Myth of Rock had the chance to speak with Victor Crusner, the bass player of Eclipse, during his trip to Dalarna in Sweden. We talked about different topics, such as the new album of the band titled ‘Wired’, Victor’s music voyage so far on different aspects, about his band Långfinger, and many other things. I hope you enjoy it like I did!

by Antonis Mantzavinos


Hi Victor, I hope you are doing well during these troubled times which hopefully will end soon for all. And thank you very much for your time to have this interview with us.

Thanks for having me, great to be talking to you and we're looking forward to coming back to Greece. I believe our gig in Athens was one of the last ones we had before the pandemic.

 

The new Eclipse album, ‘Wired’, will soon be released, and we are all excited about it! Please give us a bit of background from the writing process, your contribution and any particular trivia that you would like to share with us, from the studio and the overall writing process.

I had a great time making this record, partially because it was my first time being a part of that creative process with Erik, Magnus and Philip, but also because there really wasn’t anything else we could do at the time. The real tracking of the album probably started in the fall of 2020 and continued until spring this year. We’d all travel up to Dalarna in the middle of Sweden where Erik’s studio is located and throw ideas around and it didn’t take long before we had a big basket full of songs. Whether it was intentional or not, there definitely was a collective push for up-tempo songs and positive nostalgia. We wanted to make an album that would celebrate the stages, the venues, the evenings in rock clubs around the world, festivals and such. A complete contrast to what most people in the world were experiencing at the time.

The first song that was written that actually ended up on the album was probably “Carved In Stone”, I remember sitting in a cab with Erik in Helsinki heading to our gig there in January 2020 and he’d just recorded an acoustic demo that he played for me. Just him and an acoustic guitar and it was absolutely fantastic! It’s pretty much exactly the same as the version you’ll hear on the album. The last song that we did on the last day before wrapping up was “Ain’t No Fun” and it’s definitely one of my favorites because it’s so direct.

 

You have been for some time with Eclipse now. How did that come up, how did you join the band and how is your overall feeling so far? Apparently there was a connection with your brother, but we would like to find more about you joining the band, two-three years ago.

Right, I have been around the band since my brother joined in 2014, and when they called me to ask if I’d join them for a tour, I said yes directly, obviously. I showed up to the first practice with my good old Rickenbacker in drop-c tuning, which didn’t work at all, so the other guys were really stressed, since the tour was starting in about two days. Re-stringed, re-tuned and off we were. I’ve had a blast since day one, minus the first few hours of re-learning the entire catalogue in a different tuning.

There’s a familiar vibe within the band both literally and figuratively. We meet up, we play, talk about music and hang out and no one’s dead sick of it yet!

How does it feel to actually work in Eclipse with your brother?

It’s the most natural thing to me. We grew up playing together. We played in a band together for years as kids, so that much hasn’t changed.

 

The new album has definitely the classic catchy feeling from the whole of Eclipse discography. The band’s DNA is crystally clear on every second of all songs. I believe the band is really very good on playing memorable and beautiful melodies, but at the same time combined with heavy riffs where the result is fantastic. How does the band make it look so easy, catchy and so nicely flowing?

It’s been years in the making, I guess. When it comes to songwriting, not much is left to chance and there’s a collective effort in every song. The question we can ask each other is “do you dig it?”. Ιf “yes”, then that’s good enough, if anyone’s uncertain, we’ll find a way. An Eclipse song is a song that we enjoy ourselves, the rest is really not up to us.



Song number 9 (“We Didn’t Come to Lose”) and song number 10 (“Things We Love”) sound like a statement from the band. What are the lyric themes dealing on this album?

For sure, when I listen to it, the lyrics are mirroring the output of the other instruments. They’re loud and in your face, as much if not more than the music on it’s own.

 

Do you have any personal favorite tracks on this album and why?

“Roses on Your Grave” was the first song I had a part in writing. It started out a lot slower, but as soon as Erik added the main riff to it, everyone just went: “This has to open the album!”. It was a clear favorite from day one and I’m really looking forward to playing it live.

 

If I am not mistaken, the band comes from Dalarna, and you live in the West Coast. How easy is it for you to manage recording, traveling and also touring? Do you have a full-time job? Or you have the flexibility to be available for such time accommodation?

We all make time for it, as it’s a big part of our lives. We’re lucky to be able to do this, go see places and meet people. Some time ago the band was founded in Stockholm, and besides the recording part, most things we do stem from there still. It’s a big country, but if you’re on the train between Gothenburg and Stockholm and see someone sharing a four seater with two basses, there’s a big chance that’s me!


Now let’s focus a little bit more on you. How did you start playing music as a young boy, which were your first influences and why did you choose to play mainly bass and not some other instrument?

 

Both me and Philip come from a musical home. Our dad has always played the guitar and mom plays classical piano. We’d always listen to music at home. Bands like Thin Lizzy, Sweet, Kiss etc. Once I started playing guitar and bass, when I was 12, I found my own way through the great book of heavy metal. I went off for a while and listened to some more extreme stuff, and I still do, but mainly there’s a lot of really great classic rock and metal music out there to pay homage to. I didn’t really pick bass as an instrument, I was just not nearly good enough at guitar, ha ha! I did enjoy it right off the bat, however. I’m not the type of bass player that will doodle around and play melodic stuff really, I think the greatest thing is to be able to downstroke a note for as long as it serves the song. It’s, when you play bass in a full band that the instrument really does it’s thing for me. Without it the sound loses all the rumble, and we all know we need more of that.

 

Långfinger is one of my favorite bands. Are there any plans currently for a new album? Have you recorded something recently? And what about that special show you told me about, when we met last time in Stockholm?

Yes! We’re going into the studio in November to record a new album, the follow-up to 2016’s “Crossyears”. It’s been in the making for about six years or so… The reason being that we got a little bit lost along the way, but have now found our footing again. There’s absolutely something to prove for us now, if we lacked that feeling before. I guess that makes it slated for a 2022 release. That special show must have been the 10-year anniversary of our first record “Skygrounds” that came out in 2010? We had the same venue booked that we played as kids, when that record came out, and we were going to have a special show with guests and stuff. And then came the thing-that-should-not-be-named! Maybe we’ll do it in 2022? A 12-year anniversary? Sounds like a good whiskey to me.

 

If I am not mistaken, you are also involved in video shooting. Tell us a bit about that, do you have your own company? Is it a full-time job, or? How often do you shoot?

It is something that I do more often than not. We shoot things every week nowadays and I have a company. I have some very talented friends who have all been working with film and video for quite some time now, and I was always lurking around trying to pick up what I could from them. Now that I’m a few years in it’s gotten to the point where we get to make pretty cool things. We did the videos for the first three singles off of “Wired”, and we just finished shooting videos for At The Gates and Unleashed, which was amazing to be able to work with your childhood heroes.

 

Are you listening currently to something in particular? New or old music? And also, do you prefer listening music at your home, on the stereo, or do you prefer the digital platforms like Spotify?

I’m one of those people who buy LPs and records but rarely play them. My car doesn’t even have a CD player anymore! I have a functioning vinyl player and great speakers, but I still haven’t plugged the cables in yet… Not sure if they need soldering or whatever. I’m pretty sure the other guys in the band would tell you that I’m by far the worst handyman in the band!  Some albums I’ve been going back to right now are Temple of the Dog’s S/T, Ozzy’s “No More Tears”, Bad Religion’s “The Empire Strikes First” and just a bunch of Willie Nelson tracks.

 

You will soon be on tour. Do you have some personal preference, where you haven’t been before and you would like to play live either with Eclipse or with Långfinger?

Going anywhere sounds great to me right now! I especially enjoy touring in Spain, we’ve always had great experiences there with both bands. Looking forward to going to new places as always.

 

Any other projects or bands that you are possibly involved and playing or ...?

Looking back I think I played in too many bands at the same time when I was younger. It’s hard to make time for more than three and It’s not fair to your bandmates, if life feels like an unsolved Rubik's cube every time you have to go to practice. I was a part of Wolves In Haze for a while, and they just put out a great record called “Chaos Reigns”.

 

And now, the final part of this interview – ten questions about your favorite things!

 

  • Favorite country to visit for holidays:
    Anywhere now really, I’ve seen enough of Sweden for a while.
  • Favorite restaurant you have ever been to:
    One of the coolest people to ever have walked this earth was Anthony Bourdain, and I try to adapt to his food philosophy as much as I can. Eat locally, and if someone offers you something you haven’t tried, give it a go. It doesn’t always mean surströmming (Google it!) or pan-fried cockroaches for every meal.
  • Favorite hobby to do, when not being busy with music, bands, touring, etc.: Video stuff, my girlfriend is really into the art scene. It all intervenes in the end and there’s always stuff to do.
  • Oldest hard rock/heavy metal t-shirt in your wardrobe:
    Right now - I think it’s the 1991 shirt from Van Halen’s F.U.C.K tour. It’s cool. I think it’s about three washes away from completely dissolving.
  • First gig you have ever attended as a fan:
    Definitely not my first, but when I was 12, me and my brother went to see Metallica live. After that I think we were both sure that we wanted to do the music thing for good.
  • Favorite/special memory from all gigs you have played so far:
    The latest one probably. It was really great to run out and play a show to an open-air festival crowd at the Alcatraz Festival after the recent year.
  • What’s the record you have listened to recently:
    Forgot to mention before; “Powertrip” by Monster Magnet is a great record. As well as any film score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, if anyone forgot.
  • Favorite book you have read:
    I’m currently working on “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace. It’s nine million pages long. Favorite… It’s probably A History of World Societies.
  • If you could choose only one artist / per instrument, which ones would you choose to play together in a band (any genre, any era, any thing):
    Dio doing the lead vocals, Thomas Pridgen can do that crazy drumming thing he’s doing, the roadie that used to soundcheck Lemmy’s bass can get in on it. George Harrison can take the guitars and they can all be mad at each other.
  • Favorite model of bass you own or have played:
    Love the Fender Precision for the sound, Rickenbacker for the look and the Gibson Grabber for the feel. Something like that!

 

Thank you Victor for your time, much appreciated! And I hope to see you soon from close, either in Stockholm or anywhere else and enjoy a gig together!

Thank you! And let’s do it!

Myth of Rock had the great honor, the unique chance to talk with a distinguished musician, a charming personality and a wonderful voice. We are referring to Edu Falaschi, the Brazilian singer, who released a number of incredible power metal albums with Angra and is now delivering “Vera Cruz”, his compelling solo masterpiece. Our chat proved to be a really nice way to learn everything about Edu Falaschi’s activities plus many more interesting things about his past, present and future. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Edu Falaschi!

 by Dimtiris Zacharopoulos 


Edu, your latest release was “Vera Cruz”, which was a solo album. Why did you decide to release a solo album and not an album with a band?

Well, the story is like this … I was playing with Almah, you know, my ex-band, the band I did after Angra, but I just released that the fans wanted to hear the original singer of Angra during the first years of the ‘00s. They asked me all the times to sing Angra songs. Then I was, of course, trying to build something with my old band Almah, but, in a certain point of my career, I just said to the fans, “OK, I am going to sing the songs you want to hear, like “Nova Era”, “Spread Your Fire”, “Rebirth”, “Millennium Sun” and others, because these songs are part of the life of the fans, since the beginning of the ‘00s. There is an emotional connection between the fans and these albums. So, I just decided to continue this history with this album called “Vera Cruz”. That’s why I did a solo album, to continue the story I had started with Angra, since 2001 until 2012. That’s the point.

 

Are you satisfied with the way people have accepted the “Vera Cruz” album until now?

Yes, I am very happy, especially in countries like Brazil and Japan! In Japan we got the first place in Amazon, we were best-sellers in the Amazon store, which is really important in Japan, you know. And then I am super happy, because in Brazil as well, we are reaching two million streamings only in Spotify. That’s a great achievement, haha! I am very happy with the results, and now I am very happy to know that, as you said to me, we got a 10 out of 10 in Myth of Rock! I am very satisfied!

 

Yes, it is a great album!

Yes, I did this album with all my heart, I think the people just realized there is soul in this album, that this album is true. People like this album, because it is very sensitive, emotional and sophisticated, there is a soul in this album. I think it is important for an artist to put his soul in his project.

 

So, “Vera Cruz” is an album that the Angra fans will like for sure?

This album is a mix of power metal with symphonic metal. There are also ethnic influences from the Brazilian music. It is obvious that the Angra fans of my times with the band will love this album. It is the same singer, the same composer of many songs of Angra – I composed “Nova Era”, “Spread Your Fire”, “Hunters and Prey”, “Angels and Demons”, “Wishing Well”, “The Course of Nature”, so many Angra songs … ! I think the fans of Angra will connect with “Vera Cruz”, which contains songs that were firstly composed for Angra. It is natural, the fans will love it.

 

One of the things that impressed me in the “Vera Cruz” album was the extravagant guitar work that is featured on these new songs.

Yes, there are progressive metal elements in the album … I love progressive metal, I love power metal, I love Brazilian music, that’s why you can say that there are many elements from different kinds of music. To play this kind of music, you need to have technical musicians and shredding guitarists, but obviously, these guitarists aren’t doing only shred stuff. We have many guitars with feelings, guitars with beautiful melodies and beautiful harmonies, but sometimes, we need to put some velocity, some kind of adrenaline in the songs. That’s the style that I used to do, since I was a teenager! I am a power metal singer, since I was 16-17 years old. It is natural for me and I think that the fans like it, it is very nice.

 

Edu, did you write all the songs and the lyrics in “Vera Cruz”?

Yes, I composed all the songs, but the guitar player called Roberto Barros, who produced the album together with me, co-wrote three songs with me. So, I composed everything, I wrote all the lyrics, I made the concept, I made most of the arrangements. So, yes, I am the main composer.

 

Where does the album concept refer to?

I like epic stories, I like movies like “The Lord of the Rings”, but I also wanted to create something about Brazil. Then I decided to tell about the Brazilian history, through fiction, through a story that started in 1200. There was an ancient prophecy about a child, who would be born with a birthmark, a chest mark, and this child would be the chosen one to fight against a secret order called Nero’s Cross Order. Of course, this is fiction, it comes from my mind, haha. This baby was the descendant of a man, who created a dark, secret Order called Nero’s Cross Order in the year 1200. After 300 years, around 1500, Jorge (as the name of the child was) was born in Portugal and he is the baby of the prophecy. Nero’s Cross Order started trying to kill Jorge, because they didn’t want him to grow up, create an army and fight against this secret Order. That’s what the main story is about. In certain part of the story I decided to create a passage, in order to connect with the Brazilian history, in which passage Jorge went to Brazil to run away from the dark Order. Then the dark Order came to Brazil with a big army with many ships and soldiers to catch him. In Brazil Jorge became friend with the Indians and some men from the white Order of Christ. The existence of this white Order is a fact, it’s history. The man called Pedro Álvares Cabral, who historically discovered Brazil in the year 1500, was part of the Order of Christ and that’s why I used him in the story – Cabral saved Jorge, who joined the Order of Christ in order to fight the dark Order. There is a big battle here in Brazil, and in the end Jorge is the winner of the battle. Jorge and the white Order fight against evil and they finally win the war.

 

A fascinating story, indeed … Let’s go now to the mixing and mastering of the album. Were they done by Dennis Ward?

Yes! For me Dennis Ward is one of the best producers of this kind of music, of power metal. I worked with him in Angra’s “Rebirth”, “Temple of Shadows”, “Hunters and Prey” and “Aurora Consurgens”. When I decided to do this very important album for me, “Vera Cruz”, since I am celebrating this year 30 years as a professional singer, you know, the fans will be happy to see here again in this album the same producer of that Angra albums … Dennis Ward is fantastic, he is really good, he worked in the new Helloween album as well. That’s why I decided to work again with him. To remember the good times with Angra and also because he is really good, haha.

 

Did you listen to the new Helloween album?

Yes! And I loved it, haha! That’s Helloween, you know, that’s Kai Hansen, that’s Michael Kiske, Andi Deris and the other guys! That’s Helloween! It’s pure, it’s genuine. I mean, when I want to listen to Iron Maiden, I want to listen to Iron Maiden, that kind of music. So, I am very happy to see that Helloween kept the main characteristics of the band, the main spirit of the band. For me this album is really, really beautiful, really nice.

 

How do you remember your days with Angra, Edu?                

Well, I have many memories, Angra is very important for me. I think Angra just showed my voice and my talent, my compositions to the world. I had the opportunity with this band to show my career to the world, because before Angra I was only in Brazil and then I wasn’t an underground artist anymore. We had many hard moments, we had some hard feelings, but that is normal in any relationship, we worked together for twelve years, so … it’ s a lifetime! For me the important thing is to keep the good moments in my mind and in my heart. I have good feelings nowadays.

 

So, is a reunion with Angra possible?

I don’t know, many people have asked me that …

 

Would you like to reunite with Angra?

It is hard to say, because I can’t say yes and I can’t say no as well. We never know, the future is unkown. But we must find a true feeling to make this reunion happen. Not only because of money, or for fame, for marketing. We need to have something real between us, the magic needs to happen again. If we have this magic, everything is possible. But … nowadays I am very focused on my solo album and my solo career, I really don’t think about that, but in the future we never know, haha!

 

What about Almah? Is there a possibility of a new Almah album?

No, no. I just stopped Almah, I didn’t announce that the band is over, but it is really hard for me to come back with Almah, because I am doing many good things with my solo career. I have many long-term plans, many things to do, many plans, so I don’t think we are going to do something together again, to be honest. However, as I said, we never know. I am very focused on this solo career, I have many plans, and many opportunities coming. This solo career is going really well in Brazil, in South America, in Japan and I hope soon in Europe as well. Everything is just starting, since I started my solo career in 2017, so it is only four years. In these four years I did one DVD, called “Temple of Shadows in Concert”, which is amazing and features an orchestra, I played the “Temple of Shadows” album entirely …

 

This live DVD is fantastic!

Yes, it is fantastic, the production is huge … 4,000 people, 4,000 fans, the concert was amazing … I also did an EP (“The Glory of the Sacred Truth”), which was a great success in Japan , I did now “Vera Cruz” … I am doing a lot of things, I am very happy and the future is very promising for this solo career!

 

Which are your vocal influences, Edu?

I have many. I think it is kind of natural for all power metal singers to have Bruce Dickinson as an influence! And Ronnie James Dio, as well! These two singers were the main influence for me, as a singer.

 

Apart from singing, you are also playing some instruments, like guitar and bass.

Yes.

 

In “Vera Cruz” you only sing or are you also playing other instruments?

I play all the acoustic guitars. People used to know me as a singer only, but I play a lot of instruments as well. I play the piano, the guitar, the bass, the acoustic guitar, for example in the song “Land Ahoy”, which is my favorite song from the album (editor’s note: Edu starts to play me some melodies in the acoustic guitar!). I love that kind of instrumentation with the acoustic guitars! I composed all the songs in the piano, but I mainly played the acoustic guitars in the album.

 

So, what made you a singer and not a guitarist?

Wow, it is difficult to say! I love playing drums, playing drums, playing bass guitar, but … I remember I was playing with a cover band, when I was young, actually I was the guitar player of the band. The singer used to miss the rehearsals. One day the leader of the band told me: “Edu, I have seen that you can also sing. Why don’t you just sing? We will find another guitar player!”. I said that I could try it. Then I started singing and the band said “OK, we don’t need the other singer anymore! You are going to be the singer now, and we will look for another guitar player for the band!”. After that, I became the singer of another band, called Mitrium, which was my first band and we released a vinyl, we did an album (editor’s note: it was a split album with Sweet Pain, titled “Eyes of Time/Shining from the Darknesss”) in 1993. It was really cool, haha!

 

In “Vera Cruz” you co-operate with some guest musicians. How did you select them?

I selected the musicians, based on the concept, its story and the characters. There is a woman in the story, an Indian girl, so I needed a female singer to represent this character. Also I needed an aggressive vocalist to represent the Indian of the war, because there is a captain of the Indian tribe, who fights against evil. I wanted somebody with power, with a very powerful voice. That’s why I invited the best one, in my opinion, Max Cavalera, he is my hero, an icon in the thrash metal music! And I invited a female singer from Brazil, Elba Ramalho, who is also a hero of mine, her voice is amazing, super beautiful!

 

Let’s talk now a little about the coronavirus pandemic. How were things in your country, Brazil?

Things were difficult for us, as well, half a million people died in Brazil because of this virus. There was a quarantine in the beginning, in March of 2020, then things started opening again, but we had a second wave of this coronavirus … For the artists it was the worst moment, because everybody had the chance to close and open again, to close and open again, but the musicians, we stopped everything until now, so we are almost two years without one concert! It was hard. Fortunately, I had this album to record, since I have a studio here in my house, so I could compose, create, I was focused on something good, music, and not just stay at home in a boring life, without doing anything. For me everything was normal, because I was at home composing, making music, but for many people it was a disaster. Many companies in Brazil just closed, they didn’t have money anymore to keep the company working.

 

What’s your opinion about the coronavirus vaccine?

Well, I don’t have any opinion, because we don’t have any choice! I already took the vaccine, because I am old enough, haha, I needed to take the vaccine. For example, if I decided not to get vaccinated, I would not be able to go to Europe, to the USA, I couldn’t travel, because the travel companies ask you for the vaccine, they ask you for a document, to prove that you got the vaccine. So … we have no choice, we need to take the vaccine. If the vaccine is real or not real, if it is good or it is bad for the future, we don’t know. I hope it is good, it is true and that it saves people. I hope it, haha!

 

So, Edu, have you planned any live shows for the near future?

Yes, I am planning the tour for next year, the beginning of next year. It is good, because I have time to create something really cool, to organize the whole production. This year I am going to stay at home, the tour for “Vera Cruz” will start in April next year.

 

Edu, thank you very much for this interview!

I would like to thank you, it is really important that the Greek fans will read about me! 

 

No doubt, Robin McAuley is one of the greatest singers in rock n’ roll history! His work with Grand Prix, McAuley Schenker Group, Black Swan etc. is fantastic, and we can now enjoy his wonderful voice in “Standing on the Edge”, his recent, second solo album, out via Frontiers Records. Myth of Rock magazine feels glad, feels blessed to have heard McAuley’s new songs and to have come in contact and spoken with McAuley. During half an hour, the legendary Irish singer shared with us his vision and proved that, apart from an exquisite musician, he is a great personality. Robin, thank you for everything!

by Dimitris Zacharopoulos


You released your new, second solo album (“Standing on the Edge”) some months ago. Which are your feelings  now that you come back with a solo album, so many years after your debut solo album (“Business As Usual”, 1999)?

Yes, interesting question. Well, you know, “Business As Usual” was never meant to be a solo album. I recorded it as a collaboration together with the guitar player from Survivor (Frankie Sullivan), and after we had finished everything and mixed the record, we tried like everybody else to get the record industry interested in it … Nobody was really interested in it, and at the same time, because of the sound of the time (we recorded the album in`1994), then we had grunge, we had alternative music, so all of the 80s styled rock music had gone down the tubes. The record sat, gathering dust, on the shelf for about six years and then a Japanese label picked it up, and they were interested in it, in 1999. However, the rest of the guys said “Forget it, put it out as a solo record, put your name on it!” and yada, yada, yada … I don’t really see myself as a solo artist … moving forward to 2020, with the pandemic and having already released the Black Swan record, which I love, Frontiers Records, my record label, called me and they said: “Why don’t you put a solo record out, during this time? And so, “Standing on the Edge” was born.

 

And what happened then?

Well … when they asked me to do a solo record, I was not very interested, I was thinking “What am I going to do?” and “Who would like to listen to a Robin McCauley solo record?”. The label said to me, “Give us some more of you. What you do, that’s what the people want to listen to”. I wanted to make it a little different, just to make it more interesting, the record company said no. “More of what you do”, I thought this would be really boring. So, about 18 months before that, I had been at a Michael Schenker fest in France. Uriah Heep was on the flight to France, and of course, my old keyboard player from the Grand Prix days, Phil Lanzon. We were talking, and I said, “So many people keep asking me if we will ever have a Grand Prix reunion”. Phil said, “Me too! It is just so funny, after all these years”. So, I asked him, “What do you think will happen? Logistically, probably never!” … When I started working on “Standing on the Edge”, I thought I would reach out to Phil, I thought we would have a collaboration, a Grand Prix connection, and then moved another step, when I talked with Tommy Denander from Sweden, who had worked with Jimi Jamison (Survivor, vocals) – I was in Survivor for five-six years, so I thought that this was another connection. I worked a Las Vegas show with a lot of musicians (“Raiding the Rock Vault”) and Howard Leese was the  musical director. However, also Paul Rodgers, who was playing the show with Bad Company, was a musical director. So, I said to Howard, “Hey, give me the Bad Company song for my record, haha!”. And he said, “No, but I have some riffs, I will send you some stuff, if you use them, good, if you don’t use them and we are not finished, do whatever you want!”. I started working on one of the songs, I mixed it up, I put a rough vocal and the lyric down, and it became “Supposed to Do Now”. Alessandro Del Vecchio, of course, the maestro from Frontiers Records, sent me a lot of songs. I started working and I tried to make a beginning and an end to this record. The first track I think I worked on was “Standing on the Edge”, I wrote all the lyrics, all the melodies for everything.

 

How would you describe musically this new solo album?

It is a connection of all the things I have done before in my career. It is a solo record, so I would like to have a little taste of everything in there. Of course, that was then, the album has a much more modern sound to it and a different, modern production, but I like it, I am very happy with it.

 

Who was the one who mixed and mastered “Standing on the Edge”?

Alessandro Del Vecchio, from Frontiers Records. He had also mixed the Black Swan record, so we already had a connection. He also co-wrote eight of the album’s songs, together with  Pete Alpenborg etc. Alessandro lives in Italy, where things with the pandemic were terrible, so we discussed who would play in the album, and he put together his musicians (from Italy), which made it easier to start the recording process. It was absolutely amazing, with Nicholas Papapicco on the drums and a great guitar player, Andrea Seveso, it was perfect, I am so happy, yeah!

 

Let’s go now to the lyrics of tour new songs. Where do they refer to? For example my favorite song of the new album, “Late December”?

My wife is from Austria, she is from Vienna. When you have been together for thirty years, every time you hear a love song, a ballad, your wife goes, “Is that song about me? Why don’t you write a song about me?”, haha! So, in this record, exactly because it is my solo record, I dedicated “Late December” to my wife. “Late December” is a true story of how I met with my wife at that time of the year. We actually met originally in Germany, then four years passed without seeing each other and met again in Stockholm, Sweden. So after thirty years here we are now, haha!

 

Another favorite song from “Standing on the Edge” is “Wanna Take a Ride”.

I was at home, during the pandemic, nobody is going anywhere, we are all wearing masks, like in a terrible movie, a terrible movie. But one day I said, “I am going to the beach!”, my beach is about forty minutes from me. So I headed for the beach, listening to the song, and I was thinking, “This is a good day to go to the beach, to get out, to go to the ocean, no mask, and “Wanna Take A Ride” was created.

 

Your other current project of yours is Black Swan. Can you give us some details about it?

About two years ago, Serafino Perugino, the CEO of Frontiers Records, called me and told me, “Hey Robin, I would like you to do a solo record’. I answered him, “No, I don’t wanna do a solo record”. I was really busy with Michael Schenker’s Fest, I was very busy with the Las Vegas show, working five nights a week … it didn’t feel right. Then Jeff Pilson called me,  maybe six-eight months later and said, “Hey, Serafino wants me to put a project together, a very big one, like a supergroup!” and I replied, “No, I don’t like supergroups, I don’t like this kind of stuff”. Jeff told me he wanted me to be the singer of this new band, he had already spoken with Reb Beach, who had played on the “Tooth and Nail” album of Dokken, and thought that my cooperation with Reb would be really good. So I asked him if he would play the bass in this project and he goes, “No, I will be the producer, I have also written some songs”. My reaction was, “No, no, you must play the bass”, but he insisted, saying “I have some great bass players lined-up for this project!”. We started writing some stuff, Jeff put some bass lines down, Reb and myself had a chat, agreeing that Jeff should play bass in the songs and finally, Jeff was persuaded! So Black Swan was created, we brought Matt Starr to play drums … it is a great band, and right now, we have already recorded the vocals for five new songs of the second Black Swan album and I have six more songs that I have to finish. But we are recording, and writing right now, and it is … amazing, it is really really powerful and I am super excited about it, yes!

 

What would you say to travel back to your McAuley Schenker Group days?

I joined Michael Schenker in 1985. I couldn’t join Michael Schenker Group four years earlier, in my Grand Prix days, I was busy, I was touring with Grand Prix, and Michael came to see us perform and I got a call. We were sharing some rehearsal rooms with MSG, we were on the same label, Chrysalis Records, so we kind of knew each other, but the timing wasn’t right. Four years later – four is the magic number, haha! – I was working in Frankfurt, Germany, and we released a remake of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” with Far Corporation. Rudolf Schenker heard that cover on the radio, and when he spoke with Michael, he told him “Who is this? This is good! I like this!”, and Michael said “Yeah, I know who that is! He refused to join me four years earlier”, haha! Rudolf told Michael, “I think you should call him again”. So, I was the last of seventeen singers, auditioning, and Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, the management company, Michael Schenker listened to everything and I got a call – they said, “Hey!  We’ve decided that you should be the singer”. Then Michael told me that he would like to change the name and I want the “M” to be you, but I thought it was a really bad idea. Michael Schenker Group is what everybody knows, I love the logo and he goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I need a partner, we keep the MSG logo, but you keep the “M”, haha!”. Anyway! So we had McAuley Schenker Group, we released “Perfect Timing” and suddenly, we were on MTV!”. At that time Michael Schenker was making some inroads into the American market, so the management wanted something that was more structured for touring, more structured for a commercial sound, and we gave it to them. A lot of people didn’t like it, they thought I was too commercial for Michael Schenker, but it was the first time that Michael had MTV, VH1 and the American rock radio, so …

 

Robin, what do you remember from the making of the classic hit song, “Nightmare”?

Yes! I remember that we were already recording the album “Save Yourself”, we were in the middle of recording and one day Michael gave me a cassette and he said, “I put some acoustic ideas, see what you’ ll think”. There was a small room to the side of the studio, here in Los Angeles, and I started listening to it and … oh, my God, it was such a beautiful piece of music! I had a four-track Tascam recorder, and I started writing lyrics and putting the melody together. The guys were in the studio and they heard me and started saying, “What is that? It sounds amazing, it sounds great!”. I told them, “Well, it is just an idea”, and I played it to Michael and he loved it. Then we recorded a video for it in the desert in the middle of the night, haha! … It is a beautiful song, it’s still a great song! I am glad you have asked that question, I would love to perform that song with Michael and a big orchestra, I think it would be amazing!

 

Which is your relationship now with Michael Schenker?

It has always been great. When McAuley Schenker Group ended, in 1991-1992, all 80s rock here in the USA was down, it was all Seattle, all grunge, all alternative and nobody wanted to listen to 80s hair metal, or rock, or whatever you call it. So it ran as far as it could go, I always recorded at least one song on his records, as a guest, and in 2012 we did a whole US tour together. People always thought that we had a reunion, but that was not the plan, we just came together and did a tour. Michael was coming to the US, because I live here, for some shows, music conventions etc., he used to call me and say to me, “I am doing a show, I would like you to sing”. When Bang Your Head Festival in Germany, I think four years ago, happened, his management team called me and said, “Michael has this idea, to bring all the singers together and play a festival”. I went, “That’s a great idea! It is a new idea, but it is a great idea!”.  I thought this was really exciting, because now, instead of me singing Gary Burden’s songs, Gary can be on the stage singing his songs, I can sing my songs and we can work all together. It was just a great time, a great time, a huge show, 2-hour show. We released “Revelation”, the second Michael Schenker Fest album, and then the pandemic hit, we had to cancel a sold-out tour of Japan and Europe, and now, of course, this year we had the Michael Schenker Group album, “Immortal”, with Ronnie Romero, Ralf Scheepers, Michael Voss etc.

 

Robin, you are a great singer. Which are your vocal influences?

Ouhhh! My favourite singer is definitely Paul Rodgers, an icon for a lot of singers! But in my early days, my influences came from Motown music. I was always listening to Motown, I just love Motown, I still love Motown. Motown music is big and strong now, as it ever was. I just loved The Temptations. The Four Tops, The Drifters, The Platters and others! It is great music! I used to listen to the phrasing, to the vocals, to the lyrics, to the hooklines, and then … l heard Free for the first time, and I heard Paul Rodgers singing! I went “Aaaahhh, this white guy! This white guy has a lot of soul, hahaha! I just fell in love with it. Sometimes Rodgers is too bluesy for me, but his vocals are just amazing, and then of course, Bad Company! I think I liked Bad Company a little bit more, Bad Company was less bluesy, it is still Paul Rodgers, so …! And then, over the years, I really liked, when I heard the first Foreigner album, Lou Gramm as a singer, He was absolutely amazing, I got to know Lou over the years, I’ve worked with Lou over the years, … man, he gives me the goosebumps, such a great, great, great singer, singing great melodies and great lyrics! … I like a lot of passion and lot of soul in the music, I like to be convinced when I listen to a song, I like it when it is personal. A lot of singers sing, but there is no heart.

 

Which is your favorite albums, from the ones that you have recorded in your career?

I will go straight forward, it is the Black Swan album! Absolutely!

 

Finally, Robin, which is your advice to the young people, who want to be singers? Who would like to get into the rock n’ roll business?

Don’t do it, hahaha! Don’t do it, it is crazy, unless it is your passion. If it really is your passion, then you have to give it everything, because there are so many disappointments. Especially when you give it everything and nobody wants it. It is so disheartening, but you have to persist, you have to stop listening, to continue and make it better. You have to give your heart and soul into your music and make it believable – don’ t keep moving around, don’t keep going, “Oh, I should be doing this, oh, this is better, I should be doing that”. You must do who you are, you are here in your heart. Because from your heart comes the truth. Your heart tells who you are, not what the other guy is doing, that is just copycat. If your heart says that you feel it, then people will feel it too! So, give it everything, concentrate on it, if that is what you want to do. If not, you can be a farmer! Farmer is a good business, hahaha!

 

In our days, there are many bands, which incorporate several different music elements in their metal sound, that the result is extraordinary, having a strange beauty. One of these difficult to describe, as far as their music style is concerned, bands is Celtic Hills. Indeed, the Italian band has a special music character, and I admit that I liked very much their sophomore album, “Mystai Keltoy”, released in past April, 2021 via Elevate Records. Myth of Rock contacted Celtic Hills and chatted with the band’s vocalist/guitarist, Jonathan Vanderbilt. Right here you can read what was discussed!

by Dimitris Zacharopoulos


When, where and how was Celtic Hills formed? Give us a short biography of the band.

The first nucleus of the band started playing in a garage in 2008, but already in 2010 by recording the first CD the line-up had changed.

Why did you name the band Celtic Hills?

We live in a part of Italy near the border between Austria and Slovenia, a territory famous in the world for the production of wine. This portion of Friuli is called "Collio Friulano". In ancient times they were the hills of the Celts. We have chosen the toponymy of the place as the name of the band.

You have released only two full-length albums until now. Why is that?

Since the first CD of 2010, there have been many reasons of private life that have prevented us from continuing to play. To keep the band alive we have released singles on international compilations with the Slovak label MusicGlobAlliance (on the label's website you can download it for free or order CDs). In 2020 Elevate records hired us to record "Blood Over Intents" and in twelve months we released two full lengths and an EP.

How would you define the musical style of Celtic Hills?

I would define it as "Schrage Musik", an explosive blend of speed, thrash, epic and power metal!

Your lyrics seem to be epic, grandiose and philosophical/symbolic. Is that right? Can you describe the lyrics of Celtic Hills?

The lyrics, as well as the songs, tell about things. In everyday life you express many thoughts too. So it is for our music! The texts speak of historical events, esotericism and philosophy, but also of more stupid things dedicated to wine and beer festivals, motorcycle rallies, historical re-enactments.

You released the “Mystai Keltoy” album some months ago. How would you see this album now? Are you satisfied with the reactions of the press and the fans? What would you change now in this latest album, if you had the opportunity?

“Mystai Keltoy” is really liked a lot by both the audience and the critics and as I am writing, we are already recording the next album, which includes some songs that were supposed to be about “Mystai Keltoy”! Here too there will be fast tracks and choirs to sing at concerts. I love choruses.

“Mystai Keltoy” was produced by Michele Guaitoli. How was it, working with him?

Working with Michele was fantastic, so much so that the new album is also produced by him! His technical preparation is beyond question, but also from the human side, it is very pleasant to work together.

Who is the one who writes the music and lyrics in Celtic Hills? What gives you inspiration? How is a typical Celtic Hills song composed?

I write all the music and lyrics myself (except for “Eden”, where the voice line and the lyrics were written by Germana Noage). The songs are born from the idea of ​​what the lyrics will talk about. I write the music that must be the soundtrack to create an emotion! After that I write the lyrics following the guitar riff metrics. Our songs are built on top of the guitar riffs: the secret is good riffs.

Do you believe that Earth was colonized by ancient alien populations? Can you expose your theories?

I believe that the academic world has hidden many truths: today we have concrete evidence and archaeological finds that should be a reason to admit that history on planet Earth must be rewritten! I have been conducting research and documenting in a scientific way for years. There is a whole world of researchers publishing very interesting research.

In the song “Eden” you have a special guest, Germana Noage. Can you give us some info about this cooperation?

I met Germana, because she sang in a band of our own record label. We had just finished recording the EP, where there were a lot of guests and not having participated in this funny EP, I invited her on the next record. The song went so well that she has embarked on a solo career and I write her guitar parts for her record. The first video of her with the song “Surrender” is released in October 2021.

Do you read books/watch movies? If yes, what kind of books/movies?

I read a lot of books and have a very well stocked personal library! The classics of Greek philosophy, history books and many specialized magazines! I have a good movie collection which contains old movies from the 30's up to recent releases. But also a good collection of vinyls and CDs.

How were you affected by the coronavirus pandemic as musicians and as personalities? What do you think of the COVID-19 vaccine?

The “Conan” film with Arnold Schwarzenegger opens with an aphorism by Nietzsche, which reads: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". Personally I believe that Nature loves those who are in tune with it, humans cannot believe that they can always overwhelm nature. The vaccine has not yet proven to be miraculous.

Are you planning to tour? Any other future plans?

Our management has offered us festivals around Europe in 2022, in Finland with Manowar, and other dates as opener to other famous bands, but all these events are not yet confirmed by the organizers. The confirmations will be after October 2021.

Your message to the Greek fans!

Although I have studied the philosophy and history of classical Greece, I have been to   Santorini to see a fresco, to Corfu participating in a sailing match (the "Rimini-Corfu”), I know very little about metal in Greece! So I invite the Greek fans to show me and let me know the musical side, because as Socrates said.  “I know that I know nothing”.

 

A famous YouTuber, now a promising new vocal talent, who sings in the great debut album of Icon of Sin! Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Raphael Mendes, the new Bruce Dickinson, as it has been said and written. His voice sounds exactly like the voice of Bruce Dickinson, however, all things show that a new star is born. I personally love Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson, so it is not a surprise that I am super excited with Raphael Mendes and his vocal work on the “Icon of Sin” album. So, it was inevitable to have a chat with Raphael about everything - please welcome Raphael Mendes, the new vocal hero from Brazil!

by Dimitris Zacharopoulos


Raphael, you have just released your first album with Icon of Sin. Which are your feelings now about that?

I feel great. That was a fantastic work with my friends, Sergio Mazul (singer of Semblant) and Marcelo Gelbcke (guitarist of Landfall), with a fantastic label that is Frontiers Records. I am very happy, because that’s the style of music I really love.

 

The album was released approximately three months ago. Are you satisfied with how it goes commercially until now?

I don’t know about the numbers, because that is something, for which I haven’t talked yet with Frontiers Records. However, I keep watching the internet and I think that the album is going great.

 

I liked the album too! I wonder, Raphael, how would you define the style of the album?

Everyone who likes traditional heavy metal, will love the album. We have music, songs with powerful riffs on the guitar that will remind you of the great bands of the 80s. It is not a copy, of course we have the inspiration from these bands, for instance from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Dio. It is all inspired by these bands, I think we created a great work.

 

Who were the songwriters? And what about the lyrics?

It was Sergio Mazul and Marcelo Gelbcke. The two of them composed the music and Sergio wrote the lyrics.

 

How important was the contribution of Frontiers Records for the set-up of Icon of Sin?

Frontiers Records created the band, they contacted me and sent me an email, telling me that they wanted to create a project for me. Because of this, everything was made from zero. I didn’t have a band, so the band was created by Frontiers. They put me in contact with Sergio and Marcelo, who had decided to work with the songs, and after that I started working with them. And Frontiers Records was very important, because they told us what they want, we just followed the ideas that they had in mind.

 

So, is Icon of Sin a project or a typical band?

In the beginning it was a project, but then it became a band.

 

Should we expect a second album by Icon of Sin?

We are already working on the new Icon of Sin album. I don’t know when we are going to release it, but it’s in the works.

 

You told us that Sergio and Marcelo wrote everything for Icon of Sin. But which is the band’s line-up?

Yes, it is Sol Perez on the guitar, Caio Vidal on the bass, CJ Dubiella on the drums and Mateus Cantaleano on the other guitar. All members come from Curitiba, Brazil, but I am not from Curitiba, I am from another state of Brazil, Espírito Santo.

 

Which is the relationship between the members of the band?

Before the set-up of Icon of Sin, I didn’t know anybody, even Marcelo and Sergio, I didn’t know them. When I started to work the demos, I met the guys, Marcelo and Sergio, and after I recorded the album, I met the guys from the band, in Curitiba. So, I spent some days over there to shoot the videos for “Night Breed” and “Shadow Dancer”, I spent twenty days in Curitiba. Of course, we got out to drink some beers and talk about the band.

 

Who was the producer of the album? Who was responsible for the mixing and mastering?

The album was produced by Marcelo and Sergio. The mixing was done by Marcelo and the mastering was done by Alessandro Del Vecchio (the well-distinguished Italian multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer).

 

Raphael, let’s go now to some personal questions. When and how did you get into music and singing?

I think it was 2007, when I had my first band, but I used to play the guitar back then. As vocalist, it was in 2011, I had my first band, an Iron Maiden tribute band. I remember this was the first time that I decided to sing in a band.

 

Most people know you as the singer from Brazil who sings like Bruce Dickinson. How do you feel about that?

I feel great, because Bruce Dickinson is my great idol in music. I like it when people compare me with Bruce, you know. That makes me feel happy, because I have always liked the way Bruce sings.

 

Do you try to sing like Bruce Dickinson or it comes naturally?

OK, I will try to explain to you how I turned my voice this way. I started singing because of Bruce, of course. When I heard him singing, I said, “wow, this guy sings so nice, I have to sing his way”. I just tried and I noticed that I had that kind of voice. The tone was similar, something like that, and I started to improve it. So, I can say that it became natural, I don’t know how to sing another way. 

 

Have you ever taken voice lessons?

No, never, I mean, I just learn by myself.

 

Before Icon of Sin, people knew you as a famous YouTuber. How did you decide to record this kind of videos and upload them on YouTube?

Yes, it was with my friend Fabio Lima, who is a famous YouTuber in Brazil, with more than one million subscribers in his channel. I just had some amateur videos with my Iron Maiden tribute band and this guy, Fabio, saw a video of my band playing and he sent me a message on Facebook, calling me to do an Iron Maiden song, “Stanger in a Strange Land”. So, it was in 2016, the first time that I posted something on the internet, you know, this kind of videos that people call “collaborations”. After this I created my channel, but I didn’t have a big knowledge of editing videos and recording. I was trying to learn, and after that, I started posting my videos edited by myself. The first video of the “What if Bruce Dickinson was the singer of …” video series was on Fabio Lima’s YouTube channel. I was in his house with some friends and we were playing some tracks, with me singing with the voice of Bruce! It was the first time we made a video like that and many people liked it, so I brought it to my channel.

 

Apart from Bruce Dickinson, which other singers do you admire?

Michael Kiske, Ronnie James Dio, Freddie Mercury, I can say these.

 

Which is your favorite Iron Maiden album?

That is difficult, but I always answer “Somewhere In Time”, it is a fantastic album. “Stanger in a Strange Land” is one of my favorite songs.

 

Which is your music dream, Raphael?

 My dream in music? I think it is to go on a tour in Europe and USA with Icon of Sin, that would be fantastic, that is what I would really want to do in the future.

 

You have cooperated with two famous musicians, on their latest projects – Timo Tolkki and Marius Danielsen. Can you give me some info about these cooperations?

 Marius Danielsen’s Legend of Valley Doom project was the first internet project, in which I took part. It was 2016 or 2017, he called me and he asked me to do one song, so I recorded one song, it was “Crystal Mountains” from the second Legend of Valley Doom album. I am also on the “Legend of Valley Doom Part 3” album, I recorded two or three songs. And it was fantastic, because in the first album, for example, there were names like Michael Kiske, Blaze Bayley, Vinnie Appice, so I felt proud to be with these great musicians. I also participated in the new album of Timo Tolkki’s Avalon, which was released some weeks ago. It was fantastic, Frontiers Records called me and asked me to be part of the project. I was very happy, because I have always been listening to the Avalon albums, I think it is a great project. I was surprised when they called, and even more surprised, when they selected “Master of Hell”, where I sing, to be the first single! That was very nice.

 

Raphael, which is your advice to new singers?

I would say, if you want to do something that you really love, just do it. Do it till you get it. Because it is very difficult in rock music, especially in Brazil, but you have to keep trying. Only that way, you can reach your dreams.

 

Finally, Raphael, is it an ambition of yours to release a solo album?

Hmm, I don’t know yet, but who knows in the future! I don’t know, the focus now is on Icon of Sin, we want to release the second album and want to create an album better than the first one.