BW&BK Interview: WILLIAM SHATNER – “I Had No Idea About The Energy, The Purity And The Excitement Of Heavy Metal Until I Worked With ZAKK WYLDE”

As much as I enjoy making the world a more dangerous place with BW&BK, I have one major issue with our little empire; it moves too damn fast. Case in point with The Boss’ recent interview with William Shatner, which was pinned as a top headline before being moved to the regular Features section on the site and subsequently buried by a gazillion other metallic stories and news bits. Yes, THAT William Shatner… the rock star’s rock star, out supporting his new spoken word rock album Seeking Major Tom, which is worth more than a cursory glance. Assuming, of course, you have a sense of humour.

That said, following is an excerpt from ye olde CEO Tim Henderson’s exclusive chat with a living legend…

By Metal Tim Henderson

With one listen to Seeking Major Tom, you either get it or you don’t. And Shatner gets it.

“Let me tell you about hard rock,” he begins on the phone from somewhere in outer-space. “Everyone is asking me the same question – what the fuck are you doing? I had no idea about the energy, the purity and the excitement of heavy metal until I worked with Zakk Wylde. I laid down my tracks to (Black Sabbath’s) ‘Iron Man’ first and then I went to Zakk Wylde’s house a couple of weeks later and the sound of Zakk Wylde’s guitar and voice taught me the meaning of heavy metal. And I have nothing but deep respect for it.”

You’ve got some heavy-weights of the scene. To actually get Ritchie Blackmore (Blackmore’s Night, ex-Deep Purple) out of his tights and Renaissance garb is quite the feat!

“Yes, it’s incredible. There’s some 20 of the greatest musicians alive today are on this record, it’s phenomenal! And how it happened is a little bit beyond me. Most of the people we asked jumped on board.”

Which artist had you awestruck or even starstruck?

“All of them. I know that’s a cop-out, but I mean, how do you choose between Brad Paisely playing that guitar, or Ritchie Blackmore, or Peter Frampton. And Sheryl Crow? Singing that song (‘Mrs. Major Tom’) a capella with bell-like tones. What an incredible voice. So how do you choose? I’m awestruck by the generosity of these people that gave me their time and their talent. And I’m filled with that tentative sort of offering like when a kitten comes in with a bundle from outside and offers it. I’m offering this record and as I see the reaction I’m braver about it. I didn’t know how it was going to be taken. I mean, the people who were in on the making of it were saying ‘awesome’ and ‘great’, but I’ve been in a lot of productions where you think you’re great. Or in the horse business it’s called being barn-blind. And I didn’t know we were being barn-blind or not. I felt great about it, but I didn’t know if it was going to be accepted or not. And it’s becoming quite popular.” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: WILLIAM SHATNER – “I Had No Idea About The Energy, The Purity And The Excitement Of Heavy Metal Until I Worked With ZAKK WYLDE”

BW&BK Interview: STYX Vocalist LAWRENCE GOWAN – Talkin’ ‘Bout My Regeneration

In 1999, Canadian vocalist / keyboardist / guitarist Lawrence Gowan was invited to join U.S.-based rock legends Styx as a permanent band member. The news came as a surprise on many levels. For one thing, Gowan had replaced Dennis DeYoung, considered by many fans to be the The Voice of the band, and the vast majority of those followers were completely oblivious to Gowan’s star status at home. He was a dreaded unknown. Gowan fans, meanwhile, were left wondering how a star of the Canadian ’80s pop rock scene had managed to attract the attention of a band that had been around for 20 over years by that time.

I was one of them. Having grown up with both Styx and Gowan as a teenager, it was an amazing development that blew me away. The fact that Styx had added Gowan’s breakthrough hit ‘A Criminal Mind’ to their setlist was the icing on an already fattening cake. In 2005, I was given the opportunity to interview Gowan for BW&BK (found here), a personal high that fulfilled one of the unplanned items on my bucket list.

The band recently released the Regeneration album, featuring re-recorded versions of Styx favourites (and a Damn Yankees song or two). And while I didn’t have the chance to speak with Gowan or his bandmates, credit where it’s due to my BW&BK colleague Mitch Lafon for a fantastic in-depth chat with Gowan about the record and his career. An excerpt is available below.

By Mitch Lafon Gowan was a staple on Canadian radio and TV in the ‘80s. ‘Moonlight Desires’, ‘A Criminal Mind’ and ‘Strange Animal’ were top hits…

Gowan: “’Moonlight Desires’ was a #1 video. ‘A Criminal Mind’ was #1 in Montreal.” A friend of mine, Sean Kelly, just did a cover of ‘A Criminal Mind’ on his new solo album – Where The Wood Meets The Wire (Universal).”

Gowan: “I heard that. It’s great.” It just goes to show that people still love that song, but how come Gowan didn’t break through in the United States?

Gowan: “I’ll explain that, but it’s a terribly long, drawn out and boring story. So, last year when I did the Return Of The Strange Animal record – I decided to tell the story in cartoon form. The link is: What you’re getting at here is the two completely different music businesses that exist today and existed in the ‘80s. Yesterday, Todd came to me with a new artist from Australia that I had never heard called Gotye. I immediately put in on, looked him up on Youtube… There’s the difference today. If somebody came to me back in the ‘80s and said there’s this new Australian band called AC/DC. How can I get their record? I’d have to go to the import section of my local record store or… But today you can access anything from around the world instantly. Everyone now, automatically gets a world wide release because of the Internet, but the way it was in the 1980’s was the polar opposite of that. The record companies decided who got released where and why. A terrific example would be The Jam in England. They’d play Wembley Stadium in England, but you could barely find their records in the United States and that was the same situation for Platinum Blonde and me in Canada. We were signed to CBS records and although we had international deals and out sold some of the biggest international stars (in Canada) – we couldn’t get a guaranteed release in the United States. It seemed like the hurdle just kept moving and moving and moving…” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: STYX Vocalist LAWRENCE GOWAN – Talkin’ ‘Bout My Regeneration

BW&BK Interview: PRIMAL FEAR – Inside Unbreakable

By Carl Begai

In a recent interview with Sinner bassist/vocalist Mat Sinner about the band’s new album, One Bullet Left, he offered BW&BK his thoughts and impressions on the forthcoming Primal Fear record, Unbreakable, which the band had just finished recording at press time. He reveals the band opted to go back to square one rather than trying to one-up their over-the-top 2009 effort, 16.6.

Following is the exclusive look into the record, due to be released on January 20th, 2012:

“We reduced the journeys to different styles of music on the new album,” Mat reveals. “I’m trying to find the right word… let’s just say there weren’t a lot of strange experiments. We went back to where we started with the riffs, meaning that the main riff is the main point in the song. That’s how we made music in Primal Fear when we first started (in 1997). With Magnus (Karlsson) and Alex (Beyrodt) on guitars, and Randy (Black) on drums, we have the strongest Primal Fear line-up ever, and the shows we’ve done recently prove that. We played Wacken this past summer, we just did some shows in Poland, and it was killer. We tried to get that vibe, that attitude, and put it on the album. We wrote songs that go back to the basics, and some fans will love them for that reason alone. You hear the riffs and you know it’s Primal Fear.”

“It will be a different album. If people want to hear totally innovative and new music, they shouldn’t wait for this album.”

Go to this location for the complete interview.