Graham Bonnet Interview
Out on the road to promote their debut album "'No Parole From Rock ‘n’ Roll" is Rocshire Recording Artists "Alcatrazz". "Alcatrazz" is fronted by Graham Bonnet, a man whose name should be well known to fans of both Rainbow and the Michael Sehenker Group.
Graham Bonnet recently took some time out to speak with us about "Alcatrazz".
Q. You're out on the road with Ted Nugent. How has the tour been goin' for you so far?
A. Well, so far it's been real good. The guys from Ted Nugent's band have been real pleased about what we've done. Ted says it's really good to have a band open up for them that sort of has the audience worked up into some kind of rock ‘n’ roll thing.
Q. How long have you been out on the road?
A. We've probably been on the road for three months. We've been out with Heart, Loverboy. Saga. I can't remember all the bands right now, but a lot of sort of big bands. We've been all over the States. We've also been out to Japan earlier this year, which was a headlining tour on our own. So, we've been working hard for I guess, the past six months.
Q. Graham, you don't look like your typical lead singer of a heavy metal band.
Is there any particular reason for that?
A. No. The first sort of heavy rock ‘n’ roll band I was in was Rainbow. Just before I joined Rainbow, I was doing my own stuff and this is the way I am. I had short hair for a long time. I joined Rainbow and I thought these guys are gonna ask me to grow my hair, but they didn't. They just wanted me for my voice. I’ve had short hair for probably about 12 years now. I used to have long hair when I was recording I always used to brush it back. My hair used to be down to my waist I was always combing it back and it was getting in the wav. Then one day somebody said, ‘Why don't you have that sort of 1950's look’, and I said OK, that sounds like a good idea. So I started wearing 1950's suits which you couldn't find at the time in London. And so I'd buy an ordinary suit and have it made into a 50's sort of style So, it's just a thing that I like. It doesn't suit with the kind of music we do, I know but my voice does.
Q. What’s your stage presentation like?
A. We have a very short set now that we're on tour with Ted. We only do 40 minutes, which is real short. So, we don't have a show as such, we just have to go out there and bash the songs out. We have no time to do anything really except sing the songs and try to get the audience worked up and get some kind of atmosphere going.
Q. How important is a video in selling a group like ".Alcatrazz?
A. I think videos now are important to every band. To talk about the other side of the business the real pop side of the business, like Culture Club people like them. If they didn't have a video, they wouldn't be anywhere. Cause you can imagine goin' out touring, you'd be real bored singin' that kind of stuff. I think we really needed it. We had a good video made for us. It cost a lot of money. We went to sort of exotic locations, went to Hawaii, went to the set of "Escape From Alcatraz," the Clint Eastwood film for some jail bits, and then to Alcatrazz island itself. So, we had good fun making the video, but it's very, very important for a band to have a video, I think. It’s takin' over the music almost. It's becoming more important than the tune or whatever.
Q. Before forming "Alcatrazz" you had been part of two highly successful groups, "Rainbow" and the Michael Schenker Group. Why leave an established group? Was it musical or personality differences?
A It was both. It was just one of those things. I wanted to do something different. I think what was gonna happen with the “Difficult To Cure” album (Rainbow ) was the same thing we did on the "Down To Earth" album. And during rehearsals the music didn't turn me on that everybody was getting together. I just left with Michael Schenker it was just a silly drunken night on stage and I was fired, if you want to know the bottom line. But I found out later from Michael that the band didn't fire me, the manager fired me. He wasn't sure I could carry on anymore or something. It really is ridiculous.
Q. Is Ritchie Blackmore this moody, temperamental person that magazines over the years have portrayed him to be?
A. I tell you, it's very surprising; he's the most normal person you could ever meet. Ritch and I got on very well. Ritchie is very shy I think he's very, very shy. That's why sometimes when a kid comes up with an autograph book, he hides away. He used to get on real well with me and my Dad. Whenever we'd appear in England, he and my Dad would disappear into a corner in the bar and talk all night. That's how normal he is. But he has this image he's got to live up to. I think sometimes he puts it on.
Q. Are you surprised at metal's popularity these days?
A. No I think music-wise, it always goes in circles. To these kids, heavy metal music is new, unless they buy old Jimi Hendrix or whatever. But, it's bound to happen in England. I remember a whole 50's rock ‘n’ roll thing came back and it was there for two, three years. And I think that's what's happening with this heavy metal thing. It might last. I don't think it will. j
Q. Why do you say that?
A. 'Cause I think the heavy metal people realize that it can't go on forever, you have to reach a wider audience with heavy metal, you're limited with the kind of people you're gonna get in the audience.
Q. Will we ever see the day when a metal album will sell as many albums as a Michael Jackson album?
A. I don't think so, 'cause again, as I said metal only reaches a small audience, where as Michael Jackson appeals to everybody, eight year olds to fifty year olds. They're all the people who like dancing. Heavy metal isn't dancing I think-it's guys’ music. Most of the audiences are guys. Very rarely do you see a nice looking girl at a heavy metal concert. It's mostly guy groupies, guitar fans and all this stuff.
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