On how SPIRITS OF FIRE came together:
Chris: “I’ve been approached by people to do these type of things for years and years and years and I’ve always said no. I’ve known Ripper for 20 years; he’s one of my best friends. We worked together on his solo records. I toured with him as a guitar player for that in Europe opening up for HEAVEN & HELL and I did some other stuff for him. For me, I’ve always wanted to do a record with him — it’s something we’ve always spoken about. So when the opportunity to do an album was presented in the form one of those records, it was, for me, it was a win-win. I was able to do a record with my friend and I knew of the other guys that are playing in the band, but they weren’t people that I worked with before or had hung out with before. It was great to be able to have those guys involved in my life as musicians and people, too. They’re both such great musicians at what they do, but they’re also really great people. I was happy of the lineup with this. A lot of times when you get put together with people you’ve never worked with before, you never know how it’s going to work out, but these guys were really super cool. I just think the band’s got a different energy than a lot of the things that are put together that have been out there. There’s a lot of good things. You’ll hear things that people are putting together and they mix up that band and they throw in that singer and they write something that you’d think you’d hear those bands used to do and this and that. This band has a little bit more of a butt-kick in it. It has more personality.”
On whether it was refreshing for him to play more straightforward metal like SPIRITS OF FIRE:
Chris: “It felt really good for me to be doing that [kind of] metal. Actually, one of the things that made me not necessarily that I didn’t want to do it again, but made me excited about that opportunity was when I had the chance to go out on the road with METAL CHURCH while their guitar player [Rick Van Zandt] was healing from his retina problem with his eye. That was some of the most fun, heavy metal music I’ve stepped onstage and played. Kurdt [Vanderhoof, guitar] is such a great writer for that exact thing. Playing music that is fun and metal. That’s when I started writing. I wasn’t necessarily thinking about writing METAL CHURCH, but I was thinking about writing music that was fun and metal and that was kind of what I did with it.”
On working with acclaimed Brazilian producer Roy Z (BRUCE DICKINSON, HALFORD):
Chris: “I was always a huge fan of his. I never had a chance to work with him. When he was thrown in to the basket as far as what was going to be putting this thing together, for me, that was the thing that sold me completely, ‘Okay, I get to do a record with Roy.’ When he was sending me demos of some of the stuff, because he had written about four songs on this record, he sent them over with some guitar solos on it, so I was listening to what it was that he did. I was, like, ‘Wow. I have to play stuff that not only is good, but I have to play stuff that competes with what I just heard this guy do.’ He’s a great musician and writer as well as being that producer and a guy who records. He does all those other things so well. To see what he did as a guitar player in his own writing, I was like ‘Uh-oh. I got a lot of work to do.’ It was awesome to work with him. I think that he pretty much let me do what I wanted to do. More than anything, he really was into what I had sonically going on. I let him hear some of the stuff from my solo record and he wanted me to add more to the tracks that we were doing for the SPIRITS OF FIRE record to really make those guitar tracks go over the top. Most of the rhythm guitars on that album have four rhythm tracks on them. Normally, when something in the sense where I’m sending people my music, I’ll just send them the two in stereo and they’ll use them. My solo records, I added a lot more things and a lot of times I had the four. A lot of times with SAVATAGE, I had the four guitar tracks as well. This was something that he had heard and pushed out of me to make sure it happened for everything so we had that wall going on. Like I said, he’s got a great ear, he’s a great artist. He’s a lot of fun. He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever worked with in my life. He was a big part of getting me excited to getting this thing to where it was.”
SPIRITS OF FIRE‘s self-titled debut will be released on February 22 via Frontiers Music Srl.