Tag Archives: Andy LaRocque

Interview: The Iron Maidens Axe Master Courtney Cox

By Andrew Catania

It isn’t very often that we get to see a female musician breaking barriers and setting milestones in the primarily male-dominated music sphere. Luckily, there’s a whole group of them that has emerged as a popular present-age music sensation. The Iron Maidens, an all-female English rock and heavy metal band, was formed in 2001 to pay tribute to the former 1970s classic English metal band ‘Iron Maiden’.

The band has gained immense popularity over time and has become the voice of millions of hearts, establishing a sound ad crazy global fandom for the beautiful and talented maiden members. Courtney Cox, the Iron Maiden’s lead guitarist, in particular, has enthralled the music world with her power and her audacious and explosive shreds, rocking the rock and roll and heavy metal genre through her refined techniques and extremity of pulls.

Having set her fingers on her very first guitar at the tender age of 13, Courtney decided to pursue her passion for music. By the time she turned 15, she was accepted at The Paul Green School of Rock Music that polished her natural playing skills through guidance under music maestros.

During her time at The Paul Green School of Rock Music, she received immense practical exposure during her tours and stage acts with established artists such as Adrian Belew, Jon Anderson, Perry Farrell and George Lynch. She co-founded Queen Diamond, a tribute band to the King Diamond.

Courtney’s natural playing skills refined and improved under the mentorship of the maestro Chris Gordon. After celebrating her 18th birthday in her native town in Philadelphia, Courtney moved over to Los Angeles where she made shared the stage with the Iron Maidens as a guest performer. Having sensed that she was just perfect missing puzzle piece of the band, the Iron Maidens offered her a permanent position as the lead guitarist.

Courtney Cox joined hands with the Iron Maidens replacing Heather Baker. The event turned out to be a professional milestone and brought her into the national as well as global limelight. Courtney plays for The Iron Maidens under the pseudonym Adriana Smith, to pay tribute to the Adrian Smith of the original Iron Maiden and has staged many shows and guest appearances in the United States and in Japan.

Aside from her guitar playing feats for The Iron Maidens, Courtney has successfully attained numerous other highlights on her professional profile. Courtney shared the stage with the Phantom Blue members at the Michelle Meldrum Memorial Concert, held at the famous Whisky a Go Go Nightclub in Hollywood, California. Courtney also made it to the Guitar World Magazine’s Buyer’s Guide Model Search list, where she was successfully bagged the 1st runners-up position.

After becoming a part of The Iron Maidens in 2008, Courtney has played on the band’s latest album titled Metal Gathering Tour Live in Japan, which was released back in 2010.  Make no mistake about it, this young lady can shred.  Courtney and her fellow guitarist, Nikki Stringfield, are the modern day Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing.   Talented, precision, and dedicated to their craft.

We recently had a quizzy and interactive session with the young, lively and super-talented Courtney Cox. Here’s what she shared about her career hallmarks and future aspirations.

courtneycox4

When did you first pick up the guitar?

I randomly picked up the guitar around thirteen/fourteen. I was definitely a late bloomer but I always took to music quickly. I was playing Metallica tunes within my first week of getting a guitar!  I never looked back after that.

When you started playing, we’re you taking lessons or self-taught?

I am self-taught. I tried taking lessons but never was comfortable with it. I didn’t enjoy lessons because I didn’t want to sound like the teacher. I wanted to find my own sound and found it easier to just figure things out my own way. Some things you just can’t teach I believe. Even when I was enrolled in the School of rock way back when, I never went to lessons, which I got in trouble for. I just went on the tours! lol

Your first guitar was a black Cort electric.  Do you still have this guitar in your possession?

HA! That guitar! When I wanted a guitar, I went to my father randomly and asked him to take me to the music shop in a nearby town called Glenolden in Delaware county, music .Pa. The shop was called Top Ten Music.It was a small shop and my father was still kind of confused over why I wanted a guitar because it was literally soo out of the blue but I just had the feeling I wanted one! I went in not knowing anything about guitars, models, woods, set ups , but saw this black thing on the wall and wanted it ( now thinking back I know there was a pretty cool green Ibanez on the wall that I should have picked up.. Ha oh well )… It was horrible haha but I guess it taught me how to make anything sound good because it was a challenge ! And yes I still have it back at my home in Essington, Pa.

When you enrolled into The Paul Green School of Rock Music, what kind of bands were you listening too?

Since I had no friends (ha) , music was everything. I always surrounded myself with heavy metal, thrash , hair metal etc.   At that time I was really into old Metallica, Mercyfulfate/KingDiamond, Pantera, Priest , Anthrax, Exodus, Vio-lence, Overkill, Kreator to Ratt, Winger, and Queensryche and so on. A good song was a good song. I listened to everything.

When you were playing in the all-female tribute band Queen Diamond, was Andy Laroque an influence on your playing? Who were your other influences?

Andy is still a huge influence on my playing. A lot of my vibrato and whammy bar work comes from playing those tunes back when I was fifteen/sixteen. We were just babies! I still get excited when jamming on tunes like 7th day of July 1777 or black horsemen!   Other influential players are Darrell Abbott, Glen Tipton, Reb Beach, Adrian Smith, Vinnie Moore, Warren Demartini, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert, Kiko Loureiro, Rob Marcello, Nuno Bettencourt, the list goes on and on. I love players that still make me air guitar to bends and solos!  If I had to name one player that started everything for me, it would be Kirk Hammett.  When I started I had to have everything he had. Same picks, strings, even moves on stage. I was obsessed.  He is probably the only person that would make me feel star struck if I ever met him.

When you moved to Los Angeles from Phili, how did you get an invite to try out for the Maidens?

I always heard about the Maidens on the east coast while I was still in Queen Diamond. I moved out to California at 19 with a backpack and a guitar. I was filling time as Ace in a Kiss tribute when I heard the Maidens had an opening for Adrian. I was all over it. I contacted them through MySpace at that time ( ha MySpace seems so ancient now), but didn’t realize I turned off the reply function so they could not reply back to me! Ha, I thought they hated me until I realized duh they can’t respond. Once I turned that function on, I received their invitation for an audition. I went in and was nervous because I knew Linda from Phantom Blue and I was a huge fan. Nerves aside, I nailed the audition, second one, first show and that was that! A family was forged and is still gaining momentum every day!

When you started with the Maidens, what guitar/s were you primarily using?

I was fortunate enough to have an endorsement with Jackson since I was fifteen. Soo I was using Jacksons, but you could find me also playing an Ibanez or vtype peavey from time to time.

When did you get your Raspberry Peavey Vandenberg?  Are you still playing that presently?

I acquired my vandy from Peavey a few years ago after I recorded a video for one of Peavey’s self-tuning guitars at Namm that received over a million views.  They asked what I wanted for such a rewarding video and I said there is only one thing- A Vandenberg.  They had a few left in the vault and luckily there was a raspberry one!   I play the guitar at home. I used to take it out on the road until an unfortunate situation where some idiot tried stealing it at a jam I took it to. Nice try jerk! It’s irreplaceable at this point so I keep it safe at home.

How about your lime green Jackson Adrian Smith?

My green Adrian Smith model is a one of a kind gift Jackson had made for me. I saw that green when it first came out on a Flying V they released at Namm a good hmmm seven years ago? I had to have it! They were on board with the idea but had to get the blessing from a very important person – Adrian Smith himself. After he gave the green light, Greeny was on its way to me. I love that thing. I still play it today. It has taken a break from tours the last year or so but it may show its face again. You never know.

You being a big Maiden fan, was it easy for you to copy the band’s moves and playing styles?

Yes. The music was second nature to me since I grew up listening to all of their tunes. When it comes to my favorite music, I view myself as a chameleon of sorts. I like tearing things apart and becoming one with anything I am playing. Try to step inside their shoes or brain and try to understand why they choose this note or that phrase. After you do that for awhile you step back and see the huge canvas for what it is and how the paint works.

Do you improvise in the band?

I do. I’d probably go insane if I didn’t. As much as it is a tribute band, I am not Adrian Smith. I have my own twist on things, my own sound.  I embellish on things when it feels right. I don’t intentionally do this but when you are live you get lost in the music and just play from the heart. There is nothing wrong with that.

What does your rig consist of?

My rig has been the same since I’ve been 16. Scary right? I use a valve king half stack from Peavey,  Boss pedals ( chorus, delay, tuner), newly added BBE pedals ( boosta grande for solos) and that’s pretty much it. I get my distortion from the vk head.  I like things simple. Less is more sometimes.

Are you presently endorsed by a Guitar Company?

I have been playing Caparison guitars lately.  Their luthier used to make some of the original Jackson’s so the feel is very familiar. I highly recommend them to all players. Handmade in Japan.    Caparisonguitars.com.   Find them on Facebook as well… Facebook.com/caparisonguitarco.     I still have my Jacksons but after nine years of torture on the road, they need some work. Once I have them serviced I will slowly incorporate them back into my arsenal.

What size strings do you use to play the Maiden songs?

Nines.  We play in standard so they get the job done.  Ghs.

What size picks are you using?

Hmm good question ( tries to find pick in purse) haha.   I use Dunlop tortex Jazz picks 1.0 mm.

Do you have any specific preparations you do before any show?

I stretch and really just try to zone out and listen to music. I try to avoid the green room by sitting at the bar with fans or just walk around.  I usually don’t even look at the set list until I walk on stage ha.  I consider this my ” me” time.

Are you playing with other bands aside from the Maidens?

Yes! I currently play for Femme Fatale and recently joined another group called the ” Chelsea Girls” which is sort of a super group of female musicians from other bands.  I swear I never sleep lol.

With your talent, Have you thought about, or been approached to do a solo album?

Original music is definitely in my near future. I have already been laying down tracks in my small home studio. The solo album thing really doesn’t interest me. I don’t believe in having my name alone on an album. I want a kick ass band that shares all duties and just has fun! I prefer to be in a family then be thrust to the front.  You need people who have your back, not people who want to put a dagger in it haha. I kid I kid.  Stay tuned for the originals.

What other types of music do you listen too? What other guitarists do you listen too?

I listen to everything. A good song is a good song regardless of genre.  Even at the heaviest of shows, you can find me rocking out to let’s say. Backstreet Boys. Not kidding. I’ve been listening to a lot of Duran Duran too.   The guitar work is very intriguing to me. Simple, well placed. And don’t get me started on the bass lines… perfection.

Do you have advice for any aspiring guitarist? 

It’s not easy, not an easy lifestyle but if you truly love what you do there are no boundaries. Everyone has ups and down, we are only human. Play because you want to play. Not because you want to be famous or rich. Passion is something a lot of people lose over the years and it is sad. I’ve seen it happen to many friends. I even tell myself the minute it becomes a job for me I’m done. So stay true to yourself and push forward. Even if you fail, there is only one way to go once you’ve hit rock bottom and that is up.

What should we expect from you in 2017?

We shall see. I plan to take this new year by the horns and completely destroy. With every passing year you learn new things, embrace the tools you have learned or forget things that didn’t work. I’m ready for 2017 and what it has to offer.

 

Check Courtney Cox out @ https://www.facebook.com/Courtneycoxofficial/

https://www.facebook.com/TheIronMaidensOfficial/

 

 

The Wings That Make Dean Guitars

By Andrew Catania

The golden years that defined the transformation of the music industry under the influence of the Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Johnny Winter inspired a young Dean B. Zelinsky to gain a sudden interest in rock and roll and more importantly, guitars.

Zelinsky started playing the electric guitar and tapped into his practice to create the perfect guitar in terms of shape, design, and sound. In 1977, the 19-year-old Zelinsky set out to form Dean Guitars – a company that has since revolutionized the instrument.

However, by 1978, Dean decided to sell the company to Armadillo Enterprises because he wanted to branch out on his own. Holding on to Zelinsky’s legacy and focus on creating the perfect instrument, Dean Guitars has embraced the guitar and created a whole range of electric, acoustic and bass guitars for amateurs and professionals alike.

In 2007, Dean began to produce its own artist signature pickups and in 2009, branched out to create amplifiers. The amplifiers were however discontinued shortly after.

Currently, Elliott Dean Rubinson who acts as the CEO of Dean Guitars is managing Dean Guitars. Since the past 35 years since it’s inception, Elliott Dean Rubinson continues to manage the brand as an American based brand that stays true to its heritage. Elliott has been famously known to state that people have recognized that “Dean Guitar” has had more great artists play their guitars than any other company in the world and that acts as a strategic advantage for us.”

One of the key reasons that make the above observation true is the fact that Dean Guitar has been present in the music industry for almost four decades – longer than most companies across the world. It is a rare, homegrown brand that has developed its instruments and story in pace with the musical developments without every dimming in fame. As a result, it is now recognized, as an institute in its own right.

This long established legacy has led to a large number of global rock and roll figures to own and treasure a Dean Guitar. Iconic guitarist and songwriter, Dimebag Darrell Abbott was famously known to have always dreamed of owning a Dean when he grew up when he said, “As a kid, it was always my dream to be with Dean guitars, to play a Dean guitar – to own one some day.”

A decade after his death, guitarists from all walks of life continue to play a Dean. Currently, world idols such as Eric Person, Michael Amott (one of the 100 greatest heavy metal guitarists of all time), Joel Bruyere from Thousand Foot Krutch, the legend Vincent “Vinnie” Moore from UFO, Eddie Veliz from KYNG and Dave Mustaine from Megadeth. They continue to stay loyal to Dean Guitar and inspire millions of young fans to one day own a Dean themselves.

Interview with Andy LaRocque – King Diamond’s Main Shredder

By Andrew Catania

andy1Lyricist, composer, music producer and an expert par excellence when it comes to playing the whammy bars, Anders Allhage aka Andy LaRocque is known for his enduring affiliation with King Diamond and his soulful songs and harmonious melodies.

Having kick started his music métier with Swedish Beauty, the favorite Swedish hard rock band that later changed its name to Swedish Erotica, Andy LaRocque then paired up with the former members of Mercyful Fate, for ‘Individual Death Pattern’ by Death and ‘Evilution’ by IllWill.

Since then to date, he has been a part of many critically acclaimed albums and musical feats that bagged tremendous applause and numerous awards from music maestros across the globe.

Andy LaRocque possesses immense knowledge about the most fundamental and the most intricate music conventions. But, rather than following the cotemporary rigging trends of his era, he utilized the treasure trove of his knowledge to blend, complement and evolve his own signature style that speaks for the finest aesthetics and skillful improvisation.

Andy LaRocque’s style of playing the guitar is an exquisite amalgam of neoclassical elements, harmonized with a tinge of modern blue scales and melodic minors, with slight traces of metal and rock and thus creating one masterpiece of style that is a sure depiction of his sheer brilliance and mastery to a core.

However, despite following his unique style, he admits having drawn an inspiration and influence from Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Randy Rhoads.

Currently, he has his hands well set on the Seymour Duncan Pickups, for regular practices and tuning, Line 6 HD 100 MK II for live amps, and a pair of old classic, vintage 4×12 cabs with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers for cabs. He can be found experimenting with instruments and chords in his studio named ‘Los Angered Recordings‘ which he established in Angered Sweden, in 1995. Andy moved the studio to Varberg and renamed the studio to ‘Sonic Train Studios’ where he produces bands as of this date.

We recently caught him up for an interview, right in the midst of his busy round-the-clock routine, where he revealed his upcoming ventures and projects in the pipeline.

Andy, thank you for taking the time to speak with me.  What are you up to these days?  Are you making any King Diamond music or are you producing?

I’m sitting in the studio right now actually and I’m listening to all the potential recorded concerts that we did last fall in the U.S. actually.  Just getting ready and preparing for the upcoming DVD for the live shows with King Diamond.  That’s what I am doing right now.  We recorded all the shows during the Abigail tour in October, November and December last year and I’m just going through everything to check how they sound. It’s going to take me a while because there are a lot of concerts actually to go through.  The release date I do not know yet but it’s, of course, a lot of work just listening to everything first.  That’s what I am doing right now together I’m working with some other European bands in the studio on and off. That is pretty much what I am going to do all this fall.

That was a highly anticipated tour here last fall.  I was hoping I was going to be able to catch the whole Abigail album in its entirety and that was one thing that did not come around here.  

Florida?  Yes, I know.  People often think that “why don’t you play in Florida; why don’t you play here”? It’s a matter of finding the right promoter together with the right venue where we can present the show in a proper way.  We would love to play in Florida again of course because you know it’s been a long time since we’ve played there and we are aware we have a lot of fans down there so hopefully next time around.

You guys have a lot of fans around here you wouldn’t believe the King Diamond shirts I see around here

That’s cool man!!

Just going back to earlier in your career, how did you start playing guitar?  As a child?  Or did you pick it up as.?

I think I was around 12 or 13 years old when I was impressed by the bands that were happening at that time back in the mid 70’s like Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy you know all the bands that were around that time even some glam bands like Sweet and Slade, Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper of course and all that.  I got kind of influenced by them to pick up the guitar.  I think I was about 12 or 13 years old you know when I first picked up the guitar.

What was your first guitar?

Acoustic, Some crap guitar and I can’t even remember the name.  Then Ibanez and then moved on to Gibson, and you know.  I think I was 14 years old when I got my first Gibson Guitar.

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Sonic Train Studios

Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?

Self-taught.

Very nice!

Yes, that’s why sometimes it doesn’t sound the way it should, no limits by theory! (laugh) but I’ve always been the kind of guy that I’m listening to a part where I’m supposed to play solo to and just constructing a song because I don’t really know that much theory with scales and such, you know?  I know the notes but scales and such, I just play what sounds good and I don’t think about it that much really. Make the guitar sing and you know and that’s pretty much it.

 

Did you play any other instruments when you started to pick up the guitar?

No guitar has always been my primary tool, I did a few vocals back in the 80’s you know and also a tiny, little bit of keyboards you know but that’s it.  I still can get around a little bit with keyboards you know I mean playing single notes here and there on albums and stuff that I’m producing in the studio if necessary but the guitar is definitely my primary instrument for sure.

You mentioned some of your influences. Who were some of your big influences before playing?  You said Thin Lizzy, Black Sabbath

I think back in the 70’s it was Black Sabbath, Status Quo, a British band, Thin Lizzy and if we go back to the first bands I listened to Status Quo, Slade, Sweet, what else? Black Sabbath of course you know, Blue Oyster Cult, oh man, so many bands and then when I actually started to focus on the guitar it was bands like Rainbow, Michael Schenker, UFO, Ozzy Osbourne with Randy Rhoads, Randy Rhoads was excellent you know still one of my all-time favorite guitarists and bands too, so you know there’s been a lot of influences throughout the years that’s for sure.

When you were still in your teenage years how did you break into the music industry?  

I guess I just fooled around with local bands you know and we practiced and rehearsed like 6 or 7 days or nights a week just to get good and I think I had a good network of friends and people around me in the local music stores around Gothenburg Sweden where I was raised and with that knowing a lot of people I got finally into King Diamond and all the bands prior to that too.  So a really good network at that time was really necessary to be able to get somewhere. Nowadays you can sit in front of a computer and have a great network on the computer with Facebook and everything but that did not exist at that time so you had to be up to date with friends and whatever was around at that time like music stores and other communities you know.

Days of the music stores and I miss them very much

I know man, its crazy!

It is! It is crazy.

How did you end up joining with King Diamond?  How did you guys meet?

It’s a really long story but to make it short me and Mikkey we played in a local band in Sweden before he actually moved down to Copenhagen from Sweden and he hung out with the Mercyful Fate guys , Michael Denner, Timmy and then when King broke up from Mercyful Fate he wanted to start something new, Michael Denner, guitarist and Timmy Hansen, the bass player for Mercyful Fate joined King with his new project only called King Diamond and they were looking for a drummer and they asked Mikkey  and they also for a while had another Swedish guitarist that did not work out in the studio so Mikkey called me just after like a week in the studio and said it doesn’t really work out with this guy we have now so do you want to come down and check this out?  Mikkey knew me from before and he trusted me you know and thought I was going to do good with King Diamond, so I quit my job.  I worked in a music store and quit my job the same day he called me and I took my guitar and my Marshall 50-watt amplifier and I took the train down to Copenhagen and I did an audition in the studio and recorded a solo for Dressed in White which is on the first album Fatal Portraits and after a couple of hours he said, “you’re welcome in the band, you’re in the band”!

Wow! 

Yes, and that’s to make it a short story you know – Very tense, you know, I was 22 years’ old

With each album that he does, what King does is based on a story.  When you first started with him on this story did you have any input on it?  Does he write the lyrics? You write the music?  How did you guys start?   

Initially, he usually comes up with riffs that he’s puzzling together along with the story lines he has in mind to create the right atmosphere, the same thing with the songs I write, it all has to be in the right spot on the album.   It’s a big job putting everything together to make it fit in a story too, and he writes, of course, all the lyrics and comes up with the story and I write maybe I would 35-40% of the music or something like that

andy

 

Ok so you usually start creating a riff for the new songs with Diamond is that usually how it starts?  Are you guys throwing around ideas?

Yes and he’s composing on guitar too and sometimes even on keyboards you know so he creates different pieces that he later put together in the right sequence to make it fit in a story.
Yes, that was going to bring me to my next question.  I’ve read Abigail was one of your favorites.  Is that true?  

Yes, I think the whole album has a very good atmosphere.  We have a very good time in the studio and we’ve been out for a few tours you know before we started recording that album.   So we got to know each other very good and I think in general it’s an excellent album put together in the right way.  You can tell that the band is very tight, creative and we just had a real good time recording that album.

How do you and King share ideas you know with you in Sweden and the other guys in Dallas?

Well it’s mostly me and King that shares the ideas, we send ideas to each other but usually let’s say I have a few songs you know and I send them completely with drum machine and two rhythmic guitars and maybe a bass line and the same with him, he sends it to me and if something needs to be changed we just sit down and talk about it and do some rearrangements but that’s pretty much it because usually when he writes a song that’s the way it’s going to be in the end same for me it’s very small details that usually needs to be changed.

You’ve got a little bit of neo-classical influencing in your playing would you agree with that?

I think I was more into that when I was younger I believe, inspired by some stuff from Schenker but also Yngwie, he’s a great guitarist of course and he influenced a lot of guitarists and of course Richie Blackmore with his kind of classical touch, so I guess I was influenced by that too.

How would you describe your tone?  You try to get?? In the studio and?? 

I hope that people would see me as like a very emotional player you know, I played faster when I was younger of course because your adrenaline is high all the time but I think nowadays I play with more emotion than I did when I was younger for sure.  I think it’s really important with melodies than just fast runs and I still see myself as a rhythm guitar player more than a lead guitarist that’s for sure

what kind of gear, pickups, and amps are you using?

Ok I’m using Dean electric guitars

Are you endorsed by them?
Yes, I am.  Live I am using Yamaha Acoustic Guitars which sounds really good.  On the Dean Guitars I’m using all Seymour Duncan which I think is awesome pickups and I’m using them since I guess the mid 80’s.  Different kinds of pickups but right now most of my guitars I’m using the Trembuck 11 and it’s a Custom Custom I think it’s called and I’m using the 59 pickups for neck position that’s pretty much what I’m using right now.  I’ve been trying all kinds of pickups and I still have some guitars with EMGS and other pickups but you know seems like I’m always returning to the Seymour Duncan’s because they’re so alive you know and very dynamic and I think they’re just great.  For other equipment I’m using Marshall Cabinets and Line 6 POD HD Pro X, rack mounted with a Line 6 pedal board and I’m using two power amps with that and two Marshall Cabinets live and that’s actually the same for the other guitarist in the band Mike Wead, he’s using exactly the same set up and it’s very versatile because I mean you get a really nice tone and people are really surprised when I say I’m using that because they think, “oh really that sounds that good” because you pretty much can get any tone you want from it, we got a few presets with clean sound, solo sound and rhythm sound and it’s so easy to work with and just a Ethernet cord between the unit itself and the floorboard and you have all your presets right there on the floor you know so I’m really happy with that.  Very easy set up really.

Back in 2012, I think it was 2012 when you guys took a hiatus when King was recovering from his health issues I read that you spent most if not all the monies you guy’s made on some festivals I guess in the production upon his return. Is that accurate?

When we got back after King’s health issues which actually lasted from 2007 five or six years we did not do anything at all because of his health.  Then we got back and got some offers from some festivals and we thought OK it’s going to be now or never.  We spent a lot of money actually on making a big production to get out and play festivals that would blow people away, they would see something that they never seen before with us you know, so we built a really big stage with a lot of stage props and nice backdrops and spent a lot of money on the light designs and all kinds of stuff and just make sure we had great people around like sound guys and light designers and you know stage designers and everything.  We came up with something that people haven’t seen in our camp before.  We played bigger stages and just a great show that we haven’t been able to present before 2012.  So I think it was a very good move to do that, we had to do something spectacular.  We’re still this day using a lot of the same things playing around on some really big festivals all over the world actually, so yes very good.

When Give Me Your Soul came out you guys did not tour in support of that because of health issues?  

Yes.  That’s correct because first of all, he had his back problems.  That actually happened while we mixed Give Me Your Soul album and then two years later he has his heart issues so it definitely took some time to recover from that but he recovered quickly I would say and now he’s better than ever, he’s in very good condition.
That is awesome

you guys played festivals in Europe with 10,000 of fans and in the US you have to play smaller venues do you think that metal is more popular in Europe than the US?  If so, what do you say, why? 

It’s really hard to say but it depends on where we play, it seems like the festival thing is really happening over in Europe, I mean there are so many festivals over in Europe and it gathers a lot of people while in the US there are just a few festivals so I would say that’s the big difference.  The places we played in the states were indoor venues and we did three tours in one and a half years in the states and I think all of them were very successful.  It’s just different venues you know but the metal fans are still there that’s for sure.

Do you think that metal scene has weakened in America because they follow fads or trends?  

I don’t know man, I mean when we were out on tour we were doing good so nothing I have noticed, to be honest with you.

Image result for andy larocque

You guys usually sell out everywhere you guys went

Pretty much yes.  I mean the last couple of tours have been successful for us in the US that’s for sure

With your producing you’ve worked with many death metal bands have you produced any other origins of music in your studios?

Any other type of music you mean?

Yes 

I produced some pop stuff too you know all kinds of stuff but 99% has been metal, heavy metal, hard rock or black metal.  So that’s the main thing, seems like people think I am the right guy to do that kind of stuff.  That’s just the thing that has been happening.

How do you consider producing bands do they send tapes?  How do they get to you? 

I think mostly they hear other productions that I’ve done and they think it sounds good and they get in touch with me.  That’s still the main thing you know from mouth to mouth kind of connection sort of stuff, or they see the studio name on an album so if it sounds good they get in touch with me or maybe recommendations by other bands who’ve been in the studio

Do you let groups use your studio?  How does that work?  Do they rent it out?  Do they have you producing it?  

Yes, usually they have me producing it but I have a few other guys here in the studio too that can help, when there’s a lot of things to do here in the studio I call them in, and they can assist in tracking and all that but usually the bands come here because they want to work with me.

During the hiatus that you guys had where are you producing any bands at that time?   

Yes.  That is what I do here all the time actually.  Unless we are not doing anything important with King Diamond I pretty much have the studio booked here pretty much all the time so that’s what I do when we are not out touring with King Diamond, King Diamond is, of course, my top priority.  That’s what I really like to do, a right combination of working with King Diamond out and touring and in the studio, I really enjoy that for sure.  Its two different worlds but still working with music.

Image result for andy larocque

Would you consider doing a guitar solo album like some of a lot of the other guys are

I’ve been thinking of that for many years but I don’t know you know.  I’m so busy doing other things that I think are more interesting than just putting out a solo album so we’ll see man, I’m not going to say never, but right now, I don’t know probably not
(laughter)

Just a couple more questions

Yes man sure

The YouTube issue with them is not compensating artists fairly.  It seems like everybody is putting albums up in their entirety and YouTube is not enforcing their policies.  Do you have an opinion about the YouTube issue that’s being brought up by other artists? 

Of course, it’s, wrong, you know, artists should get paid for their work, unless it’s pure promotion.

You said you’re doing the King Diamond DVD live album.  Do you guys foresee a studio album coming out shortly?

As soon as we’re done with this live thing, and I don’t know when it’s going to be, but we’re talking about starting to compose here later on this fall you know or maybe around New Year’s but it’s impossible to say when it’s going to happen but of course we want to make a new album.  It’s about time too; the last album we released was in 2007 so it’s definitely about time to do that.

My last question is are there any guitarists that catch your eye

Let me see here well you know the last guitar I bought here in the studio as a tool more than anything else was a VGS guitar.  I’m not sure if you heard about that.  It’s a Les Paul type guitar you know made in Germany with EverTune Bridge.  I’m not sure if you know about that?

The VGS yes I have

EverTune Bridge, you tune it once and it stays in tune forever.  That together with a true temperament fretboard makes it just an amazing studio tool.  The right personality is the crazy looking frets you know but it’s perfect in tone on all the frets and the intonation is fantastic.  You can take chords that you didn’t think was possible and it sounds so clean.  I would say that’s one of the best studio tools I ever had.
That’s one thing, except for that, I don’t know.  I was actually in a music store the other day, and I saw a Gibson Rudolf Schenker V.  I’m not sure if you’ve seen that.  It was kind of close to the Vee-guitar that Gibson made in the 70’s you know,

You know, it’s alright.

What musicians are you following these days?

Oh man! What am I listening to?  Oh, that’s a tricky question, man! (laughing) Anything that comes up on the radio.  It’s not like I’m actually looking for new musicians and stuff.  It’s going to be people who ask me have you listened to this and that you know.  But I usually just listen to the whole band instead of individual musicians I think, and I can’t really give you an example.  Whatever people tell me to hear to you know, I’ll check it out and take a listen but I’m not actively following or hunting for new musicians.

I understand with your busy schedule.  Andy that was all of my questions, and I appreciate you taking your time talking to me.  

No problem man! No problem!