The stellar bass guitarist, who has also visited Slovakia in November, shared his feelings about the writing of his latest album, the review of which you can read on another platform of our magazine. We have had a pleasant conversation together via WhatsApp from Zürich, where Marco had a concert in the evening as part of his European tour.
Hi Marco! Let's jump straight into your latest album NEW DIRECTION. What new directions do you have in mind?
One feels certain possibilities and certain limits, and it was like that sometime in 2019, or even a little earlier, when we started working on this album. We were in contact with our record label, we were working on the songs and we were looking for the most suitable name according to the finished songs. This is how it all crystalized, we finally agreed on this. We released the album under the name NEW DIRECTION and we are doing our concert tour with the same name. I feel that with the name "New Direction" I would like to draw the attention of the listeners to my solo career more. At the same time, it speaks about all of us. After the pandemic period, we all feel changes. It is such a small message that we already feel things differently, we behave differently, differently we act... We crossed a certain boundary, maybe we didn't even know that it would all develop like this. The song "New Direction" was created, which was also suitable for naming the whole album. We felt this was the right name at the right time and that's how we closed it. And we feel like we hit it off.
The title track has a beautiful clip in psychedelic colors and is downright mantric... It's obvious that you like colors and this kind of music.
Yes, I like colors. I grew up in Mexico. My mother was a singer and loved colors and flowers. We already used colors on our first album. When the graphic designer sent us the first draft of the cover for New Direction, which was black and white, I told him: "It's not bad, but I'm missing the colors!" I need them! I always pay attention to them wherever they are. They stimulate my thinking, they always attract me. So we did a bold color cover, a bold color clip, and we think it worked. It's a bit reminiscent of the psychedelic 60s and 70s, which is my favorite period of music. It's a retrospective thing, we're back in the era of kisses and love, we feel it.
The LP cover is also colorful and I like the yellow color. It has a rooster symbol on it - is it a reference to your Mexican roots?
That's right. It is a certain metaphor from the Inca period about real things, about free birds that fly high, about freedom and harmony in the world. We tried to adapt these ideas into our music. We love it and we hope our listeners will too.
How was this album written? Did you use the pandemic period to write?
Yes, some things were written during the pandemic. We started recording in September 2019, always during breaks in between tours. For example, we had 4-5 days to work in the recording studio and we wrote quite a lot of music for the album this way until the end of 2019, maybe 80%. We recorded back in December, before we left the studio in Copenhagen for the Christmas holidays, and we agreed to continue in February 2020. However, the pandemic was already starting, suddenly it was impossible to travel, we could not continue the recording work . However, a substantial part of the album was done in 2019. We didn't get to the studio in Copenhagen until June 2021 and we wanted to finish the album. It was a time when we didn't know what would happen, we had a crystal ball in front of us, we looked into it, but we couldn't read anything from it. However, such things happen in music. Sometimes things stop, we lose energy, but then it changes. This album is also optimistic. We believe in good times, that everything will go well, and we have playful colors on it. I worked day by day to make it sound positive and it worked.
How did you come to work with guitarist and producer Soren Andersen?
I met Soren a few years earlier, at a music fair in Los Angeles. I heard an interesting musician playing in one booth. I was moved by his playing, so I went to introduce myself. And he said to me, “I know who you are. How are you doing?..." The fair ended and we didn't see each other again. About a year later, I released my first solo album, we toured, and when we were in Los Angeles again, someone said, "Soren is in Los Angeles, call him," and I called... He's been my guitar player ever since. We have already made a lot of music together, played a lot of concerts. He understands what I do, what I want to achieve. It's always good when two musicians get on well with each other. That's also why we've been together for so long. However, for the sake of completeness, I have to say that now I have very good musicians in the band. All the instruments are played by excellent and reliable musicians, so everything is going well. Soren came to our concert with Whitesnake in Copenhagen years ago. After the concert, we talked, we understood each other musically, but we still didn't know if we would work together. And then it took off. I like the boy, he is an excellent musician, I work very well with him.
Tell us something about the other members of the band. Will we see them at your concerts in Slovakia?
Yes. Ivan Keller is an excellent guitarist from Zagreb, Croatia, he has been playing with me since April. Mario Lepoglavec plays drums. Both are excellent, I enjoy playing with them. The band's sound is amazing now. Mario is young, still hungry and thirsty. I too am still hungry and thirsty, but I am no longer young! I like young musicians, they are excellent instrumentalists, but they are also excellent showmen. But I am too (laughs). They have a lot of energy and are a lot of fun. I have to emphasize that there is a great atmosphere in the band and it is definitely transmitted to our audience at concerts. After all, you will also see it at shows in Slovakia.
Is there a song from the new album you like more than other? Or, which songs should we definitely listen to?
The title song "New Direction" reminds me of the music of the 60s and 70s, inspired by The Beatles. There was a lot of emphasis on guitars and bass. I like the reference, but here we are looking for a "new direction", a new answer, new paths , to better ourselves, to change the world we live in, or we're going to be in big trouble. The song "Take it to the Limit" is rock 'n roll, hard rock 'n roll, we're gonna have a real shout, like in "Scream And Shout". My favorite song is "Walk Next To You" or "Light It Up" because I play bass guitar so I have to like things where it's just bass guitar and drums (laughs). It's a trivial sound, but there's a lot of energy and a kind of animal instinct. Also, "Shoot For The Stars" is a good thing, it's something to think about. We have to take many things into account, for example, with the help of a rainbow we can figuratively get closer to the stars, it's a simple idea. So there's another great link, kind of my answer to some of the questions that were raised: where does it all come from, where do we come from, and where are we going. You will also find spiritual thoughts there. I'm a Christian, so I talk about these things. So there are a number of good songs, I recommend listening to the whole album. I also listen to it in its entirety, as a regular listener, and think, "Wow, that's good stuff!"
We have to promote it, some three or four things from it are played more often. I've recorded four solo albums so far, which is already a pretty good base for shows. We play them with my great boys and we enjoy it. After all, we have to stick together, we travel a lot. Traveling is harder these days than it used to be, but we love to do it, we do it for the music and to make the world a better place. We try to make our concerts a great experience for the listeners and we tried to make a good album. All this to make everyone happy.
You performed with many hard rock icons. Which collaboration do you value the most, who influenced you the most in your further direction, solo career?
Indeed, there were many great musicians, perhaps it is difficult to name all the important ones now. But the names of some exceptional musicians come to mind. You know, when I was growing up, I had problems with alcohol and drugs. The first person who gave me the opportunity to play music at a level again was Bill Ward, the drummer from Black Sabbath. He wanted to release his first solo album, which he did, and I played on five tracks. I would highlight this person. He helped me, gave me a chance... I would never be who I am without him. I also played with other great musicians: Edgar Winter, Al Jareau, then in Whitesnake - working with David Coverdale was excellent, I learned a lot from him. I was also taught a lot by John Sykes, Ted Nugent. They inspired me to be a better person, to be an honest person, and I became one. I did two albums with Dolores O'Riordan from the Cranberries and it was a great collaboration. I recently started working with Journey on a new project and those guys are great! So, those are a few names, important people for me... There were really many of them, both people and bands, e.g. and Thin Lizzy. It's impossible to mention everything, but I respect everyone.
Marco, thank you for the interview and we are looking forward to a personal meet in Slovakia.
Thanks to both of you gentlemen, it was a pleasure. I am looking forward to meeting the fans and the two of you in Slovakia.
Ján Graus & Roman Réh