VOODOO CIRCLE // official interview 2018 // AFM Records

Congratulations with the new album! I can’t stop listening to it. I suppose that the title “Raised On Rock” means that the album is dedicated to those who grew up with good old rock. So, the question is: how do you see your main audience? Are they mainly elder people? Do you have enough youngsters among your fans?

Well, the audience is definitely a little bit older but the great thing is that our fans bring their kids. And we also have like 11, 13, 14, etc years old kids in the crowd because they come with their parents which is a kinda cool thing and it’s always very nice to talk to them, to take pictures with them and to get in touch with them. We are playing classic hard rock with Voodoo Circle and that kind of music is not very popular at this moment in the world probably, but there are still many classic hard rock fans out there, and they research stuff in the Internet and they find us. And they think like “oh, it sounds like my style” then. That works very well for us.

Before “Raised on Rock” recording the band passed a significant line-up change. How did it happen? Why did you part your ways with David Readman who was in the band since the very beginning?

Everything actually was really cool with David, I really enjoyed working with him on vocals and we were friends, I thought. We worked together and it was fun, there was never a sign that he was not happy. What actually happened was I received an email from him while I was in New York. I just landed and picked up my phone, downloaded emails and it was an email in my iPhone from David saying “I’m sorry, but I’m gonna leave the band”. And till today he didn’t tell me why he left the band. I have no idea. I asked him several times but he said that he didn’t wanna talk about… But it was really great working with him, playing with him, being with him. There was never ever any fight or anything like that I was unhappy with his performance. And this email that he left the band that came to me was a huge surprise.

How did you get to know Herbie? I’ve heard it happened at Wacken Open Air? How much time did it take to understand that he’s the right person to join Voodoo Circle?

Well, funny thing is that, as I’ve just told you, I was in New York when I received that email from David. And the reason why I was in New York was that a tour with Primal Fear started. So, we went on tour with Primal Fear to America and then from there to Canada, Japan, Australia… it was a long trip! And while I was on this tour in North America, Herbie wrote an email offering himself to work with Rock Meets Classic. As you may know, we also have this project. And he wrote just a week after David had left the band. And immediately I and Mat said “oh, this is our guy, because his performance with us at Wacken was really great, he’s a great singer!” His mail was like a sign! So, we wrote back and he was totally blown away ‘cos Herbie is actually a Voodoo Circle fan. He has all our records. He was really following the band and he really loved it. And to make a long story short, I sent him a song after my return and Herbie sang on it like “let’s see how it sounds with your voice”. It turned to be the favorite song of his wife and it just sounds perfect to me and to our music. And that’s why he got this job. But actually there was nobody else to this position. It was probably the easiest line-up change of the singer in rock history (laughs).

Really? No discussions, no auditions?

Nothing! It was like one is gone, and another one wrote an email and that’s it.  To be honest, to change a singer is always difficult. It’s always a risk and most of the time it’s the end of a band if you’re not AC/DC or Iron Maiden. If you look at other bands, I mean not “champions league’s” bands, most of the time it’s the end but not for Voodoo Circle. After I read so many reviews and gave some interviews, my impression, my feeling is that people like Voodoo Circle even more than before. Probably, because it sounds more original now, it has more of its own touch.

What’s new in the band and what ideas can you fulfill with Herbie in the band?

Well… we’ve just actually had lots of fun. Herbie came from traditional heavy metal and power metal. Then he was starting to do Avantasia stuff. But he’s never sung in classic rock influenced band before. So, for him it was also something new and also a challenge. I’ve heard his vocals, his voice for the very first time actually when I were learning the song that we played at Wacken as Rock Meets Classic with him. And when Herbie started singing, I had no idea who is he. I was like “Who is this singer? He is awesome! This is really great!” First, I thought it’s Jorn actually to be honest... And when I heard Herbie’s voice I immediately heard this crisp and that there’s a bluesy touch and a bluesy vibe in his voice but it seemed to me he hadn’t discovered it yet. It was there but nobody ever worked with it before Voodoo Circle. Nobody ever challenged him or gave him a chance to do something in this direction. So, for Herbie, of course it was a challenge, but it was also a big motivation. He learnt so much about his singing and about his voice and now he has all these different colors… Then he met me here at my house in France, we worked together at some melodies, we had so much fun! If it’s like when you’re in love with someone, a new love, it’s the same with musicians (laughing).    

I understood that Herbie participates in songwriting as previously David used to. How does he influence the band’s stuff?

Yes, absolutely! The way we work together is exactly the same that we worked with David. For 100 percent. As I’ve said, it was the easiest line-up change ever (laughing). Concerning the songwriting, as you probably know, mostly it’s I’m who is responsible for the music. Continuously I’m writing songs. And this time with Herbie’s voice I felt that we could come back to some songs I wrote years ago and give them a try. The difference was that those songs which I wrote in 2007 I think, they had more like Rainbow approach, they were more bluesy, they were having more those classical harmonies and this mystic Ronnie James Dio vibe. And since Herbie comes from heavy/power metal I thought this could maybe work. We started working also on those songs and they are on the record. 

Next question is about the departure of Alessandro del Veccio. Do you suppose to hire a permanent keyboardist now because I understood that for “Raised On Rock” you had a session musician?

We are talking now about the keyboard player Corvin Bahn. He plays with Uli John Roth who is an incredible guitar player! And Corvin is a really really cool guy. We already played a tour with Voodoo Circle together last year and he played keyboards on the record and just yesterday I spoke to him to see if he’s available because we are planning to go on tour in May. And everything looks good. If we have a constant keyboard player as a member in the band, I don’t know yet… For example, we played a tour three years ago as a four-piece without a keyboard player. And actually people loved it! (laughing) And with all these line-up changes maybe we just hire a keyboard player whenever we need one.   

And to finish this subject of changes I should ask about possible line-up change that eventually didn’t happen: I remember that about two years ago Mat Sinner announced that he had left Voodoo Circle. And it was a nice surprise to see him again on the band’s pictures when you announced Herbie a year ago. Could you tell a bit about his departure and quick come back?

Well, that was just a rumor! (laughing) We thought we need to do some marketing, so people talk about us and we decided to spread out that rumor and this is my statement! This was fake news! (laughing) Very common words today: “fake news”! Donald Trump is responsible for that! 

I thought, it were “Russian hackers”…

No-no… Not Russian hackers. It’s Donald Trump himself!

You were on tour with Voodoo Circle last October. How was it? How was the vibe?

Well, it was a typical Voodoo Circle tour with typical Voodoo Circle shows. I’ve started this band also because I’ve always wanted to have jam sessions on stage when you never know what happens making it very interesting for the band and especially for listeners. And these are typical Voodoo Circle shows. Nothing changed here. And Herbie… we spent a week in a tour bus and such things always helps to get to know each other, to see if the vibe is good or not, and if it works out. And as you can see, Herbie is still in the band! (laughing) So, no “fake news” here!

Cool! If I’m not mistaken, you started your professional career with Sinner band, later you joined Primal Fear… Why did you decide to establish your own band that plays rather hard rock than metal?

I started working with Mat in his Sinner band in 1988. In 1998 I established my own band called The Sygnet that later actually became Silent Force. Silent Force with DC Cooper on vocals were successful touring all over the world and later I started Voodoo Circle. The reason why I started the own band back in the days, in 1998, was to play in a band where I’m the only guitar player. I wanted to feel free and to do whatever I want. You know, the less musicians you have in a band the easier you can express yourself, right? But I love also to play with Tom [Naumann] in Primal Fear because we are friends for so many years (smiling) and we know each other so well, we know exactly what the other one is doing next, what he’s thinking and that’s a different level. Then I started Voodoo Circle mainly, as I’ve said earlier, because I wanted to have a band which is able to jam. For example, if you look at Deep Purple back in the 70’s when they played Mistreated and sometimes it was 7 minutes, sometimes it was 25 minutes. You never knew what would happen. This is what I wanted: when you go on stage and you have a set list but you never know how the song is turned out. And that was the main reason why I started Voodoo Circle.

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