Click here for a Spotify playlist – one song each from the artists kindly supporting my fundraising efforts. A truly eclectic playlist showing the wide variety of great music out there.
Click here for a Spotify playlist – one song each from the artists kindly supporting my fundraising efforts. A truly eclectic playlist showing the wide variety of great music out there.
INTRODUCING… SONS OF APOLLO FEATURING EX-MEMBERS OF DREAM THEATER, GUNS N’ ROSES AND JOURNEY DEBUT ALBUM, ‘PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY,’ DUE OUT 20th October ON INSIDEOUTMUSIC/SONY MUSIC
APOLLO: The ancient Greek and Roman God of music and poetry.
SONS OF APOLLO: The new supergroup featuring members of Dream Theater, Mr. Big, Guns ‘N Roses, and Journey.
For the past few months, rumours have been circulating about a new secret project including former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian. Now, the time has come to make the grand and highly anticipated introduction to their new band, SONS OF APOLLO.
Reuniting to form SONS OF APOLLO, Portnoy and Sherinian have joined forces with Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force). Their debut album, PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY, will be released 20th October on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music. An album teaser can be seen on InsideOutMusic’s YouTube page here:
PSYCHOTIC SYMPHONY was produced by the dynamic production duo of Portnoy and Sherinian, also affectionately known as “The Del Fuvio Brothers,” which is the nickname given to them over 20 years ago during their time together in Dream Theater.
SONS OF APOLLO got together very organically, as Portnoy explains: “Derek and I reunited shortly after I left Dream Theater in 2010 and we put together an all-instrumental touring band with he and I, Billy Sheehan, and Tony MacAlpine. That was my first time working with Derek since the ‘90s when he was in Dream Theater and it was just great to be working with him again. Ever since that tour, which was really just a one-off live thing, he has been nudging me to start a real, original, full-time band. The timing just had never been right, because I had too many other things on my plate. Long story short, the time was finally right to take the bait and put together a band.”
“Mike and I work at a relentless pace in the studio,” continues Sherinian. “The music is modern, but we have an old school soul. What is unique about SONS OF APOLLO is that we have true rock n’ roll swagger along with the virtuosity– a lethal combination!”
But what to call the next great supergroup? “Derek was mainly the one behind the name,” says Portnoy. “I have a list that I keep on my phone of about a hundred different band names, which I constantly have to refer to every time I have a new band every year (laughs). So, I pulled up the list and Apollo was one of the names on the list. It was a word that both of us really liked. We started fiddling with different variations of the word. One of the original band names we were working with was Apollo Creed, the character from the ‘Rocky’ movies, but after lots of different discussions on different variations, Derek suggested SONS OF APOLLO and it seemed to stick. Apollo is the God of Music so with that in mind it seemed like a fitting name.”
Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian and Billy Sheehan previously toured together in 2012 and 2013 as PSMS (along with guitarist Tony MacAlpine), playing all instrumental versions from each of their previously recorded music. SONS OF APOLLO is the next logical progression by adding a vocalist and creating all-original material. The band incorporates the progressive style and individual technical prowess that Portnoy & Sherinian shared together in Dream Theater combined with the swagger and groove of Van Halen, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
“I have known Mike and Derek for a long time, so when they came to me with Sons of Apollo, I jumped on this straight away,” says Thomas Waber, Label Manager/A&R International of InsideOutMusic. “However, the album they ended up recording exceeded my already high expectations by a long mile! We couldn’t be happier about it!”
SONS OF APOLLO will hit the road in 2018 for their first worldwide tour.
“This is a real band,” Portnoy declares. “This is going to pick up for me and Billy where The Winery Dogs left off, in terms of this being the next logical full-time thing for us. I’m not saying The Winery Dogs have broken up, because we haven’t, we’re just on a break. SONS OF APOLLO is absolutely going to be a full-time band and we plan on touring all over the world all throughout 2018 and, honestly, it is the priority for all five of us.”
Sherinian agrees, “We will go on a worldwide crusade in 2018 to bring SONS OF APOLLO to as many people as possible. Apollo was the God of Music, and we are his mighty offspring!”
SONS OF APOLLO online:
I first posted this on my Rock N Roll Oatcake blog last year. Since then Rick Parfitt has sadly passed away, yet Status Quo carry on first announcing further acoustic dates and then deciding to plug in for a full electric tour.
The latest twist in keeping rock alive came as it was announced the late, great Ronnie Dio would tour as a hologram backed by Dio’s Disciples – the band features ex-Dio members Simon Wright, Craig Goldy and Scott Warren. Not something I’d personally want to see, but you can see the idea is keep the music alive. It could come across as a bit ghoulish though and of course every night would be the same vocals and presumably the same musical backing/solos, which loses a lot of the live thrill for fans.
Black Sabbath have finished their ‘The End’ tour earlier this year, but again they are open to future one-off shows. Aerosmith and the Scorpions seem to be happy to carry on touring, despite both saying in the recent past they were embarking on farewell tours. Deep Purple have announced a ‘Long Farwell’ tour for later this year but conversely Queen are still packing them in and touring worldwide with Adam Lambert fronting the band. Roger Taylor’s son Rufus (also a member of the Darkness) joins his dad on drums in the shows now. Jeff Lynne has reactivated ELO after many years and has recently completed a series of successful stadium shows here in the UK. Shows that you can never fully write off a musician or band coming back to the live arena. On the recent dates long standing ELO member Richard Tandy was absent and it is unsure if he will be in future ELO plans.
Do we have enough bands coming through to replace these rock giants? There are a few stadium filler bands like Foo Fighters, RHCP and Muse, with a healthy number of arena sized fillers like Nickelback, Alter Bridge, Arcade Fire, Avenged Sevenfold et al. Rock will carry on in the live arena, maybe in smaller venues and festivals, with different names as headliners, but the days of the 70’s rock giants are drawing to a close sadly…
‘First we had the sad passing of Lemmy which meant no more Motorhead, a band that lived to be on the road touring and playing to their fans.
Now we have the news that AC/DC have had to postpone their remaining US tour dates as vocalist Brian Johnson has been advised to stop performing live to save his hearing. The band have said they will be rescheduled later in the year with a guest vocalist. But it won’t be the same without Brian Johnson plus of course illness forced Malcolm Young to leave the band.
Age is catching up fast with the rock giants of the 1970’s sadly, even the mighty Status Quo have said no more electric gigs and their UK tour later this year will be their last.
The latest band to call time on touring has been Rush. Guitarist Alex Lifeson confirmed in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine that the band won’t tour again due to the pain that drummer Neil Peart goes through.
When rock bands started way back in the 60’s and 70’s, they would not imagined the longevity many of them would have and now we are way into the twilight years for them sadly. But hey, they will still be drawn back to the stage I am sure for one-off shows and it is not all bad as Motley Crue have stopped as well 😉 ‘
Bob Kulick has a new solo album ‘Skeletons in the Closet’ due later this year. It includes guests Dee Snider, Vinnie Appice and more. This phone interview was done back in early 2011…
Bob Kulick has worked with Meat Loaf, Kiss, Balance, Skull and many more besides, along with a serious of popular tribute albums. The latest of these is a reworking of songs associated with Frank Sinatra. The album entitled ‘Sin-Atra’ features a whole host of top draw rock and metal vocalists including Geoff Tate, Dee Snider, Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna, Mr Big’s Eric Martin and Devin Townsend who does a show stealing version of ‘New York New York’.
How did you come up with the ides of this tribute?
It came about after the Christmas album where we took all those great Christmas songs and turned them into something totally different where people had never heard them that way before. Lemmy, Dave Grohl and Billy Gibbons doing ‘Run Rudolph Run’ and the great Ronnie Dio, may he rest in peace, doing ‘God Rest Yee Merry Gentlemen’ with Vinnie Appice and Rudy Sarzo. We took that kind of formula as a way to take on of these Frank Sinatra songs and turn it into something it was never conceived for without reinventing it.
This is a rearrangement in a rock and metal way of some of the greatest songs ever written, rivalling even some of the Beatles songs.
Who came up with the idea of using Devin Townsend on ‘New York New York’? That is a stroke of genius an excellent version.
It was one of the last songs we recorded where we realised that unless we had the perfect singer, as it is the most famous Frank Sinatra song, it wouldn’t sound right. After listening top some of his albums hat’s when we realised Devin would be prefect for this song. He was one of the artists who couldn’t come to the studio, most of the artists could. We had to trust he knew what to do as we supplied the track and backing, he did all of the vocal arrangements. I remember the look on our faces when we got it back, one of the happiest moments as the guy totally made it his. That was the big lesson from this record, in that Frank Sinatra never wrote any of these songs, not a lick, not a melody. But what he did do was make those his and made it his, so you believed every lyric he sang. Devin Townsend did this on this version and you can see online Devin Townsend kicks Frank Sinatra’s ass all over ‘New York New York’.
Do you have an idea in your head who you want to sing a particular song? Or do you see who is available or do people come to you?
All of the above but mainly we try to concoct what the style of the song we want and make a list of who we want to sing it. We came up with the ‘Summer Wind’ arrangement we thought Geoff Tate, here was somebody who could totally song this tune and be recognisable from the beginning and to be hold those notes. We sent it too him, he usually likes to think about things and take his time responding but he came back to me straight away saying ‘That is an insane arrangement, I have to sing that song.’
I wanted to see people who were excited to put their stamp on these songs as we were. To do the Frankenstein job and make them into something new. I love it, I would put a track on and people would say what the heck is that? It’s ‘Fly Me To The Moon’!
Funny you should mention that track. I am a big Cheap Trick fan and you wouldn’t know it was Robin Zander, as his vocal style is very different.
We kind of pushed him. We had a good weapon between Devin Townsend and Glenn Hughes. Whenever there was an issue with a couple of guys who sang good but we played there songs and they’d realise good is not even close enough. We’d say to them you haven’t made the song yours yet. Once they heard that they really went out and sang their balls off!
I remember seeing Glenn Hughes at Wendy Dio’s New Year’s Eve party and him saying to me ‘So I hear you terrorised everybody with my vocal I hear’. (Laughs) All the guys called him up saying we heard what you did with ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ we had to go and change our performance.
’Witchcraft’ with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens is the most metal song and you wouldn’t even know it was a song sung previously by Sinatra.
That was a song was not on the original list as you couldn’t say it was one of his biggest hits but the lyric meant it was a song to be hammered. We finally figured out Ripper Owens was the one to do the hammering! To me that track really came out amazing – the huge powerchords, the way the orchestration sits in there. One of my favourite pieces and one of my favourite singers.
The one song rock fans may know if they don’t know Sinatra is ‘That’s Life’, made famous by Dave Lee Roth. How hard was it for Jani laine to cover this one as many rock fans may thinks it’s a Dave Lee Roth song.
Jani had come to the studio and had done things with us previously. He’s a tremendously talented guy, given a bad rap by being in a band that really is not as good as he is. I love them all but Jani Laine is extremely talented. At the time he was having a bunch of personal problems and asked specifically if he could sing that song. It was perfect as we wanted him. If someone’s life was in turmoil they would really bring themselves into the song like Frank did and that was the goal.
Ripper he totally did, Glenn Hughes, a couple of the other guys needed prodding. I had to get the cattle prod out a couple of times but the end results your hearing are worth it. I have seen online comments saying Frank must be spinning in his grave but I didn’t see that, I saw Cole Porter and other great songwriters standing their like the apparitions at the end of ‘Star Wars’- Yoda, Darth Vader – watching the celebration that was what we saw. We know Frank hated rock music stylistically.
The label were like ‘what?’ when we pitched this album. But we said its not going to be cookie monsters but guys that can sing. They were happy to here that.
Who would you like to do next? You’ve done Queen, Shania Twain, Cher, Kiss and more already.
We had a little cottage industry going doing these, all with great singers. Its about the playing and the experience. Dave Grohl had great fun in the studio with Lemmy.
Dee Snider enjoyed this and realised he could sing these songs. So he joined the Broadway show ‘Rock Of Ages’ and now we are right in the middle of ‘Dee Does Broadway’, where Dee does all these Broadway classics. Hammering these songs in a way they have never been done before. So ‘Sweeny Todd’ sounds like Ozzy Osbourne. We are having a blast with this.
I am kinda thinking the tribute thing could be winding down and we’ll do things focussed on one artist like Dee. We are doing a song with Ripper Owens where we are co-writing some songs.
The Sinatra record took a year to do. We took it very seriously and there were some people who didn’t end up on the record. If somebody couldn’t make it theirs we didn’t use it.
What was it like doing the Balance album after so many years away?
It was kinda a tooth extraction as we didn’t really want to do it but the label boss at Frontiers was a big fan and really wanted us to do it. When I was finally able to talk to Peppy (Castro vocalist) and Doug (Katsaros keyboards) we had some songs we had from back in the day. We used these rather that write modern songs which wouldn’t sound like the band. There are three or four things on there that are exceptionally good. It was difficult as back in the day it was very compartmentalised and now I want to be involved in all aspects, I don’t want to stand on anyone’s toes. Back then I was maybe less well known but now I am more known than the other guys as I have been out there more. The reviews and response on Facebook made it worth it. That’s what I like that my work is appreciated and I can give someone that joy through the music.
The really great news was that it reunited me and Doug. He worked on the Sin-Atra album and the Dee Snider album we are doing now. We will taking Dee Snider and the songs on the road with a big theatrical show. His is one of the top three songs on the album.
Eric Martin was another good one. He had to sing it a couple of times to get it there but now it sounds like ‘wow’ he made it his own. I am really glad where people are interested like the papers including the ‘New York Post’. It was unique enough to tweak their interest. I have seen some good comments coming through.
How did the Blackthorne album with Graham Bonnet come about?
I try to keep moving forwards, not looking backwards. That was a band that should have done better than it did. Unfortunately we were a little late in the game. Graham was another case of being dragged screaming and I had to dish it out to get it done. Again on that record there are three or four songs that are great on that record.
What was it like working with Meat Loaf?
Eagle put out a 1978 gig. There are some parts where you go ‘woah’ but you watch it and look back and think what a really great band. I could look at myself and think I was in tune and played my ass off. I was impressed with myself. Meat Loaf was always great vocally.
What made you want to pick up guitar in the first place?
Initially it was like I never played any instruments that were offered to me as a child. It was like ‘Want to play the piano? ‘ ‘No’. Then I played guitar after hearing family members play folk songs at family gatherings and then the Beatles came along. They and a New York DJ called Marty Dekay, who would play all the best music of the time. He’d do holiday shows and have ten, fifteen of the biggest artists of the time. We’d go religiously to see this, sit in the front rows and see artists sing like the Moody Blues, Peter & Gordon, the Hollies. That was my indoctrination into music. Seeing those singers fuelled my desire to be a musician, a rock star.
A message for your fans…
I would like to thank everyone for their support and digging past projects. I really hope this Sin-Atra album matching those classic songs with some of our rock idols is something they will appreciate. Keep rocking and check out our Dee Snider one up next.
CATS IN SPACE have released a music video for ‘Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’. The song is taken from the band’s forthcoming album ‘Scarecrow‘ – the follow up to 2015’s ‘Too Many God‘, due out on August 25th, 2017 and a national tour is confirmed for September. The video can be viewed here:
With ten brand new songs, ‘Scarecrow’ will rock you into submission, but they will also bring a smile to your face. And, in this increasingly wicked world, there’s a lot to be said for that. On this follow up to their debut ‘Too Many Gods’, Cats In Space offer unashamed fun, channelling the finest riffs and melodies in musical history: but don’t think for a second that this is a novelty band. Their resolve is steely and their determination absolute. Don’t bet against them!
Cats In Space tour dates:
Sep 06: The Borderline, London
Sep 12: The Globe, Cardiff
Sep 13: The Borderline, London
Sep 15: Rock City Basement, Nottingham
Sep 16: O2 Academy 2, Birmingham
Sep 17: The Fleece, Bristol
Sep 19: The Haunt, Brighton
Sep 25: G2, Glasgow
Sep 26: O2 Academy 3, Manchester
Sep 27: The Borderline, London
Their exuberant 70s-inspired music may hark back to the glory days but, by delivering no-holds-barred live shows at full throttle across the country, their committed and sincere approach to blowing the roof off is finding a warm welcome. A guilty pleasure they may be, but Cats In Space are living the dream simply by willing it into existence. Fresh from wowing audiences on the Thunder tour, the band are ready, and hungry for more. With big summer dates confirmed, a slot at the huge Phil Collins Hyde Park Show is already under their belt, and an appearance at Cropredy is coming [plus big news later in the year] these Cats are ready to get everyone in a flap. And, yes, those harmonies are all done live! Cats In Space are steering well clear of the litter tray, and they’re on the launch pad, ready for ignition. Get ready for some deep impact!
Cats In Space ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’ is available for pre-order in the following formats from: www.catsinspace.tmstor.es
Along with several bundled items, including:
• Exclusive Scarecrow Tee
• Signed CIS Band Photo
• Exclusive Premium Scarecrow Artwork Print
Our only three shows of 2017 are getting nearer….
Well there’s no point in avoiding it, we’ve been quiet for a couple of months. Jon and Willie have been either recording, or across the world with our favourite man of medicine, Dr Hook, (his name is Dennis Locorriere and ye shall praise him) and Givvi has been back in her threadbare, mildew infested, concrete bedsit, crying her eyes out and wondering quite where it all went so wrong….
So there’s a new acoustic video for you to gasp at, up on Facebook….
And here are the ticket links to our only three shows of 2017. Cheaper if you get them in advance…..
Get them now to avoid any disappointment….mostly ours of course.
Our happiness is balanced precariously in your hands.
And we’ll pray to all that is not in the least bit holy, just to see you there
Willie, Jon and Givvi
Thought I would re-publish a few archive interviews from my Rock ‘N’ Roll Oatcake blog. Neil Carter has since retired from music teaching but still actively posts on Facebook.
Neil Carter was the keyboards/guitar/sax player with UFO during the band’s early 80’s period and he then went onto join Gary Moore’s band for a series of classic hard rock albums. Now he is a well respected music teacher. Visit his his rather good Website and read on…
1. What are you currently up to? (E.g. touring/studio, etc.)
Well as far as any of the ‘previous life’ activities go, none at all but I am about to go to Malaysia to examine and next year New Zealand and the USA. Otherwise it is business as usual with tons of teaching and examining.
2. Since leaving Gary Moore’s band you have been a music teacher. What was it like to teach at first and have any of your past pupils gone onto being full time musicians?
Actually I admit I was lousy at first but as ever, enthusiastic, so I got by. No one had ever taught me how to teach so I had to find my way and discover the tools of the trade and get used to preparing candidates for exams etc. I think I know my stuff these days but it took me a couple of years, and also a while to understand how to interact with children and teenagers. I really love it now but for a long time it was hell on earth! I have taught a few that have gone on and in fact one of my past pupils now teaches some kids from my school. So many really talented kids have passed through the College but become doctors/lawyers etc. It is the way of the public school I’m afraid!
3. UFO What were the musical and live highlights of your time in the band?
Musically I suppose the initial album ‘Wild and Willing’ as I really liked such a lot of the songs on that and it was all ‘new’. ‘Making Contact’, I felt responsible for a lot of that album and am pleased with it on the whole. Live I suppose some of the headlining shows in the USA and Reading in 1980 of course. I had a bootleg sent to me of the Chicago show in 1981 and it is really good. Never thought I’d say that!
4. Gary Moore You played on what many Gary Moore fans would regard as his classic hard rock albums in the 80s. What was it like playing with musicians like Bob Daisley and the late, great Cozy Powell? How did the bands camaraderie differ from UFO?
With Gary I was always aware that ultimately it was his show although it did feel like a band on stage. I suppose my position was a little different as I had the longest serving term and I wrote with Gary. I like to think it was a good partnership. The strange thing is that when I joined his band all the musicians, Ian, Neil and myself had come from much bigger acts but you could tell Gary was on the ‘up’ and he was always so well respected by other musicians. Working with Bob was always great and Cozy was a fine drummer (albeit rather briefly with us!). Working with Gary was so different to UFO, much more professional and well organized but perhaps not quite so unpredictable!
5. Did you get other band offers after you left Gary Moore and would you be tempted back into working with say Gary Moore or Paul Chapman if the chance arose?
Strangely no…..I wonder why? I suppose it was left ‘open’ for almost a year afterwards and no one actually said ‘that’s it, no more rock tours’ so I was in limbo, but getting on with life. I did some writing and recording of my own but somehow I had no real desire to carry on. Which, looking back now, I find strange but understandable in a way. I had done such a lot and we had finished on a real high. Why go downwards or start again and I would have had to. I think you would really have to want it badly to do that and I didn’t. Added to which money was still coming in from royalties so I wasn’t exactly destitute! I have had the odd ‘what about it’ from both Paul and Gary over the years and I never rule it out but I think I am so far out of the loop now I don’t know if I would be any good!
6. Who/what made you want to be a musician?
I wanted to be on the ‘stage’ I knew that, but I loved music and played instruments (piano, recorder) from a very early age. My Mum was heavily involved in am dram and I used to ache to be involved in those productions when I was very little. I did so much playing in those things which gave me a good grounding and helped my sight reading immensely. Then one day Bowie came along and that was it. I wanted to be Mick Ronson!
7. How did you get your first break into the music business? What piece of advice would you pass onto budding musicians?
My first break was with Gilbert O’ Sullivan when I was 19, until then I had been in semi-pro bands although technically I was ‘pro’ ˜cos I didn’t work and my parents supported me! That came about from our bands guitarist answering an advert as he wanted a ‘rock’ band to back him. I was the singer but usefully I could play other instruments so I think it helped to ‘sell’ us. In the course of a 45 minute set I played 7 instruments for him. Slave labour. As far as ‘advice’ goes I suppose something I have learnt is in order to be successful at anything in life you need supreme self motivation and above all, self belief. It doesn’t necessarily take supreme talent!
8. Which song(s) do you enjoy performing most live and why?
Always with UFO the classics especially ‘Lights Out’ and ‘Only you can Rock me because they are such classic rock songs. Gary, hmmmm, I could say the entire set list of the ‘Wild Frontier’ tour as that really has to have been my favourite period I was with him. If you look at the Sweden live video we were having such a good time and it worked so well live. I have a bootleg of the ‘After the War’ tour and we look terrified and miserable! (Mind you that was right at the start of the tour with Chris Slade who just about new the songs….just!)
9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Well it has been documented before, but I am a Judge of pedigree cats and that is my hobby. I go all over Europe judging although not quite as much nowadays as I am so busy with work. I enjoy it, although I am not sure whether it’s cool to say so! I also do a fair amount of arranging these days and enjoy that a lot too!
10. Message to your fans…
For those that hold memories of the things I did in the past and have the albums, thanks for your support and feel free to check out the website as there will be some new stuff appearing from time to time. I really enjoy hearing from you all and thanks to those who have emailed me. Have fun