Prior to GRAHAM BONNET BAND's March 15 performance in Helsinki, Finland, legendary vocalist Graham Bonnet (RAINBOW, ALCATRAZZ, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP) was interviewed by Southeast Wreckmetal. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On GRAHAM BONNET BAND's current European tour:
Graham: "We have a new guitar player now, Joe Stump. We're playing a lot of our ALCATRAZZ music, as well as RAINBOW, IMPELLITERI — a bit of everything that I've done in the past and recently, and also our new stuff from our first [GRAHAM BONNET BAND] album [2018's 'Meanwhile, Back In The Garage']."
On "Meanwhile, Back In The Garage":
Graham: "I'm very proud of it, because it's not your ordinary heavy rock album. I think it has some interesting songs with interesting lyrics and interesting melodies and great playing. What I try to do when we are writing songs is not to follow a trend. Don't really listen to what other people are doing. You try to do that and sometimes fail. I don't listen to any of our 'style' of music — I just take it whatever way I think would be good. Always make the songs about a real event or a real person or something like that, instead of it being fantasy about dungeons, dragons and men living on mountains, like the old RAINBOW stuff."
On finding inspiration:
Graham: "I think I've written four songs for the new [ALCATRAZZ] album already, and it's hard to find a new subject... It's always got to be a true story. The way I make up lyrics is almost like a country song – it tells a story. It won't make you cry necessarily, but it will certainly make you rock and roll."
Graham: "Joe is amazing with arrangements. He plays in so many different styles. He's one of those guys who's just good at everything guitar playing-wise. He can play like anyone you like, because all the songs I've done through the years, it's been with a different guitar player, different band, whatever. Those styles that we had back then, he can reproduce on stage."
On deciding to resurrect the ALCATRAZZ moniker:
Graham: "I'm going to use the name because I think people will recognize the name rather than recognize my name. A lot of people don't know me — they don't know my name, but they know the band name, and I think it's probably a good idea for us to do that because now we have a band that sounds pretty much like the first edition of ALCATRAZZ, I think."
On what to expect from a new ALCATRAZZ album:
Graham: "I think with ALCATRAZZ, we have a style... I think we can't go too far away from being that animal. Otherwise, people will say, 'What the hell are they doing? That's not the guys I remember.' When the new ALCATRAZZ album comes out, it will be in a similar style to ALCATRAZZ, but it will be modern-day. It won't dated-sounding, I hope... We have different writers. Different guitar players have sent us stuff. Steve Vai is one. Dario Mollo [Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin] is another guitar player that's sent us some stuff... I think it's a good idea to probably have guest guitar players. That's probably what will be happening, but Joe will be playing all the main parts."
On touring with MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST:
Graham: "I've known those guys for quite a few years. We're all friends. It's a bit weird — almost like being on 'American Idol': 'And here's the next singer...' It's a bit like that sometimes. It's a very long show — it's, like, two and a half hours — and it's quite fatiguing even though you're not on stage all the time. You're waiting to go back on, and we do backing harmonies for each other, each singer. It's been good."
On the current state of rock music:
Graham: "Any band that plays this sort of 1980s-ish music, it's not a big deal right now. It's not fashionable; it's out of date. Sometimes, people think, 'Who wants to hear that old white guy's music?' But it's coming back in a way, because we get a younger audience now, I've found, especially in England... The are sort of catching on to what I call real rock n' roll, as opposed to the other stuff."
On his pre-show routine:
Graham: "I never warm up, so when I go on stage, it's like, 'Ooh, am I going to be good tonight or not?' I don't like to ruin it. It's a waste of notes if I warm up and do all that stuff that a lot of singers do, which apparently works, but for me, it doesn't. I've never done it, and Ronnie Dio said, 'It'd be a waste of notes if I warmed up now. I save them for when I get out there.' That's what I do."
ALCATRAZZ formed in 1983 and released three studio albums before disbanding in 1987. The group originally featured Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar, but after tensions between Malmsteen and Bonnet boiled over during a 1984 concert in Oklahoma, Malmsteen quit and was replaced by Vai. Two years later, Vai left to join David Lee Roth's band.
Bonnet previously fronted reformed versions of ALCATRAZZ between 2006 and 2014 and then again for a one-off performance in Japan in 2017, which yielded the 2018 live album "Parole Denied – Tokyo 2017". The band's new album will be its first since 1986's "Dangerous Games".
The GRAHAM BONNET BAND released its latest album, "Meanwhile, Back In The Garage", last July via Frontiers Music Srl.