Interview: Ken Sandin (Alien, Kee Marchello Band, Timecode Alpha)

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By now most journalists had their chance to listen to the new Alien album and I must say its a real treat. We made an interview with Alien Bass player Ken Sandin and he had some interesting answers.

 

HRH For how long have you been talking about recording a new album?

KS We reunited a couple years back only to do nostalgic shows with the debut album material.
There have been hints and what if’s thrown around, but I think the game-changing moment was our first Firefest performance (2011), where our fans from all over the world showed their love and wish for a new album. We finally decided a year ago, and just took on writing… head first.

HRH How come you started work with Barlow/Minto again?

KS When we had the album written, more or less, we just thought it would be a cool thing to add something with them again, as homage to the debut album co-work. I knew of this 80’s song, and the guys were all up for a try. Pam & Janet were happy to hear, ‘cause they always believed in that song, but somehow thought we had passed on it back then. Truth is we never got to hear it, then.
Then, along the line, we invited them to write some lyrics as well, and it turned out just great.

HRH How many songs have you written together with them?

KS We have seven new lyrics of theirs to our music, plus that 80’s song.

HRH And how many songs will there be on the album?

KS 12.

HRH What can we expect of the new album?

KS An album in line with the debut, song wise. Melodic pomp rock. Goal was to stay true to what we did best back then. We think we’ve got a strong album, and I’m very happy with the production this time. Hope you’ll like it as much as we do.

HRH I’ve seen you a couple of times since your gig in Kungsbacka 2010 and naturally you’re a better live act now. But at Firefest I realized you’re not only better but it’s by far. Do you rehearse every week or is it just prior to your gigs?

KS Thanks. No, we just prepare prior to gigs or recordings

HRH How would you describe the guys playing today compared to the days when you where at your peak as a band?

KS Different story, altogether. Back then we worked together full time, no such time for preparations today. Experience and routine hopefully make up for that.

HRH And your own progress?

KS That’s for others to say. I always wrote music, lyrics, sang and played but I’m very confident in all areas nowadays, besides my playing. Thirty years down the line… 

HRH Will we get to see a full scale tour with Alien after the new album?

KS Not sure, not that I wouldn’t love to! More likely, occasional clubs and festivals, as of yet.

HRH When Jim Jidhed left Alien got Pete Sandberg to front the band. What can you say about the different versions of the band?

KS Well, we were facing the international launch of the debut album and had to keep it up best we could. Still sounded good, and we wrote a pretty good follow up, although scrapped when we disbanded (late 89).

HRH Are you still in contact with Pete?

KS No. Didn’t even hear a word when he had a live album with us released (2001) –
no agreements, statements, money, reference copies, nothing. The most disrespectful thing anyone ever did to me!! …and I got him the gig, mind you. Insane, when you think of it, not to mention illegal.

HRH You’ve managed to stay as a full time musician through the years. What has been best and not so good through the years?

KS A variety of styles is both demanding and fulfilling. The love for your work is essential.
Challenging the boundaries of your comfort zone is an important thing to develop.
The places you get to go, people you get to meet… I love it!
The downside is of course the lack of consistency and security.

HRH What are your influences?

KS I feel confident in writing for various styles. Broad influences over the years gave me that
Lust for music is the most important inspiration to get going, today, and possibly A.C.T. has given me more inspiration than anything else, last 10 years or so. I’m just blown away by their lustful sense for melodies, composing, playing (like monsters), vocal arrangements etc. I’ve actually been listening to V (Japan edt) while answering your Q’s, haha.
Besides, I hear my childhood influences in them! Queen, City Boy, Rush, Saga etc. Respect.

HRH You’ve also played with ‘Legends – Voices of Rock’ a project with lots of interesting guest vocalists. At the end I felt that it became less and less known names on the bill and also some cancelled gigs. What is your opinion to why the interest faded?

KS I think you might confuse Legends with a Swedish tour (also) named Voices Of Rock, which was cancelled halfway through. The Legends band was on that tour and brought a few of ‘our’ singers. Other than that, it had NOTHING to do with Legends. The last singers I came across in Legends were Eric Martin (Mr Big) and Alex Ligertwood (Santana), and they are nothing but legends to me!
It’s sad it ended, though.

HRH Are you still with Kee Marcello Band?

KS Our band was put on hiatus when Kee signed for the “Rock Of Ages” musical, which premiered in Stockholm a year ago. Our latest album Judas Kiss was released last April, but we haven’t had a chance to tour with it because of ROA. I love working with Kee , we just have to see what happens.

HRH Any future plans to tell us about?

KS I’m dying to finish up the second Timecode Alpha album, it’s gonna be good!
I’ll keep you posted on tours and stuff…

HRH When can we expect the release of the new album?

KS April 25th, for Europe.

HRH Thanks for making time for us.

KS Thank You. Hope you’ll enjoy the new album!

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Upcoming From AOR Heaven In April (New Releases: Alien and Sunstrike) (Videos)

AOR Heaven’s upcoming April 25 releases have been announced. They are Sunstrike and Alien. Read on –

Alien, one of Sweden’s finest Melodic Rock band have released genre classics such as “Alien” (1988/89) and “Shiftin’ Gear” (1990) including chart and platinum hits like “Only One Woman”, “Tears Don’t Put Out The Fire” and “Brave New Love”. The original line-up was split up in 1989 and when reunited in 2010 a handful of festivals were booked to coincide with the return including performances at Sweden Rock Festival, Getaway Rock and Firefest a.o. The release of the brand new single “Ready To Fly” (Manora Rec) went down great with the fans and especially the response from the crowd at the Firefest. 2011 made the band really consider making this new album.
In 2013, the No Remorse/EMI CD re-issue (ltd 1000 copies) of the debut album “Alien” (s/t Scandinavian) reached no.1 in the Import Album Chart in Japan and was quickly sold out. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the debut EMI Music Sweden re-mastered and released the back catalogue digitally including some previously unreleased demos as bonus. To top it off the “Alien – 25th Anniversary” 2CD deluxe limited edition was put out and soon sold out as well. The re-release of the “Shiftin’ Gear” CD (AOR Heaven) including four bonus tracks shed some light on the fact that the original line-up wrote and pre-produced a sophomore album, before disbanding in late 1989. Recordings of the new album started Aug 1st at Bohus Sound and continued throughout 2013, taking a break only to perform at the Firefest 10th Anniversary show.
Alien decided to add a song, “I’m a fighter”, written back in the 80’s by their L.A. co-writers Pam Barlow and Janet Morrison Minto, as an homage to their co-work on the debut album. The regained contact with Pam and Janet led to them writing lyrics for this album as well.
WebLinks: alientheband.com / facebook.com/alientheband.

Line-up: Jim Jidhed – vocals, Tony Borg – guitars, Jimmy Wandroph – keyboards, Ken Sandin – bass, Toby Tarrach – drums.
Track list: In Love We Trust; Unbroken; Love Will Lead Me Home; I Believe; Summer Of Love; What Goes Up; I’m A Fighter; Wildheart; Liar, Liar; Look At Us Know; Burning Heart; In Truth.

Sound clips in advance: In Love We Trust / Unbroken / What Goes Up.

xx

SunStrike: A glare in the road that can temporarily blind drivers. But SunStrike will blind you with catchy melodies and big choruses! The band was formed by guitarist Joachim Nordlund and the drummer Johan Lindstedt together with singer Christian Hedgren (Twilight Force, The Theander Expression) by the fall of 2012. You also find Joachim and Johan in the Swedish metal act Astral Doors. Right from the start the three guys had a very clear image in how the music should sound like: pure melodic hard rock was on the agenda! When only a handful of songs were written they felt that the songs needed the touch of a real keyboard player. Up until then Joachim had done the keyboard parts on one or two songs. Christian knew a guy that would be perfect for the job, and after a cup of coffee and a handshake Fredrik Plahn (Prey) joined the force. They all felt that this is far too good to be just a project and after a couple of weeks a second guitar player, Mats Gesar (Thalamus) and bass player Bjцrn Lundqvist (Twilight Force) joined the band that now got the name SunStrike.
Two demo songs were posted on the band’s facebook page in the summer of 2013, and immediately the word was out about this new melodic rock outfit from Sweden. Radio stations started to play those songs and a couple of record companies showed their interest in the band. The song-writing/recording continued through 2013 in Joachim’s Big Turn Studio until they had 12 songs that were strong enough for the album ”Rock your World”. For the mixing and mastering process SunStrike chose Erik Mеrtensson (Eclipse, W.E.T). Cover art and the booklet design was done by no one else but Carl-Andrй Beckston (Monowasp).
WebLink: www.facebook.com/sunstrikeband

Track list: 1. Power of the Dreams, 2. Rock Your World, 3. Fireball, 4. Right Track, 5. Roll The Dice, 6. Rock It Out, 7. Never Let You Go, 8. Higher, 9. Scream And Shout, 10. Into The Light, 11. Edge Of Life, 12. Heat Of The Night.
Line-up: Christian Hedgren – Lead and background vocals, Joachim Nordlund – Guitars and background vocals, Johan Lindstedt – Drums and background vocals.

Sound clips in advance: Power Of The Dreams / Rock Your World / Roll The Dice.

xx

The Summit Introduce First Video

The debut video from The Summit is available now on YouTube. The song Turn It Off is taken from the band’s debut album Higher Ground, released on Rambo/Gain in Sweden on May 14. The Summit is a collaboration between old friends, all seasoned musicians in their own right with bands like 220 Volt, Easy Action and Marmalade Souls. Their debut album Higher Ground, out on May 14, is a nod to the members musical influences from their 70:s childhood. Written and recorded quickly, in a true 70:s style, without pulling any punches.
Bjцrn Hцglund (drums): “The result is a loving tribute to our heroes, while creating something – in our opinion – new and fresh. We are not ripping anyone off, but you can surely feel the presence of some of our favorite bands throughout the album. The idea was to work quickly, like many of them did. I mean, some of our favorite classic rock albums from that time only took a couple of weeks to record! I wanted The Summit to fit the same idea. Creatively and musically.”
Link to video: youtu.be/l7WB29ZDze8 / www.jointhesummit.com / www.facebook.com/jointhesummit.
Line-Up: Michael Klemmй; vocals and guitar; Mats Karlsson; guitar and vocals; Bjцrn Hцglund; drums; Lars Ericsson; bass.

L.R.S Single Available Now

Frontiers Records is pleased to announce the release today of Livin’ 4 a Dream, the 1st single lifted off the L.R.S. debut album Down to the Core to be released on Frontiers Records on March 21 in Europe and March 25 in North America.
L.R.S. featuring Tommy La Verdi (21 Guns), Josh Ramos (The Storm, Hardline) and Michael Shotton (Von Groove, Airtime) is the new Melodic Rock sensation on Frontiers!
Started initially as a way to bring back to the public the amazing vocal talent of Tommy La Verdi, a singer which came to the attention of the fans on the fabulous 21 GUNS debut album “Salute” in 1992, the whole project morphed into a power band trio when two other well-known musicians: guitar player Josh Ramos and drummer Michael Shotton were brought into the picture by the album producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline).

The first single “Livin’ 4 A Dream” sees the songwriting contribution from Larry King (Soleil Moon, Michael Thompson Band) and is a true feel good melodic rock uptempo reminiscing of Journey / The Storm sound with hints of Canadian AOR – think mid 80’s Triumph.
The debut album “Down to the Core” promises to be a shining example of today’s AOR music with soaring vocals from a superb vocalist who comes back into the well-deserved spotlight and some exquisite guitar playing from Ramos. This is an album not to be missed and an AOR highlight for early 2014!
LRS will also play as a live unit and their participation to Frontiers Rock Festival in Italy on May 2 and MelodicRock Fest 4 in Chicago has been already confirmed!
Order “Livin’ 4 A Dream” now: www.smarturl.it/lrsliningitunes.

The Latest From Rock Candy

The following five new Rock Candy titles are available now from www.rockcandyrecords.com for a discounted price including postage to anywhere in the world for the next two weeks ending on March 9.

Ratt ‘Out Of The Cellar’ CANDY212 / Nobody was prepared for the Los Angeles hard rock explosion of the early 80s except, funnily enough, the bands themselves. Activity in the clubs on Sunset Strip had reached tipping point by the time Mцtley Crьe and Quiet Riot were packing out these venues and, just like an explosion in a circus, literally hundreds of bands came tumbling out of the hills ready and willing to claim a slice of the action. Looking good and talking the talk might have worked for some but if you really wanted to hit the big time then you had to be loaded with talent and songs. Step forward Ratt. With a successful independent EP eliciting a tsunami wave of major label interest, Ratt signed with industry heavyweights Atlantic records and were put in the studio with rising production star Beau Hill (later to work with Winger, Warrant, Gary Moore) and record their debut album. Issued in 1984, the results were spectacular; a record that became a three million seller and produced two hit singles in ‘Wanted Man’ and ‘Round And Round’, elevating the band to headline status almost immediately. The secret to Ratt’s success was a unique sound, great songs and great performances – especially from guitarist Warren DeMartini and vocalist Stephen Pearcy. Full of energy, unabashed enthusiasm, musical dexterity and hooks that were instantly embedded in the nation’s conscience; this was a band that took no prisoners in their rise to success. Special Deluxe Collector’s Edition, fully remastered sound shaped from 24 BIT digital technology,16 page full colour booklet, 3,500 word essay, enhanced artwork, rare photos and new interviews.
Track Listing: 1. Wanted Man 2. You’re In Trouble 3. Round And Round 4. In Your Direction 5. She Wants Money 6. Lack Of Communication 7. Back For More 8. The Morning After 9. I’m Insane 10. Scene Of The Crime.

Ratt ‘Dancing Undercover’ CANDY213 / Formed in 1976, Ratt were initially based in San Diego before moving lock, stock and barrel to Los Angeles in 1980. By this time, however, only vocalist Stephen Pearcy remained from their original line up, with a new unit assembled to take the LA metal scene by storm. Establishing themselves as one of the hottest acts playing the clubs they were soon snapped up by Atlantic Records whose belief was fully justified when their debut album ‘Out Of The Cellar’ sold in excess of three million copies and produced a major hit single with ‘Round And Round’. The band continued to rack-up further platinum awards with the follow up album ‘Invasion Of Your Privacy’ and played sold out arena concerts before going back into the studio to record ‘Dancing Under Cover’. It was a testing time for the band, relationships were strained and cracks began to show. They had barely taken their foot of the gas pedal since recording their debut album and those close to the situation were concerned that such fast paced activity was having a detrimental effect. It’s a minor miracle then that this album maintained such impressive quality. Produced, to pin point accuracy, by long-time associate Beau Hill (Winger, Kix, Warrant), the album contains a fine selection of songs in the finest Ratt tradition. Check out the swish and swagger of ‘Dance’, ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Enough Is Enough’; all killer, no filler.
Special Deluxe Collector’s Edition, fully remastered sound shaped from 24 BIT digital technology,16 page full colour booklet, 3,500 word essay, enhanced artwork, rare photos and new interviews.
Track Listing: 1. Dance 2. One Good Lover 3. Drive Me Crazy 4.Slip Of The Lip 5. Body Talk 6. Looking For Love 7. 7th Avenue 8. It Doesn’t Matter 9. Take A Chance 10. Enough Is Enough.

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King’s X ‘Out Of The Silent Planet’ CANDY232 / All hail to the king. The emergence of Texan based power trio King’s X resonated through the music industry like a breath of fresh air. Recoiling under a barrage of hair bands, the scene was fast stagnating but it was King’s X who rode into the fray like knights in shining armour, unleashing a stylistically innovative and brilliant new sound; one that would revolutionise and influence the direction of modern rock for years to come. ‘Out Of The Silent Planet’ is one of the finest hard rock albums of the new era pretty much laying the foundations for the coming tidal wave of grunge. They specialised in powerful detuned guitar work peeling out thick muscular riffs of the type that would soon be appropriated by future Seattle stars such as Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots. That King’s X provided a beacon of light in the black is in no doubt. Originally Issued in 1988, the album is stuffed to the rafters with a brace of extraordinary tunes, each with a lyrical twist that indicated that they were communicating on a far deeper level than what might have been expected from such a robust and bruising outfit. Check out tracks such as ‘Shot Of Love’, ‘Goldilox’ and the classic ‘King’ with its haunting refrain and unnerving defiance.
Special Deluxe Collector’s Edition, fully remastered sound shaped from 24 BIT digital technology,16 page full colour booklet, 3,500 word essay, enhanced artwork, rare photos and new interviews.
Track Listing: 1. In The New Age 2. Goldilox 3. Power Of Love 4. Wonder 5. Sometimes 6. King 7. What Is This? 8. Far, Far Away 9. Shot Of Love 10. Visions.

Ambrosia ‘One Eighty’ CANDY239 / Based on America’s West Coast, Ambrosia began their recording career in the mid 70s as a full blown progressive rock band, brandishing a sound that was clearly influenced by British groups like Procol Harum, Genesis and Caravan. However, with the passing of time, their style was to radically shift towards a more accessible, song based, approach, resulting in brace of melodically inclined albums that elevated the band’s profile considerably. Issued in 1980 on the Warner Bother’s label, ‘One Eighty’ was the band’s fourth album and is now regarded as the high point of their AOR period. As a six man outfit, the approach is studious yet exploratory; leaving enough space for the songs to breathe and be supported by carefully executed multi-layered backing vocals and a soulful r ‘n’ b undertow. Comparable to other premier melodic rock acts of the period such as Toto, Player and Steely Dan, the album benefits hugely from two US top twenty hit singles, ‘You’re The Only Woman’ and ‘Biggest Part Of Me’; both of which showcase front man David Pack’s world class voice. But don’t go running away with the impression that their music is all sweetness and light; tracks such as ‘Ready’, ‘Shape I’m In’, ‘Cryin’ In The Rain’ and the anthemic guitar driven ‘Rock ‘N A Hard Place’ position the band firmly at the epicentre of a some serious and powerful hard rock. Hugely recommended.
Special Deluxe Collector’s Edition, fully remastered sound shaped from 24 BIT digital technology,12 page full colour booklet, 3,500 word essay, enhanced artwork, rare photos and new interview.
Track Listing: 1. Ready 2. Shape I’m In 3. Kamikaze 4. You’re The Only Woman 5. Rock N’ A Hard Place 6. Livin’ On My Own 7. Cryin’ In The Rain 8. No Big Deal 9. Biggest Part Of Me.

Ambrosia ‘Road Island’ CANDY240 / Ambrosia started their recording career as a full blown progressive rock band, based in Southern California, but harnessing a sound that was inextricably linked with early 70s British prog rockers. By the eighties the group had morphed into a hugely successful AOR unit, enjoying hit singles and mainstream media exposure very much in the breezy but precise style of Toto, Player and Steely Dan. Of course, the icing on the cake was vocalist David Pack, a man whose voice has been compared to such masters of the art as Bobby Kimball, Michael McDonald and Steve Perry. ‘Road Island’, originally issued in 1982, was Ambrosia’s fifth album and in many ways saw them returning to their progressive roots composing songs blessed with ambitious arrangements. This stylistic volt-face was in part emphasised by their choice of producer, Pink Floyd engineer James Gutherie, with recording partly undertaken in London’s famed Kinks owned Konk Studios. In addition, the album artwork’s illustrative calligraphy (undertaken by Ralph Steadman – one time illustrator of satirical publication Private Eye) was somewhat reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, further emphasising their progressive rock roots. Musically brilliant, the album contains lashings of intelligently conceived tracks, such as ‘For Openers (Welcome Home)’ and the seven minute quasi-prog epic ‘Ice Age’. Other more traditional sounding melodic rock tracks included ‘Still Not Satisfied’ and the Fleetwood Mac reminiscent ‘How Can You Love Me’ – two of the band’s finest compositions.
Special Deluxe Collector’s Edition, fully remastered sound shaped from 24 BIT digital technology,12 page full colour booklet, 3,500 word essay, enhanced artwork, rare photos and new interview.
Track Listing: 1. For Openers (Welcome Home) 2. Still Not Satisfied 3. Kid No More 4. Feelin’ Alive Again 5. How Can You Love Me 6. Fool Like Me 7. Ice Age Endings.

xxxx