Interview by Mohsen Fayyazi
As you perhaps know, we at Metal Shock Finland are presenting a week’s Tribute To Ritchie Blackmore, from April 13th to 20th. The goals of this celebration are; first to send a message to Mr Blackmore that we remember him, love him and we appreciate what he has done to improve Rock and even Metal music. We do not say that we don’t like what he is doing now with Blackmore’s Night, but we are glad that he is happy with his current projects. Most of the critics and musicians agree that Ritchie is one of the most influential musicians and guitarists in the whole of rock music history.
As part of this celebration, we have invited well known names in the world of rock and metal to share their thoughts about Ritchie. For the next in the series, I, Mohsen Fayyazi, was lucky to have a chat with one of the most influential and busy people in the current metal music industry. Producer, Sound Engineer, Musician, Composer, Guitarist, Andy Sneap was my guest to speak about Ritchie Blackmore and many more subjects.
The chat started with Andy’s current work and as you can hear, he told me that he is working on an ACCEPT track at the moment [he played just 1 second of the track] and he also said that he has been out and working with EXODUS in California, just been doing drums with them, and also he is starting on a new project with SAXON‘s Biff Byford. Then I asked him to tell me more “Blind Rage,” ACCEPT‘s upcoming album, Andy said that there is a classic feel on it, but he said this time they had no rush and didn’t feel pushed this time as there was no release date. The band had enough time to write the songs and they had about 18 songs before starting recording, then cut them down to about 13 or 14.
I asked about his relationship with ACCEPT and how it was working with them, Andy answered me: “That’s great, I get on with them really great, they are older than me, but we get on great. It’s been really relaxed this time, we have not put the pressure on ourselves, so it’s just been quite a relaxed friendly vibe in the studio and making sure we work decent hours but we don’t kill ourselves on it.” We then talked about the “Blind Rage” album artist, Daniel Goldsworthy, Andy mentioned him as a great and professional guy and said that it was him who suggested Dan to ACCEPT.
I went forward and asked Mr Sneap about what his most difficult or easiest work up to now was and he said: “I’ll tell you the hardest, I don’t mean this in a negative way, but one of the hardest was NEVERMORE. I think it’s quite well known there has been drink problems within the band back in the day and I was working with them in those days. So that was tough to deal with – trying to get someone focused when there’s that sort of thing going on. But I like the guys, there’s no problem there.” Andy continues “The easiest people to work with were EXODUS actually, I’d say they are the funniest people to work with, I always say it’s like going into a cartoon world working with EXODUS – it’s just a laugh and a joke every minute with those guys. They take the music very seriously, but they’re just kids at heart, especially Gary. I really enjoy working with the EXODUS guys, they’re just absolute lunatics!”
I asked him about AMON AMARTH’s manner in the studio, check out what Andy said: “ AMON AMARTH were actually really cool because they were very well prepared, one of the most prepared bands I’ve ever recorded. There’s a bit of work to do – stuff on melodies, bits of the playing and timing, but in general they had everything mapped out, so that wasn’t hard work at all. They’re very professional and focused, so that was very good fun working with them.”
We started our chat about the amazing Ritchie Blackmore this time, Andy answered my question about his opinion and thought on Ritchie with the following:
“To me, Blackmore is one of the major influences, him and Gillan to me were a match made in heaven. Apparently they don’t get on, whenever you see interviews with them, they’re quite diplomatic, but there’s all the stories of them bickering in the band which is a shame. You can hear the way he’s influenced metal music from the early DEEP PURPLE days, with the structure and style of playing. Again, going back to what Wolf does in ACCEPT, he’s got a total Ritchie Blackmore in his playing there. That whole classical feel, he was one of the first guys to be doing that, if not THE first guy to be doing that in rock music. So it really shaped rock music in general I think.”
Also I asked Andy if rock and metal music could be different now, if Ritchie hadn’t picked up an electric guitar. Mr Sneap commented:
“Absolutely, yeah this is what I’m saying – it’s that whole classical feel, that harmonic minor feel that he’s got. Even EXODUS as well, Gary’s lead playing – if you look at some of the classical stuff he was doing, the little acoustic parts and the scales he was doing back in the day. I know he’s a huge Blackmore fan as well. He’s really influenced most of us to be honest – I mean anything that’s got that harmonic minor feel to it, it’s all come from Blackmore really.”
It’s hard to talk about Ritchie Blackmore and RAINBOW and not ask about Ronnie James Dio, so check out Andy Sneap‘s thought on him:
“I first saw Dio on the Holy Diver tour in ’85. For me the first couple of albums with Vivian on board were very influential, very fresh at the time. With Rainbow, there was an energy to it, one of my favourite albums is Mob Rules. really, anything Ronnie got involved with had a stamp of quality on it. It was good, solid heavy metal with Ronnie wasn’t it? Ronnie was very classic, even in his latter years his voice was great.” Then we started talking about his band mate and HELL singer, David Bower. I told him that I think David‘s voice is amazing and he commented: “When I first heard him sing, I realised that he had a voice where we could take the music in different directions. His voice holds the whole thing together and gives it a character. His voice is definitely the main part of HELL to me and was so similar to Dave Halliday’s voice in a way, the same range as what the band originally had.”
At the end of our conversation, I asked Andy about HELL‘s upcoming events, he said:
“We have some festivals coming up and the Black Sabbath show. We’re looking at doing some touring in the autumn. We’re just regrouping and getting together again to do rehearsals.”
You can listen to the whole of this interview on the sound player below:
Photo by Tina Solda