Interview With Kenny Powell

“There should be no need to introduce this Cult Metal act, unless you don’t know Metal!!! One of the finest Metal act’s to come out of the U.S. is Texas Power Metaller’s ‘Omen’. Finally I have the pleasure to interview Kenny Powell, the original guitar player and I just wish I had interviewed them back in the day with the original line-up. Still its great to finally interview Kenny and find out everything about the band. Question is, were do you start with such a Cult band like this?

Omen are about to release their long awaited album ‘Eternal Black Dawn’, which features one or two members from the ‘Re-Opening The Gates’ album. Here is what Kenny had to say about Omen’s history and the new album. I can’t wait to hear this gem, as I have heard it is Classic Omen material ‘Battle Cry’ & ‘Warning Of Danger’, well all will be revealed shortly, so go check it out!!”

“Well Kenny here is the interview I’ve waited for many years, so were do I begin? I’d better start by asking you the following question. “So when did Omen form the first time around and did you keep the same line-up until J.D. left the band?”

“Well my brain cells are pretty old now, but I will try to remember when we formed. We formed in 82 with then original line-up until we released the ‘Escape To Nowhere’ album when Coburn Parr joined to record that album. J.D. actually parted ways with us half way through a tour for ‘The Curse’, when he got into some pretty messed up fights. He was arrested and we could not carry on with his attitude.”

“How did you find the members the first time around and what bands were they in before ‘Omen.?”

“Well Steve and myself were playing in cover bands & Judy was playing guitar with my brother in a band and we were suppose to be moving to L.A. with another friend of mine called Roger. He played the bass, but backed out at last time, so we asked Judy if he wanted to play the bass.”

 “Who came up with the name ‘Omen’ and what other names did you have in mind for the name?”

 “Well had a pretty long list, but they all sucked (laughing) and one day Brian from Metal Blade called me up and told me he had a good name for the band, which of course was ‘Omen’. We loved the name.”

 “How did you hook up with Brian from Metal Blade?”

 “Well I met Brian when I was in ‘Savage Grace’ and I recorded their debut mini record. (ED: Shit I did not know that!!) I was suppose to of played on ‘After The Fall From Grace’, but I left the band and ‘Battle Cry’ and ‘Die By The Blade’ were suppose to be on the ‘Fall From Grace’ album, but I left the band so I took them with me. They said that they weren’t that good for Savage Grace anyway.”

 “Besides ‘Iron Maiden’, who else are the bands influences?”

“I try not to be influenced by too many artist, but some times you cannot help it. I love Sabbath, Priest, Savatage, Thin Lizzy, and I think my guitar harmonies come more from Lizzy than Maiden.”

 “How many demos did you record before the debut album ‘Battle Cry’?”

 “Well we did none, we rehearsed for about 6 weeks and recorded the album. So when we hooked up with J.D the lyrics he created fitted right in with the band.”

 “Did the deal with ‘Metal Blade’ come about because you were featured on the ‘metal Massacre’ series?”

“No not at all, it was all down to the fact that I had played on the debut Savage Grace record ‘The Dominatrix’ and when they told me that they did not want my song Brian told me to put them on the Metal Massacre release.”

“Out of all the albums you have done with ‘Omen’, which are your favourite and least favourites and why?”

“Well I love all the first 3 albums, and it is very hard for me to pick a favourite album. I like ‘Battle Cry’ because there is a lot of energy and rawness about it. The only downfall for that album is the production, it is not great but nothing was back then in the day. I also love ‘Warning Of Danger’, & I also thought it was underrated because back in the day there was no Internet & so you could not find out who was buying your records. When we went to Europe in 97 and Greece 2002 we found out that a lot of people had that record. I love ‘The Curse’, because I could experiment a lot more with that record. My least favourite records are the last 2, I do not like anything about them. When we did ‘Escape To Nowhere’ we had a producer and he trashed all of our songs and tried to make us into something we were not. That is why I hate that record. By the time we had spent all of our budget it was too late to turn the table around, so we had to make do with what you hear. A lot of people blame Coburn for that record, but it was all down to the producer. As for the ‘Re-Opening The Gates’ album, when we recorded that I had no idea that there was still a following for the classic Omen sound. I should of done my research before releasing that record.”

“So what bands did you play with in the day?”

“We played with ‘Lizzy Borden’, ‘Metal Church’, ‘Motorhead’, ‘Slayer’ and any other bands that we could get on tour with.”

“So why did the band call it a day the first time around?”

“Well I have no intentions of carry on as I was totally frustrated at that time. ‘Escape From Nowhere’ really damaged our relationship with Metal Blade, so we all started to loose interest in the whole music business.”

“What did you all do after you broke up? I know you did the ‘Stepchild’ record, what about the other guys?”

“Yeah that’s right I did do the ‘Stepchild’ record, I had the band together for about 7 yrs and it was not what I would of liked to of played, but still it was better than the last ‘Omen’ record right? We made more money than ‘Omen’ (laughing). Towards the end of our career’s our singer want to do a more pop approach whereas I wanted to carry on playing metal. He said the songs were sounding more like ‘Omen’ and I decided to do what I was best at, so here I am!! I do not know anybody who has spoken to J.D. since he left the band. After the fighting in the 86 tour we left him go and if I knew were he was now I may of asking him to join me with ‘Omen’ now. I saw Steve a couple of weeks ago and he his a family man now. Talk to Judy every once in a while and he has a band together and he does not play Metal anymore.”

“When you re-formed the band once again and released the ‘Re-Opening The Gates’ record it also featured your son Greg, how did that come about and did this line-up feature any ex members of ‘Stepchild’?”

“Yeah he was the singer on that record, but he does not sing on the new album. It was not the greatest experience for him as he was into the Nu-Metal and for him to play on the record I was proud of him. When we play the classic ‘Omen’ together I could not tell who was playing what, we sounded very alike to each other. If things go well I may ask him to just play guitar in the very near future.”

“What did you do after ‘Stepchild’ called it a day and before you re-formed ‘Omen’ once again?”

“well it just went from one to the other. A week after ‘Stepchild’ broke up I took Andy Haas with me to start work on the ‘Omen’ stuff.”

“Has the line-up from the last ‘Omen’ album besides your son gone with you to record the new album?”

“Well I took Andy with me and also Rick Murray on drums with me for this new album. He is an excellent drummer.”

“So why did you release the ‘Reopening The gates’ album for Massacre records after the release of ‘Stepchild’?”

“They seemed to be a good label when we did the ‘Stepchild’ album and so I asked them if they wanted to release the Omen album and they seemed very interested in it.”

“Why did you change your style of the last album, was it because you had to keep up with the times?”

“Yeah pretty much so, we thought that is what we should of done at that time, but looking back on it now was not the right choice.”

“Why did you call that album ‘Reopening The Gates’? Were there any other names for this album? Also did it sell well?”

“Well it sold OK, I think it sold better in the U.S. as we got some pretty good feedback over here. I don’t think it was very much liked in Europe, which does not surprise me really. The title came about because it was a re-opening to the bands career. We had no other names really. I wish we had of called the new album that title instead thinking about it. I think the overall sound is pretty lame, and I tried to re-master & mix it but Massacre Records would not let me. So when we released it in the States it was re-mastered & mix by myself and it sounds a lot heavier.”

“Why don’t you call the new album ‘Closing The Gates’?

(Laughing) “Yeah that would have been cool!!.”

“Did you tour for that album in Europe?”

“Yeah we did actually, we played with ‘Fates Warning’, we had a lot of fun!!”

“So didn’t you & Fates Warning come to the UK for that tour, we always shit out over here, it really pisses me off!!”

“I wish we had of come to the UK, we never played the UK even in the 80’s.”

“Once again the band called it a day, why?”

“I was not going to let ‘Omen’ end on that shitty record. I wanted the band to end on a high note if it was going to be the end of the band.”

“So you’re back for the 3rd time lucky, do you think you will keep the band together longer this time around?”

“Yeah I think we will say together now, especially if this record does well and I am sure it will I can see 2-3 more records.”

“So who is the new singer?”

“His name is Kevin Koocher, and he use to be in Punk bands and I had no idea that he could sing classic Metal, so we gave him a try and it worked out great!!”

“So who does his voice sound like?”

“I think he sounds across between ‘Dio’ and ‘J.D with more range than J.D. had.”

“OK Kenny, now let’s talk about the new album ‘Eternal Black Dawn’, so could you tell me a little bit about this album?”

“Well Jase, I listened to the 1st 3 albums a lot to help me out and to get back into the old style we use to play. We have been working on this album for about 3 yrs and it was almost finished a couple of times, but I through it away because I did not feel it was good enough to be classic ‘Omen’. I spent a lot of money out of my own pocket on this record and I feel it has done my justice and the band as well. The title was one of our first songs for that record so we thought it would make a good title for the album.”

“Who did the artwork and does it reflect in the bands music?”

“I think it does reflect in the bands music. The title has meteors falling down to earth and destroying the Earth and the cover reminds me of a ‘Battle Cry’ style cover. In the background of the cover is the ‘Omen’ snake, which is our mascot.”

“This album must mean a lot to you, how excited are you about this album?”

“I am so happy Jase, you would not believe how happy I am!! I am so happy and it takes me back to ’Battle Cry’ album. I think if you’re a fan of the early stuff then you’ll love this album.”

“What are the songs about and who writes them?”

“Well Kevin writes the lyrics and I write the music. The songs are called: A Thousand Year Reign, that is a classic Omen song."

“Would I be right in saying that the album was produced in your own studio?”

“Yeah pretty much so, we do not have it now as we lost the lease on the building. We did the drums in a nice studio and the rest was done at another studio and wen mixed it at the same studio were the drums had been recorded. We used Chris Bell who has had grammy’s for working on Blues & RNB stuff. He really busted his ass off on our new record and we are very happy for his help. We recorded the drum back in early May 2002 and we finished the album only a few weeks ago Dec 2002. Like I said we re-recorded it several times because I was not happy with it until now.”

“Does this album feature any special guest’s?”

No it does not, sorry Jase.”

“So when do we expect to hear and see this masterpiece?”

“Well we hope to have it released in early Spring of 2003, but right now we are trying to shop it to the best label that offers us a good deal. Our manager is taking care of that for us. So when we sign a deal it is a matter of having it mastered, so I hope it does not take that long.”

“What labels are showing interest in this album? I bet you have all the big fish right?”

“Yeah I guess so, we have interest’s from Nuclear Blast, Century Media, Metal Blade and more… Massacre have shown no interest, but we will not go back to them away.”

“How did you hook up with your Management Company?”

“He is one guy and he works with Paul Dianno & Steel Prophet and he got in touch with me and asked if I could help ‘Omen’ out, so here we are!! He loved our early stuff and he said the new material was classic ‘Omen’, so that was it.”

“The band went to Greece in 2002, how was it for the band & why did you play in Greece and not Europe?”

“Well it all came about when we were contacted by a radio station over there and they asked us if we would play over there. We only played 2 shows, it was meant to be only 1 show but it sold out so quickly they had to book another show in Anthens. I think it was the best shows I have ever done so far. We had 2 bands playing us with, one was called ‘Crush’ and another one called ‘Battle Roar’ who we became good friends with. I may even play a guitar solo on their album, they have asked me.”

“So when will we see the band touring Europe and maybe the UK?”

“I’m not sure yet, maybe in Spring & Summer of 2003. Our Management are trying to get us on some festivals, maybe Dynamo or WOA, who knows?”

“Well Kenny, it has been an honour to interview you, I grew up with ‘Omen’, do you have anything to say before we finish?”

“Yeah thanx for the support to our fans & we hope you like the new album and thanx for the interview Jason, stay in touch.“

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