Unleash the Voodoo - Alex Speaks Out!!
Voodoo Circle are no strnagers to the world of Hard Roc/ Blues or Heavy Metal having been around since 2008 when guitar wizard Alex Beyrodt (Silent Force) teamed up with long time friend Mat Sinner (Primal Fear/ Sinner) to form a new band along with English singer David Readman (Pink Cream 69) and at the beginning Mel Gaynor 'Simple Minds' on drums & keyboardist Jimmy Kresic. The band recorded their debut album for AFM Records which was self titled and well... that was a damn good debut album. It turned out that this no was project but a band and in 2011 the band recorded 'Broken Heart Syndrome' which was a superb 2nd album, which featured new drummer Markus Kullman to the fold. With the band having lots of other acts to content with it took some time before the band would finally record the new stunning album 'More than one way Home', which sees the band mixing classic Deep Purple with the heaviness of Whitesnake's '1987' album, the 2 would be a massive explosion of classic Metal/ Hard Rock/ Blues. I managed to have a chat with old friend Alex about the new album and the recent past to find out more about one of Germany's best kept secrets until now... In the meantime check out their new album it's fantastic.
Hi Alex, it's been a long time since we spoke or met, how's life? What's happening right now for you?
"Yeah Jase, I'm good and you? Yeah it has been a long time my friend. Well I'm actually on a tour bus right now doing the Rock Meets Opera tour in Europe with Paul Rodgers, Bonny Tyler, Eric Brazilian, Steve Augeri formally with Journey and Mat Sinner who is the musical director for this tour and he asked me if I wanted to play the guitar and I was like yes!! Last year I did it with Ian Gillan and other great artists and for me it is a great honor to do that."
It's been a while since we last met Alex, do you see any of the guys from Silent Force? A great band sadly missed.
"Actually I don't! I am going to release a new album with a new line up by the end of the year though. You will hear about it at some point later this year."
As we are talking about the new album, I would like to congratulate you on a fine album once again, maybe we should call the band 'Deep Snake' haha!! Well there are lots of Deep Purple and Whitesnake in this album.
"(laughing) Yes if you want too!! I am honored that you think that Jason, that is the bands that have influenced me and that is where I am coming from, and I get some much great feedback from people saying that they are really happy that we play this kind of music, so if you want to compare it that is great!! (Ed: For me it comes across between '1987' and 'Storm Bringer') That is great, thanks!!"
Is it true that Les Paul guitars are properly the best for playing Rock & Metal?
"Yes it is true, I am well known for playing the Strat guitar for many years but this the new album I started to compose riffs for a Les Paul guitar. So I guess if I was composing riffs a Les Paul I should maybe use a Les Paul guitar. (Ed: Did you get the sound you wanted for the songs on the new album?) Yes I did actually, I made a chance and got a couple of Les Paul's and I think I recorded 11 songs on the new album out of 14 on a Les Paul and it gives the album a totally different sound and a different approach."
The last time we did an interview for Voodoo Circle was for the debut album, so I missed the chance to talk about the 2nd album, so how do you compare the debut album to the last 2 albums?
"Well this time Mat and David have have been more involved with the song writing material and David has done the albums with a different approach. This time I have used a different engineer to mix the album who really did a great job on the album with a bigger sound and pushed the guitars more than on previous albums. The direction had changed to a more Blues direction and I am a big fan of Black Country Communion and the new album felt like a natural process to write these kind of songs and to record them, I had no pressure and we just recorded them and the results speak for themselves."
The debut album have Mel Gaynor on drums from 'Simple Minds', why didn't he record the 2nd and new album?
"Well after the debut album was finished I asked him when he would be available to record the next album and I called him up and he was in Australia and he told me he would be back to do the next album in about 2yrs time. I told him I could not wait that long and so we decided to go separate ways and we are still friends no hard feels it just didn't work out sadly."
So where did you find Markus Kullmann to be the new drummer?
"Well Markus played drums for the German band called 'Desperadoes' on AFM and he is a great guy and I called him the German Bonham he plays so naturally and powerful."
From the previous sales Alex, what were the sales like for the previous albums? Did they sell well and better than you expected?
"Well the 2nd album entered the German national charts on 64 and that was a huge success for us, and today I checked Amazon and we are at #2 Hard Rock charts right now in Germany and that is really good and we are hoping the new album will hit the German charts again soon."
When the band 1st started did the fans think it was just a side project for you and the rest of the guys?
"Actually not really, sure some people thought it would be a project but we never looked at it that way and we have known each other for so many years now and Mat and I go back more than 25yrs, and I have known David 15yrs so we do hang out a lot together. If you listen too the songs you will hear how much passion we have put into the songs, you can feel it and it is a real band."
As you have just released the new stunning album 'More than one way Home', it's a great album, so why the title for this album and did you have any other titles in mind?
"Well the title came from me it was my idea, and I think the title stand for me is saying there is always a different way to achieve your goal and you don't have to go in a straight line. In society many people try to steal how to do things and if you don't do it that way it won't work or it is not right. Life is about making mistakes and learning from them and there would be no art or music or anything else if we all did the same things that society wants us to do things. That is my way of living and I don't think like that and if I make a mistake ok so be it, and I want people to think about that and give things a try. It was the only title I had in mind for the album."
The artwork for the album is pretty blend, just you guys walking down a road with a city in the back ground, who's idea was it to do that cover?
"Yes that artwork was my idea too, I just wanted to have a band picture on the cover and I also wanted that on the 1st album but it didn't turn out good enough for the debut album. For the 2nd album I wanted the same thing but the record company said they did not want that for the 2nd album and if you have the band picture on the cover you will loose sales. I really wanted that but I went along with the labels ideas and for the 3rd album I was like 'Fuck you all', I will have the band on the cover and I wanted the fans to see the band on the front cover and that is very unusual thing to do these days (Ed: Are you a boy band now? haha) No not at all, we are too ugly to be a boy band (laughing). I just wanted to do things different for this album. The picture was actually taken outside on a road but has some manipulated computer artwork for the city in the background."
Just how did this album take to record compared to the last albums? Do you all write the music and lyrics together as well?
"We had to wait for our engineer to finish touring with Kamelot so it took longer than we expected. It took about a year to record the album with the song writing and everything. Well the lyrics are made by David and the only song I wrote lyrics for was for the song 'Alissa' and I wrote that song for my girlfriend. (Ed: Last time we spoke you were married to a woman from Japan, what happened?) Well we went separate ways, she lives in Japan with my kids. I was getting burnt out and wasn't in a good way mentally but the new girlfriend brought back a smile to my face and made me feel happy again so that is why I dedicated the song to her."
This new album is fantastic, there are some really good ballads on the album, why did you decide to do more ballads on this album?
"Well it just all came naturally, I never really thought about it and I was never a big fan of ballads in the past and then I was writing with Mat we found we had 3 really good ballads and we thought it would be a shame not to have them on the album, 'Alissa' is far away from the other 2 ballads like 'More than one way Home' is one you can listen too on the radio."
Briefly what are the songs about on the new album please?
"Well the songs are briefly about love, life, you live and learn stuff. I love all the songs, I like 'Graveyard City' which is one of my favourites as it has this really nice guitar riff and it sounds powerful. I also like 'Heart of Babylon' and I always wanted to write a song about Kashmir but I never came out with an idea that was good enough until now. I am totally happy with the album and I would not change anything about it, I am excited about how the fans will react to it."
Where there any special guests on the new album or were you going to have any?
"There were no special guest, we did not want to name drop or whatever. I only wanted the band on the album nobody else. We did have real percussions on the album for the song 'Alissa' but that was it."
So when will the band be touring? Any UK dates?
"Well we are going on tour in May with 'Shakra' which will be a great package. The opening band is called 'Eclipse' from Sweden. We have no UK dates booked sadly but if nobody in the UK wants to pay for it we can't come over but we would love too."
Will the band be doing any festivals this year?
"Yes we are m we are playing in the south of Germany with Whitesnake, Journey, Europe, and Thin Lizzy. (Ed: As much as I love Thin Lizzy, I really don't think they have the right singer for the band, they should of got Mat Sinner, he would of been perfect. He has the voice and he plays bass too). Yeah that is true, he would be great in that band."
So Alex thanks for doing the interview, do you have anything to say before we finish? best of luck with the tour and future sales of the album. I hope we meet again soon. Take care and chat soon.
"Yeah it was nice speaking to you again Jason, I am sure our paths will cross soon so we can have a beer or two. For the fans, thanks for the support, we hope you like the album and we hope to see you very soon."
Thanx to Mike Exley and Alex for the interview.