Time to Shed some Skin... Laurie Wisefield speaks Out

Hard Rock & Blues have always been one of the underdogs of the music scene, so many talented musicians like Daven Menketti (Y&T), Gary Moore, to name a few are just some of them along with the godfathers such as BB King, Chuck Berry and many more. 

Many bands come and go and with Snakechamer, forming out of the ashes of Whitesnake, with Micky Moody (guitars) & Neil Murray (bass) teaming up with guitarist for Wishbone Ash & Tina Turner Laurie Wisefield, Thunder drummer Harry James, Adam Wakeman (Rick Wakemna's son), Chris Ousey (Heartland) on vocals, the band set up to forma  Hard Rock band with some Blues influences.

The band recorded their debut self titled album in 2013 which was released on Italian label Frontiers, which received a warm response from both fans and press, having made their mark the band where about to release their 2nd album when Micky quit the band only to be released by Simon McBride and the 2nd album 'Second Skin' was released only last month and is doing really well with sales.

I managed to catch up with the band when they played in my home city of Hull (UK) at the Fruit club to chat with guitarist Laurie to find out more about how the band were formed and tot talk about the new album. Here is what he had to say, in the meantime check out this impressive new album, it's a good solid hard rocking album.

Well Laurie it's a pleasure meeting you and welcome to Hull. As this is a pretty new band I would like to ask you at what age did you learn to play you're 1st instrument? 

"Well we have been around for some time now, I 1st started playing guitar at the age of 8 and my influences back then were Elvis Presley and Cliff from the Shadows, I was also a fan of Hank Marvin as there wasn't that many more back in that time. I saw were eh was coming from with people like James Burton and the late 50's stuff and I have a older sister who pretty much put me onto some music. My 1st guitar I got was one that my grandfather bought me which was an acoustic thing and it was barely playable and my dad said when you can play 10 songs he would buy me an electric guitar. It was a Watkins rapier 33 and I still have the starch plate and picks ups somewhere.

I didn't have an amp at that time so my father said I could plug into a tape recorder which I did and I blew it up, I did get an amp in the end and that was that. I went from guitar players like Chuck Berry to the whole British Blues thing and the American thing and then I got into Country music for a while and the band I was in were called 'Home' and Cliff Williams was the bass player who is with AC/DC but left recently. He is one of my oldest buddies and sadly the other 2 guys died a few years ago, we were a Country Rock band. After that I got the gig with Wishbone Ash, and that was a long time ago. I liked the albums 'The Rub' and 'New England' a lot and they were my 2 favorite albums."

What did you do after Wishbone Ash?

"Well after them I joined Tina Turner band and she is amazing singer and person. She has a huge amount of energy and one of the greatest performers for sure and I was working with her on and off since 86 and then I did the farewell tour about 6 yrs ago and I think she is done now with touring. After that I joined Joe Cocker and it was music I really enjoyed bless him, I had the chance to play with a lot more freedom and it was more blues style in places. Tina had the same management as Joe so it worked out well for me in the end. I later on the the 'Queen' musical which lasted 12yrs and when it originally started I kind of knew Brian and Roger a little bit and Neil and I knew each other and we did the Queen thing together for like I said 12 yrs.

I also did another thing called 'Night of the Proms' which I did every year with a orchestra and choir and we had a rock band with it were different guest would come on stage and that was a lot of fun which I did for 12yrs too, it was called 'Rock meets Classic'. With the Queen musical they were great about us taking time off and when I did the last Tina tour I was on tour for 8 months and that was a short one compared to when I 1st joined her band. The 1st tour I did with her was 14 months long."

Ok Laurie, lets talk about the Snakechamber band, how did you meet the rest of the band, like you said you were with Neil on the Queen musical. How did you meet the rest of the band back in roughly 2011?

"Well when Neil and I were working together in Rock we said it would be great to do something else together. He said Micky Moody would be up for doing something like this as well and so we were all working together Neil, Micky and I and the originally idea was to have Harry James on drums and we had heard of Chris Ousey from Heartland who is a great singer and we had planned to play some Whitesnake songs to start with some Wishbone Ash songs and some Thunder and Heartland songs. When we got together we knew then it that wasn't going to really work because there was so many different styles especially with the vocals, so we ended up doing more Whitesnake stuff. 

We knew we had too much talent in the band so we decided to write our own songs and we didn't want to be a tribute band, and as we had Micky and Neil in the band we knew we could play some festivals and money would be made from it. In reality it was harder to get the work doing Whitesnake songs so we then started write our own stuff and Chris and I was writing together a lot and we came up with the 1st album. The hardest thing about this band is getting everybody together in the same room at one time and the fact that everybody is also doing other things. When we do get together we do work really quickly and we did the 1st album on a very low budget and quickly and it was very well respected.

So we decided to write our 2nd album 'Second Skin' which is just about out and we are very pleased with it I did a lot of writing on that record and it was done in a different way because we live so far away we used stuff like pro tools to record and send ideas to Chris and then come together at a later date. Harry has written a couple of tunes and the rest is pretty much Chris and me who's wrote the songs."

So the band's name pretty much came from Micky and Neil been former members of Whitesnake... the snake part of the names has continued into you're band? 

"Well I think we are getting to a point now with the 2nd album were we are hoping that that we have our own identity and we are hoping that people will see that. We so far have only done a couple of gigs on this tour and we have had some good response from the fans so far and they are saying the material is great and I don't think we really need to do the Whitesnake stuff really anymore. Having said that it is still early stages within the band. We only do 3 Whitesnake songs in the set and they are songs that we can expand on, we are playing 'Crying in the Rain', 'Ready and Willing' and 'Here I go Again'.

We were originally going to be called 'Monsters of British Rock' (laughing) and we thought it was a little bit to cheesy in the end, who ever thought of the name thought we they could sell it like some super group, and I think we did 1 or 2 show before changing our name."

Moving on where did you record you're debut album? Also was it an easy process to record that album?

"The debut album was recorded at 'QEG' management at that time in Buckinghamshire way and the new album was recorded with producer Gary Stevenson who has worked with Go West, a lot of 80's Pop stuff and when we approached him and said that he had not done that many Rock albums but he said he loved Rock music. Gary is also a guitarist himself so it worked out really well for him and the band. The new album is much better than the 1st one and he is very good at getting sounds together."

So how do you compare the new album to the debut album?

"Well it has some similar vibes to it but it is also a tougher album and heavier in parts and now that Micky is no longer in the band we now have Simon who has replaced him in the band now. He is a great guitarist and he has added a different texture to the bands music and he comes form a more younger generation and I know he likes Gary Moore style. (Ed: when Micky left the band did you ever think of getting Bernie Marsden?) Well Bernie has his own thing going and we did mention him at the start but we wanted somebody else. Micky left because he was going through some changes in life and I think he was tired of all the waiting as it is difficult to get all of us together at any one time.

The debut album didn't have any other titles it was just self titled in the end."

Moving on now let's talk about the title of the new album who came up with the title?

"Well that was my idea to have the title for the record, I guess part of it was the fact that it was our 2nd album so 'Second Skin' seemed pretty much perfect, on the other hand a snake sheds it's skin which was the Micky leaving the band so we were kind of shedding some of the skin with this new album. So that is what made me think about the title of the new album and moving forward with a new fresh attitude and new ideas."

So who did the art work for the new album?

"Well it was done by a guy who works for Frontiers and that was rather hard to do. We had a few ideas and they didn't like all of the ideas, the actually liked some of them but been painted and unless it is done really well it can be a rubbish. I think the artist did a really good job for this album. The original idea was something that Neil saw online with a woman's back in a pool or river and she had a tattoo on her back of a snake so that is were the idea came from. We would of liked to of used that but I don't think we could of had permission to use it.

So Frontiers liked the idea and told us to let them come up with the ideas for the album cover so the guy who drew it came up with the painting which looks great!!"

So how long did it take to record 'Second Skin'?

"We recorded it in 2 batches of 6 tracks in the 1st recordings which took 2 days, and then 2 days for the next 6 batch of songs and they also wanted an acoustic track for the Japanese. The 1st recordings were done mainly for the drums and 2 days for overdubs which took a few weeks."

Are you happy with the way the album has turned out? Also do you have any favourite songs on the new album?

"Yes I am very happy with the way it has turned out. As for favourite songs, it depends on the day really, I do like all of them to be fair. I think as the band have natured I feel that we have started to know each other better and we know what we are capable of. On this album I have made the effort to write for Chris and his voice. I think it has worked out really well."

So who writes the music within the band?

"Well it is mainly a couple of people, it is 70% of ideas that I come up with and I send them to Chris who will write a lyric and Harry has come up with a couple of songs that he had some complete ideas and Simon kind of came in with them rather late and we asked him if he had any songs we could use for the album. So he sent a few songs down for us to check out and we get together and thrash out the songs and puts their own ideas on the record.

My studio is pretty basic and when I get an idea I just want to get it down and recorded. Sometimes I will put on my Iphone or Ipad and record it in my room at a later date. Then I will send it to Chris and see what he comes up with."

How many videos has the band recorded so far?

"Well we did one for 'Accident Prone' and one for this album 'That kind of Love' and it was recorded at the studio where we recorded the album."

So how did the deal with Frontiers come about and are you happy with them?

"So far things are going good, we will have to see how the new album sells. The question is, are they happy with us really? I think the album is great and it sounds better than the debut."

Do you have any plans to play and festivals this year?

"Well hopefully we will have to see how well the album sells. We want to get out to Europe."

Well thanks for the interview do you have anything to say to the fans reading this?

"Yes thanks to the fans for coming out and see in the band live, we hope you like the new album and if you can try and see us live. Thank you for the interview."

Thanks to Gary @ Redsand's for the interview and Laurence.