BY NICKY BALDRIAN
As your all aware Vinny has issued his terrific debut solo album "The Journey", so I thought it was high time I stopped by for a chat about the new album and all things Ten.
Could you please tell me a little bit more about yourself and how long you have been playing music?
I have been playing guitar for about 20 years. Not so seriously at first but once I got the bug I just carried on.
Musically who are your influences?
Guitarist wise it would be Manny Charlton (Nazareth), Michael Schenker, David Meniketti, Kee Marcello, David Gilmore, All the Lizzy guitarist's but especially Scott Gorham. Van Halen. I like guitarists who play with feel. The one's who hit your heart not your mind. I do not like to hear things that make you think ' wow that's really clever'. I prefer things that raise an emotion. Band wise, it would be UFO, Nazareth, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Ted Nugent, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Foreigner, Journey, Neil Schon, Y+T.... etc.
Tell me about your new solo album and why you felt the need to do it?
I have been writing songs since I was Fifteen. I always wanted to be a song writer more than be known as a guitarist. The journey represents all my influences over the years as a guitarist songwriter and person. Everyone is on there own Journey and every single person you meet on the way changes your life in some small way. Its also an expression of wanting to get better at every thing. As a guitarist I want to be much better. As a songwriter you always want to write the ultimate song and as a person you want to be a better person.
What equipment do you use?
In the studio I mainly use a
1978 Gibson Les Paul. It was a Deluxe when I bought it but I put
full size Humbuckers in it straight away so I guess that would
make it a Standard. For clean sounds I mainly use a G+L ASAT. It
was made for me by Leo Fender before he died. G+L where going to
make me 8 guitars but I only managed to receive two before he
died. He hand wound all the pickups on them,(the other one is a
G+L S500). For acoustics I use mainly Yamaha. I have an APX20 and
one of their new CPX15 Compass series. The CPX15 is a beautiful sounding guitar. I also have a Yamaha Nylon electro acoustic. Other guitars that I use are two ESP 'James Hetfield' Explorers, 1979 Flying Vee, Takamine Ltd Edition 88 acoustic, Patrick Eggle Berlin Pro, Squire Strat with EMG's and a Floyd Rose and two Ibanez Roadstar guitars.
The Ballad "This World" with Gary Hughes is so beautiful,what was the inspiration behind that the song?I love the acoustic flamenco style playing.
''This World' was originally a piano idea that I had. I worked it into a song that Hugo was supposed to sing but he was far to busy on his second album so I emailed the Cubase idea to Gary and he came in and did what you hear on the album. I think he did a really great job on it.
What was it like playing in Japan?And how are the reactions out there as I understand TEN have done very very well over there?
Japan has been our biggest surprise. We never intended the first two albums to do the sales that they did out there. We just went into the studio and made the album that we wanted to hear. It took a long time to arrange the mix with Mike Stone as he was already doing Foreigner so we went ahead and finished 'The Name Of The Rose'. By the time the first album was ready for release we only had to do a few overdubs on 'The Name Of The Rose' and mix it which is why we were able to release that album within six months.
When the first album came out it sold 22000 copies on the first day and 35000 within two weeks. We really did not expect it to do quite so well because it was just an album that we were happy with and gave it no more thought than that. We also did not have any pressure to come up with a good second album because it was already done. It makes me laugh when people say there was a change of direction on the second album because they where both recorded at the same time but mixed six months apart.
When we went to Japan to tour on 'The Name Of The Rose' album we could not believe all the fans everywhere we went. When we checked into the hotel the lobby was full of fans. I think we thought that some other band were staying there and that it was their fans. The response from the gigs was also amazing. We had brought Richard Blundell from Frontiers magazine out with us and we all just kept looking at each other in disbelief at the response. We were glad that Richard was there because nobody would have believed us otherwise.
Was it surprise when "Name Of The Rose" started shifting loads of copies?
Yes it was. We wondered why the first album had done so well and so you try to convince yourself that it was a one just in case the second one stiffs. Sure enough, the second one sold 35000 on off the first day and 45000 within the first two weeks. We had a higher chart position than the Spice sold Girls in the national chart. We were also one of the only bands to ever get a score of 95 out Japanese of 100 on albums. We were told that this had never been done before both our
Tell me about Dare?What happened with them in the end and what was it like finally hanging out with Darren Wharton again at last years gods?
I got tired of being in Dare at
the end of 91. We were already in a difficult position with
A&M Records where we had to sell nearly 2,000 000 copies of
'Blood From Stone' before the band would receive any record
royalties. We got very good advances from A&M but eventually
you have to pay that money back.
Just by signing on the dotted line we had undertaken a mammoth task of accepting large amounts of money (for the band and to record the albums), and the consequences that go with it. We received about £500.000 pounds over the two albums ( this does not include money spent on tours.
It cost the band £150 000 to do the Europe tour). Out of this money we had to make the albums, buy equipment and keep the band in money. From 15% of retail value of an album (an album retails to the shops for about £7.50) we had to pay the record company back all the money that they had spent on the band. Even after 250 000 sales over the two albums we owed a lot of money still. This kind of pressure on a young persons shoulders is not good.
Darren and myself always got on very well. We used to go out drinking together outside the band and we were very good mates. We spent almost a year in our studio at Darrens house coming up with the demo's for the second album. We never used to argue about anything. We would disagree about lots of things but we did not argue about them.
When we started the second
album tours, we were under an incredible amount of stress. Darren
was getting drunk after the shows as we all were and sometimes he
would drink before the shows and we started to argue. The
situation was getting me down so I quit. Do not get me wrong
though, as everyone who has met me knows, I also like a drink but
I never drink before a show though.
After I left Dare, we had a lot of tax problems to sort out so we had to talk a lot on the phone (Darren had moved away from Manchester to Wales). I think that helped to bury any sort of anger that we still felt about the whole thing. Meeting Darren at the 'Gods was no problem as we had met a few times before that. I was looking forward to having a beer after the show.
You have to remember that all this business with Dare happened so long ago. I have been in three bounds since then. All have been more successful than Dare. That is no disrespect to Dare, that is a fact. I have earned more money from my last three bands than I could ever have hoped to earn from Dare. Money is not everything but in this business it helps to be financially secure so that you can just concentrate on what you do best and that is making music. I wish Darren and Dare all the best in the future and look forward to having a drink with Darren again.
N.B: How did it feel to be playing on stage last year with Bob Catley at the Gods and will you be doing it again this year?
It was great to play with Bob. He is such a professional. I enjoyed that Gods last year as I did not feel any pressure at all. It was Bob's band and Bob's music. When we play with Ten in the UK there is a lot of pressure to come up with the goods because there are a lot of people out there who want to see us fall flat on our arses. When I played with Bob there was none of that pressure and I really enjoyed the gigs. I could not do it this year with Bob because we where playing the Gods with Ten.
I like to be able to concentrate on just one thing at a time if at all possible.It was a very important show for Ten this year. Not because of anyone else's expectations but because we (Ten) have always felt that we have never done a great show in the UK. We wanted to show people why we do so well in Japan. We have done some great shows out there and after each one we would say 'Why can't we do that in the UK'? This time at the Gods we were determined to do a great show. I also think that we did. It was not perfect but it was what we needed to do to lift ourselves.
In the press releases for this years Gods festival in November it states that you will be playing some of your own solo material,any idea which songs from "The Journey" you will be playing?
None. I do not think it is fair for the rest of the band to have to play my solo material and Gary also felt the same. It is difficult enough with four studio albums from Ten to decide what to play and what to leave out without also worrying about pushing Ten songs out to make way for our solo songs. I may do the instrumental 'The Journey' from my solo album instead of a guitar solo on future Ten tours but that will only be if the rest of the guys do not mind.
Were you disappointed at the reaction towards "Spellbound"?
To be quite honest no. We approached the album in the same way as all the other albums and we were happy to bring it out so no, its a good album. The recession in Japan hit sales a bit but we did better than nearly all the other bands did. Most bands dropped 40-50% of sales. We dropped about 5-10%. I would take that for the next album if you could offer it to me.
How did you and Gary Hughes get together and where did you find Sam Blue?
We (Gary and myself) used to drink in the same rock club in Manchester. It was called the Banshee. He had just signed a record deal and so had Dare. We used to chat about music and generally walk round looking really smug and rock god like. We were the only people in there that had a record deal and we were both going out with the two best looking girls in the place (this last point was very important at the time). We always said that we would get together and do something and it was only a matter of time before our schedules would be free at the same time to allow it to happen.
I met Sam when I was with Ultravox. I had joined them (as a favour to my old manager Sir Harry Cowell) to do one festival in Hanover Germany when their guitarist had walked out. When I arrived at rehearsals in Manchester the singer they had was really bad. When I told Sir Harry he fired him and got Sam Blue down. We got on so well straight away. We were both from a rock background and were only supposed to be doing one gig for Ultravox.
I was still with Asia at the time. Asia did not seem to be doing anything so I carried on with Ultravox and we did two albums. When we were on tour Sam used to always say that we should get together and write a rock album. We both grew up listening to the same sort of bands and none of us were in the industry for the glamour because there is none so we get on really well. We had always kept in touch and Sam had wanted to do this album when we were in Ultravox so he was my first and only choice.
What are your futures plans as a solo artist and also what are your future plans with Ten?
Sam Blue and myself have just
started work on the next album. We have about seven songs already
and we will be recording it in between our other commitments. We
are also about to start a new Ten album. We will be working the
way that we have always done. That is, not getting to bothered
about what other people think we should be doing and just making
the album that comes naturally. We never have a set plan when we
go into the studio. The songs just end up the way they do. I will
also be going on a solo tour of Europe and Japan in Jan/ Feb/ March next year. After that we will be doing a Ten tour In Europe and Japan in May/June. After that I will finish mixing my solo album and then see what happens next!
Finally is there anything that you would like to say to your fans here in the UK and Europe?
Thanks for all the support. We never did expect any of this so it all seems a bit unreal still. We were sorry that we did not get to tour 'Spellbound' this year but the politics involved in the tour were impossible to get around. We will make up for it next year. Thanks for staying with us. All the very best.
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