Exclusive Place Vendome Musicians Interview
(Michael Kiske, Dennis Ward and Uwe Reitenauer in October 2013)
|Here we continue with our interview series regarding the new Place Vendome album ‘Thunder in den Distance. This time we spoke with Michael Kiske (vocals), Dennis Ward (producer and bass) and Uwe Reitenauer (guitars).
Kiske Fanclub: Can you tell us some differences between the latest Place Vendome album and the previous ones?
Michael: For me the third one is more AOR than the one before.
Dennis: Well, for a start it’s blue 🙂 Mainly I think the biggest difference is that it’s much more keyboard influenced and more traditional.
Uwe: For the first Album Dennis, Gunter and me wrote the music, so there’s more personal input from us. If the results is better on the latest album, which is written from a couple of songwriters, this question should be answered by PV fans.
Kiske Fanclub: What are your favorite songs of the new Place Vendome album?
Michael: I like TALK TO ME, THUNDER IN THE DISTANCE, MAYBE TOMORROW and HEAVEN LOST a lot.
Dennis: Not easy to answer but I really like the vibe of Maybe Tomorrow a lot.
Uwe: Hold your Love and Thunder in the distance. Great for Michaels Voice and they are just good songs!
Kiske Fanclub: Do you think it would be interesting to play 1-2 tracks of Place Vendome’s new album during the new Unisonic tour?
Michael: Not really. We have our own music with UNISONIC.
Dennis: No, we are working on our second album and together we are Unisonic, so I see no reason to play these songs. We would much rather play our own songs. I think the rest of the guys would agree with me.
Kiske Fanclub: One of the strengths of this album comparing with the 2 previous in my opinion is that this album has a great guitar work (solos & riffs), for example songs like ‘Broken Wings’, ‘Fragile Ground’, ‘Never too Late’ ‘Thunder..’ do you think this album has the best guitar work in PV discography?
Uwe: Oh I never thought about that. I’m always more in arranging the whole songs. I don’t really try to make a killer riff on every song, because good songs don’t need it sometimes.
Kiske Fanclub: During/before the recordings of Unisonic you did some rehearsals and did this help you to improve the songs? Was it more difficult to record an album with projects like PV with no rehearsals or was it easier in the end?
Dennis: It’s always easier if you can meet in person and throw fresh ideas around. This will always be the case. However working on albums like PV the only thing to do is to work fast. Make spontaneous decisions and stick to them. With Unisonic I’ll take more time to put in the “passion” because it’s more of my baby.
Kiske Fanclub: What do you think about the artwork of ‘Thunder in the Distance’?
Michael: I think it’s great! The eagle stands for spirituality. That is good with me.
Kiske Fanclub: Did you follow Kiske’s career and what do you think about Unisonic, Kiske’s solo work and his past in Helloween?
Uwe: I think it’s a great career! Of course I know the early days when he was with Helloween and its for sure written history! I like all the projects because it’s a possibility for his fans to get new stuff.
Kiske Fanclub: You said you wanted to write some songs for the new Place Vendôme album, but it didn’t happen. What was the reason? You saved your songs for Unisonic/PC 69?
Dennis: yes and no, I had a busy year and the extra free time that I had I found it more important to spend with my family than to sit in my studio again. I think I will need a lot of free time before I can write so many songs for one album again.
Kiske Fanclub: Can you give us an update about Kiske/Somerville album and Kiske/Giampietro album?
Michael: We are working on it. I guess the KISKE/SANDRO album might be finished earlier than the Kiske/Somerville, but we’ll see.
Kiske Fanclub: Can you give us an update about composing the next Unisonic album?
Dennis: Sitting in the studio now try to collect as many ideas as possible. We are exchanging ideas now and hoping to get our big list together asap!
Kiske Fanclub: Since you are working very close with Kosta and Dennis, have you ever been offered to join Unisonic as first or second guitarist?
Uwe: Yes some day we talked about that-but it was the idea to get new musicians into the band and not to have a PVII band, the other reason was my family situation. I’ve got two small Kids at that time and I didn’t want to tour all the time. My family has priority.
Kiske Fanclub: About Christmas Metal Symphony, what did attract you to join in this live project? Do you know your partners in the tour?
Michael: The orchestra to be honest. I know Joe Belladonna from the late eighties when we toured the US together with Anthrax. It’s fun to see him again after 65 years …
Kiske Fanclub: Pink Cream 69 didn’t make many concerts lately, what do you think about a tour of Unisonic and Pink Cream 69 together next year, or is this too much stress playing 2 bands at the same day?
Dennis: For me it’s definitely too much work. But PC69 did just come back from tour with Pretty Maids so that I will have to do for a while.
Kiske Fanclub: After the third album, do you think Place Vendôme could have a fourth album?
Michael: If people buy it instead of stealing it, maybe!!!!
Kiske Fanclub: What are the differences between Place Vendome and Unisonic for you and is there any difference in recording music for a project like Place Vendome?
Dennis: Mainly the fact that Unisonic is a real band. PV is a project. PV has never rehearsed together one day, although Unisonic had (in the early days) played a few PV songs. Like I said, recording PV is basically just getting the demos, writing out the arrangements, recording rough guide tracks for the musicians to the best of my abilities and then record it. Unisonic is: make personal demos, exchange ideas in the practice room, work together intensely in the rehearsal room, consider how we’ll look in the photo sessions, make videos, etc….A much bigger deal.
Exclusive Place Vendome composers Interview Part 1
|The official Michael Kiske fanclub did an interview with all composers of Place Vendome. Even that most of you are very familiar with the different composers, we would like to introduce all of them a little bit. We will publish this interview in 2 parts and we start with Alessandro, Brett, Magnus and Sören.Magnus Karlsson is a Swedish heavy metal songwriter, guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and producer. He is currently one of the guitarists of the band Primal Fear and he was also one of the composers of Place Vendome’s – Street of Fire and the first Kiske / Somerville album. Alessandro Del Vecchio is the composer, keyboardist and backing vocalist in the band Hardline. He also worked with other bands/musicians like Issa, Lionville and Soul Seller. Sören Kronqvist is a Swedish composer and music producer and has been working for bands/projects like House of Lords, Issa, Crash the System and Sunstorm. Brett Jonesis an international songwriter/guitarist who is working as a fire fighter and had his own band ‘The Sixth Extinction’.Kiske Fanclub:Which songs did you write for the new Place Vendome album? What can you tell us about the songs and did you hear the final result? What is your opinion about YOUR songs?Alessandro:Yes I happened to write the two singles “Power of Music” and “Talk to Me” which is a big honor for me. I also wrote the title track “Thunder in the Distance”, “Hold Your Love”, “Never Too Late” and co-wrote with Carmine Martone “Heaven Lost”. I heard the final result and I think it’s pretty awesome to hear Michael sing the parts I wrote for him. I always considered myself as a singer-songwriter, so a songwriter that write specifically for who is going sing the song, so I’m very pleased about the result. I’m pretty proud “Power of Music” has been chosen as a lyric video single because that is a statement from a musician to all musicians, a sort of hymn to our love for Music. “Hold Your Love” and “Never Too Late” are more generic rock love songs but “Talk To Me” is a song about cancer and a witness of the strength we can give for those who suffer from this tremendous disease. “Thunder in the Distance” and especially “Heaven Lost” talk about what we’re all experiencing in the world today: crisis, debt, poverty and cultural misery. I had the idea of “Heaven Lost” watching footages of the crisis in Greece.Brett:Broken Wings and Fragile Ground are the only songs of mine which feature on the new Place Vendome album. I actually wrote Broken Wings back in 2010 during a period where I was finding it hard to find musical inspiration. I guess every artist comes across a creative block during their career. It can be very frustrating but then all of a sudden, inspiration comes shining through. Fragile Ground was written in 2012. Without giving too much away, I believe everyone can relate to the lyrics in some way. I am proud of both my songs and cannot wait to hear the final result.Sören:I co-wrote “IT CAN’T RAIN FOREVER” with Camilla Andersson and Thomas Vikström. Our song is a positive song about looking forward in life when things are tough there will be a better tomorrow one day. We have not heard the final version of the song yet. Usually all the journalist have heard all albums long before the song-writers themselves. One can say it is a little ironic. Nevertheless, we are very pleased with the power ballad we wrote. I am sure Michael Kiske, Dennis Ward and everyone else will do a great job on the song and on the album! Hopefully, people will like the song!Magnus:Break out is the only song I wrote for this album and I didn’t get the final result yet but I can’t wait to hear it . When I know I gonna write for Michael it’s easy to get a flow. I Listened a lot to him..both old and new stuff and I can hear his voice in my head when I write. I wrote songs to him before and I always try to copy his singing style on the demos. And even if I absolutely can’t sing like Michael I hope it helps him and everybody involved to get the vibe I had in my head when I wrote the song. This time I did a mid tempo, emotional song that I know that Michael sings fantastic!
Kiske Fanclub: How did you write these songs? Were these songs already available or did you specifically write them for this project (knowing that Michael Kiske will be the singer)?
Alessandro: Well, as you might now, I’m working with Frontiers as a producer and songwriter so I kinda get the call when songs are needed for important projects. I was signed to write one song. The first one was “Thunder in the Distance”, then Serafino kept on asking if I wanted to write some more and I ended up having six songs of mine! I never just start songwriting..unfortunately I’m a lazy writer. I envy those writers who write songs everyday and have their drawers full of hidden jewels. I write when I have the right flame that inspires me. I need a picture, a voice. So I wrote these songs having Michael in mind since the first moment. I have a different kind of voice than Michael (I’m definitively James Brown singing hard rock:-)) so when I recorded the demos I always kept him in mind and shaped the melodies in order to prepare the perfect scenario for him to lay down his trademark superb vocals.
Brett: I had already written the songs. I sent them to Serafino from Frontiers when they were looking for songs for the upcoming Place Vendome album. I don’t have a set way of writing songs. Broken Wings came about from the intro riff. With Fragile Ground I wrote the chorus one day at work and then finished it off later that night.
Sören: Camilla texted me a title while I happened to be out for a walk. Immediately I got a melody in my head and I pressed record on my telephone and sang the chorus, so I would not forget it. After the chorus I did not press stop but kept on going improvising a couple of other parts. Therefore, most of the song got “written” in only one and a half minute or so. After that I went home and recorded drums, bass, guitars, and keyboards. Thomas and Camilla came over and we re-wrote some parts of the song and Thomas recorded the demo vocals. In the back of my mind I actually had Michael Kiske as a vocalist for this song. I am glad Serafino at Frontiers Records had the same idea.
Magnus: I always write new songs for the singer..no left overs Not only do I think it’s giving a better result, it’s also so much easier for me to get inspiration when I know who’s gonna sing it.
Kiske Fanclub: Alessandro, you worked with Issa in her solo album(s), did you know she was one option to be the Kiske partner in the project that end as Kiske/Somerville?
Alessandro: Funny..I never knew! Issa is a great singer and she is a great professional to work with. Doing her last solo album has been a blast! Maybe you’ll hear from me on the new K/S as well…who knows:-)
Kiske Fanclub: Magnus, you published a few days ago in your facebook account that Mat & you already have some great symphonic tracks for the new Kiske/Somerville album, when you will start recording and are there already some information when we can expect this release?
Magnus: We are still in the writing process and I don’t know much about the release details. But we are taking it easy and not rush anything because I think I can promise you already now that this gonna be something huge
Kiske Fanclub: What do you think about the previous 2 Place Vendome albums?
Brett: I was very excited when I found the first Place Vendome album as I hadn’t heard Michael Kiske since the last Helloween album he did. The first 2 albums are true masterpieces, which I think most fans would agree with. I have only heard the samples online and must admit, they all sound liked great songs! I am really excited about listening to the album in its entirety.
Kiske Fanclub: Did you follow the career of Michael Kiske and what do think about Unisonic, Kiske solo, Place Vendome or his past in Helloween?
Alessandro: Sure! In my “metal” years I was raised on his works with Helloween even if for me “Instant Clarity” is his best record so far. I also like a lot “Chameleon” because vocally he was evolving more into a rock singer than the typical high-pitched metal singer.
Brett: Keepers of the 7 Keys part 1 & 2 are possibly the greatest power metal albums of all time. The chemistry between Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske is undeniable on those albums. From there I followed Michael’s work with Gamma Ray, his solo albums and most importantly Avantasia. His performance with Tobi on the Avantasia albums is breathtaking.
Sören: Already when I heard Michael in Helloween I thought he was an amazing vocalist. I like his work in Unisonic also and especially in Place Vendome. For example the last Place Vendome album “Streets Of Fire” was probably the best album that year! I think Torsti Spoof from Leverage, etc wrote 4-5 songs on that album. As far as I understand, I am the one who will carry the Finnish flag now on the new album.
Exclusive Place Vendome composers Interview Part 2
|The official Michael Kiske fanclub did an interview with all composers of Place Vendome. Even that most of you are very familiar with the different composers, we would like to introduce all of them a little bit. We will publish this interview in 2 parts and the 2nd part is done with Timo, Andrea, Roberto.Timo Tolkki is most famous for his former band Stratovarius, but also for Symphonia , Revolution Renaissance, his solo work and Avalon. Several of these projects had guest appearances of Michael Kiske. Roberto Tiranti and Andrea Cantarelli are the singer and guitarist of the Italian bands Labyrinth and A Perfect Day.Kiske Fanclub:Which songs did you write for the new Place Vendome album? What can you tell us about the songs and did you hear the final result? What is your opinion about YOUR songs?Timo:I remember writing it (Lost in Paradise) very quickly because I was asked to do it in the middle of mixing my Avalon record. I wrote the song including the lyrics in just a few hours and made a quick demo. I haven’t heard the final song but I’m sure it sounds good. I think ironically that the best songs I have ever written are those that come very fast.Andrea:I wrote “Maybe Tomorrow” with Roberto Tiranti (singer of my both bands, Labyrinth and A Perfect Day). I wrote the music and Roberto both melodies and lyrics. The song is a ballad, and it’s about old memories and how to cohabit with them…Unfortunately I have not yet heard the final result, I’m very agog with it. Well, I’m very proud of this song, it is very representative of who I am as musician and how I feel today.Kiske Fanclub:How did you write these songs? Were these songs already available or did you specifically write them for this project (knowing that Michael Kiske will be the singer)?Andrea: I wrote this song in really few minutes, as always happens. Sometimes nothing happens for many weeks, sometimes you’re able to write a song smoothly. I wrote this song specifically for the Place Vendome new album. Of course I thought to Michael and his way to sing, but not so much. This is my way to intend the music and I’m so happy to know that Michael appreciates this song too!
Roberto: Basically I wrote this song for Michael, I know enough about his wonderful voice to find the right key and melody. A simple typical rock ballad! Andrea Cantarelli gave me the song without melody and lyrics and everything come out fast and easy!
Kiske Fanclub: Did you write ‘Lost in Paradise’ specifically for the Place Vendome project? How difficult was it to write for a Hardrock/AOR project which is very different from your other bands Stratovarius, Revolution Renaissance, Symphonia and now Avalon.
Timo: Yes it was specifically written for Place Vendome with Michael’s voice in mind. I didn’t really “try to” achieve anything when I wrote the song. I don’t write songs this way. If there is any aim, then it must be memorable chorus, melodies and the overall atmosphere.
Kiske Fanclub: We know that you like Michael Kiske’s voice very much, so can you maybe tell us a little story about working with Michael Kiske?
Timo: Who doesn’t like his voice? The first time I worked with Michael was on my 2002 Hymn to Life album where he sang a song called Key to the Universe. Ever since we have worked together from time to time but I have never met him or even talked to him! That’s a bit weird but I’m sure we’ll meet. The quality of his voice is very special, the tonality, resonance and timbre and they way he sings, it is very special. It is one of those voices that are recognizable in seconds and if you have this, you are one of the greats. He is also very easy to mix because his voice cuts through the mix very well. What can I say that hasn’t already been said about this man? He also has a deep philosophical side which is very interesting. I don’t agree with all the things but there is a common ground in there. Maybe one day I can do a full album with him.
Kiske Fanclub: What do you think about the previous 2 Place Vendome albums and the other Place Vendome songs of the new album that you didn’t write?
Andrea: I like very much the old Place Vendome albums, but much more I’m a really big fan of Michael. I have not heard the other songs at the moment…
Kiske Fanclub: Did you follow the career of Michael Kiske and what do think about Unisonic, Kiske solo, Place Vendome or his past in Helloween?
Andrea: Yes, of course I followed the career of Michael Kiske. I start to play music also with the early Helloween albums, so to be here writing for Michael is for me something like a dream comes true…I appreciate the ability of Michael to sing in different styles. His voice is so unique.
Roberto: I think Michael’s voice is more versatile than we could think, all his works are fine and well done……very professional. My favourite album for me is “Pink bubbles go ape” and of course we are talking about “talent”…something that you cannot buy. 🙂
Exclusive Place Vendome cover designer Interview
|We have something special for you here and we interviewed Stanis W. Decker, the designer of the new Place Vendome cover ‘Thunder in the Distance’. He is a great designer who usually works with the U.S. label Metal Blade and Italian Frontiers Records.
He did the cover artwork of another project related with Michael Kiske, its the Timo Tolkki’s Avalon album: The Land Of New Hope also the singles A World Without Us and Enshrined In My Memory. He also worked with other bands like: Stryper, Monument, Gaia Epicus, Vanden Plas, Battlecross, Tidal Dreams, Lady Fuel and a lot of more.
He is also logo creator/designer, storyboarder/director of videoclips, he already filmed with Awacks: ‘Madness’ and In The Guise Of Men: ‘Drowner’. And also tattoo designer. Additionally he is a musician himself and plays bass in the band Awacks. I hope you enjoy reading this interview. 🙂
Stan-W D: The cover concept was suggested by the staff of Frontiers Records. But I knew the previous two albums (I’m a fan of Streets Of Fire, an album full of great songs) and I thought it was a good idea to continue with that path. But I also wanted to add a mystical dimension and more surreal look of the eagle to create a direct link with the album title. The wings are the storm clouds, the lightning give the dynamic movement of the wings, the whirlpools in the ocean came naturally to increase the power of the image and give strength to the concept. The bright colours and the contrast seemed to me appropriate to the group’s music. They are a little soft– this is how I understand the FM aspect of Place Vendome – and on the other side they have heavy reminiscences, symbolized by the dynamics of the illustration.
To answer the second part of the question, yes I’ve designed all the artwork, the Japanese and the regular edition. There are a few differences between these editions (some pictures are different). I didn’t make the vinyl edition. I personally would have loved to make the whole package, I love to create a beautiful package and the pages of the booklets while listening to the music.
Stan-W D: It is very difficult to judge your own work. I’m surprised and glad that people like it. For me, I really enjoyed working for Place Vendome because as I explained above, I’m a fan of Streets of Fire album. I must admit even telling to myself that I would have liked to design the previous covers of Place Vendome… (and finally it happened)
Kiske Fanclub: What do you think about the covers of 1st and 2nd album? Did you get inspiration from them?
Stan-W D: I prefer the cover of Streets of Fire, it has also motivated me to buy the album. It is more majestic and less static than the first. I like the continuity with the theme of the eagle, which became a sort of mascot. To use that animal on the new cover became so obvious. The only real difficulty was not plagiarism of the two previous artworks… specially the posture of the bird.
Kiske Fanclub: You’re also a director, do you think they will film a videoclip? Will you do it?
Stan-W D: I am an artistic director, no director of videoclips, however I storyboarded occasionally video clips with a group of friends. We did the clip “Madness” for Awacks (my group of heavy/progressive, because I’m also a musician). And a second videoclip for the band In The Guise Of Men is being… I do these things for passion, but not professionally. I’m not involved at all with Place Vendome for this kind of media.
Kiske Fanclub: Do you follow Michael Kiske’s career? If so, what do you think about his solo records, Unisonic, Place Vendome and other projects?
Stan-W D: I answer with a big “yes”. I started in 1989 discovering the Keeper II. I was in high school and I spent my philosophy classes drawing pumpkins of Helloween and rewriting the lyrics on the table. I even had problems because of it. I followed the career of Helloween, regretting as everyone his departure from Helloween (although I appreciate Andi Deris)… His first solo album was seen as a betrayal because the style was so different. However looking back to the past I understand it better and I like the album. I also like a lot Kiske-album. I then turned to his collaborations with Unisonic and Place Vendome. About Unisonic, I’m a little divided, because the album is excellent but I expected so much – thinking in something a little heavier – that I missed. But the songwriting is amazing.
Stan-W D: You have an eagle eye for noticing this. In fact, I did seven different logos. One was confirmed and was sent as the first visual promotion. But I did some adjustments after that. Some promos have the logo updated and others not. The correct version is… the one found on the package in stores, hahaha… Working with Timo was a good experience and a real pleasure.
Kiske Fanclub: Which is your favourite cover you ever did? And your favourite cover that someone else created?
Stan-W D: It is impossible to answer this question because I always have a story, a particular feeling connected with each cover. I will answer making a “pirouette”, telling that it will be which I will do for Iron Maiden (which is the group that made me drawing and brought me to Metal so I have a special affection)… About the second part of the question is simple: “7th Song Of A 7th Son” of Derek Riggs, but I also can’t ignore “Wilkinson” (Marillion), “Repka” (Megadeth), “R. Dean” (Yes), “Dave Mc Kean” (Paradise Lost), “Paul Romano” (Mastodon), “the studio Stylorouge” (Paradise Lost) and many others
I want to thank you for this interview.
Exclusive Place Vendome interview with Dirk Bruinenberg
|Our Official Kiske Fanclub did an exclusive mini interview with Dirk Bruinenberg who replaced Kosta Zafiriou on the drums in the new Place Vendome album ‘Thunder in the Distance’. He played in bands like Elegy and Adagio. So I hope you enjoy reading this interview. 🙂Kiske Fanclub:How did you join in the project of Place Vendome?Dirk Bruinenberg: I am in contact with Dennis a lot, we have been friends since I met him with the Adagio recordings and over the years I did many recordings with him….so when Kosta got too busy he asked me….simple as that
Kiske Fanclub: When did you know you’ll work in the new Place Vendome album, did you listen to the other 2 cds? What do you think about them?
Dirk Bruinenberg: They gave me their album years ago….Kosta is a very busy guy and I think the setup was that if he got too busy I could fill in…..well, didn’t hear nothing for many years after….hahaha, but now I think it was the right time ….I knew everybody in the band already except Michael….all very cool guys their albums are great….like them a lot
Kiske Fanclub: If you listened to the older CDs, what are the differences between them? How does the new album sound?
Dirk Bruinenberg: There is not so much difference in my opinion….the’re all great AOR songs and the new album fit’s right in between
Kiske Fanclub: Since you played in bands of progressive and power metal, was it very difficult to play AOR/Hard Rock stuff?
Dirk Bruinenberg: Not so much….over the years I got to know what Dennis wants to hear in the studio….the hardest thing for me was to do less these are all vocalist albums and it’s all about the songs.
Kiske Fanclub: What do you think about Kiske’s previous work in Place Vendome, Unisonic and other projects?
Dirk Bruinenberg: Kiske did some great things over the years….I was watching him with Helloween when I was just a boy….he’s a great vocalist and I am happy to finally make an album with him