchair? Is he gay?
He blames himself for saying too much in past interviews. “The whole purpose of life, I guess, is to have an understanding of yourself and to have things which no-one knows about you,” he says. “That’s what gives you your personal identity.”
While the two new songs currently in the ‘Chair’s repertoire are heavy rock songs, Daniel has been writing other material on a piano.
Having split with Sony, they now have distribution throughout North and South America on Atlantic. At the Intercontinental, they meed their new label mate, an English guitarist of some renown called Jimmy Page.
So far, there is no distribution deal for the UK and Japan.
Johns also became involved in a side-project last year, the electronic I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rock. The EP cost A$300 to make (“the cost of hiring a cello player”), there are no plans for any shows and the music is available on the internet.
In the meantime, Sony have put out a Best Of silverchair set without the involvement of the band, something that clearly rankles. “To teach us a lesson, they put out a greatest hits album,” says Johns. “I think its stupid because it’s obvious. They’ve put every single we’ve released on there.
“They didn’t have much to chose from, we’ve only had three albums, we’re only 21 years old. If I was a silverchair fan I wouldn’t buy it but I understand why they did it. They had to cash in for Christmas, I guess.”

A RED Lamborghini is parked outside the Sheraton, the band’s spectacularly appointed hotel. “This is mine,” says Daniel, as his band mates board a coach for the gig. “I’ll see you there.”
Jealous? It’s OK, he’s joking. En route to the City of Rock in Jacarepagua, through agonisingly slow traffic, Daniel learns that Iron Maiden and others travelled to the venue by helicopter.
“Wow! How cool would that be? Can we get the chopper back? How long would it take? Only 15 minutes?”
Ben Gillies sleeps, Chris Joannou burns off nervous energy by just looking out the window. Daniel talks and listens, keen to keep his mind on something else.
When Johns talks, it’s the talk of a 21-year-old, not of a rock star.
It’s curing the munchies after a joint, it’s the origins of the word “fuck”, it’s about other bands as if he’s just going out for a look. He calls his drummer “Gillies”, as if they’re jumping the queue together in the school canteen.
Then Joannou leans over the back of his seat and says: “Hey, guess what? It’s a sell-out. Two hundred and fifty thousand people!”
“Fuck.”
Now, how would you feel, at this stage, if you’d been to work once in a year and had to perform your duties tonight in front of a half a million transfixed eyes. Oh, and you’re only 21.
Daniel, the alleged recluse, is actually the most animated of the trio. The others stay in the flimsy, temporary dressing room (you thought leather chairs, champagne and groupies, right? Wrong). Then, an hour before they are due to go on at 11.45pm, they are transferred to another flimsy, temporary dressing room, right next to the stage.
“Daniel doesn’t like crowds, he gets nervous,” Watson said earlier in the day. “Once, we had a really big gig one night and Daniel had an English exam the next, when he had to speak in front of his class.
“He played in front of 25,000 people one night. He’s really good at English but he got a zero the next day. He was too nervous to get up in front of his classmates.”
When he walks out in a brilliant mirrored jacket with loose black pants, there is chaos. A sea of faces stretching out to the horizon crane to see him as Chris and Ben take their posts.
When he poses, pointing towards the sky, it does not look natural but it’s still cool. With a “Jesus Loves You” sticker on his guitar, he launches into “Israel’s Son” The next day, Johns admits he could not play his chords on this song because his hands are shaking so much.

“PURE Massacre”, “Emotion Sickness”, “Anna’s Song”, “Miss You Love” – they fly past. Seen from the side of the stage, the scene is astonishing. Members of the band’s management videotape themselves standing in front of the crowd.
Between songs, Daniel struggles to think of anything to say. “We own this place,” however, stands out as a masterful – and accurate – proclamation. Adulation on this scale is difficult to conceive. During “Miss You Love”, the video screen is filled with the image of a young girl, hoisted onto someone’s shoulders, weeping.
“The Door” and “Faultline” whistle by and then things become insane, thousands of fists thrust into the warm night air as “Anthem For The Year 2000” begins.
“Freak” inspires the sort of mass pogo that most of us thought we’d only ever see on television. When it’s over Daniel leaves his guitar, strings snapped, wailing in front of his amp and walks off in a faux huff. It lays there a while, before a roadie tugs it away by its lead.
It has all happened in just one day, a day that you would expect to conclude with sex and drugs and anything else that is available. When the writer returns to the Sheraton and is told everyone is “down by the pool”, he fears the worst/anticipates the best.
Instead, Ben and Chris are sitting at a table with the band’s inner circle, sipping lager. “Want some pizza?” says A&R man Simon Moor. Pizza?
Daniel finishes the day as he began it – absent. Tomorrow, he will go to hospital with mild glandular fever.

THERE ARE better memories one takes away from such a day than that of a micro waved ham-and-pineapple at 4.30am.
The best: just before the band are due on stage, it’s possible to peer through the chain mail barrier at the rear, to the area the band walk through from the dressing room. Johns, his jacket so reflective as to be blinding, leads silverchair up a ramp. Workmen clearing equipment, ferrying amps and tugging at cables, used to the sight of rock stars, stop in their tracks, and stare. Johns, looking straight ahead, keeps walking, right up and out into the spotlight, leaving his demons in the shadows.
Nigel Tufnell would be proud.
Filed for KERRANG!

ANGRY ANDERSON – Blood From Stone

ANGRY
‘Blood From Stone’
(Mushroom L30252 import)
KKKK
‘I’M A BORN survivor/And if you knock me do wn/l’ll be back again’
— ‘Born Survivor’.
THE six-string is screeching a filthy, drawn-out gutter-level refrain. It grooves, tries to sound polished but remains inherently soiled and rude. All of a sudden there’s an evil chuckle, a yelp — a disturbingly
familiar yelp. You struggle to remember as the drums cut in and the song starts. ‘Drink a little beer, maybe get in a fight, ‘ it croons. The guitars crash, the bass cranks and it all comes flooding back to you like the first Freddie Krueger movie.

It’s Angry Anderson.

That’s if you decide to listen to Side Two (which opens with ‘Born Survivor’) first and have no idea who the bald bloke with a chipped tooth on the cover— called simply ‘Angry’ — is.
Yep, ol’ shorty himself is back, with his first serious shot at ‘middle white America’ without his seminal boogiers Rose Tattoo.
And you thought this was going to be an album of lurve songs dedicated to moronic Aussie soap stars, huh?! The first thing we can report about ‘Blood From Stone’ is that there’s not a soppy tear-jerker in sight, but rather plenty of saucy geetar slingin’, compliments of English producer and current LA session darling Michael Blamer.
We can also report that Angry has abandoned the somewhat poppy leanings from his last solo project (officially still accredited to the Tatts, though), ‘Beats From A Single Drum’. Instead, there’s songs about glory, motorbikes, girls, bars and fights, tempered with the odd social conscience ditty, of course.
There’s hooks, as well! Try ‘Heaven’, first single ‘Bound For Glory’, ‘Wild Boys’ — and check out the atmospherics on ‘Bad Days’.
So why the missing K? Mainly because of the disappointing re-jig of ‘Born To Be Wild’ (a cover of a cover?!), complete with Van Halen-esque sonic embellishments and pitch-perfect, mechanically stupid chorus.
And secondly because of the overtly-slick LA production which leaves some searing axework sounding like outtakes from a Steve Jones or Y&T album. Nah, this ain’t Rose Tattoo, but it ain’t ‘Suddenly’ either.
Take a listen, but you could very well hate it if thats all you do. Instead, listen a few times, read the lyric sheet, and you may agree that ‘Blood From Stone’ is as important a musical statement as any Rose Tattoo record.
Even though it’s a predictable conclusion, it has to be said: Angry is back.
Really. STEVE MASCORD 

Filed for: KERRANG!

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, THE BOMBERS & D*A*D, 1990

SWEDISH GUITAR god Yngwie Malmsteen has threatened to walk out of his recording contract with PolyGram (the giant conglomerate that owns both the Polydor and Phonogram labels) if the company does not give his albums more promotion.
Speaking from Japan, Malmsteen told Mayhem that his management were already examining the possibility of escaping from the deal, but no firm decision had yet been made.
Referring to the fortunes of his recent Eclipse album, Malmsteen said: “Not much is happening. It’s really heartbreaking. The only way to sell a record is to promote it and distribute it properly.”
Malmsteen stressed that his quarrel was with PolyGram US, adding: “Worldwide, PolyGram Japan and PolyGram Europe are fine.
“The record company are very aware of this and they are saying, F**k, I’m sorry’ our record company is not very good’.
“Their staff are going or gone. The staff are getting out of the company, (others) are getting into the company.”
Asked if he would consider taking action to leave Phonogram, the former Grammy nominee replied: “Absolutely.
“(But) I would prefer to make this record work first of all.
“If I have to f**king go to hell and back, this album’s going to make It. I’m hellbent.
“There is definitely more backing for this album because the record company has paid for three videos, whereas (on) all
the other records, I only had one video.”
Malmsteen’s next two singles will be “Bedroom Eyes” and “Save Our Love”
Meanwhile, he has already written 10 new songs and will go into the studio with his current band of Goran Edman (vocals),
Mats Olvasson (keyboards), Svante Henryson (bass) and  Michael Von Knoring (drums) after Christmas. STEVE MASCORD

DANISH COW-PUNK rockers D*A*D have re-recorded four songs written before they signed to the Warner Bros, for release as an EP later this year.
‘I Won’t Cut My Hair’, ‘Isn’t That Wild?’, ‘Marlboro Man’ and ‘It’s After Dark’ were cut in Copenhagen at the end of last month before the band embarked on a number of Scandinavian festival dates. No release date or title for the EP has yet been decided upon.
For the tour, the band have done away with a drum riser and replaced it with… a giant sofa!
“Just like the one you used to sit on at your grandfather’s place,” vocalist Jasper Binzer told Mayhem.
In more less-than-believable shocks, DAD will be supported during one of the upcoming festivals by non-K! poseurs the Cure. STEVE MASCORD 

ANGLO-AUSSIE boogie
merchants the Bombers have lost their deal with A&M.
The band, which features ex-Status Quo bassist Alan Lancaster and former Angels rhythm guitarist John Brewster, are currently shopping around for another label to release their debut album, ‘Aim High’.
Lancaster explained to Mayhem that A&M were ‘too busy” to release the record in America, Canada and the UK but wouldretain distribution rights elsewhere.
The band, which also includes vocalist Tyrone Coates and guitarist Steve Crofts, wereplanning a promotional tour of the UK late this year and had won the support slot on Alice Cooper’s US tour beginning in February.
Both are now under threat.
“A&M haven’t been able to produce hit rock records yet, I’m afraid,” Lancaster said. “It was just the wrong label, there is no animosity.”
STEVE MASCORD The Bombers – “Running In The Shadows”

DAN REED NETWORK: Bald Truth (1990)

TO BALDLY GO…

Where no King Of Funk Metal has gone before. That’s DAN REED’s avowed intention, and who would bet against him achieving this otherwordly aim? With a new single ‘Stardate 1990’ on release and with mega Rolling Stones support shows on the horizon, STEVE MASCORD beams down for a hairy car journey with our shaven-headed space ace. KIing ’on to his seat, our man finds the‘Slam’ man recovered from his much-publicised identity crisis and determined to take the ‘Illogical’ rout, to fame ‘n’ fortune….. ..IT’S TRUE. Your life really does flash before your eyes when you’re about to die.Dan Reed’s weatherbeaten sedan is veering all over a highway leading out of Portland, Oregon towards the city’s airport.From the passenger’s seat I can see cars breaking and swerving to avoid sideswiping

Meanwhile a large cement-retaining wall looms ominously to the right. Dan, a bandana shrouding his

once well-maned head, is oblivious to our impending doom.

His latest batch of songs is blaring from the underpowered car stereo, but alas there is no vocal track. So he’s singing to them.

If only he’d drum his knees with one hand instead of two and not leave the steering wheel to find its own way to airport!

I am perilously close to missing my flight to Minneapolis. Dan had been late for our scheduled chat which had begun 40 minutes before… his first face-to-face interview since, er, ‘becoming bald’.

He’s patently still somewhat self-conscious. But when I first catch sight of the supposed King Of Funk Metal, outside

hotel hamburger joint, the lack of locks is less than striking. He’s still the same svelte, lean and passive- looking figure.

.

DAN REED’S hasty decision to murder one of rock’s most celebrated hairdos has won him a huge amount of publicity. He says, however, it was no publicity stunt. Nor, he says, was it a purely physical transformation. Fans attending this month’s Rolling Stones support shows can expect somthing VERY different; Dan’s naked cranium is just the tip of the iceberg.

“If I had done this later, it would have looked like a publicity move,” he says, taking a seat opposite me in the otherwise deserted cafeteria. “I want to do this now before this band is huge.

“Now when I look in the mirror I don’t see that same guy. Now I see just Dan Reed, and I have to look him right in the face. What I say onstage, everything I do now, has to basically come from inside. I can no longer hide behind this drama thing.”

While too much has already been written about Dan’s head, it appears to be inextricably linked to his band’s transformation.

With the world more or less at his feet, Dan decided he no longer wanted to be a rock star. His extended early morning shave was a way of thumbing his nose at the music industry and all conventional notions of commercial success.

The Stones shows will very much determine if Dan Reed is to continue the climb to the top regardless, or simply be reduced to an obscure eccentric who got too weird.

“If we pack out coliseums with us now, with the new music, nothing about the looks… it’ll feel like we finally accomplished something on our own merit,” he announces. “We’re no longer Prince meets Bon Jovi. I’m so tired of that, and we WERE kind of that, Prince meets Bon Jovi.”

.

PORTLAND, OREGON is a progressive metropolis that is picturesque, clean and — in Dan’s words — ‘a bit boring’.

Dan Reed moved here in 1983 from his birthplace, South Dakota. He says Portland’s comparative isolation stopped him becoming too involved in the ‘scene’ that surrounds being in a successful major label rock band. But it’s only now, he explains, that he has learnt to ignore the distractions.

“When we were recording the last LP ‘Slam’ in New York, I was sort of realising life outside of my Portland, Oregon existence,” he said.

“The new songs I’ve been writing are like the best stuff I’ve written, spiritually. Not in a religious, preaching sense, but spiritually in a love for the world sense. It’s something I feel now. Before I was aware of it — like on songs like ‘Slam’. I was aware of it, but I wasn’t living it.”

I tell Dan that it sounds a touch superficial to think a band can be perceived differently, be taken more seriously, just because the frontman has shaved his head. Motioning towards where his hair used to be, Dan says: “I don’t know how to explain it. You have this for five years and you use it in everything, your personal relationships, your business. Sometimes you miss saying whole sentences because you’re sitting there playing with your hair…”

.

CLEARLY, WE have here a man who’s undergone a sizable identity crisis over the last eight months.

Dan is piecing his new outlook on life together for me meticulously, describing his beliefs with an enthusiastic fervour that borders on fanaticism.

There are 24 new songs to choose from for the Stones shows. They are not more funky or more rocky… ‘just more Dan Reed Network’. Dan says the show will be the same.

Less suss and strut and more Dan Reed, the REAL Dan Reed.

“I want to get back into the dramatics of the show. When we used to play clubs, I used to put in a lot of dramatics, not just go out there and go ‘hey hey hey’ and shake it. And there’d be parts of the show where I’d be singing from here.”

Reed, holding his burger in one hand, thumps his chest with a clenched fist.

Management and record company response to the new DRN material has been overwhelmingly positive. By the time Dan and company arrive in Britain all 24 tracks should have been committed to tape and a new single, ‘Stardate 1990’, will be on release.

Work proper on the third album will begin in September.

What Dan has done is a huge gamble, and he sure knows it.

His biggest audience in the world is the hard rock-orientated European audience. They are fresh and eager, making them quite susceptible to being totally turned off by the band’s new direction.

At the very least, he is pushing their loyalties to the limit, although opening for the Rolling Stones could win him a completely new following.

“We are five guys from different races,” Dan says. “The five of us are living proof that it can work for the future, that’s all.

“We’re not drug addicts and were certainly not in this for the chicks. Even if we were in the club days, we’re not any more. So now the values of it are so much stronger and  I hope that people will still be able to get into it and I hope that I didn’t screw up, turn people off.”

AS THE ailing automobile screeches into the car park of the American Airlines terminal leaving a wiggly vapour trail in its wake, Dan Reed turns and says, “It feels a challenge for me for the first time in five years.

“And for the people who don’t dig it, for the people who used to dig the band because of the hair, then I’m kind of glad.

“I kinda wanted to weed out all of the extraneous bullshit anyway.”

Filed for: KERRANG! http://www.kerrang.com