English version of the interview from the February, 2006 issue of "This is Rock" magazine (Spain)

As studio session musician you have played with great musicians. Can you tell me the most important ones and what you learned from them?

I've learned to be prepared and do my "homework" before sessions as studio time is so costly, and people won't call you back if you take a long time completing your parts or if you're nervous etc.. Also you can't take things too personally if you're doing sessions, as the artist you're "working" for, may have a very different idea than yourself regarding a certain part. If you're getting paid, you must do your best to deliver what they have in mind. Having said that, I wouldn't classify myself as a "studio or session musician". I've just been lucky enough in the past to have been involved in various projects, through "word of mouth", that involved some great players. I always look back fondly on a session years ago in Switzerland that involved Charlie Huhn, who sang on the Gary Moore album "Dirty Fingers", which happened to be one of my favorite CD's. I admire Charlie so much as singer so that was really cool meeting him, though it was very brief! Other than that, another memorable recording experience was in LA while I was working with a singer on a project that involved quite a few "big name" musicians including the drummers of Quiet Riot and Survivor. I was so young at the time, so to be involved in something like that was a great learning experience.

You have played with John Lawton in his band, How was the experience playing with a singer with an incredible background like John's?

Incredible! I was a huge fan of John after hearing the Uriah Heep album Fallen Angel when it first came out, so years later to be playing and recording with a singer of that caliber was just amazing! He always has been and always will be one of my favorite singers. John is such an honest, down to earth, straightforward guy, so you feel very at ease and relaxed working with him. Plus he is so quick in the studio! He does everything first take more or less. I was a bit nervous when I first met him though, as in a sense my "audition" was putting down a few guitar solos for his CD "Stepping It Up". I'm so glad he liked what I did and then asked me to join his band.

How did you join with John Lawton Band?

I went to one of John's shows at a place called the Borderline in London. A friend of John's named Perri was waiting in line and we got into talking. He told me the guitar player at the show was just temporary and that he would be happy to give a CD of mine to John as he was a personal friend. I gave him a demo CD that I happened to have one on me, which he gave to John, who called me a few days later. Needless to say I was very happy, and I thank you Perr ifor passing on my CD!

Will you continue to work with John Lawton in the future?

I hope so! There's talk about us possibly recording a CD next year, which would be great as I think the band has grown a lot since our last CD. I think John is reassessing things at the moment, so we'll see. Right now, I'm going to try and organize some live shows for "Demented Honour", and push this CD as much as I can.

Why did you decide to record your first solo album?

Towards the end of 2003, I had the idea in my head. Reason being, I had recorded a CD of demo tracks which I gave out to a few fans, and the response was really positive and encouraging. Afew people started asking me why I don't record these songs properly. Anyway, as John decided to take a break from live activities last year, I thought it was a good time to do this CD. I've always written loads of songs, so the circumstances were right to finally release them in a proper fashion. Now I'm really looking forward to playing these songs live, which is the next step. I love singing too, so this was the perfect opportunity to pursue that area in more serious manner.

How would you describe the 'Demented Honour' album?

I would describe it as as a hard rock album that is very song/vocal/melody oriented, but also incorporates some pop/ballad/blues moments, yet also appeals to fans of guitar oriented rock.

I find passion and feeling on your album, what do you think?

I'm so glad you feel that way. All I can say is that it is an honest album, and I put my heart and soul into it. I didn't worry about style or trends  when making  this CD as I just wanted to put forth the best 10 songs I could, in an honest manner. It just so happened that most of the songs are rockers, as that's the state of mind I was in when while writing it.

The first three tracks of the album are my favorites, what is your favourite and why?

I really like the tracks:
Guilty which I think is a great in your face hard rock opener.
Highway to Nowhere because it incorporates more of a Deep Purple influence and you can hear the "Strat" sound on the solo.
NYC because I think it's a great pop song (no guitar solo in it!), and I would really love to try and get this played on more mainstream radio as I think it has potential to crossover to fans of not just heavy rock.

What does KISS represent to you?

They represent Rock & Roll to me! I remember seeing KISS on TV in 1976 and they just blew my mind! Right then I knew I wanted to play guitar. That was the first time I heard a really heavy guitar sound and it just sent chills down my spine. I think the early KISS albums have got some of the best written rock songs you'll ever hear. I also think KISS influenced so many players of my generation in North America. I had my whole wall covered with KISS posters while growing up!

What is the best concert that you have ever seen?

Seeing Randy Rhoads with Ozzy in Montreal during the first Blizzard of Oz tour. I was leaning on the stage in the very front for that show, so I couldn't have gotten a better seat in the house. His playing just blew me away and opened my eyes to so many other possibilities in playing the guitar. The way he played scales all over the neck really motivated me to change my approach to the instrument. I still get sad today thinking about what a loss it was for Randy to die at such a young age. Simply an amazing player.

Canada is a country of really very good rock musicians. In your opinion, who are the best and what is the best line-up for a band made up of Canadian musicians?

I really liked Triumph (Rick Emmett is a great player and singer), I respect Rush so much as musicians, Bryan Adams I think is a great singer/songwriter and I also really liked an old band called Teaze. Many people have not heard of them but they had the most amazing singer! He was doing stuff ahead of his time in the 70's/early 80's, very "Dioesque" vocals on certain songs. People should check out their CD's if they can find them and have a chance.
As far as existing bands, I think Rush have got one of the best line-ups around and it's so great to see 3 guys stick together for so many years. As far as an imaginary Canadian group, I think I would have loved to have seen the singer from Teaze, Brian Danter, form a group with Rik Emmett. I guess to make it really musical and over the top, you could add Geddy Lee and Neil Peart from Rush, and maybe get Bryan Adams involved in writing! Oh yeah, we could also add David Stone, ex keyboard player from Rainbow, who's also a Canuck! That would be pretty cool!

As guitar player you will have lots of influences, please tell me what you like best about each of these guitar players:
  Randy Rhoads
: Incredible melody, aggression, songwriting and technical ability. He brought guitar playing to a whole new level in the early 80's. Other than Eddie Van Halen, no one else at the time was doing such exciting things with a guitar. 
  Mick Box: Great Wah Wah player, great feel, and he's written some classic songs . Funny enough, Mick was on the same flight as myself to Vancouver recently! I said hi to him and told him I used his Marshall cabinets when the John Lawton Band opened for Uriah Heep in London a  few years ago. What are the chances of that?!!
  Ritchie Blackmore:  My favorite! No one in my mind plays with the emotion, feel, and melody as Ritchie does. I never get tired of his playing. He is so unique, I love his tone too. People have imitated his tone, but they can never really get it. He's played the most beautiful solos, for example on Soldier of Fortune. I love his writing too.
  Jimmy Page: Great writer, and some classic riffs. I really like his early work which is very raw and bluesy. It just sums up that period in time. 
  Gary Moore:  Great feel, sense of melody, and he can play such a variety of styles. I really like his bluesy stuff, but my favorite CD's from him are his heavier early 80's CD's. He gets such a great natural warm tone from his guitar. The "technical in your face" solos he did just took the roof off!
  Michael Schenker: Great sense of melody and also great tone. Another one of my top CD's is MSG, One Night at Budokan. Killer guitar tone and he uses a wah wah to perfection. Very fluid playing. I must say I thought their first singer Gary Barden, was great as a vocalist and writer.  
  John Sykes: I'm a huge fan. I admire the aggression in his playing as well as his vocal and songwriting ability.

What do you like offer to your fans with your music?

I want to do my best to offer good songs first and foremost, that hopefully capture the spirit of many bands in the 70's, but also incorporate some more modern influences in the guitar playing and production. I like so many styles of music, so also I hope to be able to provide people with a fairly varied set of songs that incorporate "heavy" influences, but also retain a sense of melody. I would be so happy if I could appeal to fans of classic rock in the vein of Deep Purple, but also appeal to fans of bands like Audioslave and Velvet Revolver.

Why aren't many bands doing this type of music today?

Good question! I think it is slowly coming back. Bands like The Darkness proved that songs can be played on the radio that have guitar solos, so we'll see. I like solos that augment the song and in a sense are "songs in themselves". I think players like Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Rhoads had such memorable solos which many people could appreciate, not just guitarists. Hopefully that will be coming back.

Today, classic rock is making a comeback with record companies releasing too many hard rock and melodic hard rock albums in Europe, and most of them don't have any real quality. Your album is one the best that I listened this year, why you dont have a distribution deal in Europe?

I'm so glad you feel that way about my album! That is a good question! I'm working on that now so I hope to have the CD more readily available throughout Europe soon. I'm trying to drum up as much interest and exposure as I can at the moment, which will hopefully pave the way to making the CD more readily available. That is my priority now. I agree with you that there are many Hard Rock/AOR albums being put out, but in many instances I find the production is better than the actual songs, which shouldn't be the case.

Diamond Jim