Following the footsteps of STEVE LUKATHER and TOMMY DENANDER, guitarist/songwriter CHRISTIAN TOLLE has been doing his own sort of AOR project. He has just released the 2nd CD 'The real thing'' as CHRISTIAN TOLLE PROJECT, which contains the same kind of AOR as the projects TOMMY DENANDER usually does (read: RADIOACTIVE, HEARTBREAK RADIO, etc). I interviewed this talented German musician...

First off great new release, please tell me all about it?

Thanks, „The Real Thing“ is the follow up to my first cd from 2000 „Better Than Dreams“. It has the same appoach to it: self-produced and recorded plus lots of guests, some well known, some friends and
fellow band mates. My goal was to offer a variety of well written songs from power ballads to more agreesive tracks. It took me a little more than two years to get everything together. I recorded parts of the record in LA, it got mixed in the Netherlands at Studio Maasland and mastered in The USA by Brian Lucey. I am very pleased with the outcome, since this it represents a lot of work and the songs I’d like to hear on an AOR album in the new century.

The new record features well known guest musicians like STEVE LUKATHER, DOUG ALDRICH, TIM PIERCE, CHUCK WRIGHT, how did you manage to have them playing on your record?

I know these guys for a long time. I got in touch most of them in the early 90s when I was writing for a big German musician magazine (Fachblatt Musik Magazin). I met about everybody who was in the spotlight of a musician magazine: Vai, Satriani, Richie Samborra, Mnike Landau, Keith Scott, Scorpins... you name it. And then of course Luke, Tim and a lot of folks fron L.A. It may be said that it’s easier as it may seem to get these guys to play. Basically it worked like this: I asked them, we figured out a schedule, I packed my suitcase and flew over to LA and we recorded the tracks. Funny though. I spent much more time in preparing those session than they literally took, I mean: Luke was in and out of the studio in less than an hour and delivered some amazing material, same goes for Doug Aldrich or Tim Pierce. A great experience for me to see those guys doing their thing on my tunes. They really made it shine. Chuck Wright knew the tracks before I actually sat in with him, so he layed down the bass pretty fast as well... and then we went for a bite and talked about the music scene. Really a nice guy also.

I described your record as a mix between TOTO meets GIANT meets RAINBOW, so AOR and Classic Hardrock elements can be heard, how would you like to describe it?

That sums it up nicely. Rainbow and TOTO were one of my earliest influences when I was a kid and later started playing the guitar. When  I heard TOTO IV back in the early 80s I was sold. And  Giant is one of my all time favoruite bands, Dann Huff is one hell of a writer, player, singer producer, so I’ll take it as a complimnet, knowing that Luke, Huff are a class on ist own. I simply tried to span over different genres. Enemy or The Flow are the more edgier uptempo tracks with a tougher rock attitude, One And One or First Time are more mellow or laid back, but still those songs are connected from the vibe. That was my goal to really stretch and still not leaving my AOR / Hard Rock ground.

Who are you main influences as a guitarist?

I guess it has to be Luke, he has the biggest impact on me as a player. To me TOTO was always the key to popmusic with a Rock attitude. I dig others as well, Michael Landau, Dann Huff or Tim Pierce from the studio scnene as well as Doug Aldrich, George Lynch or Warren DeMartini (from Ratt) for the Rock Guitar vibe. And then I really liked Matthias Jabs from the Scorpions back in their heydays. He has a unique tone! But don’t get me wrong, I also love other styles such as Fusion or Blues. Waren Haynes from Gov’t Mule is a great example of some woderful guitar playing. I guess all that stuff influences on a more subconcious level.

You have various singers on your records, can you tell me more about the Dutch singer JOHN CUIJPERS?

Oh yeah, I met „Jaycee“ through the former guitar player of Cooper Inc. Leon Pennings. I was in the middle of recording the Real Thing and was so impressed by his voice that I asked him to join the sessions. So after listening to my 1st cd Better Than Dreams and the nw material he agreed. So we cowrote some more songs and it may be said that he did an awesome job in taking care of the main vocals. It turned out that Leon moved to a Northern part of Holland and split with Cooper Inc, so „Jaycee“ and the guys in the band asked me to join and I gladly took the offer.

Are you doing live shows to promote the record?

Yes we do. We have already done a couple of shows recently and we have been opener for Toto in the summer in Leverkusen/Germany. You know, CTP and Cooper Inc. have joined forces, so we now play those new songs with Cooper Inc. There will be more gigs coming up, the next one will be ath 11th of February in Zellweg at De Radstake together with Sustain.

Are you involved in other bands/projects at the moment?

I do play sessions here and there since i have my own studio and I like to do more of that studio work, so if anybody needs support in guitar- or basstracks, check my website and drop me a mail. Bandwise I totally concentrate on Cooper Inc.  We already started to write new material and our goal is to record the next record as a group effort.

Finally what are the future plans?

We really want to play more, getting a support slot maybe and then of course writing the best we can for a Cooper Inc. release.

Thanks for answering the questions, good luck with your career?

Thanks you for your support.