Interview with viriAOR

We did a first interview with viriAOR about our new upcoming album. You’ll learn all about the recordings, the new band members, guests on the album and so much more. Just read on…

Thank you very much for attending to all viriAOR readers, we really wanted to know all the details surrounding Frozen Rain.

-What has been the reason for the large amount of time elapsed compared to the second album of 2012?

Several reasons are responsible for this:

– First, we all have a daily job and a busy family life. Between all that, finding time for music is not always easy.

– We also had to look for a singer and guitarist. Our guitarist Rik Priem was struggling with his health and had to undergo some operations. After that, he mainly wanted time to work on a new album for Rik Priem’s Prime. So we decided together that it was best for us to look for a replacement. When Jurgen and I started writing the third album, it soon became clear that it would be a pure AOR album. For that we had to find a suitable voice. Carsten Schulz who sang on the second album was hired at the time. However, we wanted a singer who would actually be a part of the band. Also, it had to be someone whose voice lent itself to AOR. Finding a suitable guitarist and singer became quite a search and took some time. In Belgium it is almost impossible to find excellent musicians who are at home in the genre. We therefore had to look abroad. We found Jens in Germany and Lars is from Sweden.

– Marc Farrano (lead singer of Faith Circus) asked Jurgen and myself if we could provide the keyboard parts for the new Faith Circus. We have been working on those recordings for about two years. To date, however, that album has not yet been released. We are looking forward to it because there are some great songs on it.

– Jurgen also worked on an electronic album entitled ‘Kronos 21’ under the name ‘Wave Walkers’. Those interested can visit Bandcamp. Of course, the album can also be listened to via the well-known streaming services.

– The members of the band live in three different countries so we mainly work together through the internet. We all work from our own home studio. All that makes it all take a little longer.

– But perhaps the most important reason is that I myself also had to deal with health problems. As a result, I live with pain every day. It can be so intense that it makes me sick and makes it impossible to work on music.

-Who is Kurt Vereecke as musician and what is Frozen Rain as music?

I was bitten by the music bug from an early age. I had an uncle who was a musician, so it was in the family. One day during my studies, a friend played me Journey’s ‘Escape’. I immediately knew that this was the music I wanted to make myself. At that time I was playing in my first band ‘No Problems’ in which I was the singer/guitarist. Besides doing the usual covers, I started writing my own songs. As time went on, we only played our own songs. Around the 1990s I formed the band ‘Rhyana’ with which I recorded six demo songs. They appeared as a bonus on the Japanese version of the second Frozen Rain album ‘Ahead Of Time’. When Rhyana split up, I decided to do something completely different for a while. Being a teacher, I decided to write some children’s songs. I released a total of three double CDs with 60 children’s songs and also wrote three manuals for teachers. When that was over I was itching to finally release a record with my own AOR material. That was a dream I had for a long time. Eventually 22 musicians collaborated on it, including several of my idols like Tommy Denander and Steve Newman. Never did I think or hope that I would be able to make multiple albums. Meanwhile, we’re already on album three. So I am a happy man. What makes me most happy is the fact that we can make people feel good through our music. I am regularly told that our music sounds quite happy.

-Can you give us an opinion and personal assessment of the stylistic and sound evolution of the 3 Frozen Rain albums?

When writing songs, I always start from a good melody. That’s the basis of everything and that is the starting point on all Frozen Rain records. The first record had both older and new songs together. It was a combination of the best songs I had written up to that point. Since I assumed then that there would only be 1 record, I wanted to involve as many friends as possible and also work with some of my idols. That’s why there are so many musicians on the record. Despite the large number of musicians, I think the record still has a certain individuality. The second record is a different story. By then Frozen Rain had become a real band. I had met guitarist Rik Priem in 2007 and immediately we had started writing new songs. It’s those songs that ended up on the second album. In the meantime, keyboardist Jurgen Vitrier, who was a guest on two songs on the first album, had also become part of the group.With the addition of guitarist Rik (who had previously played in metal bands and had his own sound and specific guitar style) and hard rock singer Carsten Schulz, the second album had a slightly harder sound. Still, I really like this album as well. After the release of our second album, I started working very closely with Jurgen who, in addition to being an excellent musician, is also a good songwriter. Meanwhile, we are a well-running tandem and complement each other very well. My strongest point is the melodies while Jurgen knows how to make beautiful arrangements. I remember when I wrote ‘More than a friend’ and gave a rough demo recording to Jurgen. I got goose bumps when I heard the arrangement Jurgen had worked out. Personally, I think this new album is our strongest and best so far.

-How have the entries of new guitarist Jens Ambrosch and new singer Lars Edvall influenced the songs on the project?

Because Jurgen and I did not yet have a new guitarist and vocalist when the new material was written, some guitarist friends already played a small part here and there. We kept most of those. That’s why on the new record you can hear another guitarist here and there besides Jens. However, most of the guitars were played by Jens. When we found Jens and Lars, all the songs for the third record had already been written and Jurgen and I were already recording. However, when Jurgen and I heard a demo version of the song “One of these mornings” that Lars had written we thought we should put it on the new record as well. We are very happy with the result. After all, in addition to being a singer, Lars is also an excellent composer. He has already written several songs for other artists under the name ‘Beatlife’. Lars also wrote the songs ‘Last of my broken hearts’ and ‘The end of the world’ for the band First Signal. These can be heard on their record ‘Line of Fire’. So with Lars we have another songwriter in the band. Jurgen and I are really looking forward to working together with Lars and Jens on a fourth album from the start. They are both very talented and add value to the band.

-Among the invited musicians we have noticed, with logical joy and pleasant surprise, the appearance of the Spanish guitarist Fran Alonso from the group Hackers. Tell us how the contact with him arose and what has been his collaboration?

When I was looking for a new guitarist I stumbled upon a video of Fran. I was very impressed with his sound and playing technique. Fran is a very melodic guitarist and would certainly have fitted in with Frozen Rain. However, at that time Fran already had plans to start his own band Hackers. But we both thought it would be a nice idea for Fran to play some solos on our record. That’s how it happened that Fran can be heard on a few songs. I still have an excellent contact with Fran and think the two records he has released to date with his band sound great.

-Do you think that within Hard Rock and Melodic Rock, this mixture of classic styles and more current sounds can revitalize and elevate this type of Rock among the new generations, or is it very predetermined and defined who an album like “is intended for” One mile from Heartsville”?

The album is definitely aimed primarily at listeners who enjoy AOR and melodic rock. Yet there are songs on the album that can definitely appeal to a wider audience. I am thinking, for instance, of the title track or a song like ‘More than a friend’. The big problem is that this kind of music is hardly ever heard on the radio so people cannot discover the songs. People who follow the AOR scene will know about the music but it is still difficult to reach a wider audience. Yet  I experience that there are still several people who like this kind of music. It often happens that I play our music to someone who then wonders why it is not played on the radio.

-The songs are full of great interpretations and very careful voices. How do you manage to give the right ending point to each melody, rhythm, solo, chorus, etc… Is the process relaxed and relaxing or is it tedious and laborious?

BothJurgen and I strive for perfection, so we keep polishing all the songs until we are both satisfied. Each song goes a long way from the first demo to the final result. Jurgen and I constantly consult each other about what we feel could be improved and we are constantly making adjustments. We are also very lucky to have Lars and Jens. Jens is the guitarist we have been looking for for a long time. He has the right sound and technique. Lars, in turn, is particularly good with voice work. He composes beautiful backing vocals. He can also rely on his experience with choirs he sometimes works with. Listen to his Queen interpretations, they say it all.

-Your influences within the Hard Rock Aor seem extensive and exquisite when listening to the album. Is there any musical reference concerning bands, soloists or styles, confessable or unspeakable, that is decisive when transferring them to your creative inspiration when you make your compositions?

I grew up listening to bands like Toto, Journey and Survivor. The very first LP I bought was Toto’s first album. Since then, I have amassed a large collection of AOR & melodic rock. Needless to say, that background has an influence on how I experience music and express it in my own compositions. As I mentioned before, I like strong melodies and well-crafted arrangements. So we try to apply that in our songs. I think we have succeeded quite well.

-Lars Edvall’s voice is fantastic, it has Rock, melody and Soul details. It fits the context exposed by Frozen Rain and fits very well the changes in style and register in songs like “She’s the one”, “One of these mornings”, “More than a friend” or “Fire”. In your opinion and experience, how important is it to find and have a good vocalist for everything to sound good on an AOR album?

AOR simply cannot do without an excellent singer. I couldn’t find one in Belgium. When, one day, I listened to the Fanfields album on which Lars sang Toto’s song ‘Only the children’, I immediately felt that his voice would fit our songs perfectly. With this album, it turns out that Lars indeed proved to be the right choice.

-The Melodic Rock scene in Spain is a minority but its followers are very faithful. How is it in Belgium?

In Belgium, you have a small group of fans of the genre but the music is not heard on the radio, unfortunately. For a melodic rock band, there are also not so many venues to perform on. In our country, there are currently few bands active in the genre. The only band that comes close to what we do is All I Know.

Finally, here is your space to say what you want to all our readers out there. Thank you very much and Rock On!

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has supported us through all these years. I am in regular contact with fans in various countries and know that some are very much looking forward to the new album.  I hope that with this album we can present some nice new music to everyone who loves AOR and melodic rock. Thanks also to you for bringing our record to our attention. Rocking greetings to all you readers.

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