Cameron Edney - http://insideout666.mysite.freeserve.com
One of the most powerful voices in heavy metal music belongs to a
man who has survived in the business for more then twenty years now
fronting hard hitting acts such as Impellitteri, Vice, M.A.R.S. project
Driver just to name a few. Yes I am talking about the one & only
Rob Rock. Rob has been screaming his lungs out & entertaining
audiences around the world released one of this year’s greatest
heavy metal albums ‘Holy Hell’. ‘Holy Hell’
Which is out now on Candlelight records is a must have for any metal
fans CD collection with song after song of pure passion, energy &
metal melodies that many of today’s harder acts no longer care
to use. An album which to date is by far the most personal of Rob’s
career. Rob who has worked along side some of the greatest rock &
metal musicians recently put some time aside to speak with me about
his latest solo masterpiece, the recent Vice reunion, touring, religion
among other things. Rob also gave us an exclusive but to find out
what that is you will have to read on.
Metal Fanatix: Hi Rob first of all I want to thank
you for putting some time aside to answer the following questions
for our readers. How have you been mate?
Rob Rock: Hi Cameron, I have been really good thanks.
Metal Fanatix: A few days ago you played a show with
Vice tell me about that?
Rob Rock: Yeah, that was a great show actually. A
friend of mine from back in the mid-eighties who was following the
band named Tim Young was having his 40th birthday, so his wife asked
him what he wanted for his birthday & he said “I want a
vice reunion” [laughs]. He ended up turning into a promoter
for the day & putting on a great show, with all the big lights
& sound from back in the day & custom staging. There were
about 450 people in this local club there. It was very exciting a
lot of old friends came out of the wood work & we all had a great
Metal Fanatix: Will there be more shows planned for
Rob Rock: I don’t know everybody wants to do
it, but there are not really any plans. Right now we’re filming
our DVD so we’ll get together in a few weeks & see if we
can put it together.
Metal Fanatix: Now Rob I want to talk to you about
your latest album ‘Holy Hell’, congratulations on a job
well done, it’s nice to hear a metal album that makes you want
to hurt your neck & throw your fist in the air. Were you happy
with the overall product?
Rob Rock: [Laughs] Yeah very happy, there was a lot
of tough times recording it because the original plans kept changing
& in the end I ended up going to Denmark & mixing the album
over the with Jacob Hansen & before this album I hadn’t
even heard oh Jacob Hansen but a friend of mine had told me about
some of the other work that he had done, so I basically hired him
Metal Fanatix: When you prepare to do an album such
as ‘Holy Hell’, what comes first the lyrics or the music?
Rob Rock: Mainly the music, I’ll sit down with
Roy Z we’ll actually discuss what we want the album to sound
like & what we don’t want it to sound like. Usually he’s
got a few riffs lying around & I’ll throw in a few vocal
melodies that I might be working on at the time, we normally start
like that. Throughout the year we never really stop writing we both
have tape recorders & if Roy comes up with a riff he thinks I’ll
like he records it & plays it back for me when the writing session
Metal Fanatix: What different factors surrounded
writing the material for this album?
Rob Rock: Well the main different factor was that
we knew we had Bobby Jarzombek back on board who just finished the
Rob Halford solo album. He was available to work so we got him back
on for the record, we had already worked out all the songs for the
album, so we gave him a tape with them all for him to learn &
we recorded the drums, then it took about eight or nine months for
Roy & I to get back together again to listen to the overdubs.
It took a long time [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: I’ve seen quotes where you’ve
said “writing for this album was good therapy for you”.
In terms of the writing, would you say this is the most personal album
you have done so far?
Rob Rock: Yeah I think so, in some respects I think
it’s more personal because I was more open to, you live your
life & year after year you do the same thing & you have this
level that you’re comfortable with. You still have the good
& bad things that go on in life but you have this steady underline
pulse, but the last year & a half that totally crumbled me. When
my dad died that really affected me in a sad way, all of a sudden
my “comfortable line” wasn’t there anymore, it made
me open up my heart a little more when I was doing this album everything
seemed to come a little more emotional for me if that makes any sense
[laughs]. It was a different place to write from & that’s
why this album means so much to me!
Metal Fanatix: After all these years of writing &
recording how do you constantly come up with new fresh sounding material
without falling into the trap a lot of other bands do of repeating
Rob Rock: I think that’s one thing that Roy
& I really concentrate on. We sit down & say “ok first
thing is we’re not gonna repeat what we just did” [laughs].
We always try to take every album in a slightly different direction
from the last. When I did rage of creation it was like ok you’re
on your own now, who is Rob Rock? Then when eyes of eternity came
around we decided to do add more power metal to the mix & the
European styles, after that I wanted to go heavier, we almost got
into the whole thrash mode when we were writing anything that would
live up to a lot of energy. I think that’s how I try to keep
it fresh. I learnt with Impellitteri that you can write safe albums
one after another you think they’re safe but they’re doing
the same thing, the world view isn’t always good. I don’t
want to make the same record but I want to make enough of the same
record so people can recognize it as Rob Rock.
Fanatix: Now, Roy Z is one of the great guitarists you have
worked with through out the years, he has also produced all of your
solo albums. Why do you think Roy has been the perfect choice for
Rob Rock: Well I’ve known Roy since 1988, when
I started the second incarnation of Driver after I left Joshua. We
were great friends in that band & when we wrote songs together
it was really good & natural. The minute I did a solo album I
immediately thought of Roy Z because we had 30 or 40 songs written
together that had never seen it past a four track recorder. Roy’s
vision is that it’s my album & it’s about my voice.
He revolves the guitar parts around my vocals, where when I worked
with Chris [Impellitteri] for 8 – 9 years he would come in with
the songs & say “here are the songs they’re done musically
don’t change a thing” then I would have to change my vocal
lines to fit around them. With Roy he is molding the music around
me which is great. I feel like it’s more my album.
Metal Fanatix: In a few words can you tell us the
1st thing that comes to mind when I mention the following tracks from
Slayer of Souls: Satan on the loose [laughs].
When Darkness Reigns: That’s like
an old Driver song to me this was on the same EP as ‘I’m
a Warrior’, the never album was never officially released so
I wanted to put them out under my own name!
Move on: That’s a nice song; there
are a lot of vocal tracks on that song.
Metal Fanatix: Rob ‘Move On’ is a song
I wanted to know a little more about. Out of all the songs in the
world why did you choose to cover an Abba song?
Rob Rock: Well, Roy Z suggested it. I heard the original
& said no way, on the original the guy is talking the whole first
verse, when we started that song I started doing all the backing vocals
first. There were about 96 vocal tracks for that song, I said “put
it away”, I got tired of singing it [laughs], over & over
again. That song was a lot of work for me. We put it away & as
I said we had that eight month break then I went back & did the
album, then finished up with Move On.
Metal Fanatix: Speaking of covers a few years back
you recorded ‘Goodbye to Romance’ for the Randy Rhoads
tribute CD, how did you get involved with that project?
Rob Rock: Well Michael Wagner who produced that Cd
called me up actually. He knew me from Impellitteri since he mixed
a couple of the albums that I did with Chris. He asked me if I wanted
to do a couple of tracks. I said yeah, flew out to Nashville for the
day to belt out a couple of songs for him & that’s pretty
much how it happened.
Metal Fanatix: Is there one song you have always
wanted to cover but haven’t had the opportunity to do as yet?
Rob Rock: Not really, I’ve always been a big
Dio fan & when I did a cover of ‘Eagle’ on Rage of
Creation I felt pretty fulfilled, I mean I did an Abba song in the
way I’d think Dio might sing it but my own way, I don’t
think he’s ever sang an Abba song [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: What are the biggest differences you
notice these days in the business compared to when you were starting
Rob Rock: Money! Money is small now, when it comes
Metal Fanatix: Money wow really, I’ve always
had this image that bands are given truck load of money to make the
greatest albums & with the technology that we have today I would
think that it cost just as much as the early days if not more to record
Rob Rock: Well back in the eighties they had these
huge budgets & they sent you into these huge studios & spent
a lot of money on making your record. Now they give you small budgets
& tell you they want the same quality [laughs]. Tell you to go
home do it on pro tools then go back & mix it in a big studio.
Then they blame downloads & Cd burners for destroying there sales,
they’re like “the entire sales are 30% down this year
overall, it’s not your fault it’s because everyone’s
burners & industry downloads etc”. I think money & by
money I mean having big budgets to work with has really gotten a lot
smaller. That is one of the biggest differences I have noticed.
Metal Fanatix: Well speaking of downloads, what’s
your take on the whole situation. Do you think it hurts artist’s
sales or do you think it’s a great way for an artist to get
their music out to people in all parts of the world?
Rob Rock: I think it works both ways, I think it’s
great for a lot of bands but then you need to follow it up with touring.
I'm not the biggest artists in the world, I’ m not the smallest
in the world, but unless I can capitalize on the free downloads I
don’t think it will to good for me in the long run. If sales
are not big then your budget doesn’t get any bigger. Touring
is becoming a very important part of it, in order to take advantage
of that exposure that you have gotten for free.
Fanatix: Rob you’re an incredible vocalist & you
have been singing for years now. Does metal music still give you a
Rob Rock: Yeah it does & sometimes I wonder why
I push myself like that [laughs]. I worry about how much sleep I get
& getting colds. Some days I say to myself “why did I record
these notes so high” [laughs]. I’ve always tried to push
myself as hard as I can to make the best songs & push my voice
& give 110%, It’s the way I was raised.
Metal Fanatix: Who are some of your biggest influences?
Rob Rock: Well Dio definitely. His solo career was
a big influence on me, obviously he was in Black Sabbath but I was
really into his own stuff. I was just starting to sing then, I started
out as a drummer singing backing vocals on a lot of Styx & Kansas
style songs. When I come out front as a singer Ronnie Dio was the
guy I was listening too the most, trying to figure out how to get
that power & that tone.
Metal Fanatix: After all these years & success
what goals have you set for yourself these days?
Rob Rock: Just to keep movin' forward I guess. I
want to keep on recording & making records & touring as much
as I can, meanwhile I have a child on the way. I think my world might
be changing soon [laughs]. Well so everyone tells me!
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] congratulations mate, that’s
great news. Is this your first child?
Rob Rock: Yeah!
Metal Fanatix: Oh wow, this is going to be a whole
new world isn’t it, the late nights of a different kind, screaming
Rob Rock: [Laughs] yeah definitely, there was a time
where I thought I wouldn’t get into that game, in that world
& here I am [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: Rob I’d like to talk to you
a bit about life on the road, do you do anything specific to warm
up & prepare for a show?
Rob Rock: I try to rest my voice & sleep as much
as I can. Before I go onstage I’ll do ten to fifteen minutes
of scales about an hour before I go on.
Metal Fanatix: Over the years you have shared the
stage with so many great bands. Who have you enjoyed touring with
the most & could you share a funny road story with us from the
Rob Rock: Well I think my last tour with Masterplan
was the funniest tour, I could finally sleep on the bus. There were
three bands on the bus & somehow I got to sleep on the bus [laughs].
I was having fun & singing well, the only negative thing about
being on the bus, is that the bus driver never empties the toilet.
From day one that basin underneath was filling up with well [laughs]
all kinds of human excrement & it starts to smell really bad.
After three days we start begging the driver “please empty the
toilet”. About a week after that we pulled into this road side
stop in the middle of the night, everyone was out of the bus &
started peeing on the side of the road, meanwhile unbeknown to us
the driver had emptied the toilet basin underneath, all of a sudden
everyone was like oh what’s that smell? We all started running
& behind us, a big cloud of vapor [laughs]. He came after us down
the road saying get in the bus, get in the bus. I guess it was illegal
for him to do that [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: From what I have read in past interviews
etc, you have played quite a few shows overseas & yet you tend
to stay confined to a small are of the United States, why is that?
Rob Rock: I don’t know why [laughs]. I just
go where I know I can sell tickets. There are a lot of fans on the
internet that are spread out all over the place but usually we just
end up doing shows in the bigger cities or in the south or north east.
Metal Fanatix: Do you have any plans to tour Australia
in the future?
Rob Rock: I would love to come down. I just need
a promoter to put it together for us.
Metal Fanatix: On more of a personal level Rob does
it bother you that people tend to focus on the religious aspects of
your lyrics more than focusing on the music as an overall creation?
Rob Rock: Uh no, it’s good. I'm glad they do
focus on the lyrics because I write the lyrics & I hope that they
mean something [laughs]. I think it’s equally important the
message in the music & I’ve always been on secular labels
& I don’t try to be a preacher or anything like that. To
me I read the bible on a daily basis, so it’s really a big influence
on my world views & that’s where I write from. A lot of
people dig it because it’s not all about the sex & drugs
that everyone else in rock writes about [laughs].
Fanatix: Megadeth front-man Dave Mustaine has refused to
play on some bills because members of other bands on the bill may
have different religious beliefs to his, do you share that same view,
what I mean by that is would you refuse to share a stage with Deicide,
Marilyn Manson or any other band of that status?
Rob Rock: No I don’t think I would. I think
I would go to those extremes if a band was going to sacrifice animals
onstage or make people bow down to Satan or something [laughs]. If
there was going to be some massive ritual blasphemous situation about
what I believe then I wouldn’t want to be around it. I think
that people are into metal & the whole metal trip & they’re
not Satan worshippers, those are the people that I came from &
now that I believe in the bible I want them to have the chance to
read it too but I’m not going to sit there & condemn them
if they don’t. I don’t want to preach to the choir. I
not on a Christian label singing to a Christian audience. I would
much rather be on a secular label & playing with those bigger
bands so that the world can enjoy my music, because ultimately that’s
why it’s written.
Metal Fanatix: What would you be doing if you stopped
Rob Rock: I have no idea, I would probably be working
in the studio, I thought about being a vocal coach or a vocal producer
in a recording atmosphere. I have so much experience in the studio
that when I hear other people’s recordings I think to myself
oh he could have done it this way or that way. That might be something
I can do later on, I have no plans on stopping anytime soon.
Metal Fanatix: You have worked with some of the greatest
guitar players in the rock & metal genres, one of my personal
faves is Jake E Lee, how did you guys come to work together?
Rob Rock: Through a good friend of both Roy Z &
myself from back in the Driver days, I was living out in Los Angeles
& was doing my solo album. He was always there to encourage me,
he said “you need a couple of good guests on the album, I know
Jake E Lee”. “Do you wanna get Jake E Lee on there”?
He knows Jake personally & I guess he went over to his house &
played him some of the demos that I had been working on with Roy.
Jake came down to the studio two days later & tracked a couple
of songs for us, it was very cool.
Metal Fanatix: Another on of the projects that you
have been apart of was Avantasia which really was an all-star project
featuring yourself along side members of Angra, Helloween, Gamma Ray
to name a few, what can you tell us about that.
Rob Rock: That was a great cast, Tobias Sammet [Edguy]
contacted me, he said “I’ve been a fan of yours since
M.A.R.S. Project Driver & would you be interested in singing on
this metal opera album I am doing”? It was in the very early
stages then & I said “yeah sure I’ll do it”.
When I heard the demos I knew they were really good songs & I
didn’t know that all those other people were going to be on
there at the time. I had sung parts on four songs & when I had
done it I had no idea at that time that it was going to be in two
parts. What was one album turned into two albums. I was happy to be
a part of both Cd’s.
Metal Fanatix: Do you think we will see a third part?
Rob Rock: Yeah, I have heard rumors about it, but
I haven’t heard rum ours from Tobias [laughs]. I hope he calls
me [laughs]. It would be nice to do number three, I love him as a
person & I think he is a great composer, we’ll see what
Metal Fanatix: From the many albums you have recorded
& appeared on what one would be your favorite to listen to &
Rob Rock: Well, I’m still high on Holy Hell.
I really like Impellitteri ‘Screaming Symphony’ that’s
one of my faves and I also like Warrior ‘Code of Life’.
Metal Fanatix: You have worked with so many talented
musicians through out your career, who have you learnt the most from?
Rob Rock: I would say first Roy Z then I would say
Mike Varney who recorded the first M.A.R.S. Project Driver album.
That first album was a massive learning experience for me. I came
from singing in bars with Vice & went to California to do that
record & I was singing high & clean. They said “no,
no this is a metal record dude” [laughs]. Mike Varney basically
kicked my butt the whole time, I didn’t like him for it at first
but afterwards I learned to apply everything that he was shoving down
my throat, the fact is that it helped develop my style.
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] that’s another of those
great stories isn’t it, this is one of the guys I have learnt
the most from but I really didn’t like him [laughs].
Rob Rock: [Laughs] yep & that’s putting
it nicely [laughs].
Metal Fanatix: [Laughs] What do you think about the
direction heavy metal music has taken over the last few years?
Rob Rock: It’s gone off on my radar a little
bit; with the cookie monster vocals. I am amazed that they can do
that night after night. I miss the Lou Grams & the Ronnie James
Dio’s that just wow you with there real talent.
Metal Fanatix: Are you currently listening to any
of the newer hard rock/metal bands? If so who?
Rob Rock: I’ve been listening to Arch Enemy.
I like a lot of there new stuff, as I said I’m not a big fan
of the growl singing but I do like the music behind it.
Fanatix: What advice do you have for up & coming rock/metal
Rob Rock: Concentrate on song writing, the main thing
I have learnt over the years is that I put my hardest work into writing
the songs & when you listen to an album ten years & it still
sounds good & the songs still mean something then you know you
have got a good album. A lot of the late eighties bands that are putting
out albums now just don’t stand up. Sometimes I hear them on
satellite radio. I think song writing is more important then just
tearing out albums.
Metal Fanatix: I remember reading a story about Tommy
lee has said he received a large package of mail from Tommy lee Jones’
agency with a note saying I think this is for you. How often do people
confuse you for Bobby Rock [Drummer] & Bob Rock [Producer] considering
you’re all in the same industry?
Rob Rock: Quite often, “hey you’re the
guy that ruined Metallica” no, no that’s not me [laughs].
True story my aunt called my mother about three years ago & said
“your son won a Grammy, I heard it on TV”. She’s
like he did, he did. I sad “nuh mum it’s not me, that’s
Bob Rock” [laughs]. Oh man I’m never getting away from
Metal Fanatix: Rob I have plenty of other questions
for you but we should probably leave it there [laughs]. Thanks again
for taking the time out today mate to speak with me; and I wish you
all the best of luck with the parenting. Do you have any last words
you want to share with our readers?
Rob Rock: Oh it’s been great. I’ve had
a lot of fun. It was great talking to ya. I just want to come to Australia
& see kangaroos [laughs]. Thanks to everyone in Australia who
has supported me hopefully I will see you all soon.
Rob Rock’s ‘Holy Hell’ is out now through candlelight
records! Buy it where all rockin' albums are sold.
To keep up to date with all the latest news on Rob Rock check
out the following websites
- Official Rob Rock website
- Candlelight Records UK website
- Candlelight Records US website
- AFM Records website
- Dedicated to 40 years of pure hard rock & metal music
© Cameron Edney November, December 2005 Not to be re-printed
in any form without written permission.