Category Archives: Features

Parent category for all our assorted feature narratives. Each is filed under its proper theme.

PiercingMetal Talk’s To Kamelot’s Thomas Youngblood (8/19/2007)

My first exposure to the band Kamelot would be with their stellar release “The Black Halo” and since this was their fifth actual album I am still considered somewhat of a newbie to what they have been doing for Melodic Metal music for oh so many years. Despite this, I immediately became a fan with this album and in the three years that I have been following them – I have aimed to bring their adventures in music to these pages in terms of concert coverage and photography along with reviews of their music and interviews with the members of the group. Upon their return to New York City to support their newest album “Ghost Opera”, I had been scheduled to meet with both Roy Khan (their vocalist) and Thomas Youngblood (their guitarist) to discuss their recent travels and how this new music was being received, but all best laid plans don’t always turn out that way in the end. Scheduling issues and needing to run off to the venue for sound check caused Tom to be in one place while Roy the other, so Tom suggested we do the questions and when Roy arrived he could chime in. The idea was perfect and so we began in the back offices of B.B. King Blues Club as the musician and I caught up. Below is our entire conversation.

Logo - Kamelot

PiercingMetal: Once again we are finding the mighty Kamelot returning to NYC. I would like to welcome you back to the Big Apple. Now you guys played Poughkeepsie last night so could you please just tell us how that went.

Youngblood: Oh it was great and I think it was our second or third time there. It’s always been great even from the beginning, even in Port Richey which we’ve never played before. So there was more people this time around which is great and its nice to find this when we are supporting a new record.

PiercingMetal: When we first met, the band was touring for “The Black Halo”, an album that became a fast favorite in the Melodic Power Metal fan base. Now that you can look back on it’s release and the tour that supported it, I wonder if you ever thought it would receive such acclaim and be the Kamelot “band defining statement” that it ended up becoming?

Youngblood: It’s kind of hard to say because the same thing happened with “The Fourth Legacy” and the same thing happened even with the “Epica” record so we really don’t try to think about that sort of stuff and instead try to do the best that we can with each record and let the chips fall where they may so to speak. With every record there is something about it that we are proud about and it also depends on the fans. For instance if this was the first record that you bought by the band it might end up being your favorite because that is your first taste of that band and while you might go back and like some older stuff later on it will always tend to be that first album you tried remains your favorite.
Continue reading PiercingMetal Talk’s To Kamelot’s Thomas Youngblood (8/19/2007)

PiercingMetal Talks To Kittie’s Morgan, Mercedes and Tara (8/11/2007)

I didn’t follow Kittie at all when they were starting out since it just wasn’t my thing but over the years that had passed was able to find myself enjoying the way that they do things. The all-girl band was one of the true road warriors for a band of their kind and day to day they face the challenges of being a group on the road trying to make a difference to their fans and for themselves. The summer of 2007 was in full sway but we secured some time in the bands dressing room backstage at B.B. King Blues Club and as luck would have it I would get to spend time with both Lander Sisters Morgan and Mercedes and guitarist Tara Mcleod as well. To read the full conversation just keep scrolling.

Logo - Kittie

An Interview with Kittie’s Morgan & Mercedes Lander and Tara Mcleod: I was getting set to cover the return of Kittie to New York as they continued their “Sweet Revenge Tour” and made a return visit to B.B. King Blues Club. My original plan didn’t include any interview stuff but I had arrived at the venue early enough to jot some questions down if the girls were available. As luck would have it they were no longer busy with sound check and felt like talking to us. I sat down with lead singer/guitarist Morgan Lander, drummer and Morgan’s sister Mercedes and the bands newest guitarist Tara Mcleod and together we talked about the recent history of the band, their newest album and tour and entertained some thoughts about the music business in general. Below is the transcription of our exact conversation. It is completely uncensored for your Metal enjoyment.

PiercingMetal: OK Ladies so I jotted down a dozen or so questions for us to knock out today, so let me start off by saying congratulations on ten years of Kittie as a band.

Morgan Lander: Thank you – it’s eleven actually, or will be in September.

PiercingMetal: My bad, I apologize, so let me rephrase that into congratulations for kicking Metal ass for “over” ten years now, how does that feel as a band?

Mercedes Lander: Well, I really think that we have grown so much over the past eleven years because we’re not even the same band obviously as we were, but you know you grow with your instrument and you learn things and it was nice for Morgan and I to learn them together and I mean it’s really great to be doing this all these years as who would have thought it to be true. It doesn’t seem like eleven years at all.
Continue reading PiercingMetal Talks To Kittie’s Morgan, Mercedes and Tara (8/11/2007)

PiercingMetal Talks To Jyrki 69 of The 69 Eyes (6/20/2007)

I might have been a latecomer to the tunes of The 69 Eyes, but since that time I have made up for it and managed to catch every appearance that the guys do when they come into town. I’ve spoken with the bands charismatic front man a number of times as well and with each meeting find him to be one of the most engaging and interesting purveyors of the Gothic Hard Rock & Roll scene. We met up with Jyrki 69 on his tour bus this time and found the singer just getting back from the local comic book store and from CD shopping. He is a big fan of that sort of activity and its fun to realize our musical heroes have the same hobbies as many of us. It was summer and found the band on tour with Wednesday 13 as their direct support. Check out the full conversation below.

Logo - The 69 Eyes

This will be the third time that I have gotten to see The 69 Eyes perform in NYC and what began as a Bowery Ballroom appearance turned into a tour with Cradle Of Filth and then a return headlining engagement at one of the new Rock venues in the Big Apple. Three gigs in just over two and a half years is not a bad way to bring the fans up to speed on your music especially if you are one of those bands who does not get to come over to this region as often as you would have liked. I first met lead singer Jyrki 69 when the band was delivering “Devils” to the US for the first time and since then all of the bands back catalog had been released here as well as a new release entitled “Angels”. It’s always fun to talk to him as he is interested in so many cool things and while I would have liked a little more time to do this the bands day was running late so we were instructed to keep it simple and quick. Based on this, I pretty much just talked to him off the top of my head. Our entire brief conversation is documented below.

Jyrki 69: It’s always good to be back in New York, the streets to kill.

PiercingMetal: You and I met about two years ago not too far from this same location and now you are back but when we talked that first time it was the first time that The 69 Eyes had ever been into town, what do you recall about that first time around and this is even though you came back afterwards.

Jyrki 69: Well it was like really nice because it was the venue where I had seen Monster Magnet some years before which I think I mentioned then and it was thrilling for us to be playing there ourselves. So it was almost like coming home because there were a lot of friends from over the years as well as a lot of new people as well. There were also a lot of strangers who seemed to accept and adapt to The 69 Eyes. So in many ways it was like, and I think I might have told you this last time as well, that for many years New York has been our mental home and our source of inspiration as far as bands, atmosphere and streets to kill with those clubs that date back to the late eighties and early nineties.

PiercingMetal: Another thing that comes to mind is that at the time only “Devils” was the only album available at the time in the States and this album had actually been out for The 69 Eyes for about a year already – now you are finally getting the chance to tour here with the band and all of a sudden the band gets this deal with Cleopatra Records who end up releasing the entire back catalog of the band and then you jump over to Caroline Records to put out “Angels”, an album that I thought you were teasing me about the title of when we discussed “Devils”. Then the band goes on this Cradle of Filth tour which actually unnerved me a little as a fan. I mean because of the difference in overall sound from what you guys do against the stuff in CoF. What was it like being this Gothic Hard Rock Old School type of band against the music that gets done by Cradle.

Jyrki 69: Well it turned out to be a really good tour and we believed it would be because we had been friends with the Cradle guys for a long, long time. There were probably others who wondered how it would work with this Black Metal band and a Glammy Goth band but it was great and I think you were referring to our not being a new band and our long history and knowing the history of Rock so well how could this work out well I have a nice example for instance about that which really surprised me as well. You see we played in Baltimore near the end of the tour and I just thought how I like to dedicate some songs to some people and we have a song called “Lost Boys” so I just thought to, well in Baltimore the only thing that I knew by then, which was in the beginning of the year around March, that in the area was a band called Kix. So I thought it would be kind of cool to dedicate the song to them tonight since we are there. Of course I was expecting my band mates to be looking at me like oh what the hell is he talking about now and perhaps maybe some of the old timers at the bar saying oh yeah cheers but for my big surprise, because I am thinking that we have all these Cradle kids in the audience mixed in with the hard core 69 Eyes following as well ——- everybody cheered. It was really loud and the mosh pit started so I guess that is the best answer for you about worries with this show, there were none. The good times are pretty much back and we just rocked and the people liked that. On this tour when we went to our merch stand to sign stuff and there is like of course our 69 Eyes fans, but even some of the Cradle Of Filth fans who had now come to shake our hand and they are like “hey you rock and I never heard of you guys before”. So that was our intention and now during this tour, headlining on our own, that we have gathered all of these new friends and fans and of course those hard core 69 Eyes followers from before.

PiercingMetal: How do you like having every single The 69 Eyes album finally available domestically here.

Jyrki 69: It’s like amazing and it’s something that really justifies the band.

PiercingMetal: May I interject for a moment about this please. What I liked the most about it was because of the amount of records you had and normally when a band has this much back catalog and they eventually are performing here and you find the older music being released in the region, its one recording every few months. In this case, we found every single release by The 69 Eyes coming out pretty much all at the same time over the course of about three months total. This is actually how I am curious about your feelings on it.

Jyrki 69: Well it’s great because now we get more feedback. For instance you do a record like “Angels” and some of the ideas for the songs sometimes just come out and I have no explanation about where they come out from and sometimes you learn about your own thing in the songs. For instance we sometimes get some feedback from some other bands who come up and say “hey wow, you wrote about my life” and I know that you meant what you were singing. To which I sometimes have to say “oh really, wow”. Of course I never really try to explain my art as I prefer to let the fans experience it on their own way and I let the music historians and critics explain it in their own way. So, this is all about the album that we just did so now I am getting the feedback right now and every now and then because the album is still fresh on the minds of the fans so its easy to say that this song is about this while another is about that. Maybe I meant something for some of these songs and maybe I didn’t. Of course when you are playing them live you get to see what the songs are meaning for the people based on how they are reacting to them. Well, now we have the entire back catalog coming out like that so now we are finding out that the people are able to understand what I really meant since way back. I don’t really remember if I said this to you but it was once said of the Beatles that they were the most American band coming out of America way back then and in a way you can think that also about The 69 Eyes because our own, and especially my major influences come from American Pop culture. So there are a lot of things that I picked up and recycled or just turned into a little piece of lyrics in a song idea or whatever. So now it’s like really cool to have all of the albums out here as we are more or less this exciting cult band for this young MySpace generation so to speak. So it’s cool to have all of these young kids or even the old geezers coming out and being able to say “wow this is about this” and so on. That’s the way it is because I probably told you this about the song “Lost Boys” and we did a sort of remake in the video with Bam Margera but to our audiences in Central Europe and the record companies there that “Lost Boys” was an American Rock & Roll vampire movie but when you come here and say “Lost Boys” as a movie, the people say yeah man that’s a classic. Then you don’t have to explain everything and its like case closed. That’s the beauty of it and I enjoy it with my whole heart.

PiercingMetal: So now Jyrki, with all of these albums out here do you feel pressured to do an old, old song because now you don’t only have “Paris Kills” and “Blessed Be” available, which are all loaded with some really great Gothic Hard Rock songs and depict the melancholy sound you are so good at. With albums like “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” out there and the rest do you feel it needs to be addressed in the live set as well?

Jyrki 69: Like I said, it is really interesting also because we are finding that the kids have the first record and even the first EP we ever did. We have this compilation piece called “Motor City Resurrection” which takes all of our different singles and seven inch vinyl’s…
PiercingMetal: I love that one because it is you guys as a Trash Glam Rock cover band doing NY Dolls and more.

Jyrki 69: It’s something that has a little about every influence we had in the Dolls, and GG Allin and so on and it was because we were always in the underground fan culture which really was really active in the early nineties so there were also a lot of tribute albums put out then. So we were asked to do that because we were a part of this underground Glam Rock culture which was worldwide and everybody knew each other and since this was before the Internet all of the people would write letters to each other. So this is why we had recorded that stuff at the time and it’s rather interesting to see now these teenage kids who are wearing The 69 Eyes stuff or planning on taking a tattoo or already even have one or maybe even are finding themselves inspired by our band as it relates to starting their own band. They have discovered us and tell us these exact words like “hey we like your sound because it is so raw” and so on and that’s exciting for me. There are some songs from the very early days of The 69 Eyes that you will find yourself getting feedback on or even MySpace mail about and while we read this stuff when time allows we are finding that some songs are mentioned more than others and of course when you create music or when I write lyrics or the titles for the song or an album and you see that other people are using this stuff around the Internet I know that I have really succeeded in creating something which has inspired people or touched them. Those words and lyrics have sparked something within these peoples own lives and since some of these things come from the older songs, I dunno, we have been thinking about playing some really old stuff from The 69 Eyes catalog during this tour. It still doesn’t feel like nearly eighteen years since this band first got together. We’re the same guys and we’re all still excited and it doesn’t feel like that long but on the other hand it’s kind of hard to explain ones career on why this record is like that and another one is like this after so long. We definitely were one of the first with this type of sound but it is sometimes difficult to go into every single detail from across the years of it.

At that point the Road Manager pops in and tells me that the already hectic day has gotten more so and he needs Jyrki69 to finish up so they could take care of some important business. Given that I did my best to close out our discussion.

PiercingMetal: I couldn’t help but notice that you have once again paid a visit to the comic book store and bought a batch of stuff.

Jyrki 69: It’s that and a movie magazine, I actually just saw the new Tarantino movie and I really liked that. One of the things I picked up was this really cool comic book called “100 Bullets” and this is some really cool stuff. Hey by the way, do you have a copy of my comic (at that point the singer pulls out a trade paperback comic book that he did and its loaded with drawings and text from him). Yeah, I was drawing all of this stuff in the eighties and it’s kind of got scary how all of this stuff came out. For instance, if you look at the picture of the band in my comic it’s pretty much the same thing now in person. This comic also explains the history of The 69 Eyes in some detail.

PiercingMetal: As always it was a pleasure to talk to you and I wish you continued success with the albums both old and new as well as all of the other interesting things you are involved in.

Jyrki 69: Thanks man.

With that we snapped a couple of the ever required photos and compared notes on recent comic book movies which oddly enough he had some of the same opinion about as me. The singer’s comic book is called “Zombie Love” and if you can find a copy I suggest you grab it since its pretty cool. It’s mostly in Finnish but there is some English and of course a lot of cool illustrations are on every page. The bands complete back catalog is currently available courtesy of Cleopatra Records and all can be ordered rather reasonably via Amazon.com, so dig into those releases as your first order of business as soon as the available cash finds its way to your pocket. “Angels” was released in the US by Caroline Records and a special edition that features “Devils” and a DVD of videos and live footage is in the works.

Official Website: www.69eyes.com

Heavy Metal Arts and Crafts: My Concert Ticket Album

If you are like every Metal fan that I’ve come to know over the years then you most likely have a pile of used ticket stubs stashed in a drawer somewhere in your house or one very overstuffed envelope with the same such contents. The pile exists based on your diligence in keeping the ticket stub for any and all of the events you attended safe and sound until you got home so you could place it with its new brothers and sisters. Some of these warriors fail to make it home from the battle of music and alcohol or others fly off to the winds as we search other things in our pockets yet through it all we try our best to know exactly where they are before the clothes go in the wash. Each of these trinkets hold a special place in your heart and I am willing to bet that if you browsed through them on any given day you would have a story or a particular memory that revolved around the show that it originated from. This little Blog is an effort to offer you some suggestions about how to turn them into something worthy of admiration because this stashed pile has been all too long hidden and should once again become part of your life. It might even spark Blogs and stories of your own and cause you to sit with friends and reminisce on the shows and times long gone. So get some paper and a pencil and take notes as necessary for Professor KP now moves from the Music Channel to something more akin to the Arts. Consider this a PiercingMetal.com PSA.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Inside My Ticket Album

Book ‘Em:
The first idea is to set them up into some sort of binder or photo album and the aspect of doing this does come off by definition as “scrap booking”, for our purposes the intent is a little more regal and powerful like the music we are focused on. We are presenting the means of accessing some of the worlds greatest shows to the world once again so let’s keep a strong and stern “The Ticket Book” as our working title. Now there might already be thousands of you who are way ahead of me on this but my deciding to do this myself leads me to increase the power of suggestion among you acolytes to the cause. I just decided to do one when a large amount of free time made its way to me (on this I shall say no more), so since I had been only beginning the music journalism and was not as consumed with it I had another little avenue to set this thing up.

The necessary ingredients for the recipe are found in Staples, and these include:
* A decent sized binder
* Those clear plastic sheets that hold one sheet in tight and not a mass amount of pages.
* A reasonable amount of your favored color construction paper, and since we are dealing in realms Metal here lets move with good old Black.
* Scotch tape helps as well and you need a fair amount of it.

Once you have all these things the sense of order and organization is up to you on how you put it together. Here are my recommendations.

1. Set It Up Oldest To Newest: See how it looks historically from the oldest show to the most recent – this is the common way to do it and it makes for more fun to retrace your concert adventuring past from your earliest memories to the ones that just might have happened.

2. Set It Up By Band: If you are one of those people who followed a band everywhere and as result have dozens more of their concert stubs you might want to make a section devoted solely to them. Using the Internet I am sure you could find some legacy posters for tours and with a decent color printer can make some nice start pages for ticket stubs for the particular tour. The especially applies if you only go to see this one particular band. I had friends who would only to go see The Grateful Dead or Dave Matthews Band if it came to concerts and they would travel hundreds of miles for any gig that they were doing.

3. Set it up by Venue: The least common thing is setting it up by Venue attended. People will be more inclined to show interest in the bands or historical aspect as opposed to where you saw the show. This aspect is purely for reference inspiration. Think of it like this, what interests you more – how many times you saw Guns N Roses or how many times you went to Madison Square Garden?

** Remember that you don’t have to limit this to concert ticket stubs. Perhaps you are one of those hardcore Yankees, Mets or Rangers fans that goes to almost the whole season and sometimes to away games. It becomes a worthy perusable for the room you watch the game in with the guys.

My own Ticket Book is presented by the first two ideas I lined out above. We have some appearing in date order for the most part and for those bands I saw more than a few times, well they get their own page. The downside of Music Journalism is the fact that it lowers the supply of tickets you get to collect. While I am certainly not complaining about getting in – more often than not being on the list does not get you a ticket for the event. I do get photo passes and sometimes they reflect the tour or the band name. These can also be placed in the book in a section lined out for such stuff. Maybe one of these days I will compile a post for you of all the photo passes that I have. Let’s see how time allows. A page from my book is up above in the article for your viewing pleasure. It’s more interesting to browse in person but the apartment is not big enough for you to all come over and see it. Hmm, maybe I will scan all of these pages for a future post as well.

Now back to the usual stuff that you come here to read. Thanks for listening to my little crafting piece.

PiercingMetal Talks To Jon Oliva from Jon Oliva’s Pain/Savatage (12/12/2006)

Logo - Jon Olivas Pain

I’ve been a Savatage fan for many, many years and when the chance arose to speak to one of the bands founding members I eagerly jumped at the chance.  Jon Oliva is very simply “The Mountain King” and as leader of the band Savatage for many years, he delivered epic and influential Metal that is still relevant in today’s scene. In 1996 he co-founded The Trans-Siberian Orchestra with Paul O’Neill and is one of the group’s core composers of material that keep this juggernaut propelling forward each and every year. In 2003 he would form a band of his own design to carry his musical ideas forward. The band would be called “Jon Oliva’s Pain”, and include former members of Circle II Circle. In November of 2006 I had the chance to speak with Jon on behalf of Metal Edge magazine; the article appeared in the June 2007 edition and with this off the stands I am able to present the complete and unedited text as it happened. Enjoy.

PiercingMetal: Jon I am not sure you recall this, but you and I met a couple of years ago when you were in New York City to record some new Doctor Butcher stuff with Chris Caffery. We ended up hanging out together at Chris’ Superbowl Party in Queens.

Oliva: Oh that’s right at the bar. I remember.

PiercingMetal: Ok, so essentially we are going to do this for Metal Edge magazine and we are going to get some of your feelings on a couple of things. First of all congratulations on the new album “Maniacal Renderings” – I have to say that this record is a hell of a piece of Metal. Has the release met your expectations and approval?

Oliva: Absolutely, I am very happy with it and the response that people have been giving to it has been overwhelmingly good and for us that’s great.
Continue reading PiercingMetal Talks To Jon Oliva from Jon Oliva’s Pain/Savatage (12/12/2006)