Jon Drenning of Crimson Glory

August 24th, 2005
by EvilG

Crimson Glory

Jon Drenning of Crimson Glory
Interviewed in October 1999 By EvilG

Many people haven’t forgotten Crimson Glory and for those who think their place in the history of metal was insignificant then I suggest you look deeper. Crimson Glory’s first two CD’s have influenced many newer bands riding the progressive / power metal wave today. On the eve of the North America release of their CD “Astronomica” I was given the honor of talk with Jon Drenning of Crimson Glory. Read on and discover what the band’s plans are for the new millennium and why they have returned to the metal arena once again. 


Crimson Glory - band picture

Jon:
Hi this is Jon Drenning calling from Crimson Glory. Hey man, sorry for calling a little bit late but I’ve been doing all these interviews and I’m running overtime.

Metal Rules!!
Yeah that’s to be expected, no problem. So let’s get right to it. After all the rumors and waiting, the new Crimson Glory will be out in North America on October the 19th. How does it feel to finally have the CD ready?

Jon:
It feels great. We had some difficulties making this album so we’re really fortunate to finally get it done.

 

Metal Rules!!
What were some of those difficulties?

Jon:
Well, half way through the recording of the record we lost all the material. We were doing a digital recording, we lost everything we had done, even the back-up source data that we had. As well we were missing some of the cartridges with some of the material on it.

Metal Rules!!
It was was abducted I assume?

Jon:
Well I don’t know if it was abducted…but it really happened and it set us back for a while and it really caused us a lot of concern. It’s something that I don’t ever look forward to happening to me again that’s for sure.

 

Metal Rules!!
Are you worried that older fans of Crimson Glory might not be into the new CD?

Jon:
Well, I don’t think so. I think you have to consider it’s been almost ten years since we did “Transcendence” – we don’t even consider “Strange and Beautiful” to be a Crimson Glory record because it was done more by our singer than us and it’s not a true representation of the band. “Astronomica” is a more worthy follow-up to “Transcendence.” Obviously having a new singer changes your sound somewhat – particularly for those people out there that like our older singer. He sounded like King Diamond a lot of the time. So we wanted somebody who had more of a masculine voice. Midnight was much more feminine sounding and he sang really high all the time while our new singer sings with more varied range. He has more power and aggression overall but that is something that we wanted. So if you’re a Crimson Glory fan, particularly of our first two albums, then you will like this record too.

 

Metal Rules!!
What would you say to any nay-sayers that have heard it and just don’t like it for the vocals or some other reason?

Jon:
Buy Dream Theater’s new album instead! (ed. note: This was said tounge-and-cheek (joking) of course…since Jon is a Dream Theater fan as well!!)

 

Metal Rules!!
I love the song “War of the Worlds” – the lyrics are way cool. Do you believe in this stuff, or is it just something you happen to have an interest in?

Jon:
I’ve always had an interest in the UFO phenomenon ever since I had a very strong, vivid UFO sighting/encounter myself in Ohio. I was about 14 or 15 years old living on a farm in Ohio. Fortunately I was with my younger brother at the time so I have someone to share the experience with. It doesn’t mean anything to me whether anyone believes me or not but it caused a paradigm shift in my life to the degree that it affected everything I have done ever since then. It really got me interested in astronomy, stars, searching for extraterrestrial life and opening up my mind to the possibilities that were really out there. Ever since then, its found its way into the music that I’ve created for the band since the beginning. 

 

Metal Rules!!
Can you tell me about Cydonia, the face on Mars, and how you feel it is linked to the pyramids of Egypt?

Jon:
That’s the thing that is really interesting about Cydonia Mensa. These pyramidal structures and the face on Mars raises the question whether there had been intelligent life there at one time and whether or not life actually came to earth and originated there. Maybe our ultimate destiny is to return to Mars again one day.

 

Metal Rules!!
Is this a running theme throughout the CD? The UFO’s, the link between Mars and Egypt…

Jon:
Right, yes. I wouldn’t say it’s a concept record by any means but it is a theme. I thought it was very fitting for the new millennium that’s here now and it deals with some of the prophecies too as well as some other esoteric subject matter. I thought it was a perfect time to put an album out with this kind of material on it for the new millennium.

 

Metal Rules!!
In reference to the song on “Astronomica” called “New World Machine” – what do you think is wrong with this new world machine which we all live in?

Jon:
I think we are becoming more and more connected with our machines. We are more machine-like, our whole society is and I think it’s a sign of the times. This song represents that. As we head into the new millennium it’s important that we remember our spirituality as well.

Metal Rules!!
So are you concerned for humanity in terms of machines?

Jon:
Absolutely. Any time man becomes too technologically advanced and not be as equally spiritually advanced he ultimately will destroy himself.

 

Metal Rules!!
The intro to the CD has a lot of historical quotes from speeches or radio broadcasts from historical events. I picked up on a number of them from WWII.

Jon:
Yeah, they are the actual audio broadcasts that were done at the time of the landing of Normandy.

Metal Rules!!
What was your purpose, or what message were you trying to convey by using this?

Jon:
I’ve always had a big interest in history, in ancient history, but also in WWII history as well because I have family members that were a part of the war so I’ve always been very intrigued by the courage and the things that men had to do so that the flags of freedom would fly all over Europe again. So I thought it was important to put a piece of history (on the CD) and tell it accurately and put it into a song. I don’t know how many bands have tried to do this before, but I thought it was an interesting concept. In a way it’s also symbolic of our return. Like the allied forces hitting the beaches of Normandy, Crimson Glory has returned to the music scene as well!

 

Metal Rules!!
Can you tell me about how you hooked up with Steve “Doc” Wacholz originally from Savatage.

Jon:
Certainly. Steve and I have always been good friends over the years. Our bands in general have been good friends because we practically started at the same time. We also started on the same label power records so our careers have had a parallel to them. We’ve always had a lot of mutual respect and admiration for each other. So when we decided we were going to do another Crimson Glory record I went directly to Steve and inquired about him joining our band. I’ve always admired him, he’s a professional and he had the experience which was something we were looking for as well. He loved our new material so we thought it was a good fit for both of us.

 

Metal Rules!!
Did he join after is was recorded or that’s his drumming on the CD?

Jon: 
Actually Steve played V(?) drums on this album. We recorded in a small studio which we built for our self called Dreamland. We didn’t have an acoustic drum setup, we had electronic drums from Roland. Steve works for a massive music store in Tampa called Mars Music and he had access to all this really unique equipment so we tried experimenting with some different things. It was a different way of recording for us and him as well.

 

Metal Rules!!
About your new vocalist, Wade Black. You originally heard him in his band Lucien Black right?

Jon:
Yeah back in late 1993 or 1994 I saw him sing with this band. Jeff (Lords) and I were together when we saw him and we were both very intrigued by his voice. We never forgot him. So in 1997 when we started getting serious about doing another Crimson Glory record, we approached Midnight first as we thought it was only the right thing to do but Midnight – his head was really not into this music anymore and he hadn’t taken care of himself physically so there was no way he could of preformed to the level that was going to be needed to make another Crimson Glory record – at least not the record that we had in mind. We certainly didn’t want to make another “Strange and Beautiful” album. So we knew that we had to get a new singer that had a lot of energy and power and a lot of desire to build the band around. We needed a strong foundation in order to have a future. I immediately called Wade. It had been over three years since I had talked to him last. I called him out of the blue and shocked him to death, he didn’t even remember giving me his telephone number! When I called him in 1997 his band, Lucien Black, had broken up and he wasn’t singing with anybody. I had him at my house within 24 hours singing demos for the album. We knew right then and there that he was the guy that we wanted. He wasn’t as clean sounding as Midnight was, but the sound he had was truly inspirational to us having a lot of energy and power…something that we know we can build off of. There still room for him to grow as a singer because he has never sung on an album before, this was his first effort ever. So if you take that and judge it on that alone you can see that he is an outstanding singer with a bright future ahead of him.

 

Metal Rules!!
So are you still in contact with Midnight at all and has he heard the new CD?

Jon:
I’m not aware of him hearing the CD at all. I haven’t talked to him since 1997, it’s almost been two years so. Like I said, he really had no interest whatsoever in what we’re doing at this stage and I don’t think he’s doing anything musically at all.

 

Metal Rules!!
Can you tell me about what it was like back in the late 80’s opening for bands like Ozzy, Queensryche, Anthrax…Do you consider this period to be the highlight of your career so far?

Jon:
Absolutely…you know that’s really when we had the most recognition in the late 80’s / early 90’s. We had a lot of fun touring with bands like Metallica, Ozzy and Queensryche…doing shows with like 25,000 to 30,000 people in Europe. These are images that are very clearly ingrained in my mind forever and it’s something we are very proud of and we’re looking forward to doing it again. I think so far that “Astronomica” has been very well received, so much so that it’s been the best selling record that we’ve ever done! So far we’ve already sold over 30,000 copies of this in the first few weeks of it’s release in Europe. We’re hoping that the fans in America will like the band as well. As much as we want to appease our older fans we also want to generate new fans too. For us with “Astronomica” I think it does border between the two very well…it’s a great follow-up record to “Transcendence” and at the same time I think it’s a good beginning album for a band – which in our mind, we are beginning again.

 

Metal Rules!!
One more question about the early days. I remember pictures of Crimson Glory in the magazines back then and you were wearing these metallic masks. What was that all about and why did you decide to cover your face?

Jon:
Yeah we wore half masks like the Phantom of the Opera. We wanted to create an image that was uniquely our own that would set us apart from all the other bands in the world, indeed, in the universe. I think we achieved that, we created an identity that no one can ever forget. It helped to put the band on the map…probably. At the same time we had a lot of musical integrity as well. We weren’t just about the image, we were about the music first and foremost and always have been. We caught some flack about that earlier on but I think people now realize 10 years later listening to “Transcendence” that there was a lot of music integrity to the band and indeed those albums stood the test of time. That to me is a truism telling how good a band really is.

 

Metal Rules!!
So how does it feel when you hear a new band or read something about them and they say one of their biggest influences was Crimson Glory?

Jon:
Well it’s very flattering always. You know I’m only 33 so we’re all still very young. It’s quite an accomplishment to have recorded records that have influenced so many people and musicians at such a young age.

Metal Rules!!
Yeah definitely, I guess you were about 19 or 20 when you recorded the first CD, got the record deal, the tours…..that must of been overwhelming at the time?

Jon:
For sure. It was very overwhelming. We weren’t concerned with anything other than making music. We had a lot of fun doing it, we learned an awful lot. We plan on using the experiences and knowledge that we’ve gained now more than ever. I think we’re going to be able to establish a band better than before and the band is built to last this time around.

 

Metal Rules!!
In relation to that could you tell me what is the main lesson you’ve learned from these experiences?

Jon:
Certainly. Appreciate everything you have and not what you don’t have.

Metal Rules!!
Would that be your message to a new band starting out?

Jon:
That, and I would also say to do what you have passion for because ultimately that is what makes you the happiest in life.

 

Metal Rules!!
Not to get into a gloomy topic, but can you tell me why Crimson Glory packed it in after the “Strange and Beautiful” tour?

Jon:
In my mind it’s not a negative thing at all. The band didn’t just fold and break-up, we just took a long hiatus. We just had no interest in making another record at a time when we thought it would fall on deaf ears. We knew we were going to be needing a new singer because we didn’t want to make another record like “Strange and Beautiful” by any means and that’s really the direction Midnight was headed in so we couldn’t do that. We really played the waiting game, we were very patient, which is a very important thing to have. So we waited for the time until it was right for us to come back again when the scene was changing and shifting again in the direction for our musical genre…our style of music, a style that we helped to pioneer. 1999 seems to be the perfect time to release a record for us. Now we could of done records for the last several years had we indeed wanted to – if we were just looking to make money. We had no aspirations to make a record to just make money off of it. We wanted to make an album that would stand the test of time, that’s the only interest we’ve always had.

 

Metal Rules!!
So you obviously see a re-interest in power / progressive metal then?

Jon:
Absolutely! Over in Europe it’s as big as it ever was right now. That wave of metal is coming to the shores of America as we speak.

 

Metal Rules!!
Can you tell me about your band “Erotic Liquid Culture” that you had on the go a couple of years ago. Is that band still together or was that just a “project”?

Jon:
That was just a project that Jeff and I had done with a very close friend of ours David Van Landing, who also sings with Michael Schenker on his last live record, double live in Japan I believe. David is an excellent singer and he never had any albums which he had sung on before se we spent a month at my house recording and writing the material. It was done really as a fun project to do. It ended up turned out pretty good and the people that heard it seem to like it but by no means is it anything like Crimson Glory.

Metal Rules!!
Yeah, it’s not as progressive.

Jon:
Yeah it’s not progressive it’s much more straight forward rock ‘n roll but the performances are done well and David is an excellent vocalist. 

 

Metal Rules!!
So when you decided to get Crimson Glory back together again, how long of a process did you go through for writing and recording?

Jon:
Well we reformed the band in 1997, there had been rumors of it in 1996 but we really at that time had no interest to do it so it wasn’t until 1997 that we did it. We’ve spent the last year and a half…late 1996 was when we really started thinking about it, just before Christmas.

Metal Rules!!
Was this just talking amongst yourself or was it the result of pressure from fans or others to reform?

Jon:
No one was pressuring us although there were a lot of people inquiring about the band. I could also see from the style of bands from Europe that is was changing again. That’s really what peaked our interest. Knowing that we had a singer like Wade, we knew we could make a great record.

 

Metal Rules!!
Maybe you can name some of these bands, or bands that to you are making some waves?

Jon:
I like the band “Vanden Plaus” from Germany. I like the band “Angel Dust” they are quite good, they have a couple of records out that I like. I like the band “Pain of Salvation” their album “One Hour By The Concrete Lake”  is very cool. There’s another band called “Poverty’s No Crime.”

Metal Rules!!
What about some of the bigger bands like HammerFall, Gamma Ray, and Helloween who are still putting out great music today?

Jon:
I like those bands as well, not as much as the other ones I’ve stated, but I still like them too.

 

Metal Rules!!
What are your touring plans for “Astronomica”?

Jon:
We’re heading to Europe in early January to begin the “Astronomica World Millennium Tour.” We will be in Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Greece. We’re going to be touring with “Vanden Plaus” and/or “Angel Dust.”

Metal Rules!!
Will you be opening for these guys or headlining?

Jon:
Headlining, but we’ll share headlining for dates in France with “Vanden Plaus” because they’ve done really well there lately. Then we’re going to goto Japan and do our own headlining shows there for approximately a week or so before coming back to America in late February / early March. We’ve also been confirmed for the major outdoor festivals in Europe during the summer of 2000.

 

Metal Rules!!
Reaction so far to the CD…I haven’t heard any negative comments. What have the press or others who have heard the CD been saying?

Jon: 
Me neither, and I’ve done over 200 interviews now and haven’t had anybody tell me directly that they didn’t like the record or that they didn’t think it was any good. I think it’s a more aggressive album than maybe some Crimson Glory fans have anticipated. But like I said we purposely did that because we want to make a strong statement that we are back. In the future you’ll hear the band develop and mature much like you did from our first record to the second album “Transcendence.”

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you have any favorite songs on the new CD, or you just like them all?

Jon:
Being the primary songwriter and producer for the band, it’s hard for me to say what ones are my favorite but I really like the title track “Astronomica”, “New World Machine” I thought came out very well, “Edge of Forever”, “Touch the Sun” has a great groove in it with the guitar riffs. “Cydonia” is a good closer. All in all man I think it’s a solid record. I don’t think any of the songs are truly weak. It may not be your particular favorite or your taste, but there’s a little bit of everything on there for everybody.

Metal Rules!!
Yeah and I thought it was cool that you didn’t try to capitalize off of any of the trends that have been popular in America lately with bands that are being promoted as metal even though they are not.

Jon:
I agree with you totally one hundred percent.

 

Metal Rules!!
Is there any other news that you can tell me about from the Crimson Glory camp?

Jon:
Well we do have an official web domain up right now. It’s www.crimsonglory.com.

Metal Rules!!
Is that handled by the band?

Jon:
Yeah it’s handled by the band. We have allot of material up there. I frequently come on the board myself. There’s allot of information up there for Crimson Glory fans with constant updates and there’s soundfiles for people to hear some of the tracks on the album. We’re selling allot of material like older merchandise as well as newer. So anything you want you can probably find there.

 

Metal Rules!!
I guess my last question would be…will fans have to wait so long for another new album?

Jon:
Absolutely not. To be perfectly honest we’ve already got the new album title selected, the artwork is selected, the theme for the record is worked out and several of the songs are already composed.

Metal Rules!!
Is it all hush hush so far?

Jon:
Yes it is, and we’re not going to tell anybody until it’s ready. Hopefully we’ll be able to release it before Christmas of next year. You shouldn’t have to wait more than a year.

Metal Rules!!
Not that I’m pushing for a new release, I’m just hoping that this is not a one off thing.

Jon:
No, absolutely not. We didn’t come back just to try and capitalize on our style of music coming back. It’s something that we did with the idea of being around for a while.

 

Metal Rules!!
Well that’s it man. If there’s anything you’d like to say to fans let us know.

Jon:
Well all I’d like to say is that we are very very honored to have so many loyal fans who keep holding our music in such high regards over the years. We’re always very flattered when so many people say so many nice things about some of our earlier albums. Hopefully they will be equally impressed with the new album and understand the direction we’ve gone in with the new album. I think it captures the true elements of what makes Crimson Glory unique. The ideas of the production, guitar harmonies, lyrical content and themes within the record I think it’s quintessential Crimson Glory. You can look forward to hearing more from us in the future.

 

Metal Rules!!
Well good luck with the tour and the release of “Astronomica” on October the 19th and hopefully I’ll be talking to you again this time next year!

Jon:
I hope so too, and hopefully Crimson Glory can be one of the bands to establish our musical style in America and make it popular again.

Crimson Clory

 

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