Vocalist Rob Rock
Interviewed by Rick
Rob Rock is one of the greatest voices in Metal today. From his early days with M.A.R.S. through his long association with Impellitteri, Rob has proved consistently that he has what it takes to be a major player on the metal scene. Rob Rock has finally released a solo cd and has enlisted the help of long time friend and Bruce Dickinson cohort, Roy Z. Together they have created an outstanding piece of metal that is sure to get Rob the recognition he deserves. I recently had the opportunity to pose these questions to Rob Rock.
Why did you want to do a solo album and how did you come about doing “Rage of Creation”?
I wanted to do a solo album so I could record some great songs that I have written that would never be heard on an Impellitteri record. My opportunity came about when JVC/Victor Entertainment Japan was interested in the songs I had written with Roy Z and wanted to release them in Japan.
Was this something spur of the moment or had you been planning it for awhile?
I’ve been planning and hoping for four years or so, that the ideas I had for a solo album would finally become a reality and slowly it came into being with the commitment I got from Japan.
What kind of metal do you classify the music on “Rage of Creation”?
I’m not exactly up on the latest labels or terms people use to describe records but I would say “melodic metal” or “power metal”.
What is the significance of the title?
“Rage of Creation” is an acronym for R.O.C.K. (as in Rob Rock), but I never did find a good word for the “K”!! It also evokes the vibe of the album which to me is aggressive, powerful and creative.
Roy Z produced, wrote songs and played on the CD. How did you come to have Roy work with you on Rage Of Creation?
Well, some of the songs that I had written were co-written with Roy Z around the time we were in Driver together. We used the riffs and ideas from our old demos that stood the test of time and re-wrote them and also wrote a whole bunch of new songs just before we started recording. Roy and I have been good friends for a very long time and we always wanted to do an album together and it just seemed so right to do it now while everything is falling into place.
How did you and Roy split up the song writing duties. Did you collaborate on all the songs or were some already done by one of you or Roy and just the rough edges fixed up?
We did it together in a lot of ways. Most songs were collaborations, some were re-writes of our original demo ideas, and some were written around a riff from Roy and some were written around melodies that I had and would sing to Roy and he would come up with the music to accompany them. It was great to write in a variety of ways and the results were fantastic! It is so fresh and inspiring to me to work in such a great atmosphere of cooperation.
The CD has the trademark crystal clear yet chunky production of Roy Z. How is Roy to work with as a producer?
Roy is awesome and destined to be a huge producer in metal and I believe he’s well on his way already. Roy is able to communicate and to inspire those around him to be the best they can be. We agreed to record this album in a raw fashion and let the talent, songs and performances speak for themselves. I can honestly say that this is the best album I’ve ever recorded and by far the best mix of any album that I’ve been involved with. I’m very happy with the results, which was very important to me, especially when I’m stepping out on my own and putting my name on it. It’s very satisfying to work with Roy who worked so hard to make sure we achieved the results I was looking for.
Your band contains some great metal players. Roy Z (Bruce Dickinson, Tribe of Gypsies), Butch Carlson (ex-Jag Panzer) and Jake E. Lee. (ex-Ozzy) among others. How did you get this band together and did each person bring anything special to the CD?
Everyone involved brought their best to the recording and it shows. Roy Z is smokin’ everywhere on the guitar, Butch is pounding away on the drums and Jake came in the studio and laid down some killer leads. Greg Analla (Tribe of Gypsies) came in and helped me with the backing vocals and Ray Burke (Life After Death) came up with some great bass lines and performances on the songs he recorded with us. My friend Chris Leibungut helped out a lot with getting everyone together and even played bass for us when we did some pre-production.
Did the finished product “Rage of Creation” fit the vision that you had before starting the recording?
When it’s all said and done, “Rage of Creation” is the best album I could have hoped for. I thank God for the results. I was a bit nervous at times because it’s the first album where I’m on my own, it’s my name and my responsibility to deliver a great album and because of Roy Z, I was able to realize a long time dream of making a great solo album.
Do you have any favorite songs on the CD? And why?
My personal favorites are “Streets of Madness” (powerful song, cool lyrics, great performances), “Forever” (awesome melodies, best outro solo ever recorded, great song), “In the Night” (heavy metal vibe is intoxicating, vocal screams), “Eagle” (awesome vocals, atmospheric vibe, cool solos, great song), “Sun will Rise Again” (grand entrance, powerful and ripping tune, positive lyrics, great drumming) and “Judgment Day”( Cool Biblical concept, 2 ton riff, great musical passages, fresh). Every song on the album has it’s own merits, and that’s why it’s a great album.
I agree . Almost every song on there is a great tune.
There is a cover of “Eagle” by Abba on the CD. How did you come about doing a cover of this song? And how did you make it your own?
This song was suggested by Chris Leibungut. Roy Z said it would fit the album the way he heard the production, and once I heard the song I agreed. I made it my own by my vocal performance and by the arrangement Roy came up with where we added the metal atmospheric vibe of Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell”.
I know the CD is out in Japan. How is it doing sales wise?
The CD is doing great sales!! I was a bit disappointed to realize that I am a “new artist” in the record companies eyes after all those Impellitteri albums I recorded, which means my budget is small in all areas, but the fans in Japan know a great album when they hear it and I’m happy that it’s selling so well.
I just got the news that you are signed the Massacre Records for Europe. Will you be getting a distribution deal for North America?
Yes, the album will be out in America. The details are not written in stone yet but the album will definitely be available from my website www.robrock.com in late October in any case, and all over the web.
Do you have any plans to tour behind this CD? Europe? North America? And will Roy and the rest of the band be the same for the tour?
I plan on touring in Florida and in Germany so far. I’m hoping Japan sales will dictate a Japan tour too, but I may have to wait till the next solo album to do that. I hoping to tour Europe sometime after my release on Massacre Records. As far as band members, I’m not sure at this point. Roy said he would be there if it’s possible to fit the dates into his schedule, so we have to wait and see at this point and hope for the best.
I have to ask you. I know that you are not a member of Impellitteri anymore. Can you tell me what happened and why you are out of the band?
Chris said he didn’t care if I do a solo album . Once the album was finished, he changed his mind. He was not comfortable with me having a solo release going on because he felt it would compete with Impellitteri. So, I was forced to choose between Impellitteri and a solo career.
Will you be doing anymore CDs with Impellitteri or will you be focusing on your solo career?
I’m definitely focusing on my solo career. This also gives me the opportunity to do other recording projects that come along too. Chris and I remain friends but we won’t be recording together in the foreseeable future.
What was your level of involvement in Impellitteri? Did you have major input into the band or were you just the singer?
I was the co-songwriter of the band, lead singer and did some promotion work too. Chris was the major input for the band and ultimate decision maker.
Why are the Impellitteri CDs so hard to find over here? I have heard many of them but they are so expensive to get as imports. Could the band not get a distribution deal for Europe or North America?
I was not the decision maker for Impellitteri and Chris wanted things to do things according to what he thought was right. A few albums came out in Europe though, Screaming Symphony, Eye of the Hurricane and Crunch.
You also worked with Axel Rudi Pell. Seems that you have a history of working with great guitarists. How did you get involved with him and why did you only do one CD with him?
I was already committed to recording the Impellitteri “Grin and Bear it” album in L.A. when I received a call from Axel’s manager. We all agreed it would be a one time studio album and I needed the funds at the time to move back to L.A. from the East Coast. So, I heard the demos and I agreed to do the album. Then I flew to Germany to help write and record the album and from there I flew back to L.A. to start the Impellitteri record.
Could you tell the readers of Metal-Rules.com a little about some of your previous bands. Namely M.A.R.S., Driver, Angelica and Joshua. Were these just projects or actual bands that didn’t get past the first release?
M.A.R.S. was a band with a new album recorded and we were looking into touring possibilities when Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge got an offer they couldn’t refuse from David Coverdale. They joined Whitesnake and Tony MacAlpine went back to his solo career and I joined the Joshua band. Joshua was signed to RCA but after our record was recorded the band just fell apart. I decided to do my own band DRIVER at that point and was recruiting players when I did the studio gig Angelica as a favor to my friend Ken Tamplin, who was producing the album. Then I put DRIVER together with some guys from Joshua and Roy Z and we did a 24 track demo as we were searching for deals. After playing the East and West Coasts and doing a lot of demos, we ended up going our separate ways as “grunge” was invading the rock scene. That’s when I recorded the A.R.P. album and joined Impellitteri back in L.A.
Did you actively search out guitar shredder types like MacAlpine and Impellitteri? Or is it just a coincidence that you seem to always team up with great guitar player?
By coincidence both Impellitteri and MacAlpine happen to be from my home town area in the Massachusetts/Connecticut area of New England. I do like a strong guitarist and they like a strong singer so it works out well. I think the best situation is where you have a great singer and a great guitar player and they both concentrate on writing great songs like Roy and I did with “Rage of Creation”.
Do you have any contact with Tony MacAlpine? And if yes do you plan on doing anything with him in the future?
No, I haven’t been in touch with Tony much over the years. I think it would be cool to do another M.A.R.S. album in the future if everyone else was into it. I’ve grown so much since that first album, singing and songwriting wise, that I feel we could make an even stronger statement now.
I for one would love to see a new M.A.R.S. CD!
Rob you seem to be heavily involved with the internet. You have a great website at www.robrock.com How has the internet helped you in your career? How about metal in general?
The web has been a great tool for reaching tons of people that were very hard to reach before. I think it opens up a whole new world to the musicians out there and it also allows a much greater distribution center for new music and for metal. Luckily for me, my wife is a web designer and I’m able to have a professional web site at my disposal. This “store front” on the web will also help me to get my album distributed and available to millions of fans worldwide who were unreachable before without major label help.
Will you be selling “Rage of Creation” on your website?
Definitely!! “Rage of Creation” will be available around October 26 from www.robrock.com
Rob. You have one of the greatest voices in all of metal. Did you always want to be a singer? What kind of vocal training, if any, training do you have? How do you keep your voice in top shape? Any hints?
Thank you! I’m glad you noticed! I started off as a drummer and I’ve always sung background vocals and then came out front to sing by the request of the band I was in at the time. Most of my training is self-taught by trail and error, recording and listening, and playing a lot of “live” shows. I did take 10 vocal lessons in L.A. before the Joshua “Intense Defense” record. They taught me some warm-up exercises and pitch transitions. I do warm-ups everyday in the shower and I’m usually demoing songs or rekearsing the songs I’ve already recorded to sing “live”. I’ve got a section on my website called “Vocal Tips”, and I put up a new comment every month so there is a lot of hints and tips right there!
Who are some of your influences? And what draws you to create metal instead of some other form of music?
“Whole Lotta Love” from Led Zeppelin is my earliest influence in music I’d say and that was when I was a child. As a young teen I was into Styx, Kansas and Boston and I was drumming and singing then. Once I became a singer, I really loved the melodies of Lou Gramm of Foreigner, the power of Ronnie Dio of Black Sabbath and the screams and attitude of Rob Halford of Judas Priest. Metal just gets me going and I love the power and drive of the music. I never really got into anything else. Nothing moves me like metal with great vocals!
Word has it that you are working on the new Warrior CD with Joe Floyd. How did that come about?
When I was mixing my solo album, I had Roy Z and Joe Floyd doing the engineering and knob twisting. We recorded and mixed at Silver Cloud Studios which is Joe’s studio. After the mixes were done and the album was finished, Joe asked me if I would be interested in working on his new Warrior album. I’ve always loved and respected Warrior so I was very interested in writing and recording with Joe. Warrior is a great metal band and Joe and I both thought my voice would be a great asset to the new album and the future of Warrior.
Will this be a permanent relationship with Warrior?
I hope so! Right now it’s a sort of wait and see what happens situation. I will pursue my solo career and also make myself available for Warrior.
Is the CD near completion? When will it be released?
The album is nearly finished. I believe they may re-mix one or two songs before mastering. I don’t know when it will be released yet.
How does your work with Floyd impact on your solo career?
I love to work and create great metal music so I really don’t see any problems doing both things. I hope Warrior opens me up to a wider audience and I look forward to the opportunities as they arise.
Is there anything else that you want to say to the readers of Metal Rules!!
I just want to thank all the readers who have supported me and welcome all the new readers who are just discovering me now. Please, check out the “Rage of Creation” album, you will not be disappointed! Out of the thirteen albums I’ve recorded, this is my best work yet! Check out www.robrock.com for a complete history and discography plus monthly news, reviews, vocal tips, photos and link updates.
Thanks for you time Rob and Good Luck with “Rage of Creation”!!