Interview With Exxplorer
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Exxplorer guitarist's Kevin Kennedy and Fred Gorhau. I just want to thank the guys for taking the time to talk with Heavy Metal Time Machine and for being so down to Earth! If you haven't read it yet be sure to check out my review of their new album. You can find the link at the bottom of this interview.
Andy-The response to the new album has been nothing sort of amazing. How does it feel knowing that after all that time away fans and critics would not only embrace the new music but hail it as some of your best music ever?
Kevin-First of all Andy..Thank You!! It Feels absolutely Amazing!! And I am So proud of everyone in This Band !!!
Fred-It feels great. And particularly under the circumstances. Funding for this album was minimal, actually zero, mainly since so much time had passed since our last release. So we recorded it at our friends house. Bill Haughey, our best bro turned over his house to us. We wrote and recorded in his living room, hallway, basically took over the house. And he really stepped up and did an amazing job for us. To receive such great reviews under the circumstances makes us feel really great. A couple of shots have been taken at the production. Some love the old school rawness of it, some don't. Under the circumstance, I'm thrilled.
Andy-You were gone from the scene for far too long. How was it that you were just able to pick up where you left off?
Kevin-Well we really wanted an Old school Exxplorer Album..so For Me..I really listened To our first 2 albums..and aimed at that type of Song writing style..and even a similar production..in some ways!!
Fred-I think it's because we love it. You really don't do this for any other reason, I believe.
Andy-Who wrote the bulk of the lyrics? How about the music?
Fred-I'm no good at Lyrics, maybe a suggestion or two. I'm much more proficient writing music. Musically we all collaborated around an idea, and made it bloom. Some of the material came in as "parts of a song" and some came in as full songs. We would play them, try new things, add a part, change a part, throw in a curve ball once in awhile. I think it's a good formula
Kevin-I have always been a major contributor of Lyrics..to Exxplorer..because, for me..its a really fun thing to do..but i always leave things (open)..for any member..to have input..
Andy-Where did the album's title come from? The title and artwork convey such a powerful image.
Fred-It actually came from a line in the song "Phantasmagoria" off the 1st album. Mike our drummer actually came up with the line "Distorted like my life, Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse to the doorsteps of your mind......pretty cool.
Kevin-Yea..like Fred Said..Mike helped me Finish that Song Phantasmagoria..almost 30 years ago..and on my First E-Mail to Fred..i suggested using that as the Title..we were all in agreement big time !!
Andy-After 15 years away your tearing up venues live with your intense shows. How do you even prepare for that after being away from the scene? Was it simply a case of built up rage?
Fred-Maybe, we went through alot. We just put out heads down and burned it up, as long as we could.
Kevin-We really are A Determined bunch..and we still have a lot of fire left !!
Andy-Switching gears somewhat but SYMPHONIES OF STEEL is now viewed as a landmark album in the field of power metal. Many critics (including yours truly) consider it to be one of the best power metal albums ever recorded. How does it feel to know that album is considered a classic?
Kevin-Well Andy..when we were writing that Album..its ironic..because it Started out as a 4-song E.P..and Armondo Diaz..became Very ill..so we needed a new Singer..while searching..we just kept writing,,and by the time we met Lennie,,we had enough songs for an entire album..some times..things seem to happen for a reason...a Blessing in Disguise
Fred-It feels great. The songs still receive amazing response live. People sing the words back to us. What an amazing feeling when you are 5,000 miles from home
Andy-You've probably been asked this question a thousand times but what happened to the band after A Recipe for Power? Sorry, but Coldblackugly is a perfect name for the follow-up. For long time fans that album is a real sore point of conversation.
Kevin-With Cold Black Ugly..i was in major disagreement w/ Ed Lavolpe. about changing the Direction w/ The Band..i felt that Judas Priest..And Iron Maiden never Changed..so why should Exxplorer..so I simply Left..Upon leaving..I asked Ed to not call it an Exxplorer album.. I think the results,,spoke for them selves!
Fred-This album is a perfect example of getting caught in a trap of TRYING to write a certain way. At the time, industrial and grunge were huge. We felt that our style of metal was not that viable. I feel that this combined with the fact that Lennie was not the singer sealed the fate of that album. I'm still proud of the guitar solos I did on it, but in retrospect, it shouldn't have been called an Exxplorer album.
Andy-How did Exxplorer get back together?
Fred-We were invited to play the Keep It True Festival in Germany and did that, then invited right back to play Headbangers Open Air two months later. The whole time we were being asked to do a new album. We actually met the guys from our label "Pure Steel" at Keep It True. They wanted to put out our new album whenever we wrote it. So when we did, we called them. We just got back from our 3rd trip to Germany where we played at The Swordbrothers Festival, which kind of doubled as our CD release party in Germany.
Kevin-I had been Speaking w/ Ed Lavolpe..about rejoining the band,, and doing an old school EXXPLORER Album..i played ed a Four Track of As the Crow Flies..and he was really excited about getting back to Writing w/ Me..unfortunately..Ed just did not want to deal with all that goes into a difficult project like this..Doing shows..for me..would have meant nothing..with out a new Exxplorer album..there is no sense in just playing old songs..we needed new FIRE !!..to add to the old Classics
Andy-You've recently played some festivals which have been an instant success. Any chance though that you'll do a club tour of the U.S.?
Kevin-We really Need to Play here more Often..And we Will !!
Fred-Yes, were actually talking about that now, maybe with another band or two.
Andy-What does the future hold for Exxplorer?
Fred-For now, touring to support this release, return to Europe next summer, gig like mad, then do another record. We have the next one about half way written already
Kevin-Recording New Songs..will always be a Priority for me..because,,these recordings..are what will live Forever.
Andy-What would an ideal tour be for you guys? Any bands you'd like to hit the road with?
Kevin-Well i would love to ride the Wave of a Really great Band like Accept..Or..be part of a tour,that would really be Financially helpful. to pay for future recordings..and take care of our Families
Fred-Ideal at this point looks like Festivals all summer, with club gigs in between. In the US and Europe. Of course we'd always love to do large theaters or arenas with a big headliner.......with the reviews that I have been seeing, you never know
Andy-Speaking of bands what were some of your early influences?
Fred-For me, Scorpions, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Kiss, Rainbow.
Kevin-I Was really influenced,heavily ,,by Rush,as a Youngster,,because of the old school early riffs,,with Alex Lifeson's Les Paul..the early stuff taught me to use my imagination..to come up w/ concepts like (The Cycle)..Which is really..a matter of just.using your imagination!..And Iron Maiden And Judas Priest,as Well.
Andy-Any current bands you guys like?
Fred-Jag Panzer (I know, they broke up), Hammerfall, Symphony X, Accept (The new record kills). That's what I have been listening to lately.
Kevin-I love the New Accept !!!and they are role models for me,,because of their age..(even older than us)..he he
Andy-You guys have seen good times and bad times. You've had success and praise and seen it all implode. What advice would you give to these young bands that have had 15 minutes of success and are now struggling because they never expected that they would have to fight so hard to get back on top again?
Kevin-I would advise them to look at the careers of bands who have survived,,for decades..Accept Judas Priest Iron Maiden Manowar..and not just listen..but see them as People...Neil Pert.Lost his Family..to a horrible tragedy ,,but some how..found a way..to make it back..
Fred-Write what you like, and don't give up. Nothing shines through all the bullshit like honesty with your music. People know immediately if you are faking it. There are plenty of fans who like all types of music. You write what you like, and there are bound to be people who like that kind of music. If you are trying to write like someone else, they will know.
Andy-While I have the chance I must say that Vengeance Rides An Angry Horse will more than likely make my top 10 list at the end of the year. Just thought you could use that encouragement.
Kevin-Thank you so much Brother,,to say that it will make your top 10..is truly an honor !!
Fred-Thank you, that is HUGE to us
Andy-We close by giving you free reign on the mic. What would you like to say to your fans and your critics?
Fred-To our fans, we love you. Exxplorers fans are the best ever. They have heart and soul, and they bring that out in us. I really consider them my friends. I try to communicate with them as much as possible. We are nothing without them.
To critics, Thank you for all the kind words and great reviews you have been giving us. Exxplorer are back..........
Kevin-Well this is really special for me..to have walked away..from the band I love..in 1996..and to return ,to do a full album..that is getting rave reviews..and mentions of top -10 or perhaps come back album of the year,,or who knows what else..I can truly say..thanxx to all of you..my band, family, friends, and our GREAT FANS
Andy-Thanks guys! I hope to see you sometime live. Please try to come to Ohio!
Kevin-Thanxx again Andy !! and we would love to come there to Ohio..maybe we can go when the Giants play The Browns !!!..and do a little tailgating !!!
Fred-We'd love to. Let's find a venue and book it \m/
Review of new album: http://metalmark.blogspot.com/searchq=Vengeance+Rides+An+Angry+Horse+
Review of Symphonies Of Steel: http://metalmark.blogspot.com/search?q=EXXPLORER-+SYMPHONIES+OF+STEEL+