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THE FERRYMEN – Carrying The Souls
Anthony Morgan
June 2017

The Ferrymen (l-r): Mike Terrana, Ronnie Romero and Magnus Karlsson

Melodic metal outfit The Ferrymen was formed at the behest of Frontiers Music Srl president Serafino Perugino, the trio consisting of the following personnel; Lords Of Black frontman Ronnie Romero (also of Rainbow), Primal Fear guitarist and keyboardist Magnus Karlsson (also of Magnus Karlsson’s Freefall), and drummer Mike Terrana (previously of Rage, Masterplan and Axel Rudi Pell, among others).

“Frontiers were trying to put together some good musicians,” Ronnie expands. “Serafino from Frontiers phoned me about this idea to make an album with Magnus Karlsson. I found this very exciting, because I’ve been a big fan of Magnus from the very beginning of his career; when he did the Last Tribe band, and when he did the Allen/Lande project. So, it was a really exciting idea to me. Then I started to work with Magnus on the songs, and then Mike Terrana came into the line-up. We made an album really easily, and quickly.”

At the time of writing, The Ferrymen are bereft of a bassist, Karlsson handling bass duties within the studio. The recruitment of a four-stringer isn’t in the pipeline. “Not at the moment, because we don’t have any intention to make it live or do some shows,” the singer explains. “It’s just a studio project. Magnus Karlsson recorded the bass and keyboards for the album. At the moment, there is no intention to have a bass player.”

The Ferrymen lend their moniker from a composition featured on their June 2017 self-titled debut full-length studio album. “One of the first songs that we recorded was the second song on the album, called ‘Ferryman’,” Ronnie cites. “Then we thought it would be a great idea to call the band The Ferrymen, because it was a really nice idea for the cover artwork. We were just looking for a name. The idea came to us, and it was really easy in fact to pick the name.”

‘Ferryman’ takes inspiration from Greek mythology. “It’s about this character who carries the souls from one shore to another during death,” the vocalist shares. “You can see it on the cover artwork – this character carrying the souls of the dead people – so I think it’s really nice and good for the heavy metal image, to have this kind of cover artwork on the album. I put some ideas on the table for it. I think Stan did a really good job with the cover artwork, because in fact it’s a hand-drawn cover. I think it’s really cool.”

Musically speaking, meanwhile, The Ferrymen take inspiration from various cross-sections of hard rock and metal. “I discussed this with Magnus and Mike, when we met in Madrid last time,” Ronnie recalls. “Obviously, it’s heavy metal – it’s power metal, or whatever – but we have some really good and different elements from heavy metal, like more melodic songs. The vocal lines are really melodic, and we have really strong choruses on the songs. Mike is kind of a groovy metal drummer, and we have some prog-ish elements. It’s not easy to put the style of this project into just one direction, so I think it’s kind of a heavy metal, classic rock, progressive, groovy group. I don’t know (laughs).”

And as well, specific band influences emanate from various cross-sections of hard rock and metal, although the influence of Magnus Karlsson cannot be overstated. “The album and the songs are similar to the Allen/Lande project, obviously because Magnus Karlsson is the songwriter,” the frontman laughs. “You can see, hear and listen to Magnus Karlsson’s way of writing the songs, and then I tried to put my own influences on the vocals. I have really classic influences from classic bands from the 70s and 80s; bands like Dio and Black Sabbath, and obviously Deep Purple and Rainbow. I think we have a really good mix of influences on the record.”

Ronnie happens to be familiar with the discography crafted by his bandmate. “I know Magnus’ works from the very beginning with his progressive band The Last Tribe, and then I really fell in love with the Allen/Lande albums – with Jørn Lande and Russell Allen, the first three records (September 2005’s The Battle, May 2007’s The Revenge, and November 2010’s The Showdown,” he lists. “The most important thing to me with the Magnus music is the melody; he always brought really melodic songs, and with really, really nice and strong choruses on the songs. To me, it’s a really attractive thing about Magnus’ music.”

Songwriting fell to the Primal Fear axeman, the tracks being authored during the summer of 2016. “He sent me the songs almost finished,” the performer tells. “I just needed to put my voice on the songs. I think naturally from all of the musicians, you have an idea, but like I told you, for Magnus, the melody lines are really important. So, I think he probably has kind of a melodic idea about the chorus or whatever, and starts to work from that point. I really love to work with Magnus because he always thinks about the singer. For the singer, it’s really important when a songwriter sends you a song focusing on the vocals and not the other instruments. So, I think it’s really important, and it’s definitely one of the highlights in terms of Magnus’ way of songwriting.”

The Ferrymen consists of 11 compositions, in all, the 12th a bonus affair. “We need to have a bonus track on the CD for the Japanese market, so we recorded 12 songs and have just been discussing the bonus track,” Ronnie divulges. “In fact, it’s one of the songs which is on the original track listing, but just recorded acoustically. Like I told you, it was really, really easy. It was really fast, because it was like, I don’t know, maybe three months just recording the songs – like the demos – and then recording them for the album.”

The Ferrymen happens to be a lighter proposition in comparison to Lords Of Black. “It’s different,” the entertainer agrees. “I think like I told you, The Ferrymen songs are a little bit more melodic, and more focused on the singer. The difference with Lords Of Black is with Lords Of Black, we have four strong musicians with high skills, and you need to put all of the skills on the song at the same time. Probably the Lords Of Black songs are a little bit more complicated to listen to for the fans. It’s not easy to listen to for the first time, so there’s a different way to write or whatever. I think that The Ferrymen songs are easier to listen to for the fans, and with Lords Of Black, you need to listen three or four times to understand the music. I think this is the most important difference with Lords Of Black.”

The Ferrymen’s lyrical fare also arrived from the pen of Karlsson. “We have some really strong, heavy metal songs, like ‘Ferryman’ and ‘Cry Wolf’ or even ‘Welcome To My Show’,” Ronnie submits. “We talk about the heavy metal way of life, and then we have some love songs like ‘One Heart’ or ‘Eternal Night’. We have this kind of universal message that you can defend, and that you can express in a loving way or even in other ways. I think we have really different songs, and I think that’s very important for us.”

Each individual’s parts were recorded in separate locations. “Magnus recorded the guitars, the keyboards, and bass in his home studio in Sweden, and then Mike Terrana recorded the drums in his home studio in Italy,” the singer details. “Then I recorded all of the vocals in Madrid, in Cadillac Blood Studios with my bandmate from Lords Of Black – Andy the drummer. It was kind of a test for the next Lords Of Black recording, because it was the first time I recorded at Cadillac Blood Studios in Madrid with my bandmate Andy. We’ve been trying to test some new microphones, and new equipment to record.

“We found the sound that we were looking for really easy and really fast, and finally Simone from DGM – who mixed and mastered the album – found it really easy to work with the vocal tracks since we had a really good sound. I think it was really easy and really fast; I recorded all of the songs in six days or something like that, so it was really fast to record this album. So yeah, we’ve been trying some new stuff, and I think he will use it on the next recording sessions with my band Lords Of Black.

A second The Ferrymen jaunt is being planned. “In fact, we have the idea to record a new album probably in 2018, or in a couple of years,” Ronnie notes. “This is just because the experience of working with Magnus was really great and really easy, and I think the fans really like the results. We will see what happens in the coming months after the release, and yeah, we will probably make something more in the future.”

A musical direction has yet to be mapped. “I think it’s too early to talk about that,” the vocalist muses. “I don’t know if Mike will be involved, or if we need to look for new musicians, or if we will play live and do some shows. I don’t know. Everything is a possibility, and we will see what happens with the release, because the album has just been released. We will see what happens, but obviously everything is a possibility in the future.”

As referenced, a third Lords Of Black studio proper is in development. “We are already working on the third album from Lords Of Black, so probably the beginning of 2018 we will release the new album,” Ronnie observes. “We have done almost all of the demos for the songs, and after my commitments with Mr. Ritchie Blackmore (guitarist, Rainbow / Blackmore’s Night / ex-Deep Purple), we will go to the studio to record the songs. Then it’s up to Frontiers as to the release date, but like I told you, at the beginning of 2018 we will have a new Lords Of Black album on the market.”

Ronnie Romero

A re-recorded version of Rainbow staple composition ‘I Surrender’ was digitally released on May 26th. Further material has been recorded with Rainbow, perennially spearheaded by former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.

“In fact, one of the songs we have recorded is new material, and is an unreleased song,” the frontman confirms. “I don’t know when that song is going to be released, but it’s a really nice and good song. I think after the shows in the UK, we will see what happens as to the intentions of Ritchie Blackmore to make some new music, or do some new shows, or whatever. I don’t have any idea right now. Probably we will have some idea at the end of June, after the UK tour.”

The unreleased number hearkens back to Rainbow’s earlier days. “It’s really surprising,” Ronnie feels. “Ritchie sent me this song some months ago. I expected something different, but the song sounds like the early days of Rainbow – the first album, the Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow album (August 1975) – so I think the fans will really like it.”

The existence of fresh Rainbow material leads to speculation with respect to a fully-fledged LP of new Rainbow offerings. “It’s an idea, of course,” the performer recognises. “We’ve been recording some different stuff; some new songs, and then some songs from the old albums of Rainbow. Like I told you before though, it depends on Ritchie. After this UK tour, we will make some decisions about recording a complete album, or just a couple of more songs, or whatever. It’s all about Ritchie’s feelings after this month. Right now, I don’t know his ideas for the band, but I’ve got the feeling that if the shows go well, probably we will make some different stuff. If the shows don’t go well, June will probably be the end of the new Rainbow (laughs).”

A compilation of re-recorded Rainbow tracks also seems to be a distinct possibility. “Songs from different eras have been recorded, like ‘I Surrender’ which has already been released, and then some songs from the Dio era, and then a song from the Graham Bonnet era,” Ronnie informs. “It’s generally like a demo, so we will see what happens with them.”

The Ferrymen was released on June 2nd, 2017 via Frontiers Music Srl.

Interview published in June 2017. All promotional photographs by Antonio Garci.

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