WELCOME TO THE MACHINE – with German metal band Mob Rules


I saw Black Sabbath twice at Newcastle City Hall in 1982 on The Mob Rules tour. Neon Knights, Heaven & Hell, Ronnie James Dio – once wasn’t enough. One of the nights I remember waiting an age for them to come on stage – then lights out…the roar…Neon Knights. I mentioned this to Jan Christian Halfbrodt, keyboardist for German metal band Mob Rules…
‘No, to be honest. Our name has nothing to do with Black Sabbath, but Lynch Mob

In 1989 guitarist George Lynch left American metal band Dokken and formed the hard rock band Lynch Mob…’It was a guy with a Lynch Mob Rules cap that was the inspiration for this name’,
Mob Rules are from Oldenberg in northern Germany. They formed in 1994 and over the next 5 year they built a fan base and released debut album Savage Land…Mob Rules had their first deal in 1998, since that a lot has happended’.

Further albums quickly followed ‘Temple Of Two Suns’ (2000) ‘Hollowed Be Thy Name’ (2002) and ‘Among The Gods’ (2004). In 2005 they released a live album ‘Signs Of The Time’. They have recorded a further 3 studio albums since then. But going back to the start who were your influences Jan? ‘Hard to describe, because everyone of us listens to a wide variety of music. It seems hard to deny, that we all love bands like Iron Maiden, Queensryche etc., but we also have some folk influences in our newest albums and also a progressive touch. For me music started when I was seven years old and my mother played me a cheesy old organ. When I was ten, I saw David Gilmour‘s live performance of The Wall on late night TV. It was again my mother who woke me up to show me. Since then I knew what I wanted to do!’

Are there any other musicians/bands who you admire ? ‘Oh of course! If you want my favourite albums are Remedy Lane by Pain Of Salvation, Human Equation by Ayreon and Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime’.

Where do the ideas come for your songs ? ‘Most of the songwriting is done by Klaus and Sven, since the last album I am responsible for the lyrics. Sven has built his own studio, this is our new center of creativity. The most part of recording is done by ourself, that gives as time to work on every idea. Usually we produce a complete pre-production before the final recordings. The vocals and final mastering are done by Markus Teske at Basement Studio who does an awesome job’.


Touring has taken the band to the USA, the UK, Spain, France, Scandinavia, Belgium, Austria and a few festivals along the way… ‘We started playing in our home area, we went on to tour with bands like Savatage, Gamma Ray, UFO, Axel Rudi Pell. We played around Europe and twice in the USA, even twice at Wacken Open Air in Germany some years ago. It’s really fun to be part of this journey and get to see all these places and people !’
‘Before I was in Mob Rules, I played in a band in my local area, so for me it was the first time to travel so much for making music. But this is great, I love this part and enjoy sightseeing as much as it is possible on tour. One day on tour, I was making a phone call at a rest stop on the highway and the bus suddenly started without me inside ! Good luck they saw me in the rearview mirror, or else on the next show they would have to play without a keyboarder ha ha’.


Have you filmed any TV appearences or filmed any music videos ? ‘Of course, there are several videos that you can mostly find on You Tube but have also been aired on TV. We also have two live DVDs, the latest is a recording of our live show in Atlanta 2011’.

What are the future plans for Mob Rules ? ‘We are currently recording our ninth album that is scheduled for 2018. This means a lot of work right now, we also want to play some festivals then another tour after the release. Keep the machine running!’


The full line-up of the band is Klaus Dirks (vocals) Sven Lüdke (guitar) Markus Brinkmann (bass) Jan Christian Halfbrodt (keyboard) and Nikolas Fritz (drums).
For more info contact the band on the official website http://www.mobrules.de or on social media through facebook.

Interview by Gary Alikivi November 2017.

OVER THE MOUNTAIN – with French heavy metal band Tentation


This blog has featured a number of French bands – Bare Teeth, Stupid Karate and Hightower. The latest band to get in touch are from the region of the Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France. They live in a small Catalan town called Torreilles. With the population only 3,000, but home to heavy metal band Tentation. The bassist Guillame Pastor got in touch…‘In the beginning of 2012 at an after-party of our association with Pyrenean Metal Festival, Patrice (vocals) Guillaume (guitar) and me decided ‘We want to do that’ After a couple of months Laurent (drums) joined the band and the heavy metal of Tentation was born’.

Who are your influences ? ‘Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rock Goddess, Grim Reaper and bands from the NWOBHM. Plus the 80’s/90’s French band’s Sortilege, H-bomb, Malediction and Blaspheme. For Patrice our vocalist his influences are Zouille from Sortilege and Iñaki from the Spanish band Exodo’.


When did Tentation start gigging ?  ‘Our first concert was in our hometown in Torreilles on the 29 March 2014 for the Heavy Metal Night of Pyrenean Metal. For our first long distance gig we travelled over 200 mile west of Torreilles to play in Tarbes with our friends Iron Slaught. That was two great experiences. We are based just 30 minutes from the Spanish border so we played in Murcia and Barcelona, then in Belgium for the No Compromise Festival. We’ve also gigged around France in Rennes, Paris, Avignon, Lyon and Dijon’.


What were your experiences of recording ? ‘We might not be the tightest band and don’t record to a click but only play with passion and feeling. In 2015 we recorded our first EP and sent the songs Bruixes, L’épreuve du Sang, Valhalla, Spectre de Lumière, Temps de Prière and Double Bang (H-Bomb Cover) to the Cochise Studio in Tucson in USA for the mix and mastering. Record Labels Impious Desecration and Inferno Records released it’.


Did you film any TV appearences ? ‘We have never played on TV but we have filmed a music video for our first song Bruixes (Witches in English). We plan to film a new music video for our song Shaman’.

What are the future plans for Tentation? ‘Last month we recorded a split EP with our friends Iron Slaught. This will be released at the beginning of 2018 by Impious Desecration Records and Triumph Of Death Records.
Up to now we have arranged 4 gigs for next year. Colmar and Marseille in France and 2 others that we can’t announce yet. We are looking to arrange more’.


Interview by Gary Alikivi November 2017.


Bare Teeth: Hungry Like Wolves, September 3rd 2017.

Stupid Karate: Zip/Pop/Chop, September 14th 2017.

Hightower: Anger is Our Energy, September 27th 2017.

Bare Teeth: Tomorrow Starts Today, October 15th 2017 (E.P review).

HAPPY TRAILS with songwriter Freddie Mazzucco


Mike Christmann, Nathalie Pellissier and Freddie Mazzucco.

After travelling around Europe and USA songwriter & guitarist Freddie Mazzucco is now based in Luxembourg. With vocalist Nathalie Pellissier and guitarist Mike Christmann the acoustic trio are performing as Angel’s Whisper, and Freddie was keen to point out that the band are now preparing to tour…’At this moment we are actually auditioning bass players and drummers for the upcoming concerts with the full electric band’.

Was there a defining moment when you said ‘I want to do that’ was it watching a band or hearing a song ? ‘It was the first time I heard All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix, I said to myself ‘This is it! This is what I wanna do!

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘I played gigs in the early 70s, with friends, doing mostly Deep Purple, Led Zep covers and then playing with many other bands in the French Riviera. We played pop, rock, fusion, anything with guitars, bass and drums. I moved to the USA in 1983, played with many bands from New York and New Jersey. I toured a lot in Europe too – Spain, France, London. Actually when I was touring Spain, it was with Krish Black Eagle, a soul-rock singer part Afro-American and native Cherokee. A great singer whom I met in New York in 1987. I played many years with him and recorded songs in New York City at Unique Studio in Manhattan. I recorded in London as well, I don’t remember the name of the studio (Ron Tom I think) played in many places with him as a guitarist’.

Who are your influences and are there any other bands you admire today ? ‘Big influences are mostly bands from the 80’s and 90’s like Toto, Europe, Giant, Whitesnake, Amanda Marshall, Mother’s Finest… too many to mention. Now I really like the new AOR scene! Bands like Revolution Saints, Gotthard, Journey and Nickelback.’


Where do the ideas come for your songs and have you recorded any lately ? ’Most of my writing comes from what I went through in my life whether it was positive or negative experiences. I’ve played a lot in recording studios, in New York, London, French Riviera, Belgium and Sweden. I just love being in recording studios, I feel at home, recording, producing, creating. I have an album under the band name Isis Child called Strange Days that came out 5 years ago. Recorded by Gerald Jans at Noise Factory Studios in Belgium and mixing and mastered by Pelle Saether, singer from the band Grand Design. That was in Sweden at Studio Underground’.


’The style of music is AOR Classic rock. We had a lot of airplay all over Europe and Japan, pretty good press with the press-book. About 2 years ago we had to change the band’s name because of  ISIS in the Middle East and we are now Angel’s Whisper. I’ve written and composed the next album and as soon as I have the full band of 2 guitars, bass, drums and keyboards we’re going back in the studio for the recording. It will be in the same vein, just a little more heavy on the guitars and drums. I might go to Denmark for the mixing this time’.

Have you recorded any TV appearences or filmed any music videos ? ‘There’s a video on You Tube called I Love the Way to give you an idea of what Angels Whisper sounds like’.

What are the future plans for Angels Whisper ? ‘The future plans are many. A new album is already composed and written, that is in the making. Then all the promotion, videos, and gigs to be arranged. Yeah pretty busy’.


Mike Christmann, Nathalie Pellissier and Freddie Mazzucco.

Interview by Gary Alikivi November 2017.


SPANISH MARKS from Upside Down


Upside Down are a Spanish Pop/Punk band with a line up of Quique Martinez (vocals/guitar) David Sanz (drums) Alex Castellano (bass) and Angel Fernandez (guitar). How did the band get together ?… ‘We were all members of other bands some time ago and decided to start a new project in 2014. We all decided the name Upside Down because of the meaning of a new beginning. We each have different tastes in music but we love bands like Linkin Park, Arctic Monkeys, Paramore, Bring Me the Horizon and so much more’.


Where have the band gigged ? ‘Since the band started we have never stopped playing. We have shared the stage with international bands like ROAM on their way through Spain. We have played in cities like Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante’.

Where do you get ideas for your songs ? ‘Each of us has his own influences so everything we do comes from the mix of this diversity. And when we write the lyrics we write about personal experiences and we hope people can relate to them’.


The band plan on releasing their debut album ‘Scars Are Forever’ through Krod Records. What has been your experience of working in the studio ? ‘Going to the studio is always a revealing experience because you see how your ideas evolve and they turn into music. Each time we go to the studio we feel we learn something new and we strengthen the knowledge we already had’.

What is the meaning behind the title ’Scars are Forever’ ? ‘It means that every experience in life leaves a mark on you and these marks are the one’s that define who you are’.

To release the album they have launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance the recording, mixing and mastering costs for the production of the album.  ‘It’s a perfect system to help ideas to come true and to see that there’s people supporting your project before it’s released. Apart from getting the funding, we want people to feel they are an essential part of this project and also part of the creation process of Scars Are Forever’. (As a preview, the band recently released the first single Do I Still Miss You).

What is in the future for Upside Down ? ‘We will be making music, evolving as a band and our main objective for 2018 is to play abroad. Spain is great but we want to expand our music everywhere’.


You can contact the band on social media Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @upsidedownpunk

Interview by Gary Alikivi December 2017.

LOOKS THAT KILL – from Belgiums glam metal band WildHeart


WildHeart are from Ninove in Belgium, 30 minutes from the capital city Brussels. They formed in 2014 and have recorded one album. The American radio rock anthems and shouty chorus’ of Guns n Roses/Bon Jovi/Motley Crue are their stock in trade. The video for single ‘Lovehunter’ should win awards for it’s ozone busting hair metal moves, or it’s production values in replicating the 80’s style music video. Lead vocalist of WildHeart, Farty, yep thats his name, explains…‘We didn’t have a lot of money to shoot the music video, so we were looking for someone who was just starting out to reduce costs. We found that person in Timo Vandiest. He had already proved himself by making the aftermovie of some of the bigger music festivals in Belgium. But he had never done anything like this. So we were very happy when he agreed to do this for us.
When we approached Timo, we already had an idea of what we wanted to accomplish. So that was easy for him. We wanted the setting to be in in the 80’s. We are all nerds playing video games and we don’t seem to have enough self-confidence to pick up girls. That all changes when we watch the VHS of Lovehunter and all got sucked into the TV. We all have our story trying to seduce the same girl and in the end one of us succeeds – me of course ! When the nerds are back, they all have the confidence they need and I kiss the girl at the end of the clip.
It took a lot of hard work and preparation to get this done because we all had to do it ourselves. Some of us even had to take a day off work to prepare the settings. We only had one day to shoot the video because of our budget, so we worked almost 24 hours to get it done. It was heavy, but in the end we are very happy with the result’.

Farty introduces the band… ‘We’re still playing with the same line up when WildHeart started out in 2014. That’s me on lead vocals, Foxx and Juice on lead and rhythm guitars, bass is Stevie Dee and Thunderberck on drums. Since we’re a glam metal band, our influences are especially the hard rock/glam metal bands of the 80’s. To name a few, Dokken, Ratt, Van Halen, Whitesnake and Y&T. The hard rocking kind of glam bands of the first wave’.


How did you get involved in playing music ?  ‘To be honest, I never really thought about singing in a band until they asked me to join WildHeart. I already was a big fan of 80’s hard rock and I love singing. But I always thought that if I would end up in a band, it would be as a bass guitar player. But they convinced me to try and I accepted. And let me tell you, that’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done!  Something I’ll never regret’.

When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? ‘We started playing shows in September 2014. Most of the time those venues were bars and youth clubs near our howetown Ninove. They were small gigs but I guess that’s what you do when you’re new on the music scene. It didn’t take us long though before we could play gigs in other regions of Belgium. Especially in West Flanders, where people immediately noticed us. To this day, we still have a solid fanbase over there. That’s how in our first year we had the opportunity to share the stage with bands like Tytan, Quartz and Grim Reaper’.

The band recorded their debut album in 2015… ‘We recorded our first full length album Wildheart in Tullamore Studio. The guy who ownes the studio is a friend of our’s and he already recorded our demo tapes a year before. We were very happy about them, so the choice to pick Tullamore once again was easily made. It took us about 2 or 3 months to record everything because we’re all working full time as well. We could only work on it during the weekend and some evening’s. It was great fun and interesting to see our progress. But you can imagine that we were all very relieved when it was finally done. 20424207_1936813716532950_2807539684562574212_oWe recorded the album at the end of 2015. We did that intentionally because we wanted to make the first edition of Wildfest our release show, which was held in May 2016. We thought it was a great idea to do that on our own festival, with a big audience and a lot of other awesome bands to share the stage with – Crazy Lixx, The Treatment, Hell in the Club. And as a matter of fact, it was! It was the best release show we could have wished for and definitely a night to remember ! We sold a lot of cd’s that evening and almost every review of both festival and album was great. So we couldn’t wish for more! It took a while before record companies showed interest in our music, but recently we’ve been signed to Rock It Up/City of Lights Records’.

Where do you get your idea’s for the songs ? ‘The inspiration to write lyrics depends on my mood and what kind of feeling/vibe the song has. Most of the time, one of our guitarist comes up with a riff and if we all like it, we start jamming until we find something to complete the song. Afterwards, we record it so I can get busy writing the lyrics at home. I have two types of texts – the first one are the classic 80’s themed songs, which are all about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, just like Lovehunter, Stone Cold Fox. But I always thought that it’s too superficial to write exclusively about these subjects. So the other type has some more depth in it. Themes that give me a lot of inspiration or the way I’m feeling about people. Things that happened to me or people I know and psychology in general. Like Hang ’em High and On The Run. It’s fascinating to explore the human mind and write songs about it’.


Have you any stories from playing gigs ? ‘Every year we organise our own festival, Wildfest. On our second edition last year, we wanted to premier our music video for Lovehunter during our set. But in the middle of the song, the video got stuck and we couldn’t repair it. Our only option was to take the screen off stage and play the song live. It was more embarrassing than funny, but afterwards we had a good laugh about it’.

What are the future plans for WildHeart ? ‘Right now we’re really busy working on new songs for a follow up album. We still have a lot to do though. We’re also planning the third edition of Wildfest. Acts already confirmed are Bloody Heels, Emperors of Decay, The New Roses and WildHeart of course. And we still have some exciting bands to reveal, so keep an eye on our Facebook page’.

‘We have some cool gigs confirmed for the near future as well. Being the support act of Y&T on their Belgian date was my dream come true, since Y&T is one of my favourite bands. Next year we’re going to the UK for the first time. We’ll be playing the Hard Rock Hell AOR festival in March with bands like Night Ranger, Skid Row, Jack Russell’s Great White, Bulletboys. Then in September we’ll share the stage with L.A. Guns, Tigertailz, Santa Cruz, Backyard Babies, Toxicrose, at the Hard Rock Hell Sleaze edition. We are really looking forward to that’.

For more info and tour dates check the official website  http://www.wildheartbelgium.com/ or their facebook page.

Interview by Gary Alikivi October 2017.


Danny McCormack, THE MAIN GRAINS: Death or Glory 8th September 2017.

LAST GREAT DREAMERS: Looking For A Kiss 26th November 2017.

MR.MYST: Dream On 26th January 2017.

FORWARD THINKING – with Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland from London prog band Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate.


Malcolm: ‘We’ve been playing together as Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate for about five years, and during this time have released 3 albums’.

(‘Invisible’, ‘When the Code Fails’ and new album released October 2017 ‘Broken But Stll Standing’. Line up – Malcolm Galloway (vocals, guitar, keyboard, producer) Mark Gatland (bass, Chapman stick, keyboard, backing vocals) also live and studio with one or more of Kathryn Thomas (flute, vocals) Ibon Bilbao (guitar) and Rudy Burrell (drums).

Where do the ideas come for your songs ?
Mark: ‘Ask Malcolm!! To be fair, we have a good working method now where I can flesh out his ideas and add my flavourings to his dishes. We’ll chuck ideas back and forth, and because we’ve been friends for so long and there’s a distinct lack of ego, if an idea doesn’t get included then no one gets upset….or it might just get used for the next album!

Malcolm: ‘Lyrically the songs usually fit together into a story or theme. I’m particularly interested in scientific and philosophical themes, and songs that take the viewpoint of a character that isn’t me’.

Who were your influences and how did you get involved in playing music ?
Malcolm: ‘My main influences are the classical minimalist composers, particularly Steve Reich and progressive rock music like David Gilmour/Pink Floyd and Marillion. We’re both very open minded musically. Queen were also inspiring for me growing up’.

Mark: ‘I suppose my earliest stuff was Queen and Iron Maiden with a bit of the ’80s rock and pop I grew up with. As I’ve got older I’m pretty much a musical magpie that gets influenced by all I listen to and I pick up stuff all the time’.

Malcolm: ‘I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t making music. I learned the tuba at school, and played in local youth orchestras, wind bands and brass bands. Mark and I then played in a band at school together’.

Mark: ‘After playing cello at school it was the classic school band scenario where friends were forming a band, (Malcolm being one of them) and they needed a bass player. We had an upright bass in our school practice room so it was decided I would do that and I happily found my instrument by mistake’.


When did you start playing gigs and what venues did you play ? 
Mark: ‘I’ve been playing for a good few years now, so there aren’t many North London venues I haven’t played! My first ever ‘proper’ gig in my first metal band was probably The Royal Standard in Walthamstow now sadly long gone. But I’ve played various places such as The Forum, The George Robey, The Ruskin Arms, The  Monarch, the old Camden Falcon again, sorely missed. Bull & Gate, various places in Shoreditch and Hoxton. Many pubs/bars in North and South London with lots of different bands over the years. Played in function bands in places like Leeds, Leicester, Norfolk…wherever really, I’m not fussy!

Malcolm: ‘We’ve played lots of lovely London venues, including the Fiddler’s Elbow, Proud Camden, and in Denmark Street. Also performed a mixture of our Hats Off songs and my classical minimalist music at London’s National Gallery, along with projections of my video art. That was an amazing experience’.


What is your experiences of recording/studio work ? 
Malcolm: ‘We record, mix and master on my laptop, in Sonar. We used to record vocals in a studio, but for the last couple of albums we have done the vocals at home. For the recent album Mark and I worked by bouncing ideas between each other via Dropbox’.

Mark: ‘I’ve been incredibly lucky over the years to have rehearsed and recorded in some very nice and prestigious places, both here and overseas. But to be honest as long as it’s the right people and the right noises coming back out of the speakers it doesn’t really matter where it is’.

Playing live, how important are the songs chosen in order for the set list ?
Malcolm: ‘Mark is now in charge of the set lists. He’s much better at being organised than I am. We hope that the song order provides a shape to the show’.

Have you any stories from playing gigs ?
Mark: ‘It’s never a good look to fall off the stage during a gig….I haven’t done it for a while, thankfully, but it’s hard to recover from!

Malcolm: ‘I once fell backwards off a stage while playing the tuba. The wall behind me stopped it being anything tragic’.


Have you recorded any TV appearances or filmed any music videos ?
Malcolm: ‘We’ve made several music videos, one of which was shown on various TV channels around the world. I usually make videos to go with most of the songs and they are on our You Tube channel. Our most recent is for the track Anywhere from album Broken But Still Standing and is a bit silly but in contrast, Broken Wave is one of our more ambient tracks and visuals. One of my favourite videos is I Still Remember You, a proggy rock song.
We’re also doing the music for comedy-horror feature film Rock Band Vs Vampires, which should be out next year’.

What are the future plans for the band?
Malcolm: ‘My younger son said to me a few days ago ‘isn’t it a bit bad that you haven’t started on the next album yet’. I feel uncomfortable if I have a few weeks without writing. We are gigging the new album, then we start recording the next’.

For more info contact the official website: http://www.hatsoffgentlemen.com
or on social media, Facebook and Twitter.

Interview by Gary Alikivi October 2017.


Neil Armstrong, Vinyl Junkies, 11th August 2017.

Jon Dalton, California Dreaming, 18th October 2017.

Andy Rowe, THE ROOM: Melody Makers, 12th January 2018.

Jon Dalton, VINYL JUNKIES: 15th January 2018.