|Christopher Gould - Serpentine : Interview Exclusive|
|Written by David Prince|
|Thursday, 11 March 2010 10:00|
Hi Chris thanks for taking the time out to answer questions for ÜBER RÖCK...
Not many people will be familiar with Serpentine - the latest band on the block to challenge the Gods of AOR/Melodic Rock - so please can you give an introduction to the readers/followers of ÜBER RÖCK.
Hi Dave, thanks for the interview. Serpentine are a new British AOR band with their debut album 'A Touch Of Heaven' being released via AOR Heaven on the 26th March. It came out a few days ago (24th February) in Japan on Marquee Avalon. We're hoping to take the world by storm with a new brand of AOR Melodic Rock!
I heard whispers of the band since back in 2007 (having met you, bassist Gareth Vanstone and keyboardist extraordinaire Gareth Noon) at a couple of local gigs... Back then the demos were vocal-less. But even then the talent shone through. I understand that the search for a vocalist proved to be a very daunting task. So how did the band cope with the pressure of finding the right guy or girl?
Thank you very much for the kind words. We considered both genders, but after a couple of auditions it seemed obvious that a guy would need to sing for Serpentine. Finding the right one was very difficult; there are a lot of people out there who think they can sing but just don't cut it. Greg was doing a great job but it was difficult to get things done at a pace that we were happy with. It was a chance meeting with myself and Bob Richards that put us in touch with Tony. We contacted various singers but Tony definitely had the right vibe for the band and as you can hear, he's done a fantastic job on 'A Touch Of Heaven.'
Eventually finding the right vocalist in Tony Mills (ex-Shy) - what qualities does Tony bring to the band? (Interviewer's Note: My first memory of Tony was back in Tonypandy Naval Club... where he proceeded to 'Break Down The Walls!') How does Serpentine fit within his schedule of Shy, TNT & State Of Rock?
He definitely brings a lot of high notes, hummable vocal melodies and memorable lyrics. Everything we need basically! The schedule hasn't really been a problem; during the writing/recording of 'A Touch Of Heaven' Tony was performing TNT shows a lot. It certainly didn't get in the way of him helping to write a great album with us. We work around each other's schedules and just get things done while we can; we are planning to get some free time together to go out and play live dates this year so get that CD, learn the lyrics and come sing along with us soon!
Having previously been booked to play 'RockFest' back in November 2009, and booked a couple of warm-up dates, what was the band morale like after the cancellation of these dates?
Our morale was unaffected, of course it was disappointing but we'd just signed to the fantastic AOR Heaven with Georg so that definitely kept morale high. We also plan to get out there and play live dates in the future so it was only a case of delaying the inevitable. It's just this time the album will be out there and crowd can join in.
The band is in the process of releasing their debut album 'A Touch Of Heaven' (AOR Heaven) in Europe on the 26th of March. Are you looking forward to seeing your product finally on the shelves of your local HMV?
We're looking forward to seeing it in Spillers Records because they stock AOR music unlike the HMV in Cardiff. Get yourself over to Spillers Records if you're in town!
For such a new band you appear have pretty good support from your label and management. For example you have produced an awesome promo video for 'Whatever Heartache' which has been getting rave reviews from a lot of the AOR Press/message boards. Was this the intention all along, i.e. wait until the product is of a high enough standard and shop it around and then take it to the masses?
Thank you Dave, we're all glad you like the video and very happy with the positive response it's received. AOR Heaven is a great label with awesome advertising and promotion but the video was actually funded by outside investors. Our intention has always just been to make great AOR/Melodic Rock music and take it to the world. As far as standards go, every effort will be made to get it to the highest standard we can give. Being huge fans of the genre, we wouldn't ever put anything out that we wouldn't buy ourselves.
With the resurgence in AOR/Melodic Rock recently, where do you see yourselves fit in?
Hopefully we will be part of the many great bands in this genre that will make AOR/Melodic Rock a worldwide favourite once again.
What would be your ideal tour package or festival?
That's a very interesting question, but being a fan of many genres of music and a guitarist may make my suggestions a bit biased. It has always been a lifelong dream of mine and the other members of the band to support our favourite bands. Personally mine would be supporting W.A.S.P., Jeff Healey (R.I.P.), Shy - might tire Tony out ;-) - and the Jimi Jamison era Survivor line-up. I'm pretty sure collectively it would be to support Journey and BLVD. on a world tour.
Are you looking to tour the UK, or to conquer the world first and then proceed to rub our noses in it!?
We are grateful to have had a very positive response to the album in Japan so who knows which one will end up happening. We would of course love to play to our home crowds but we just love playing music and will play to any fans that want to listen.
Why 'Unbreak My Heart?'
Tony chose this song because it had a lot of potential to be a great rock song. Our aim with the cover on the album was to take a song from a totally different genre and make it our own, which I think we've achieved. So far there's been a great response to this and some people have referred to it as Tony's best vocal to date. I couldn't agree more with them; it's a singer's song and he's done a brilliant job.
A bit of word association for ya...
Rock or Pop - Rock
Download or Sonishpere - Download
Danger Danger or Tyketto - Danger Danger
Casio or Yamaha - Yamaha without hesitation, especially the Tyros series!
Pointy headstocks or Classic Les Paul - Classic Les Paul (I'm huge Gibson Fan!)
Shy or TNT - Shy (Steve Harris is a guitar God!)
White Lion or Freak Of Nature - White Lion
Journey or Foreigner - Journey
David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar - Sammy Hagar
Jeff Scott Soto or Arnel Pineda - Jeff Scott Soto
Many thanks to Chris for the interview - read the review of the Serpentine album here!!!