04.07.2010Архив интервью | Русская версия
Alcatrazz are not too well-known among Russian fans of hard rock, even though it used to feature a lot of famous musicians, including guitarists Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. The band’s last studio album came out as far back as 1985, so it’s not surprising that people have started to forget them. However some time ago vocalist Graham Bonnet decided to regroup Alcatrazz, inviting talented, experienced, but not very famous and rich musicians. They told us themselves about their past times and future plans, when we met at the lobby of Hotel Renaissance in Moscow the day following the band’s gig in Club Jimi.
You have a new lineup of the band at the moment. Can you tell me something about yourselves: where you worked before. etc…
Jeff Bowders: My name is Jeff Bowders. I play drums and I really like oatmeal.
Tim Luce: Hi! I am Tim Luce from Los Angeles. I have been playing in a lot of bands and few major label projects and I don’t know… Nothing really important if you ask me about them.
Howie Simon: Howie. What was the question? (everybody laughs) Ah! My name is Howie Simon. I am 40 years old. And I like ice hockey and chocolate! (laughs)
You’ve released a lot of compilations, but do you have any plans for a new record?
Howie: I will take this one! We’ve been demoing some songs slowly but surely. It’s probably eight or nine ideas that we have… We haven’t started the actual recording, but we’re writing. So hopefully you will see something from us very soon.
A question to Graham: You worked with Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. Who is the best guitarist, in your opinion?
Graham: They are all different. Nobody can be best, they are completely different and everyone is individual, so none of them I can say the best guy. But I like working mostly with Steve Vai, because he is a little bit more different. When we say that we should do it like this, he will take a few risks. I like him very much, because he is a little bit different. Coming from Frank Zappa’s band, of course, he had a lot of strange ideas.
How is your tour going so far?
You have got a lot of lyrics connected to Asian countries (“Hiroshima Mon Amour”, “Ohayo Tokyo”). Do you have any special feelings about these Eastern countries?
Graham: First of all, Alcatrazz has been restarted again because of Japan. I’ve been there with Rainbow a lot. And I heard a lot of interesting stories come out of that country. I saw a documentary about the bombing of Hiroshima and that’s where the story came from. That’s something that we will never forget and I put this story to a song.
Tim: Because he likes the chicks over there! (laughs)
Graham: I love them too, yeah! I don’t think we will do anything like that anymore.
As far as I know, Alcatraz is the name of the most famous prison in the U.S. What idea did you put in this name?
Graham: We were looking for names. We thought about every animal name we could think of, like Tiger, Wolf, Lion, Bear, you know whatever. Also we thought about insects, beetles (laughs), crickets, but the Beatles were been taken, so … But anyway we thought about one of the most tough names. We wanted to be tough and have a tough image. And we thought about prison, about St. Quientin – nah, it doesn’t sound right. We went through the list and came to the Alcatraz. We found out that we couldn’t use the name Alcatraz, because it’s like a national park, you know, so what we were gonna do is put one more “z” and make it ours, so that’s what we did. When we did do that, we found out that there was actually another band in England, called “Alcatraz” with one “z”. And they tried to sue us, but we said: “No-no, look, this is the way we spell it – two “z”s!” It very hard to pick a name, because it was like picking the name for a race horse. There are so many band names now, but I can’t remember them anymore, because they so stupid, they go on forever, they like an whole book. But we got one strong word – Alcatrazz.
Tim: What was it sound like? Between The Buried And Me (laughs).
Jeff: The Number Twelve Looks Like You. (laughs)
Alcatrazz are not too well known among the younger generation. Do you have any plans to make your band more popular among youngsters?
Tim: We are gonna to put a free iPod in each CD (laughs). Just kidding.
As we all know rock bands are kind of wild guys doing a lot of crazy things on tour. What about your band?
Jeff: We are doing some crazy things on the road, because (background voice of Howie: “No, no, no”)… I mean this morning I had not one, but two bottles of oatmeal.
Jeff: Yeah, two bottles of oatmeal.
Howie: That’s crazy! (laughs)
Graham: I would say that… Most people smash up rooms etc, but Alcatrazz – we redecorate. (laughs) It’s always nice – come to the room and say “I don’t like this wall”. We are not gonna put the TV through the window, we’re gonna put wallpaper here.
Tim: Last night actually we did a little redecorating.
Jeff: It wasn’t very well received by this room.
A question to Graham: Looking back at your career can you say what your favorite album is among those that you recorded? What’s your favorite band that you worked in?
Graham: I don’t like any of them (smiles). I have never listened again to what I recorded, but of course, I guess my favorite album had to be done when I was in Rainbow. And also recordings that I have done with my cousin, we were called The Marbles back in 1968. I think it was a very exciting time. You know, you go walk down the street in London and see The Beatles, and see Jimi Hendrix every day, you know, all that kind of thing. I always remember that 60s as being the most exciting time in music - in England, especially in London. I thank Barry Gibbs’ The Bee Gees, the Gibb brothers, who actually started my career. But then Ritchie Blackmore got me to join Rainbow. I have never done that kind of thing before, I didn’t know who Rainbow was, I didn’t listen that kind of music, that didn’t interest me anyway. And I was involved in something that was completely new and then I got into that music I really found out that I enjoyed it very much. But it was a challenge, because it was completely alien. “Down To Earth” is that album, the only album I made in Rainbow. I am very proud of that.
You have been to Russia several times. What can you say about our country and which things you like most of all?
Graham: The women I guess. There are a lot of pretty women. The audience was great, there are a lot of nice people. They are always very polite and they very generous and hospitable. The boys have had a good time, I mean these guys are first time here with me anyway.
And what about the others?
Jeff: Well, I have to agree with Graham that there are many beautiful women here. That’s fantastic! And actually the audience was very exciting.
Tim: The architecture. I love that. And food! (laughs)
Howie: I don’t like anything. No, I am joking. Yeah, the audience is so nice. Because when you’re playing in many places, especially back home, the audience is so jaded, cause they see a million bands through a million years of rock’n’roll, but over here it still seems a little new and fresher then it does in a lot of places. Maybe it’s because of iron curtain and being free now. We have had it longer, so people think that they could see any band any other time they want. Over here people still want to see us. I really like that.
A few words to your Russian fans?
Tim: A few words to Russian fans.
Graham: In Russian. (laughs)
Howie: Do you know some Russian?
Jeff: I don’t know any Russian.
Tim: How do you say “please, invite us back”?
Graham: It will be nice to be back here again soon. I hope we will be here with new stuff soon.
Alcatrazz on MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/AlcatrazzOfficial
Special thanks to Andrei Alexandrov for arranging this interview
Interview by Sergei “BoBr” Bobrik
Photos by Anastasia "Reinameron" Savelyeva
May 29, 2010