Joe Lynn Turner – Sunstorm
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Lisa Walker for help to get this interview done.
Promo pictures of Joe Lynn Turner is taken by:
Renee Yarbrough, Chris Marksbury, Simi Friedman, SherylRobPhotos.com
Promo pictures of Over The Rainbow taken by: Angelos Zimaras
The legendary singer Joe Lynn Turner is currently working with the project called Sunstorm and the brand new album from the project is called EMOTIONAL FIRE and is the projects third release so far. I hooked up with the always friendly Mr Turner in order to hear what he had to say about the work on the album, the recording process, and his future plans. The interview became long and very informative so I hope that every fan of Joe Lynn Turner is satisfied, enjoy!
Hi Mr Turner how are you today? Thanks a lot for taking the time to answering the questions. I thought we could begin with talking about your brand new album together with the project Sunstorm called EMOTIONAL FIRE?
Thank you for your time and support.
What made you agree to feature on the third album with Sunstorm?
The concept for this third CD was developed by Frontiers. In the past, the Sunstorm CDs were a montage of songs that I had in my archives along with some tracks that the staff at Frontiers thought would be a good for the Sunstorm idea.
"Emotional Fire" is different. None of the songs came out of my collection of this time. Songs that I wrote that are still in my archives… but some came out of sessions that I had been a part of…both writing and recording…from my past. But also like the previous two Sunstorm CDs, this one also has some songs that Frontiers picked out because they feel those songs sounded like the melodic rock concept of "Sunstorm."
Could you tell us the story behind the songs that are featured in EMOTIONAL FIRE?
You would have to ask the writers of the songs if they have any stories because I did not write the songs. However, I do have some great memories associated with some of the songs.
The songs I sang on in the past are special to me because it is an example of life coming full circle…which it always does! “Gina,” was originally on “The Hunger,” by Michael Bolton, where I contributed background vocals. Those sessions were really an exciting time because the melodic rock genre was all over the radio in the USA back then. “You Wouldn’t Know Love” and “Emotional Fire,” which Michael wrote for the “Heart of Stone” record by Cher were also great songs that I sang background vocals on. This was a very creative time full of energy…writing with people like Desmond Child and Jon Bonjovi, working with so many artists from Billy Joel to Paul Carrak.
Was it hard to decide which songs that was going to be featured on the album? Were there many songs that didn’t made it on to the final edition of the album?
Frontiers came up with the list and I approved it. I am glad the fans seem to like it. I do wish that more of my songs from my archives could have been a part of this third Sunstorm but that was not possible. I was on tour in Russia, Eastern Europe and doing business plus much needed vacationing in Turkey when the song list had to be made final.
When was the idea born to make a new Sunstorm album?
Well, fortunately the first two albums did well so Frontiers approached me about doing a third. I do not remember exactly when it was, maybe a little over a year before it was released
The last Sunstorm album came 2009 how was it to enter the studio and record again? Have you experienced any pressure regarding this album and achieving anything out of the ordinary?
It was great, every new recording experience is something I look forward to although we did have some setbacks during this recording process. That put me under a lot of pressure. I was doing many dates overseas in Russia while also recording this Sunstorm. I would be home for a few days, work on Sunstorm then go back on the road. Not to mention we also had a hurricane in the New York and Northern New Jersey area here in the USA during some of my scheduled Sunstorm sessions. The electric power was out for 3-4 days and I lost some recording time. I was also ill for awhile but it all came out fine thanks mostly to Dennis Ward who did another stellar job as producer.
Who’s done the cover art-work and what do you think of it?
Frontiers oversaw the creation of the artwork. I believe they have an artist on their staff named Gulio who does a great job. They may have also hired additional people to help. You would have to ask them. I think the artwork fits the title and the sound of the songs…it works well.
Where does the title EMOTIONAL FIRE come from?
It comes from the song of the same name.
How is it to work with the rest of the members of Sunstorm?
Dennis Ward is totally amazing! He really knows how to capture the power that a lot of these songs have…he really takes people back to that era but at the same time incorporate some modern sound. The band he assembled for Sunstorm is stellar as well. He was also in Japan for part of the recording so we exchanged a lot of emails and Skypes! We have had to work long distance on all three Sunstorm records and each time everyone involved has been really easy to work with and very professional.
There’s a new keyboard player featured this time, who’s the leader of the project and who decide what musicians to use?
I did not pick the musicians or the producer, Frontiers suggested them but I am glad they did! As I said earlier, they are all amazing.
Would you say that this is an hardrock or an AOR album ?
First of all, in the USA, AOR is not a music genre it is a radio format that was popular in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. But…it seems that other people outside of the USA consider AOR to be a sound as in melodic rock. There are parts of the album that rock pretty hard and yet there is a lot of melody so…melodic rock is a good description. It sounds like what was very popular on the radio in the mid-to-late-80s in the USA.
Do you prefer making albums in the shape of project/band form rather than in a solo form?
I like both opportunities for different reasons. Each recording, each album has its own unique challenges whether it is a solo or band effort.
What do you like the most – recording albums or touring and meet the fans?
Both…again for different reasons. Playing on stage is a rush when you have a great crowd that is really into the music. I also love to hear the fan’s opinions about their favorite songs and what the songs mean to each person. It’s interesting how the same song will touch two different people in a very compelling but different way.
From the reviews I’ve read regarding the new album I have to congratulate you for the positive response. Do you read and care about what media and critics have to say about your albums?
I am glad that the reviews are good but as Ritchie Blackmore once taught me…if you believe the good reviews you have to read the bad ones as well so I usually do not read my own reviews…I do not seek them out or look them up.
Are there any plans on shooting videos to any of the songs?
Not at this time.
Your vocal sounds really great on the album but are you happy with your own effort?
Considering some of the challenges that we faced (see earlier answer), I am pleased with the result.
Many artists thinks that their latest album is the best one, what do you think of EMOTIONAL FIRE is that your best album so far?
I do not have any favorites…all of the projects I do are like children. They are all special in their own way.
Do you have any numbers on how much the past two albums with Sunstorm have sold in?
No…but because Frontiers wanted to do a second and third record, I am assuming the first and second CD did well enough to encourage Frontiers to want to move forward with this 3rd one.
The album is released by Frontiers Records in Europe but does they also release the album in the rest of the world?
I know that they released it in the USA and we are getting some airplay. I am not sure about countries outside the USA and Europe. King Records announced they will put it out on April 25th in Japan.
How is it to work with FR president Serafino Perugino and his crew?
Excellent! I’ve worked with them a long time now and appreciate their efforts to keep the melodic rock sound alive. They have really grown enormously as a record company as well. Great to see that!
If it’s not possible to purchase the album in stores; is it available to download (legally)?
As far as I know, it’s available for legal download on many of the popular online stores, like Itunes.
Are there any plans on continuing releasing albums under the name Sunstorm?
Maybe…never say never! I still have some great songs in my archives that I would like to dig up, record and share with the fans.
Where was the album recorded and who produced it?
It was produced by Dennis Ward and recorded in Europe (Dennis and other musicians) and in the New York City/Northern New Jersey area/USA (my vocals).
What is Wards strongest feature as producer?
I do not know of any weaknesses…he’s one of the best there is and might also be a little under-rated in that some musicians in the States may not have heard of him.
How does a recording session work? Does Ward send you music and you do the vocals?
We exchange a lot of files and Skype back and forth.
If you’re going to make more albums in the Sunstorm way is Ward going to produce those as well?
Well…right now we are focusing on promoting this 3rd album so there has not been talk about a 4th yet. That does not mean we will not do a 4th Sunstorm…but it’s just to premature to discuss it now. Dennis has done a stellar job with all three albums and I would welcome the chance to work with him again.
What’s the current status with Over The Rainbow?
It’s on hiatus right now. Everyone is really busy with other projects.
In past interviews you said that there are plans on recording a live album with OTR is that something that going to happen soon?
Not any time soon but I hate to rule it out…as I always say…never say never.
How was it to meet all the Rainbow fans on the tour?
Amazing! I think it’s so cool that so many younger people are also discovering Rainbow. I had a lot of fans who were teenagers!
Isn’t it time to release a solo album? The last one came back in 2007 and we long to hear your solo work. What are the plans for Joe Lynn Turner during 2012?
Well…I do have a I have a lot of things I am working on but not a pure rock solo album…not right now anyway. I am actually writing some modern-rock-country type songs. I have been working with Swedish songwriter/musician Chris Antblad and hopefully our record will be out later this year. We did not want to conflict with this Sunstorm release. I am talking to Jan Holberg about some future projects. There might be some soundtrack material coming out. I recently did a rap-type song with Jadakiss…just confirmed some tour dates in Russia, Turkey, Bulgaria.
Last year you took part in the Jan Holberg Project, what can you tell us about that?
He contacted me and I liked his material so we ended up working together. He was great to work with both in the collaboration/recording process and also on tour. We did some shows together.
You also did a duet with Robin Beck on her album THE GREAT ESCAPE from last year, how was it to work with her and are you two long time friends?
Well…Robin and I are longtime friends since the early ’80’s! We have worked together many times on different projects together. We even went to Germany to do a German Mcdonalds commercial! So…good friends!
You’re also involved in Brazen Abbot what’s the status on B.A? Any new album with B.A soon? How is it to work with Kotzev?
You’d have to ask Nik Kotsev about that since it is his project but Nik is brilliant and always great to work with.
How was it to record the live DVD THE BRAZEN ABBOT – LIVE AT BERKROCK?
Great! Excellent crowd, good energy! I have a lot of fans in Bulgaria, also, and look forward to seeing them later in June.
I know that the band leader Nikolo Kotzev is working on a new metal opera titled Draconia, are you going to participate on that?
I am not sure about the status on that project…you would have to ask Nik but certainly I would consider it if I was asked to be a part of it.
You’re also a part of the touring band Big Noize together with Vinny Appice and Carlos Cavazo amongst others how’s that and how do you find time to do everything, you sure are a busy man?
I agree…I am constantly on the move but it gives me energy and it is what I love to do. I love singing, I love making music, writing, recording, performing. It’s my vocation and how many people get to earn a living doing what they truly love? I am very lucky so…no complaints about being busy!
Are there any plans on recording anything with Big Noize and how is it to work this those guys?
Another great band …total pros…we work well together. No recording plans as of now but that could change. Everyone is really busy with their own projects but we never rule out the possibility of recording some original Big Noize music. We do have “Battlefields.” The song was not written by Big Noize but it is an original recording.
How come you call yourselves Big Noize?
When we started the project Vinny was talking about doing things right and making an impact and he said something like, "Yeah….and we’ll make a big noise.” So I said, "There’s the name," he said, “what?" and I said,"Big Noize"…easy!
What do you prefer the most to be a part in a band or project or to do solo stuff?
Both can be great experiences and opportunities. Of course, with a solo project, tour, etc. you have more control of the product (most of the time).
It’s been over a year now since the legend Ronnie James Dio tragically past away and the rock community lost a significant role model and founder. Do you remember what you were doing when you received the sad news about his passing?
Yes…Ronnie was one of the good guys…a gentleman of rock…proud to call him friend! I was in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro. I was stunned. I thought he was getting better last time we spoke! Then…bad news…but we went that night to a local rock bar and all the musicians from Rio came and we sang Dio songs all night. We did some drinking and crying and laughing and telling stories about Ronnie but it was a celebration…not a mourning…it was a tribute! My fav Dio song is Stargazer… without a doubt!
Did you knew Dio?
Yes and he was always the consummate professional and gentleman.
While we’re talking about men with amazing voices let’s talk about you how have you managed to sustain you’re amazing voice through out the years?
I eat very healthy, stay hydrated and get a lot of sleep. I will often negotiate a day off between every two tour dates because more than two in a row can really stress your voice. It’s better to do two on, one or two days off, preserve the voice and give the fans who go to the shows a better experience.
How does it feel to be a living legend? I know many many people that look up to you and really love your work.
Well…I am humbled and forever grateful.
Last year you paid my home country Sweden a visit and performed at the Rockklassiker cruise how was that?
It was great! I always enjoy my visits to Sweden!
You have been in the business for many years now and how do you think that the music industry and climate have changed? For better or for worse? And what’s your thoughts on the download industry?
In the USA anyway, it seems people who are in charge of signing talent to record companies or exposing talent in the media have traded real talent for manufactured talent or novelties. By "novelty," I mean artists that may not stand the test of time. Many talented people sit on the sidelines because they cannot get the exposure or support they need to get to the next level. Thank God that record companies like Frontiers continue to support music that showcases authentic talent. As for downloading, lots of people like the convenience and I respect that. Many of my fans still seem to want a hard-copy CD with artwork, etc. It seems that’s true with a lot of fans of classic rock artists.
Are you going to play live in Europe during 2012?
I hope so!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the fans and readers before we end this interview?
I would just like to say that I continue to be humbled by their undying support and love for the music that I make.
That was all for me, I wish you all the best and it has been an honor to interview you. You sure are one of my personal heroes. Thank you.
Thank you for the kind words and I thank you and your website for all you do as well.