This was actually the second try. Weeks back I phoned Roy for a conversation but it had to be cancelled because the Roy I talked to was injured and lying in bed in great pain. Luckily he got better and on June 23 a much fitter Roy phoned me up for a lengthy interview, exclusively for the network touching subjects such as the new album and everything about that as well as more personal stuff.
M = Mattias
R = Roy Z
M. Last time I spoke to you, which is almost four years ago, we already then talked about the next one after Chemical Wedding and you said, and I quote you now, that you wanted the next one to be “an extension of Chemical Wedding” like “ a next phase”. So now I wonder did you succeed?
R. Its partially an extension of Chemical Wedding and Accident of Birth. I think it's a meeting ground, a cross road of the two projects. Originally we wrote a bunch of stuff right after C.W. But we did not use to much of it.
M. I feel that in a way that you developed a side of CW but at the same time gone back to more of the sound of AOB. Not downtuning the guitars and so on.
R. Not tuning down to B and A was something I changed around in the last minute. Tuning down is to normal nowadays. Tuning up is not as normal now in Heavy Metal
M. I think the album sounds great. To me it’s got a sort of up-dated eighties sound, if you see what I mean. It's a clear, not muddy sounding record.
R. I think people now when they have these really expensive CD-players and DVD-players are demanding more of a clearer sound. We just went for the best sounds that we could that fit the project. Bruce was not there to pick some of the sounds while we recorded. So I just sort off went for what he normally likes. I would not say ”eighties”… He really likes the productions of Martin Birch.
M. Tha’ts what I mean when I am talking about ”eighties sound”.
R. I was thinking, soundwise, Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath), Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden) and Holy Diver (Dio).
M. Exactly. That’s my point.
R. Cool… Well done Mattias! (laughing)
M. This album must have been written over a long period of time. When I spoke to you in 2001 you said already then that you had some 6 songs demoed. Has the timespan had any effect on the final result in any way?
R. Out of all the songs we wrote, we used “Broken” and “Silver Wings” for “The best of…” We still have some stuff from that timeperiod put away but the ones we ended up using were “Believil” and “Tyranny of souls". Those were original demos that appears on the album now, that we just added drums and added some tracks to. Some of those other songs just did not make it.
M. When did you start to work on the album that we are hearing today then? Apart from those two songs.
R. My guess is roughly november 2003.
M. So its not that superlong ago then?
R. No it was more like, Bruce said “Lets write a bunch of stuff”. So I wrote a bunch of stuff and he picked eight songs from the twenty I sent him. And he said “I want to use Believil, Tyranny of Souls and a song called Eternal” which originally was to be on the album but at the very last minute were decided to not make it onto the album but that it was to be used as a b-side or a bonus track.
M. I think its on the japanese version.
R. I like the song, but Bruce said “Its enough right there, stop it. That’s gonna be bonus” When we had a play back he felt it was enough for a record
M. The album is, if you compare to other releases nowadays, quite short, its only like 44 minutes long. Was that a conscious decision, that you did not want to over do it or was it just the way it turned out?
R. I know from Bruce perspective I know this is how long he wanted it to be. A lot more people is making it short and sweet. Quality over quantity was the motto. For me it made it easier cause it was only ten songs to do instead of thirteen or something. It made the workload for all of it a lot easie
R. And I think people’s contracts are only made for ten songs anyway and a lot of times the extra songs that you do are usually fillers, if you know what I mean? So we thought “let’s do the required amount, the perfect amount”.
M. I think it's a good thing that you cut down a bit cause most CDs today are way too long and have to much what I would call B-side material on the album.
R. I must say that the band that started this little wave is The Darkness. They made a really short album. System of a Down just did it. Their album is like 33 minutes long. It started with the Darkness and now people are making shorter albums.
M. I think that when the CD-technology came bands were putting out double vinyl albums without really knowing it. The quality of records after 92-93 lots of times have been to long. Having too much “bonus material” that’s not really good enough. But on the other hand its also positive. Because of it people get the chance to choose their “own” record. Get to hear songs that normally would not be there. But in the end the overall quality of the albums have been decreasing
R. I like records like Number of the Beast. When it finishes you want more so you start all over again. I love that.
M. Thats better. Moving on... Where was it recorded?
R. It was recorded at three studios. One called Castle Oaks in Calabasas up here. The other one in San Diego called Signature Sound and the rest was done here in my dining room.
M. In your dining room?
R. In my dining room. I set up a futon for Mr. Bruce cause he was injured. And I used my pro-tools. I have a pretty big dining room. Most people must think its quite small but its actually fairly big. Its quite strange cause its right next to the kitchen! (laughing)
M. But one should not sing with lots of food in your stomach should you? (laughing)
R. No you should not sing with loads of food in your stomach but its handy when you need a beer (laughing)
M. I guess so. So for those other two studios you talked about what did you record there? Bass? Drums? Or did you record more stuff at home (than Bruce’s vocals)?
R. Most of the guitars, vocals and overdubs… I must say all of them were made here in my dining room. The drums is where you really just can’t fake it. But it’s not faking it recording at home. You are just not paying stupid amounts of money to use one channel on the board. Why rent a whole studio, a whole board when you are only using one channel or two at the time when you are doing overdubs and stuff?
M. So you did not have any trouble with the neighbours complaining about the racket from the guitars? (laughing)
R. No. Fortunately I am able to get a great sound with not so much volume. I think I have enough space between me and my neighbours so they can’t hear it. I don’t live in one of those to close together communities. What I mean, it's a bit of space between us.
M. Was it recorded over a short period of time or a long period of time? You said you actually started to write the album around 2003. Did you start to record right away or? Did you use a lot of time to record the album?
R. I always do all my stuff within the first two or three takes. Mostly its the first take. Because of my experience I have learned over the years that the first one is usually the most exciting take. I did all my guitar takes before anything else were recorded! I did 99% of all guitar parts and solos. I just went for it. I did not even realize I was recording cause in my mind maybe I was going to record the takes over. But when I started to redo it I just realised it did not have the same energy, the same vibe. It the same with Bruce. He usually does four takes and then we make one take out of those four. He is very professional, very consistent. He is right to the point.
M. You never rehearse anything before?
R. We never rehearsed… The great thing about playing with someone like Bruce live and being his producer is that he knows already what’s going to work. He can visualize it. The great thing is from playing with him I can too. So we both can see what those magic things that the crowd is gonna get off on. You know what I mean? Normally when we rehearsed it was more to get everyone else up to speed to be quite honest.
M. You did not have a band to work this time around.
R. We had Dave Moreno the drummer. He is great. He is someone I work with a lot now. He is in my band. Him and I have developed a telekinesis vibe that he knows exactly what I am gonna ask him so he already starts doing it. So he is very quick. He is very on top of things. He knows how to play exactly for the songs. He has a lot of experience from playing a lot of session work here in LA so he is just the right guy for us.
M. Where did you find him?
R. I have known Dave since he was 13 or 14.
M. So you go way back.
R. Yes. He grew up here in my neighbourhood. He was a local kid.
M. When did you actually start to play together?
R. I’d say about two years ago.
M. Talking about the musicians we can go through the others while we are at it. From Tribe of Gypsys Juan Perez on bass.
R. Juan is an amazing talent. He can play anything. Salsa, baroque, stand up bass, with a bow. Very super talented guy. He had a cool project with Dave Lombardo (Slayer) one time. It was called Clegg Muzzel. He is really into heavy stuff so I picked him for those heavier tracks because I thought he was gonna give a bit of that Slayer energy. Cause he is really into Slayer. And he did a great job.
M. So what songs did he play on?
R. Abduction and Soul intruders.
M. And then you got Ray Burke. The ”Geezer”.
R. When I first saw him I did not know hiw. He sent his picture and his tape. He wanted to audition for a band I was in called Warrior. When I was growing up it was my favourite local band…
M. When was this?
R. Ohh… 91? 92? Around there. We heard his tape… He had a moustache. People in LA, musicians hardly have moustaches… Both laughing
M. I think it's nice with a moustache. I am wearing one right now!
R. Most of the guys around here wearing them are Mexican! (still laughing) So he had a moustache and shit so I named him “Geezer” and said “call him up”. We called him up and he was great. And he has been a friend ever since. You know the guy makes songs within the songs. He knows how to play that old style of bass playing these days. Most bassplayers, if you can even hear them, are just kind of playing with the guitar.
M. Very much so. He is more in the style of Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath and maybe Steve Harris (Iron Maiden).
R. I’d say more Jack Bruce (Cream) that he is into. I think he likes Steve Harris a lot but I don’t really see the influences. When we jam in ‘Serpents and Rainbows’, a side project we have where we play seventies covers and stuff he just knows how to play that seventies stuff.
M. Does he play with his fingers or plectrum?
R. It depends. He can go into a Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Dio) type thing with a plectrum and then goes into something full on with his fingers that makes you go ”Fuck man that sounds like Jack Bruce!” So he is fantastic.
M. So you have known him for quite a while too, then? And when did you approach him for the actual recording of the album?
R. I could have done the bas myself to be honest with you. But I could not have done it from a bassplayers point of view. And if I did I think it would have sounded a bit too much like Steve Harris. Cause to me Steve Harris is my favourite heavy metal bassplayer right?
M. He is not that bad. (laughing)
R. No he is not that bad. (laughing) So I did it on purpose. If I do this it will sound to much like a Maiden ripp-off. And that’s what we did not want to do.
M. So you don’t play any bass on the album at all?
R. I play on two songs. I play on “Power of the sun” and “Believil” only by default cause that was my original demo bass. There is a cool Gezzer Butler bassline in there so I said ”Nah, I just leave my bass. ”
M. The keyboardplayer. The Italian guy Mistheria.
R. He is a fucking mystery to me, I have never meet the dude. Fantastic, professional. We only correspond over the internet. I had the pleasure of working with him on other projects and he just delivered every time. We just sent him suggestions of sounds and what he should play over the e-mail and it would come back exactly what I asked. So in this instance he would send us twenty thirty tracks to each song and then Bruce would just pick what he liked.
M. I did a short e-mail interview with him and he seemed to be a very nice guy, easy going.
R. What’s he look like? In my mind he looks like a Vivaldi Mozart looking dude. With a white wig. Does he wear a white wig? (Both laughing)
M. He has his own webpage you know. And we have some pictures on the Bruce page as well. Anyway… he has been doing session work quite a lot and he seems to have been working with others as he has been working with you. But you worked on a previous project. The Rob Rock album. So that was your link to him?
R. That was my link to him. Since then we have been doing other stuff. And hopefully if I ever do a solo album I’d love to have him on there.
M. He does some good work on the Bruce album. Actually I am not that much of a fan of the twiddelywiddely sort of ”I am so fast on the keyboard” – playing. He is not like that on Tyranny of Souls.
R. You just got to tell him what you want. He can do anything. He plays really nice atmospheric stuff. To me he was really important to this album.
M. Where there any songs that was meant to be on the “Trinity” project that ended up on “Tyranny of Souls”?
R. Yes. From my memory definitely “Tyranny of Souls”. You can really hear Bruce and his take on Tate (Geoff) and Mr Halford (Rob) - the metal god. And maybe “Believil” and “Eternal”.
M. “Tyranny of Souls” is one of the stand out tracks for me on the album. It is a bit different from the other songs on the album, the way it is structured and so on. That one and “Kill Devil Hill” are my two favourite tracks. What are your favourite tracks on the album?
R. Its hard to pick. Really. I like them all. Which is rare for me. Normally, on albums there is songs that I can’t stand. At least three or four that I can’t handle. Normally, at the end of the thing I don’t like the album. I don’t listen to it at all. But this is a unique thing for me that I can listen to the album and it doesn’t make me wanna throw up.
M. Congratulations! (both laughing)
R. No seriously! Lots of times I go ”I could have done that better! Oh I don’t like that!” I am one of those persons.
M. But are we talking performances or song writing?
R. Either performance kills it or a lyric kills it for you. Or you just don’t like the song. ”What were you thinking when you wrote that song?” Writing songs is like an out of body experience and then you come back to earth. Sometimes when you are working new songs its hard to gauge.
M. So there are quite a few songs that we will never get to hear live?
R. I don’t know… You can take any three or four songs off this album and play them and people would be cool. There are so many great thing on this album so many great vocal performances. I mean if you take the vocal performance from “Kill Devil Hill”, the intro, Bruce just sounds like God! Then you take a song like “Navigate the seas of the sun” it’s so intimate. It show the delicacy of Bruce’s voice. For me a song like “Soul intruder” I really like it. I like “Believil”. I like ‘em all! That’s the honest answer.
M. “Navigate the seas of the sun” has been one of the most talked about tracks on the album. Many reviewers feel it’s the stand out track of the album. Did you discuss ever doing more of that type of songs?
R. I wouldn’t say discuss but I can tell you that’s a direction I like and that is a direction Bruce is really comfortable with. I don’t know if there is ever a chance of doing an acoustic album. But we work really well in the acoustic field. I really like the way Bruce writes to the acoustic stuff that I have done over the years with him… And the cool titles! He comes up with those really cool titles. Anyway, on the demoes I sent him there was quite a few acoustic songs. But whatever’s on this album he picked it.
M. You wrote quite a lot of songs for the album. Is there any chance that the ”leftovers” will be used for a later project?
R. I think so. There might be two or three that might come out of there. But if we ever do another album I’d like to do something completely different from all that we are doing now. Go through another area. I think this album kind a like brings the last two albums together. It cements that body of work
M. You were talking about in the previous interview that we did that you saw you and Bruce doing a metal album trilogy and this, as you say yourself, the last one. So what do you see in the future? What would you like to if you had the chance?
R. There could be so many things… You could do something really progressive. Something experimental like Balls to Picasso. Although a song like “Believil” is like a not too “Cyclops” for me. Bruce is a big fan of progressive so we could easily go for three or four songs like that direction. We could go five or six songs acoustic. Who knows? Who knows if we ever do another album together? I don’t know. But if we ever do I know personally that I would like it to be different from the previous three.
M. That sound like a good plan to me. This might sound like a strange questions since we are talking about a Bruce Dickinson solo album but compared to the previous ones I find the album very vocal orientated. There are very few lengthy instrumental parts. Was this a conscious decision or just the way it turned out?
R. I consciously did not want to overdo my thing on it. This is a Bruce Dickinson solo album. This is what the man wants to do outside of Maiden. Or we assume that what he wants to do. I wanted to keep the focus on him. I could have weeddidield and scouddledoddled all over it. But I don’t think through the years that it would make a good impression. I don’t think it would last like I think this albums gonna last. It’s gonna take people a few good years to realise this album. Some people already get it…
M. I would say most people seem to get it. At least over here in Europe. You are getting really good reviews.
R. Cool. But I remember when Chemical Wedding came out a lot of people were disappointed that it didn’t sound like Accident of Birth. People did not see the album for what it was. And now people compare this to Chemical Wedding and they got it all wrong. You don’t do that! It’s stupid to do the same album all over again. We are artists not factory workers. We live and breath and we change. To me it was a conscious effort to make it Bruce’s record. It’s an album that’s always gonna be around. Its an album that got some classic songs on it already.
M. This time around you did not have a band to work with, as we discussed earlier. Is this the way that you will continue to work? Just you and him and session musicians?
R. It’s just the way this one turned out. If Bruce really wants to work with someone he will tell me. And then we’ll work that way. We used to do a lot of rehearsing for the previous albums. But it was mainly to get everyone else up to speed.
M. But wouldn’t you say that you get another sort of feel for the songs if you play them in a band situation before you actually record them? Or do you feel so confident on how the end result will turn out that you don’t really need to do that?
R. This is how it went down. Most of the songs on the previous ones were written by Bruce and myself. I would programme the drums I would play bass most of the time on them, That’s how we did it. So those guys would learn the drums and bass parts. Eddie would throw in little things here and there I agree. Same with Dave Ingraham. Some times he pushed it here and there. But the demo was the blueprint. Even for Bruce, cause he had heard it in a certain way in his head. And then it was Adrian’s songs which basically was the same thing. He would demo them and we would learn them pretty much the way the demo was.
M. So he brought finished demoes with drum machine for you to listen to?
R. Yeah. Having said that I think there was a certain band chemistry there, for sure. But most of the time we just showed each other what the hell to play! (both laughing)
M. You did not have Adrian to play against on this album. No one to balance up for. Did that make you approach your guitar playing differently?
R. Yeah it did. I could easily have done Adrian type lick on it. But I didn’t. I just did what I thought needed to happened on each song. On some maybe I went over the top. I was thinking in the terms of guitar like I did when I was 16. The things that impressed me. I tried to do those things. Do you see what I mean? This is how I see guitarists. This is the cycle. When they are hot and young they play amazing stuff. They’re on fire and when they get older they try to work more on their vibrato and feel and stuff. I tried some ”feel” on the songs that needed some of that but on the ones that did not I went all out! All bullets blazing. I just tried to make it exciting. When Adrian play he plays so melodic that I had to come with some fire.
M. Yeah, that’s what I meant when I was talking about ”balancing up”.
R. Yeah. So on some of the songs I tried to do the Blackmoore/Schenker stuff that he came up with. I can’t do it like him. He is a unique talent. He is brilliant. But if Bruce thought it was a missing element I am sure he would have said ”Lets call him up”. So consciously or unconsciously I just went for it. I didn’t wanna do solos like a yawn. I think a couple of solos you could sing. Like “Navigate the seas of the sun”. “Soul intruders”, some parts of that solo you could sing. To me there is the perfect balance of speed and melody on this album for heavy metal.
M. What are your feelings on downloading?
R. What people don’t realise when they are downloading. Is that they are actually diminishing the quality of the music that they are gonna get in the future. Because they are eating away of the budget. Artist will still make their money cause they do tours and sell merchandise. But the producers and the studios are all going under. The quality is going down hill.
M. Studios here in Stockholm have gone down. Polar where ABBA and Led Zeppelin and Genesis made records closed down last year. Cause no one was prepared to pay for it.
R. The ABBA studio! The studio where we mixed AOB and CW, the old Madonna studio does not exist any more. Lots of studios I have worked in are all gone. It’s harder and harder to make quality records. I am not saying that people should not download but it’s decreasing our chances to make quality records. Some people say that the new one doesn’t sound as good as “The Chemical wedding” and that’s fine. They can say that. But the bottom line is that we are restricted with time. We can’t put in the time that we used to do.
M. When you work as a producer what do you see as your greatest strengths?
R. I have some strengths and some weaknesses. My main strength is just to communicate with the artist and figure out what their vision is and try to make it happen for the album. I try to be cool with everyone, try not to be an asshole. Make their vision happen.
M. What part do you like the most. Work on the performances? Work the songs? The sounds?
R. I love the song writing. I must say song writing and performing live is my favourite things to do.
M. But if we are talking about when you are in the studio. What are you priorities?
R. Song is number one. Performance number two. Sound number three. These are my priorities. I got to make clear we have good songs, if not we got to do something about it right away. Then we go through the parts. See so that it’s in the right key for the vocalist. If it’s not we have to adjust. And that’s learning from experience. We have lost some good songs because they were in the wrong key. I can tell you that we lost some mean, mean songs during Accident of Birth and Chemical Wedding that just were not in the right key!
M. For example?
R. No! They never made the album! They are still on a shelf somewhere. These are the priorities Mattias. After that individual performances. That’s it. Artists vision all the way. I figure out what the artist wants, get the blueprint then just go for it.
M. Can you tell us something about Stan Katayama?
R. Stan is great. Stan alleviates a lot of the things that drives me up the wall, where I second guess myself. Stan is a excellent engineer. Very methodical, takes his time. Really tries to give you what you want. He is also versatile. He has been a part of the sound from “Accident of Birth” and on. He has been a real important gem in those sounds when it comes to the overall drum sound and the overall mix. He is just great to work with and that’s all I have to say.
M. Talking about production. You yourself have become one of the more known names in modern day Heavy Metal. What do you think about your competition?
R. There are a lot of great guys. Sometimes I hear productions that makes me go ”Holy shit these guys are on fire!” For me it’s not a competition. I think my strengths are my strengths and their strengths are their strengths. What I would like to do in the future is pair up with one of those guys and go for a ”super production” – if you wanna call it that. Cause sometimes it seems as if one is stuck in one area and another in another area. I think its gonna take two very talented dudes to really make something over the top. There are so many guys I could start naming but if I don’t name some other guys I think is good I don’t think its fair.
M. If I put it this way. If you and Bruce were to make another album and he said that he wanted you to bring in another producer; what would your first suggestion be?
R. Honestly it depends on the style we are gonna go into. If it was the same? Is that what you are asking?
M. You can start off with that.
R. I am really happy with a guy like Jacob Hansen who mixed the Rob Rock for us. Did a fucking fantastic job. Talking about producers… I have worked with other producers in the past like Richie Podoler, Joe Barresi both really good. Some guys in Europe… Andy Sneap does really well engineering work. As far as production I don’t really know what he does put he seems to do a pretty good job. Over here; Greg Fiddleman. A good friend of mine who produced that last Foo Fighters Nick Rusilanicks. Nick and I always talked about working together. Actually we did on “Puya” but that project got shelved. There are so many guys I can keep going on and on.
M. That’s a wide selection.
R. It is cause I am into so many styles of music, I’m not just into heavy metal. Daniel Lanois! Come on dude! For tribe of Gypsy’s I’d love to have Daniel Lanois!
M. He is amazing.
R. He is amazing dude! I think to myself ”One day I am gonna get that guy to produce us.”
M. It would be interesting to hear him working on a really hard album. Cause the way that he works with sounds it would be interesting to hear what he would do with a loud distorted guitar, if you see what I mean? I think it would sound massive.
R. Massive and I think it would just be one guitar. I really like his productions. Something like that would be interesting for me as well to work with some one in Heavy Metal. It would just have to be an artist with a shit load of money. (both laughing)
M. Would you like to tour this album?
R. I would love to tour this album. Touring with Bruce is fun. I did not realise it until towards the end how much fun we were having. I hope he decides to tour on this one.
M. It’s too good not to tour.
R. Yeah. But if the fans really want it they got to speak up! Cause we are listening.
M. Well, I am telling you right now; Go on tour! (both laughing)
R. Cool. At the end of the day its up to Bruce himself. The sooner the better for me cause of my schedule. Cause I am going to take more work.
M. Do you have any big projects lined up for you?
R. You know Mattias I do. But I can’t talk about them right now. The deals aren’t done yet. But I can tell you that there are things coming my way that I am looking forward to. Things that I am excited about, that I want to do. But I am also trying to leave time for Tribe of Gypsy’s.
M. You have had some change in the personnel in Tribe of gypsy’s. Dave Moreno is playing for you…
R. Dave Ingraham we lost. He had to bow out. He joined the Young Dubliners. I love that guy a lot, he knows I do. I am happy for him. Eddie is now in a position were he is a full time family man, a father. Sometimes people grow out of it.
M. So what is the sound of ”the new Tribe”?
R. It’s the same really. Very Roots. Very organic, heritage sound mixed together with influences. Some very aggressive stuff, some eclectic. And some really ”song songs” if you see what I mean. The plan is to release an E.P. to introduce the new vocalist.
M. You got a new singer now?
R. I think so yeah. In two or there weeks we are going to unveil everything. A new photo session. All will be unveiled in three weeks or so. Later we will start to book some gigs in California.
M. Any record deals?
R. We’re just gonna make the product and talk to our labels or former labels or whatever they are. If they want it they can have it.
M. So “Tribe of gypsy’s” are your main priority now before you head on to any other big recording projects?
R. I think so. Making this album or EP is my main priority right now.
M. You know there is a 5.1 version of Balls to Picasso out. Have you heard it? What do you know about it?
R. I have seen it around. A friend of mine has it. But it's a thing I am standing away from right now. Cause I am also starting to do 5.1 mixes. I just want to have my own style so I try to not listen to other peoples stuff right now. M So you have not been involved in the mixing of it.
R. No, it’s someone else. Bruce have talked about in the past about doing Chemical Wedding and Accident of Birth. So if he wants to I’m ready.
M. I have noticed that there are alternative mixings of Road to Hell and Accident of Birth on the Best of album. What is the story behind that?
R. There is always alternative mixes lying around. We do five or six. Bass up, drums up, vocals up, guitar and so on. And then we just pick the one out of that. So maybe someone picked another mix by mistake or maybe on purpose. I don’t know.
M. Tell me about Tribuzy. You were on it, Bruce was on it and Chris Dale was on it.
R. This guy is smart! I don’t know how he does it but he gets all these guys on his CD. To me he just comes across as a really good guy. I love the Brazilians, they are the salt of the earth. Very beautiful genuine people. He just asked me and I said yes and then he said Bruce was gonna be on it. So I recorded Bruce vocals while he was here working on Tyranny of souls. M So he just called you up and asked if you want to play guitar on my record? Is it that easy?
R. No. I got an e-mail asking me and he said all these other people was gonna be on it. I noticed my friend Roland Grapow so I called him and asked what’s up with this? And he said “I don’t know but Kiske is gonna do it” and then I found out Bruce is gonna do it!
M. And you did not know about that?
R. No. I didn’t find out until after I said yes to it. I just thought “any excuse to go to Brazil ‘lets go!’”
M. OK. You have been working really hard now for while. Doing Bruce, Judas Priest, Rob Rock so do feel you are having a vacation now? Or are you still working as hard but with the Tribe of Gypsy’s?
R. Like I said. I am working on some projects that I really can’t talk about right now. But ToG is top priorities. Get the line up ready. But working with ToG does not bring in any money, it’s more a labour of love so I have to fit that in between my production jobs in some way. I’d love to give up all the producing to be a full time artist. But you know it’s not every day that a Bruce Dickinson or a Judas Priest will call you up because they want you to work with them. So I am lucky in that respect. I am humble and I am thanking the powers that be. I thank them so much. Call it God or Destiny, I am very lucky. I don’t take it lightly.
M. You have been very protective on the subject of your personal life and your background. I have searched the net and really just found that you are a bit of a sportsfan. But nothing else really. And I have been given the impression that you are kind of reluctant to talk about such things. How do you feel about that today?
R. If you ask me questions I’ll answer them. I’m not shy. But I am a kind of person that likes to stay a bit private. But it does not hurt to ask. It’s true I wanted to play sports before I wanted to do music. But then I got injured and could not do it anymore. But I still love sports. What else do you want to know? Were I am from?
M. Yes, things like that. I know you grew up in LA somewhere.
R. I grew up in the valley in a place called Pacoima. I was born there, I was raised there until sixteen then I moved out of home. I still live really near there. It was a very very bad part of town. Its famous cause Cheech and Chong used to use it to… It's a really bad place to be from. A lot of shootings. A lot of gang activity. Lots of friends of mine are either in jail or dead. People that I grew up with. But it's a beautiful part of my life cause we were happy! I did not know that I was poor. I come from a very traditional family, very family orientated. We still see each other all the time. Very close knit. I am proud of who I am and what I do and where I am from. And I love music!
M. When did you find music?
R. They say that I was always pretending to play the piano or grabbing a little guitar when I was very very small. I have always been around music. I have always loved The Beatles, Led Zeppelin all of that stuff. So since a very young age music has been a big big part of my life.
M. Do you come from a musical family or was it something you searched for?
R. There was always music around but no one was musical. I think I was the fist one in our family to play. I remember I started on accordion when I was in school.
M. Accordion!? That’s metal.
R. Yeah dude! You should put it through the Marshall! (both laughing)
M. You should have that on your next one!
R. Yeah. If I remember how to play! Anyway. Music is a refuge. Growing up were I grew up you did not have to many escapes. My brother used to play music, he still kind of does. My brother is an artist. He directs cartoons now. And he writes his own music for them. It’s wonderful. I always thought that sports was gonna be my way out of the ghetto, but its wasn’t. I was lucky. It was music. I was lucky to have two things to get me out of the ghetto.
M. How old are you?
R. I am 37 but feel 18.
M. Before you met Bruce you had already then started to produce. I have the first Downset album that you produced.
R. My first professional job was producing Downset. They were a bunch of local kids that needed someone to record them. When they were called Social Justice we used to do those seven inches. After that they decide to do Downset and that they needed some direction – I got in there and helped them find their sound. It was my first job outside ToG which I already then had going.
M. And then you meet Bruce which must have been an overwhelming experience?
R. It was surreal and wonderful. It was pure destiny. The scary part was that he was so enthusiastic about my music. It vindicated what I was doing for me. Trying to do Heavy Metal in the past never got me to meet these kinds of guys or I would meet them and they would not think about working with me. Then here I am doing this, what you could call traditional type music and then you get noticed! I thought it was so strange.
M. I try to imagine myself being in that situation. I would have been scared! But did you feel confident when he said that he wanted to make a record? Did you go ”Of course!” Or did you say ”I am not ready for this”?
R. If you come where I come from you say ”Lets go!” I jumped on it.
M. I think I would have been to afraid.
R. Well you say that Mattias but if you had been there you would have been fine.
Here endeth the conversation. My questions had come to an end so I said thanks to the ever so soft-spoken Roy for sharing his time and thoughts.