GRAHAM BONNET BAND – The Next Chapter
Graham Bonnet Band (l-r): Conrado Pesinato, Graham Bonnet, Beth-Ami Heavenstone and Mark Zonder
English hard rock / metal vocalist Graham Bonnet, formerly of the likes of Rainbow, Michael Schenker Group, Alcatrazz, and Impellitteri, was in Los Angeles, California, performing Alcatrazz material with his band. The band was rounded out by guitarist Howie Simon, and bassist Tim Luce. These circumstances would plant seeds for the formation of the Graham Bonnet Band.
“I was kind of getting up a little bit fed up with doing what I was doing,” Graham remembers. “I went down to the Whisky in Hollywood to jam with a band, and it just so happened that two members of the band that I have now were playing that night. We played a couple of Beatles songs and whatever, a little bit of everything, and it was kind of cool. I just remember turning to Bethany (Beth-Ami Heavenstone) our bass player, and saying ‘This is fun. Have you ever thought about doing something else? Would you like to work with me, for instance?’ She kind of said ‘Okay,’ and so I went over to her house a few times during the…
“At this point we were looking for a band, so I said ‘Who should we get for a guitar player?,’ and she said ‘What about using Conrad (Conrado Pesinato), from the band we played with at the Whisky?’ I said ‘Ah. I didn’t even think of him,’ because I was trying to think of people I knew who were probably Brits and living in LA or whatever. So anyway, all three of us got together – me, Conrad, and Bethany – and that’s how it started.
“I had probably about nine songs that I had made up and had some arrangements to. I had written a couple of the lyrics, but probably not too many of the nine. I had no band to play, because we were just going out basically and doing old material on the road. I had never thought about recording, because it seemed to be kind of a waste of time (laughs). We got a deal with Frontiers though, and this gave me kind of a kick up the bum. I thought ‘Cool. Somebody is interested in the music that I’m writing,’ so that’s kind of how it started. I played the music to the guys in the band and said ‘Let’s take it from one guitar to making it a band sound,’ because we had to reshape them and probably add some more parts to the arrangements to make them rock or whatever. I think there are 11 tracks, but all of the songs that I had we used. All of the songs that I had in my head that I thought would be good for an album like this, we used. It was about three years ago though, yeah.
“Eventually, we got a drummer who’s now Mark Zonder. He’s our drummer right now, who’s a very progressive type of drummer. We did the album (The Book, November 2016), which became more than I expected it to be because we’ve had some great reviews. I’m very pleased about that (laughs).”
Warlord and erstwhile Fates Warning sticksman Mark Zonder was introduced to Graham Bonnet courtesy of manager Giles Lavery. “He was a friend of our manager, and we didn’t know what to do,” the frontman augments. “We were kind of desperate, because we knew that we had to do these songs quickly. The record company were like ‘Are you done yet?’ We had three or four drummers that weren’t exactly suited for the band, and so our manager came up with the idea of getting Mark Zonder in.
“Our manager is a singer as well, so he had played with him and he knew him. He suggested him because he’s very quick in the studio, and so he just put it all together. If it wasn’t for Mark doing these tracks, I think we would still probably be recording. It was through our manager Giles Lavery that we found Mark, because I didn’t know who he was. I had no idea what kind of drummer he was, or anything, but he came along and played on everything. Everything was done within a very short time drum-wise, so he’s great.”
Handling keyboard duties on November 2016 debut full-length studio album The Book was Jimmy Waldo, formerly Graham’s bandmate within the Alcatrazz camp. “He found out that we were doing an album, and he offered his services for free,” he divulges. “I thought ‘Oh, bloody hell. Absolutely’ (laughs), so he put some keyboard parts down too. He was on most of the tracks, I think, and he brought that kind of Alcatrazz-y, Rainbow-y, whatever it is sound to the tracks. Some of it has more of a retro sound, but some of it’s very modern. I’m very glad he came along. Eventually, he may join the band possibly next year, depending on how well everything goes. It’ll be another member of the band, and another pay packet, but I think he may be part of the band next year.”
A band entity, the moniker Graham Bonnet Band nevertheless suggests a solo-driven affair. “It is a band effort, the whole thing, but I always thought that we should have a name,” the singer submits. “Everybody said ‘Well, just use your own name? What’s up with that?,’ but everybody had their participation on all the music we put down on record, so to speak. It’s a joint effort from everyone. Everybody put their two cents in, or whatever, so it’s not just me. All the other guys helped shape the songs in some way or another, whether it be a small idea or whatever it may be – a small part of the song in the middle, or whatever. Everybody joined in, so everybody’s got a little bit of their writing in there.”
Of the compositions included on The Book, not all emanated from fresh ideas. “There is one song called ‘Rider’, which I wrote in 1980-something,” Graham informs. “That was an Alcatrazz song, but we never did it because I thought it was a bit too poppy or whatever. I didn’t think it was right, but when I played it to the guys on my acoustic one day, they said ‘What’s that?’ I said ‘It’s a song that I’ve never recorded,’ so we did because it had that retro sound. It was very 1980s or whatever; it has a typical 1980s sing-along chorus. I never thought of really recording it seriously in the format that it was in. It was changed to maybe be a little harder sounding, but we did it in that typical 1980s style. That one was around for a long time – 30 years.”
Not many unused ideas lie in the vaults, as it were. “I’ve used just about every old idea that I’ve had,” the mainman discloses. “For me, something has got to be good studio-wise and a band song, and so then I will get onto it straight away. So, I don’t think I have anything like that lying around any more.”
The Book musically resembles past bands featuring Graham behind the microphone stand. “If anybody likes what I’ve done in the past with other bands like Rainbow, or Alcatrazz, or Michael Schenker, then I think they’re gonna like this because it has a modern sound, but there are still elements of hard rock or metal – whatever you like to call it these days,” he laughs. “I don’t think of it so much as metal as just being… Well, sort of a thinking man’s metal probably (laughs).
“All of the songs have a story which I’ve always written in my lyrics, though. There’s always a story behind it, like a real event or something. These songs follow the same trend I’ve used in the past. Country singers always sing about real life boozing for example, ultimately whatever it may be, but I always like to have a story – like a news event, or something like that – that I can put into a song. These follow the same format as Alcatrazz, and some of the songs I wrote with Michael Schenker.”
The lyricist feels there is “everything” musically within the Graham Bonnet Band from his past endeavours. “There’s a bit of everything, and because it’s me singing obviously, it’s gonna sound like a lot of the stuff you’re familiar with,” he reckons. “I think it has a modern sound, though, as I was saying before. There is a little bit of Michael Schenker in there and that kind of thing, but mainly it’s sort of an Alcatrazz-y thing, more than Michael Schenker. It’s very much like Alcatrazz; I would say it leans more towards Alcatrazz, especially the second Alcatrazz album where Steve Vai was playing (Disturbing The Peace, March 1985). If we had had another album with Alcatrazz, I think this would have been the one.”
Graham feels The Book shares specific musical traits with second Alcatrazz opus Disturbing The Peace. “It’s not very straightforward,” he views. “It has melodies that are not necessarily what you’d call hard rock (laughs). They sort of take a left turn when you think that the song is going to go straight on, but then you suddenly go ‘What’s that?’ There are little surprise elements, I think, or I hope, anyway. Steve Vai and I were striving though, back in the day, when we made that second album with Alcatrazz, because neither of us were really into the kind of straight-ahead heavy metal, so to speak. I like to add sort of jazz influences, for example. Inventive ideas, instead of it being verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle. Some of the songs are like that – they have a format – but sometimes it’s nice to have a surprise, like an odd melody coming in out of the blue and then people going ‘Oh. What’s that?’
“When we played the final tracks to Jimmy Waldo, there was one track we had a keyboard part to. He played this keyboard part which was kind of disco-y, a heavy, kind of weird mixture of sounds, actually. When I put the melody to it and the words, he said ‘Oh my god. I didn’t know that song was gonna do that at that point.’ The chorus goes into a weird set of notes, which are a little bit unusual – not very sort of straight-ahead melodies. I hope I answered that properly. It was long-winded, but anyway…”
Alcatrazz boasted the likes of aforementioned guitarists Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen among its ranks during its lifetime, major figures within the guitar realm. Graham Bonnet Band axeman Conrado Pesinato arguably has massive shoes to fill, so to speak. “Conrad is sort of confused – in fact, like Steve Vai was when he joined the band way back when,” the composer observes. “Yngwie Malmsteen was out of the band and Steve came in, going ‘Jesus christ, I don’t play like him.’ I said ‘Of course you don’t play like him. You play like Steve Vai; you’re a different guy.’ Conrad now has Yngwie and Steve Vai ahead of him, and Danny Johnson our third guitar player was a bluesy guitar player. He tried to add a little bit of all of the elements of each player into some of the playing on the actual written tracks, but he is developing his own style to kind of drive away from someone else’s playing.
“We play some of the old stuff onstage; of course, you have to have the signature parts of the solos, but then he goes into his own thing. Conrad is like ‘Oh my god. Am I going to be able to do all this with all of the different players you’ve had?’ though, because all of the songs aren’t necessarily the same as well. I think they’re very different from most hard rock songs, I really do. I think it’s a special style that we have there that he adds to very well. He has his own ideas. He’s Brazilian, so he knows all of that jazzy stuff that Brazilian guitar players know, but he also has elements of blues and straight-ahead rock. He’s a young man and he’s still developing his style, I think.”
Graham has performed alongside several noteworthy guitarists through the years, but finds it difficult to select a personal favourite. “They all had different styles,” he reasons. “And because of the different styles, they formulated new types of songs – Michael Schenker, especially. That was the first time I wrote any words and melodies, and also I thank Ritchie Blackmore for introducing me to so-called hard rock, or whatever you want to call it. All of them have influenced me in different ways. They’re all great guitarists. I couldn’t put one above another, because they’re different styles, they’re different people, and they all have their own thing – just like singers, drummers, or whatever. They were all great players, and I couldn’t say anything bad about any of them. Nothing at all. I’m glad that I played with the people I did play with.”
Ritchie Blackmore embarked on three dates under the Rainbow banner during June 2016, assembling a new line-up to perform the band’s material. “I think he was probably testing the waters to see if Rainbow’s name over the marquee would actually draw a crowd,” the musician offers. “I don’t know what the attendance was for some of these shows, but I know that now he’s gone back to doing what he was doing before with his wife – the Blackmore’s Night thing. I haven’t listened to that. I can’t do it. I can’t look at that band he put together and judge it, because I am really not interested.
“I don’t think that it was a serious attempt at bringing back Rainbow. I think that it was a way for him to probably make some money quickly, and use guys in the band that you’ve never heard of before. If he had been putting together a so-called reunion or another Rainbow-type gig, he should’ve used at least Roger Glover (bass, Deep Purple / ex-Rainbow) and Don Airey (Deep Purple / ex-Rainbow) on keyboards, and whomever as a singer. I don’t think it would’ve been me, but whomever it may have been. If it had a couple of the guys from the Rainbow that I was in, I think it would’ve drawn more of a crowd and people would have seen it as being a real band, but I saw it almost as a session. People have told me that it was a bit lifeless and limp. Now whether it was that way, I couldn’t tell you, but they just said that it wasn’t Rainbow as such.”
Certain quarters wanted the likes of Graham or Joe Lynn Turner to handle vocal duties, to perhaps lend legitimacy to the affair. “Joe thought that he was going to be chosen,” he chuckles. “I said to him… This was when Ronnie was still alive, because I did some gigs with Joe a few years ago and Ronnie was still alive. He said that there was probably going to be a Rainbow reunion thing, and that they were going to ask him to do it because he did more albums, had more hits, or whatever. I said ‘Maybe, maybe, but if they’re going to put Rainbow back together, it should be with Ronnie and the other players from when Rainbow was first formed. Not me, not you, but the other guys that were original members.’ So, I wasn’t expecting to be asked. I knew I wouldn’t be, and I didn’t think that he would be.
“Anyway, I was right (laughs). Neither of us were asked to do anything. It was a bit of a shock to him, I think, but I never saw it. I could never imagine being asked to do that because it’s old news, and I don’t think Ritchie would want to do that again. I don’t know. Maybe he would; maybe he would want Joe, or me, or whomever to play with him again, but that would be a serious venture because that would mean money, actually (laughs). It means a lot more money than he would probably want to deal with, because he would have to pay players that are a bit more serious than the band he put together. I don’t know if they were unknown people, but to me they were unknown, so that means that they were paid less. Anyway, that’s what I think (laughs).”
The performer was friendly with the late Ronnie James Dio, Rainbow’s inaugural singer prior to the likes of himself and Joe Lynn Turner entering the fray later on. “His wife Wendy was our manager, of Alcatrazz,” he shares. “We used to rehearse in Wendy and Ronnie’s rehearsal rooms in Hollywood. I knew him pretty well, yeah. I went to his concerts when he was with Black Sabbath, etc., and when he had his own band, and he would come along to our gigs, because we were all part of the same management.
“It was pretty bad when he passed away. We’ve lost so many people within the same year this year, too, and it’s so strange. We’re all kind of around the same age group – 60-something or 68, 69. It’s a short life. I lost my brother, and he was 73 when he died. That was a couple of years ago, and that was a shock to me, too. All of a sudden, everyone like David Bowie… It’s like ‘Bloody hell. What’s going on?’ It’s a bit scary. It has scared me anyway, because I am in that age group. Yeah though, Ronnie passing away was a big shock. I didn’t know he was that old, I really didn’t.”
Having fronted the likes of Black Sabbath, Elf and the namesake Dio band in addition to Rainbow during his musical career, Ronnie James Dio sadly passed away on May 16th, 2010 at the age of 67 following a battle with metastasized stomach cancer – ruling out a potential Rainbow reunion with Dio at the helm. Nevertheless, the likes of Graham could still reunite with Blackmore under the Rainbow umbrella. “If Ritchie asked me to play with him tomorrow, I’d play with him tomorrow,” he admits. “For like a one-off, of course I would because he gave me a new career, so to speak. I went into a direction I never thought I would be going in, compared to the stuff that I had done before. Man, of course I would.
“I’m sure Joe Lynn Turner would, too, but it’s a matter of who it would be. I just think that that was a money venture, I really do, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not knocking Ritchie for that. We all need to make money, and that’s why we’re all out playing live now. We don’t sell records any more; people are downloading music, and it’s not like it used to be. We’re all getting older and worried what the hell we’re all gonna do if the music business for this kind of music just crashes, so we’re getting in there while we may.
“Luckily though, there is a new audience growing with this. Some of the guys I know in my age group and in the same genre of music have played to people in their teens, and you wonder how the hell they know this music we’re playing. It’s been passed down from father to son so to speak, though, so there’s a whole new cycle of heavy metal / heavy rock people who listen to the music we play, and it’s great. I signed an autograph for an eight-year-old one day – I’ll never forget that. It’s like ‘How the hell do you know this music? I’m old enough to be your granddad’ (laughs).”
Returning to the topic of The Book, the vocalist likes to recount stories within his lyrical fare. “I was talking about ‘The Rider’ song, and that’s about a motorcycle rider,” he references. “You see riders in Los Angeles, and… Well, everywhere really… They’re growing older, but they’re still riding their motorbikes, and they all look like ZZ Top with long beards and all that kind of stuff. It’s about the guy who never grows up. He’s Peter Pan, but he’s riding his bike, and he’s looking for his long lost sweetheart. She left him a long time ago. The chorus says about how if he finds her, would they have anything to say to each other? So, that’s what that’s about.
“Then there’s another tune, which is called ‘Into The Night’. That’s one that we released on video, and it’s about a divorce. A man comes home to find that he can’t get in the house. He has the right key, but he can’t get in. Then when he eventually does get in, he’s let in by his wife and he sees that all of his belongings have been packed ready for him to move out of the house. She tells him that he’s moving out tomorrow, so that’s about a man who gets a divorce and is sent out into the night, hence the title. That’s a story which is a true story (laughs). It’s about me, basically. It’s an event that happened to me – that’s a personal thing. That’s two ideas there that have a story.”
The Book’s title cut is dark in tone, meanwhile. “That’s another thing, where you wonder what the book is,” Graham begins. “It’s kind of a guessing game. I don’t say in the song what the book is, but you get clues as to what it is. It’s actually a telephone book, and it tells… I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but people used to have a telephone book in the dinosaur age, and you used to write your telephone numbers in there. The people you have in that book have sometimes died, or you don’t know where they are, and… I can’t do it; to cross out their name would be sacrilege.
“It’s about that feeling of crossing out their name, if someone has died. It’s almost like killing them again. So, that’s about a telephone book, and all of the people and the memories you have because of this book. Once you open it though, that person comes back to you. That’s what it’s about.”
The majority of The Book’s parts were recorded at the frontman’s home in Studio City, Los Angeles. “The drums were done at Mark’s studio, and Jimmy did his own parts in his studio,” he notes. “All of the vocals and guitars were done in the house I live in, in Studio City in Los Angeles. The guitars, the bass, and the vocals were all done at the house, so it was all very comfortable and very casual. It was hard work, but it was nice to be at home and not have to go to a studio and pay zillions of dollars. So, it’s a home-grown product.”
A medical complaint hampered Graham during recording sessions. “I always like to have a good quality sound to my voice, if I can,” he muses. “In fact, the problem I had when I was making this bloody record was I had bronchitis, which is not very good when you’re actually recording voice (laughs). We had a certain time to do the damn thing, so I had been taking meds to clear my lungs while we were doing the record. It came out okay. I always like to have a good quality sound on the range of my voice. I’m not talking about the high, squeaky bits but the mid-range and the low end of a vocal piece. It’s always important to me to get that quality of something that sounds as though you mean it. The right kind of vibrato, etcetera – enough air (laughs).
“When you have something like bronchitis, you can’t breathe too well. I was using a damn inhaler, and it was a little hard some days. It was difficult, but I think the quality of my voice on this is comparable to things I’ve done in the past. I don’t think people say ‘Oh god… His voice has gone’ or something. It’s pretty much the same as it’s always been – my range is the same. I’ve just been very lucky, and I don’t look after my voice in any way whatsoever. I fuck it up a lot by shouting too much or whatever, but luckily it’s still there, whereas a lot of other people have said ‘I just can’t do that any more.’ I still can; I still strive to do it, every time we play live.”
The Book is complemented by a second disc, consisting of re-recorded versions of older compositions from the singer’s various band outings through the years. “That was a long-winded one, because we all had to play these songs over and make them sound new after they had been around for like ten million years,” he explains. “To re-record vocals as well was like ‘How can I get the same performance or a better performance as I did on the original?’ When you first record a song, it’s exciting, it’s fresh. I’ve sung all of these songs ten million times on the road over the past 30, 35 years or whatever they may be, and it’s very difficult to actually feel excited about putting down ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ one more time – and ‘All Night Long’ again, or whatever else – and have the same kind of enthusiasm over the songs (laughs).
Graham Bonnet Band (l-r): Mark Zonder, Graham Bonnet, Beth-Ami Heavenstone
and Conrado Pesinato
“The band played them very well so it did give me a bit of a kick, but it took me a while to actually perform and think about how to do certain parts a little bit differently from the old versions. It took a while to do that, but it was worth it in the end. The record company, it was their idea to do this. They told me which tracks they wanted me to re-record, the idea being that people would look at those tracks who probably wouldn’t know what I have done in the past, and go ‘Oh, that was him on that record, was it?’ It was to remind people that I sang with certain bands, and this will give a little bit of a help toward the new album so people know where it came from, and where I’m at now.”
Accredited with lending keyboard parts to the re-records disc is Angelo Vafeiadis. “That was another guy,” Graham chuckles, murky with regards to the exact details. “It wasn’t Jimmy. There were a couple of different guys. Alessandro (Del Vecchio) was one… I can’t remember his second name (laughs). Whatever you’ve got there, that’s right. There were a couple of guys. One guy mixed some of the tracks, as well as playing on them. Jimmy came in much later. He heard that we were making an album, and came in when we were doing the new songs.”
The Book’s front cover artwork sports a leather-bound tome, naturally. “That was a joint idea by our manager, and someone else I can’t think of,” the mainman reports. “It was down to our manager, who asked me ‘What do you think of this idea?,’ about it being a book. I had an idea of something looking like a Bible almost. I had nothing to do with the artwork; I just suggested something, and I think our manager took it a little bit further. I had this idea of a Bible-type cover, leather-bound, blah blah blah – gold trim. I think it’s pretty cool, actually.”
Overseeing the distribution of The Book is Frontiers Music Srl, news of the Graham Bonnet Band having inked an album contract with the label being revealed on September 28th, 2015. “That was something that was through luck, I think,” Graham judges. “Our manager was looking around to get us a so-called real record deal, as opposed to putting it out ourselves. Of course, they knew me from other bands and projects or whatever. They were interested because they were a heavy rock label and that’s the only people that they sign, are heavy rock-type bands. So, that’s how we got in there. We were lucky enough to get a deal, part of the deal being we did the re-recordings of the older songs. They’re being really great to us, actually.”
To promote The Book, a 360 degree music video was filmed for the track ‘Into The Night’. “It was kind of weird,” the wordsmith recalls. “I’ve done videos before, and this was very strange. We were just on top of a building in downtown LA, and this guy comes up to us with these little ball looking things. They look like something that should take off and whiz up into the air like little spaceships or something. He put it on the floor, and said ‘Look. Just walk around this thing. Do whatever you wanna do. Go to any part of this roof that we’re on, and just do the song.’ We said ‘What’s going to happen?’ He said ‘I’ll show you when we’re done,’ and so you can tilt it through your telephone any angle you want, and see who you want to look at at any particular point any time in the song.
“So, you can look at the drummer, the drummer’s feet, up the drummer’s nose, up my nose, or whatever. It’s like having a camera of your own in your hand. You can move around the so-called set where we were standing and performing this thing, and you can look anywhere you want. It’s really cool, and it was a surprise when he showed it to us. I had never seen anything like it before.”
Further music videos might be filmed to promote The Book. “I think they want to do something for the song ‘Rider’,” Graham states. “I’m not sure yet, but there will be more if things go well. It looks as though with this record, people might actually listen to it, so I think there will be some more, yeah.”
And as well, further material from the songwriter is in the pipeline. “We were talking yesterday about doing something with this band and with other people, other players,” he confirms. “To do something as well as another hard rock album – an album that has different kinds of music. There would be guest players. There might be a bit of r ’n’ b, a bit of whatever – a bit of pop. All kinds of music, except heavy rock. There may be a couple of heavy rock tracks on it, doing something like that, and also doing another album such as the one we just put out. It’d be something in the same style as that, which I’m working on right now.”
The Graham Bonnet Band will lend their musical services to the r ’n’ b material, alongside other musicians. “Of whom, I’m not sure yet – who they’ll be – but there’s one track I have which I want Ted McKenna to play on, the drummer who’s from MSG and Rory Gallagher’s band,” Graham imparts. “I have written a song about Rory Gallagher the guitar player, and it’s for him. I want to, if I can, get Ted McKenna and the bass player from Rory Gallagher’s band (Gerry McAvoy) as well to play on this particular track. They’re playing now out in England, and they have a guitar player who plays very much like Rory (Marcel Scherpenzeel). I want to dedicate this song to him; it’s all about him, about Rory Gallagher. It’s called ‘No-One Ever Sang For Rory’, because he was such a great player, but he never really made it as such. He was never recognised as such for years until now, really, and it’s a sad thing.
“He was very anti-showbiz; he was one of those guys that didn’t look right with a plaid shirt on, and a pair of Levis. He never kind of dressed up like people in the 1980s did, when they were over the top with their big hair and all that. He wasn’t into that, and he was never really worshipped the way he should have been. Not worshipped, but you know what I mean – given any really big recognition. So, this song is for him, and if I can get some of his old band members to play on this track, it’d be great.”
Sometimes artists have to pass away to achieve recognition. “I know,” the musician agrees. “It’s like everywhere, now. If you look on Facebook, there’s a bit about Rory Gallagher, but there was a point years ago when nobody even knew who he was. I knew him because he was managed by the same people who managed me when I lived in England.”
Graham was friendly with the late Rory Gallagher. “Me and his brother, and all of those guys,” he reminisces. “There was Status Quo, there was me, Rory Gallagher, Micky Moody (guitarist) and the guys from Whitesnake, and a band called Penetration – they were a punk band back then. This is years ago I’m talking about; this would’ve been 1970-something.”
The next batch of material to surface from the entertainer will not be the r ’n’ b fare, but the second full-length studio album from the Graham Bonnet Band. “I’m going to have to find time to actually do that labour of love,” he ponders. “It won’t be anything that’s going to be a money-spinner or whatever, but I think the next thing we have to concentrate on is the next Bonnet Band album, yeah, and to do something similar to what we’ve done right now. I’d love to release something that is totally off the wall and nobody expects, though. like some big fucking ballad or something (laughs). Something that really makes you think ‘Why didn’t Tom Jones do that?,’ or something. Something that is totally wrong than what I have done right now (laughs).
“My roots are not in being a heavy rock singer; they are just in being a singer. Suddenly when you’re forced into one little drawer of being this heavy rock singer, you sometimes can’t get out. It’s really frustrating, because I like to sing other kinds of music. Sometimes the band will say ‘That’s not heavy enough for the band,’ or ‘That’s not heavy. It’s gotta be heavier,’ or ‘No, no. It’s gotta be heavy metal, man.’ It’s like ‘For fuck sake. Can’t we just do something a little more subtle that’s not so bloody obvious?’ This is what I like to do, and if a single came off of it, I’d be so fucking happy. That’s another part of me that people don’t know, maybe.”
The majority of Graham’s fans discovered him through his hard rock material perhaps, unaware of his musical roots. “I just like to sing,” he offers. “I like what I did in the past; from the 60s when me and my cousin were called The Marbles, and had our first song ‘Only One Woman’ come out (1968, written specifically for The Marbles by The Bee Gees). That’s more like me than a lot of the stuff that I do now. It’s all me, but you know what I mean. It’s probably something, because that’s how I started. I’d like to go back to the roots of my musical career.”
Lighter musical endeavours aside, heavier propositions are being crafted as part of the Graham Bonnet Band’s second studio platter. “Oh yeah, absolutely,” the vocalist clarifies. “I have no titles, so I can’t tell you what they’re called, but I have arrangements. I’m always working, every day. I play, and think of songs and chord sequences all the time. I have always got something going on in my mind.”
A potential release date has been pencilled in, as well. “Middle of 2017, I hope, to follow up this one,” Graham outlines. “I have started that process; I have started doing things and getting ideas for titles of songs, which I haven’t settled on yet. I hope by next summer, though.”
The Book was released on November 4th, 2016 via Frontiers Music Srl.
Interview published in November 2016. All promotional photographs by Alex Solca.
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