Home > Music > Issue #569.5

Issue #569.5

19 November 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Mini-Issue #569.5
November 19, 2010

To subscribe to the e-mail version do one of the following:
Visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Detritus/
Send a blank e-mail to: Detritus-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

To unsubscribe from the e-mail version:
Send a blank e-mail to: Detritus-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

To contact us:

Patrick Brower, Editor

Sean P. Gahgan, Editor

Tim Wadzinski, Owner

Steve Shumake, Co-owner

-Here’s my interview with David “Rock” Feinstein, plus some jarring Stratovarius news. – Tim

-An Urgent Note From Stratovarius’ Jens Johansson

Dear Stratovarius fans, I am afraid we have some quite terrible news. News of the worst imaginable kind. It’s about our friend and drummer Jörg Michael.

Jörg has cancer.

He recently discovered a lump on his neck, went to the doctor, they decided to operate and found what they call “a malignant thyroid neoplasm.” They took out his whole thyroid just to have the best chance to get everything out. He will also have to undergo a regimen of radiotherapy. He is a fighter. We have all talked to him and it’s clear that this guy is not down for the count. He and his team of German doctors are pissed off and ready to kick ass, and I would not want to be a little cancer cell on these guys’ sh*t list. Believe me. Jörg and his family (and us guys in the band) found this out only last week, after the operation. Naturally we are all going between a lot of emotions, sadness, worry, shock, confusion, even anger.

As for Stratovarius, as you perhaps know there is a long tour coming up with Helloween, and with the surgery and therapy that will now follow there is no way Jörg can do the first part of the tour. For me personally, I at first felt quite hopeless about the tour, because I was so upset about all this news. But Jörg himself has been extremely clear that he does not want the band to cancel a single show because of this. In the end, this is what made at least me feel better about going back to hitting the road next week.

So, we have debated what to do for many days now. Jörg first suggested my brother Anders do this November – December 2010 leg, but it turns out Anders will unfortunately be busy recording some record or other with that little indie cellar band of his called HammerFall [laughs]. After a lot of searching we found a guy that both can do it and didn’t have other commitments: Alex Landenburg. He plays well, Jörg says he’s a great guy (very important!) and he started learning the set already before we even had decided what to do, which to me shows a lot of dedication. You can Google Alex’ name if you are curious.

So it turns out that Stratovarius will do the first leg of the Helloween Seven Sinner tour, just as planned, only without Jörg behind the kit, but with Jörg very much as a motivator to us being there. Not one single date will be canceled or changed. Jörg wants to be back on the road with us again as soon as possible depending on the therapy, but we are not making any promises. That one is up to powers even higher than Jörg Michael and his doctors. We will try to keep you somewhat updated.

Anyway, the most important thing is that they think they got all the bad stuff out and that the end result is that we just fix that sentence I wrote above. We will then say: Jörg had cancer. But he beat it. — Jens Johansson


by Tim Wadzinski (tsw512@yahoo.com)

-Interview w/ David “Rock” Feinstein
November 10, 2010

David “Rock” Feinstein wears many hats: multi-instrumentalist, song writer, guitarist/front man of old school NYC metallers The Rods, solo artist, and cousin and band mate to the late, great Ronnie James Dio (in the late ’60s/early ’70s pre-Rainbow bands Ronnie Dio & The Prophets, Electric Elves, and Elf). His latest ass-kickin’ solo work, BITTEN BY THE BEAST, includes a guest spot from Mr. Dio that turned out to be one of the legend’s last recordings: “Metal Will Never Die.” Read on to learn about the background of this track, BITTEN BY THE BEAST, the ongoing Rods reunion, and more.

DETRITUS: I saw you have an in-store scheduled at Vintage Vinyl Records in Fords, NJ for the release date of the new album.

DAVID “ROCK” FEINSTEIN: Yeah, on the 23rd.

D: There will be a signing and The Rods are going to play. How long has it been since you’ve done an in-store like this?

DRF: Oh God… (laughs) Many years. Many years — it’s been a long time. I don’t think I’ve done one since back in the days of The Rods, when we had one of those albums come out.

D: What is it with that store, Vintage Vinyl? They seem to get a lot of these things.

DRF: I’m really not that familiar with the store. This in-store came up and I started doing a little bit of research. I got on the Internet and checked it out. They have a regular stage and everything set up in the store. I guess it’s kind of customary, they’ve had a lot of bands come in and do this kind of thing, where they come in and play a live set and promote a record. I think it’s pretty cool. I’m really looking forward to it.

D: And you’ll be giving away CD singles of “Metal Will Never Die” to fans who buy the album, right? I think it’s all cool, especially the idea of still doing a CD single.

DRF: Yeah, I know it. I’m not sure if the single’s gonna be out for sale, or if it’s just a promo copy. But I guess they were gonna release it as a single also, so maybe it will be for sale.

D: What kind of response has the album been getting? Positive?

DRF: Yeah I’ve been getting a good response so far to it. The people I have talked to have told me they like it. I mean, they probably wouldn’t tell me to my face if they didn’t like it, you know? (laughs) But we’ve been getting a pretty good response to it. Of course “Metal Will Never Die,” you know, obviously is gonna get great reviews because Ronnie sang on it and he did such an amazing job.

D: What’s the feedback like from Ronnie’s fans? I imagine most of them thought it was fantastic there was more material he sang on. But I wonder if there has been any backlash, where people thought you releasing this song was an exploitative situation?

DRF: Not at all. In fact the story is, he recorded two songs about two years ago. It’s a funny situation. For the last 8 or 10 years Ronnie and I spoke about doing a project together. Every time we’d see each other he’d say, “We gotta do something together, maybe an Elf project or reunion, or maybe a Dio-related thing. Maybe I could sing a song on a solo record or a Rods record.” We talked for years about doing something together but the logistics of it all were kind of difficult, being that he lived in California and I live in New York. I would go out there and we’d work on music for a day or two, and I’d visit him, and I’d come home and it would be forgotten. He’d come out here and we’d visit, and we’d talk about it, and then he’d go. In my mind — and I think in his mind, too — we really wanted to do it. But I always thought it would never happen because of the logistics. His schedule was always so busy, with touring and everything.

About two years ago he started making more frequent trips back home here, because his mother had become ill. One of the times he called and said, “I’m gonna be there for an extra couple of days. I could sing a couple songs.” I said, “That’d be great!” At the time Carl [Canedy, Rods drummer] and I were working on songs to put together for a new Rods record. It’s funny because the day before Ronnie called and said he was gonna be here a couple extra days, coincidentally I happened to write the song “Metal Will Never Die.” It wasn’t weird then but now I think back. Usually when I write a song it’s not something that comes together that quickly. Usually I might get an idea — I might get a riff, or a concept for a song or some lyrics — and work on it for a few weeks. It takes time to put it together. But that song came together very quickly. In one day I had written the music, the words, and everything, and it happened to be the day before Ronnie called and said, “I’m gonna come up and I could sing a couple of songs.”

So that next day Carl was up here and we went into the studio, and I told Carl that Ronnie was coming up and we had to pick a couple songs for him to sing. But before we got into listening to some of the material we had, I wanted to put this new song that I wrote down in demo form. I didn’t have it down on anything; it was basically just in my mind. We did a quick demo of it with a drum machine, and once we listened to the demo we both looked at each other and said, “This has got to be one of the songs that Ronnie sings. It really sounds like a song that’s up his alley.” So we chose that song, and we went through the pile of songs that we had and found another obvious one for Ronnie to sing.

The next day I picked Ronnie and Wendy [Dio, Ronnie’s wife and manager] up at the airport, and I had a CD of the two demos — two songs that Ronnie had never even heard before in his life. We didn’t listen to them that night; he’d traveled all day and we just went out and had a couple beers and socialized. The next day we went into the studio. We put the CD into a boom box, and basically Ronnie listened to these songs that he’d never heard before for a few minutes, and then he went in and sang world-class performances on these songs. To me, that wasn’t surprising because I’d worked with Ronnie before and I told Carl ahead of time, “You’re not gonna believe the way Ronnie works in the studio. He’s gonna go in and make these songs his own. He’s gonna put in what he needs to put into these songs.” That was one of the many talents he had — he was able to take a song and give that song exactly what it needed. And that’s what I think he did with “Metal Will Never Die,” and the other song — that’s what he did with every song he ever recorded. So we had these two songs recorded, like I said, almost two years ago. We didn’t know where they were gonna go, on a Rods album, or a solo album I’d done, or maybe on an Elf album. We didn’t really know, but we had them recorded.

So the end of last year I started working on a solo record. I had enough tracks written and this friend of mine, Nate Horton, who’s a great drummer, in town. It was real convenient for me because I could write a song and go to his house and say, “Hey Nate, can you put a drum track down to this?” I had enough songs so I figured “I’m just gonna start working on my solo project.” At the same time we were working on a new Rods album. It takes longer to do a Rods album because the three of us — Carl, Garry [Bordonaro, bass], and myself — live in different parts of the country. It was difficult for us to get together a lot to get this done. But for me to work on a solo project, it was easier so I could work on it at any time; I had these drum tracks. I found out in November about Ronnie getting diagnosed so I was in the process of recording this album in a little bit of an emotional state, knowing that Ronnie was fighting cancer. Some of the songs on the album reflect that, in particular “Kill The Demon.” I worked on the record and got it done probably in January. I listened to “Metal Will Never Die” and thought, “This is a great song. It kinda fits with this album,” and Ronnie and Wendy agreed.

In March I went out to visit Ronnie and he was, you know, in quite a bit of pain at the time, fighting the cancer and fighting the effects of the chemo. When I came out Ronnie told me, “Bring the musical parts and I’ll take you to the studio where I do all the work here in California. I’ll introduce you to the engineer I’ve used with for years and we can actually master the record together.” I thought that would be really great so I brought the record and we went to the studio, even though he was not feeling really well. He insisted on going and being a part of the mastering and everything. Then, geez, I leave to go home and two months later he passes away. That means, now, to me this song “Metal Will Never Die” is the most important song that I’ve ever written. It means more to me than any other song and it always will, because of the fact that Ronnie and I finally got to do something together again, and because of the horrible turn of events. This song is part of Ronnie’s legacy, and it’s a tribute to him. The weird thing about all of this is I just happened to write that song a day before he was coming up, on a weekend that he took that time to sing. With the horrible turn of events the song just means so much.

So to answer your question, to go back, this song was recorded two years ago. Some people think I wrote it for Ronnie because he passed away. This song was done a long time ago. It’s almost like it was meant for me to write the song, and it was meant for him to sing it. Hopefully that answers anyone’s questions.

D: Definitely, with all that backstory it certainly sounds like it was meant to be.

DRF: Yeah.

D: You mentioned you had Nate Horton drum on the album, except for “Metal Will Never Die” which is basically a Rods track with Ronnie singing.

DRF: Mm-hmm.

D: But you played all the other instruments — it was truly a solo album. How come you just didn’t go ahead and play everything? I saw in your discography that you have some drumming on your resume.

DRF: (laughs) Yeah. It’s been a long time. I probably would have to do some practicing, you know? I thought of that, too, but I don’t have a drum set and I’d have to get one and really spend some time practicing. If I was to play… I mean, if you listen to the way Nate plays, or even Carl — he lives an hour-and-a-half drive from me so it was really difficult for me to think about Carl doing the tracks — I couldn’t play anywhere near the way those guys played, even with a lot of practice. But I still probably could’ve pulled something off. It just wouldn’t have been that style, you know? Maybe that’s something for me to think about in the future, the idea of me trying to do *everything*, even playing the drums. It would take more time and be more of a challenge to do that. But it’s an interesting question. (laughs)

D: The last song on the album, “Gambler, Gambler,” is a remake of an Elf song?

DRF: Yeah, “Gambler, Gambler” was on the first Elf album [from 1972]. I wanted to do an old Elf song on the album. I thought of that song because, number one, I always liked that song, and number two, there’s a little bit of history to that song. When I wrote it Ronnie was living next door to me, and there was this guy we knew that was a bookie. He’d use people’s telephones to place bets, and he’d pay you money to use your phone because it was illegal and he didn’t want to get traced. So he’d use your phone for a few days and then he would move on to the next person’s phone, and so on and so forth. During that time he was using Ronnie’s phone, and he got busted by the police. And in turn, you know, Ronnie got dragged into it a little bit — nothing serious, but it was his phone that was being used. That’s what kind of inspired the song “Gambler, Gambler.” The song did have a little bit of meaning to me, and an association with Ronnie, and I thought it was a good song that holds up over time. It’s funny because I’ve done interviews with people who didn’t realize that it was an old Elf song; they thought it was new.

D: Count me in that group, too. I discovered it was a remake by reading some of your recent interviews. It does sound like a new song.

DRF: A lot of the old Elf music has proven to hold up over time. It says a lot for the music. Back then, rock was different than it is now — Deep Purple was like the heaviest band in the world — but Elf was kind of heavy back then, but more of a boogie-woogie type of band. If you listen to the Elf music today some of it sounds like country/pop. I think that’s probably why it’s held up over time. Country is so popular because it covers a broad spectrum of an audience, you know? I think that’s why some of the Elf music is still well-accepted by the public; it’s kind of middle-of-the-road type of stuff. I think “Gambler, Gambler” is a good song and I’m happy with the way it came out.

D: One of my favorites is the opener, “Smoke On The Horizon.” Are there any cool stories or memories of that one you can speak to?

DRF: The musical track I had for quite some time, but I never really had the right title for the song. I could never make anything out of it until I got into the studio and was recording [the album]. There’s no “big story” around that one — it’s just a good rock ‘n’ roll song, you know? I suppose it does have a little bit of a message to it. It’s just a good up-tempo song.

D: Now that The Rods are back, and a new album is coming…

DRF: The Rods album is like 90% done. There’s a tentative schedule for it to be released in April or May of 2011. It’ll have the other song that Ronnie sang on. We’re looking forward to that. We’re doing live shows now. We’ve also added four of the new songs off this solo record to the live set. Whether I go out to promote The Rods or the solo record, it will be the band The Rods that goes out and plays.

D: That’s what I wanted to get into. Now that both are active — your solo project and The Rods — and The Rods are actually going to play your solo material live, how do you keep things separate when you’re composing? Do you know, “This song is for my solo album but this song here, I’m gonna bring to the guys to see if it works for The Rods.” How do you differentiate?

DRF: It’s pretty much just a matter of choosing. Any one of the songs I did on my solo record could’ve been a song on a Rods record. A lot of people have asked me, “Did you choose to go a certain way with this record?” My answer to that is I think I’m pretty one-dimensional when it comes to my guitar playing and song writing. If I wanted to take a different route, you know, I would probably attempt it and then it would come out the same as it would come out if I didn’t attempt it. It just seems no matter what I do it comes out the one way. So I think many of these songs could’ve been on a Rods record, but I kinda chose these songs right from the beginning to do as a solo project. There are other songs that I’ve written that would be more geared towards The Rods, and they’d be very similar.

D: Magic Circle Music just reissued a couple of your older Feinstein albums, ONE NIGHT IN THE JUNGLE and THIRD WISH. And there was a brouhaha earlier this year where they included your song “Far Beyond” on a tribute to Ronnie called MAGIC, and they implied the song was done specifically for the tribute — which you refuted with a statement on your website. Is there acrimony between you or was it just a misunderstanding?

DRF: Yeah, I don’t really know what they’re doing. Of course, they own the rights to those albums that I did with them, so they can pretty much do whatever they want with them. I just didn’t want the public thinking I had done that song specifically for Ronnie because that’s not the case. That song was written and recorded years before Ronnie even got sick. I just wanted that cleared up. As far as what they do with that material, that’s their business because they own the rights. I don’t really have a say one way or the other.

D: Ah, okay. Unfortunately I don’t have either of those records. I’m curious if, like this new release, were they 90% you or did you have an actual band situation back then?

DRF: On the THIRD WISH record, which was the last one I did before this new one, I used Nate Horton — the same drummer — but I used a different bass player, and a different lead vocalist on there, who actually co-wrote most of the songs with me. We used some keyboards on there from a couple different people, and I did the guitars. It really wasn’t like a solo record. It came out decent; I thought it was okay. The one I did before that [ONE NIGHT IN THE JUNGLE] was pretty much just my first attempt at doing something in a long time, getting back into writing songs. I used some other, different musicians on that one but I did do the vocals on that record.

Both of those albums are decent but I think this new album BITTEN BY THE BEAST is really more representative of where I’m coming from as a musician, a guitar player, and a song writer. I think this one really represents me more than the other two records do.

D: You’d mentioned there was a gap there, before ONE NIGHT IN THE JUNGLE was released. I’m looking at your discography right now and I see it was 10 years or so where we didn’t hear from you. Other artists have talked about “waiting out” the 1990s because true rock ‘n’ roll went away for a while, or you hear various reasons why bands kind of went underground…

DRF: No, there was nothing intentional. For a while I just felt as though I needed to get away from music. I didn’t pursue anything with music. In fact there was a stretch of time when I even took the radio out of the vehicle I was driving. I never listened to the radio or anything, because I just felt I wanted to get away from the music a little bit and experience some different things that I hadn’t experienced growing up. I grew up and went all through high school playing in bands, and then got in the band with Ronnie and it became a career. It got to a point where I was on stage all the time and I would look down at the audience, and I would kind of want to experience what they were experiencing, you know? I never had an opportunity to do that because I was always playing, I was always on the other side. It sounds crazy because that’s what we wanted to do — we wanted to play, music was our whole life, and making a career of music is what we wanted to do. It just got to me and I wanted to experience some different things, so that’s why I just took that time off. It wasn’t intentionally waiting for the ’90s or waiting for the ’80s or whatever. I just needed to get away from music for a while.

Music is the kind of thing that I think once it’s in you, it stays in you. If it goes dormant for a while it’s always gonna resurface in some way. If it resurfaces in a way that you can play again, and do what you were doing, that’s great. Or it may resurface in a way where maybe you can’t do what you were doing but you’re gonna get into the record industry — or management or promotion or something — which puts you into the music world even though you’re not out there performing. It just happened to be the music resurfaced in me, and that’s where it takes me right now.

D: You have a tour coming up, and then the next Rods album comes out. Are you looking ahead to the next phase beyond that, or are you just taking things one day at a time?

DRF: Right now I’m taking it one day at a time because I’m doing as much promotion as I can for the new album. I know the band wants to go out and promote, playing live as much as we can next year; we really don’t have anything booked yet but I’m sure we’ll be out there playing as much as we can. We have to concentrate now on getting the Rods album finished, and I’m hoping we’ll have it done sometime around the end of January. We’d like to have it all completed so that by April or May it can be released as projected. So the focus right now is getting the Rods record done, and planning on playing next year. We’ll be prepared for it. We’re doing some local shows now [but] there’s not much going on, with the end of the year and the holidays coming up. We’re looking forward to being out there playing next year.

D: I want to cast my vote for you guys coming to Chicago, please.

DRF: Oh, I would love to. I always remember Chicago because back in the Elf days — it might’ve been our first time in Chicago and I can’t remember who we played with; it might’ve been Deep Purple because we did a lot of touring with them — we stayed in this hotel… Well, first of all, when we got into Chicago after driving all these hours we figured, “We’re finally here,” and then it took us an hour to get off the highway. We kept going around in circles. (laughs) There’s a highway called the Loop or something?

D: (laughs) Yes, the downtown area.

DRF: I mean, we just drove around for an hour trying to get off the highway, and we were in Chicago already! (laughs) I remember that. And I remember we played the show that night, and the next morning I got up and I met these two people in the lobby of the hotel. They were really nice and I said, “Hey, what are you doing? We’re not leaving for a while so you wanna go have lunch with us?” I went and had lunch with these people and they took me to this great place that was, like, nothing but soup. It was a place where they sold soup but it was a whole meal — like, if you ordered chicken soup you got a bowl with a little whole chicken it. (laughs) I always thought that was a great place. The other thing I remember — there’s a lot of good things about Chicago, the weird things I remember! (laughs) — we played with Uriah Heep. I ripped my pants on stage and I remember Mick Box, the guitar player from Uriah Heep, also ripped his pants that night, too. I’m sure it wasn’t planned but, you know, but we both ripped our pants. I thought that was pretty funny, up there playing in Chicago with my underwear showing. (laughs)

D: I recently read rumors about you had either written or co-written, or that you were going to write, material for what eventually became Ronnie’s MAGICA concept album. Is there any truth to that?

DRF: No, there’s no truth to that. Ronnie had been working on material for the second MAGICA album. He had MAGICA 2 and 3 planned actually — there were three albums planned for that. I know he was working on material for the second MAGICA but I really don’t know if he finished any of it, or if he even had any of it in demo form. We never really went any farther than the fact that he said he was working on material for the next MAGICA albums. I think that probably would’ve been the next Dio album, MAGICA 2.

D: I remember interviews where he said that. I thought it was interesting he wanted to come back to that story and possibly do two more full albums. I’d be interested to see how it all would’ve turned out.

DRF: Yeah, me too. Definitely. But there’s no truth to that — the times that Ronnie and I worked together on music, there was nothing geared to the MAGICA album.

D: Finally, I have to say the cover of The Rods’ LET THEM EAT METAL album is hilarious. [Note: It features a lingerie-clad woman peeling back a banana skin to reveal a vibrator. – Tim]

DRF: (laughs)

D: I think that was the first vinyl record I ever mail-ordered. The thing arrived in a plain brown package, and I opened it and started cracking up. I know it was a long time ago and you’ve probably been asked this a million times, but who came up with that?

DRF: Oh, you know, out of the minds of babes I guess. (laughs) We were young, you know we were kids. We thought, “This will be a cool thing.” How it came about, I don’t really know the details. The person on the album cover was a friend of ours; she’s from my hometown and I went to school with her. She was always the best-looking girl in the whole class; she was beautiful and a nice person on top of that, too. So we asked her if she would do this thing, and it turned out to be pretty risque-looking. It did make a lot of controversial things happen for us. I think it even showed up on a TV show one time — a late-night talk show or something — where they were talking about how awful and risque some album covers were. If you look at the stuff today that’s *nothing* compared to what you’re seeing today. But back then [in 1984] it was pretty bad, and the album cover showed up on TV with other covers that were out at the time that were bad.

D: I had to bring it up.

DRF: Yeah, I know it was interesting. (laughs)

D: Congratulations on the new album. It’s really a great record.

DRF: Thanks. I appreciate it. Hopefully the band can get out and play, so the fans can come out and see the music performed live.

D: That would rule. I wish you all the success in the world with this and the new Rods album. And I am very sorry for your loss.

DRF: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it. It’s been a horrible year in relation to that, but we just have to go on. I know Wendy and the label she started with Ronnie before he got ill, Niji Entertainment, want to keep Ronnie’s music alive. I want everybody to keep listening to Ronnie’s music because he was a brilliant musician, a brilliant singer, and a great person. There are a lot of good messages in his lyrics, you know? I just want to be able to carry the torch the best I can for him, and to pass on the message and the things that he believed in.

-Thanks to Chipster PR for arranging this interview.

Relevant links:

Carl Canedy

David “Rock” Feinstein

Niji Entertainment Group

The Rods

*** OUT ***

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: