Interview with David Reece - Sunday, 7 November 2010(by Brent Rusche)
On the heels of a scintillating performance at Firefest 2010, I was able to catch up with the Bangalore Choir frontman between recording sessions. Mr. Reece is firing on all cylinders these days with the re-release of ‘On Target,’ the exceptional follow up in ‘Cadence,’ an upcoming CD with Tango Down and a cameo appearance on Voices Of Rock 2, ‘High and Mighty.’ A man possessing quick wit and an envious set of pipes, I was fortunate to have a moment to speak with him via phone from his home in Germany.
BR: Firstly, congratulations on a very inspired performance at Firefest 2010. You definitely connected with the audience. Share with the readers your thoughts of that performance and overall experience?
DR: My head is still spinning. We got home one week ago today and I really haven’t come down from it yet. I really can’t explain the energy that was going on. You were there, you know. The whole atmosphere was electric. The audience was well prepared for Bangalore Choir (BC). They knew the songs. I think I honestly could have just stood up there and sang a few verses and the audience alone could have carried every track. I’m just so blessed and grateful for that day. Kieran and Bruce…what a show.
BR: Absolutely. They never disappoint.
DR: Never…Honestly, I’m really speechless. I do a lot of shows and the fans are great but there was something about that one that was just, magic.
BR: Yeah, and being witness to it all, I definitely saw the exuberance from everybody and you were having a great time interacting with the audience.
DR: Oh yeah. The first few bands that were on, I was downstairs in the dressing room and it didn’t sound that noisy. But when we went on, the people in the balcony could see us from behind the backdrop and they started shouting the name of the band. When the curtain dropped, I noticed the place was full. So I just knew that this was going to be our time. It was sparsely filled when I looked from backstage and thought that, “this is kind of slow,” but as soon as we went on the place was jam packed.
BR: Well, I think you were the first band of the evening that really elevated the festivities and kicked things into a higher gear. You followed Grand Illusion, who was great, but there was that unfortunate delay due to the mixing console going down.
DR: That was crazy. It’s always something…the gremlins are always trying to stop it. [laughs]
BR: But your engaging performance brought the audience into the fore and the band really did a great job.
DR: Thanks, man.
BR: Back in July, Bangalore Choir performed at Dakota Rock Fest. How would you compare the American crowds to the audiences in the UK and Europe?
DR: Actually, it wasn’t BC. I was in The States doing an album with a group called Tango Down. Kivel Records had a slot for that band with their original singer [who had since left the band] and they had to contractually fulfill that [gig]. The cool thing was the guys wanted do some BC songs, which we did and it was equally crazy. I think they [American audiences] get a lot more shows and are a little jaded. We went on in the middle afternoon…around 5PM. It was hot and it was outside. Things really don’t come alive in America until it is dark so that made it hard, but I told the audience to get up out of their lawn chairs and drove them up to the front of the stage …it was great. They were even singing along to ‘Angel In Black.’ We debuted some of the new Tango Down songs that I have written with them and played some of their old stuff as well...it was great, but there was just something about that electricity at Firefest. I did the H.E.A.T. Festival this year and some other stuff with UFO and they were all great festivals, but I think Firefest 2010 is at the top this year for me so far.
BR: ‘Cadence’ is a magnificent follow-up to ‘On Target;’ an absolute gem of a record among melodic rocks (pun intended) of which I hope to see it grace many “Best Of” lists for 2010. What was the impetus to resurrect the Bangalore Choir moniker and how long did it take to write and record?
DR: Well, what started it was when I went to Sweden in 2007 to do an album with the band Gypsy Rose and we played Sweden Rock. During our time there, which was in June, right before I went onstage the Stage Manager says, “You have to talk to these people, they are driving me crazy...” I didn’t know what he meant so I walked around behind the stage and there were a lot of kids and older people holding ‘On Target’ and wanting autographs. I thought the album was dead and was over. But they were saying, “Can you do another one?” …and that put it in my head. So I set myself out on a mission to get my record label, AOR Heaven, to consider re-releasing that album, but I first wanted to re-master it. In the interim, I reached out to Curt Mitchell [guitar] and Danny Greenberg [bass], the original guys in BC. Part of the reason was because Kieran Dargan had wanted us to play Firefest, but we needed as many original members as possible. So I said, [to Curt] “by the way, they want us to play Firefest…” And he said, “I’m not going to do it unless Danny Greenberg does it.” So I reached out to Danny and that’s how that all came to fruition because you obviously saw those guys with me onstage and without them, it’s not BC. To follow up ‘On Target’ was a challenge because it is somewhat of a genre classic. So Andy Susemihl, my Producer and my other guitar player in BC, sat down together and listened to that album for a few weeks and we said, “Let’s start writing some songs.” So we came up with Martyr. I also got Curt to do guitars on the new album. I wrote ‘Living Your Dreams Everyday’ with Tommy Denander and ‘Heart Attack and Vine’ was written with Christian Tolle. I was trying to find that vibe that obviously the older we’ve gotten, we’ve matured and have gotten a little heavier in some parts and a little bit less heavy in other,if that makes any sense? So we just threw it all into the pot and to be honest, that record started around January and we were done in March, writing and recording it [laughs] and then turned it over in May of 2010. It went fast. Actually, I really haven’t stopped since you’ve seen me. I’m recording my next solo album now. I walked off an airplane and went back in the studio on Monday, and I’m nearly done. If you keep working, it comes to you fairly easily, as long as you stick your nose to the grindstone. It’s like anything else, like perfect practice…you have to keep working at it.
BR: Another euphemism that you could use is once the “pump is primed,” you hit a groove and roll along.
DR: Yeah. And when you’ve got the songs and the ingredients and you get guys like Greenberg and Mitchell involved…BOOM and it’s done.
BR: And with that, you basically answered this next question. What was the genesis behind the re-release of the ‘On Target’ album and ultimately resurrecting the band?
DR: Well, the genesis was as I said, the festival in Sweden back in 2007 and having a lot people at other shows coming up with my Accept album and the BC stuff and say that you guys should really do another BC album. I thought since the label [AOR Heaven] agreed to do a new BC album, I said, “Let’s prime this thing up with the first album, but let’s re-master it and give it some colors and some textures that it never really had when it was originally released.” I was never really happy with the mix on that album. Martin Kronlund and I are constantly writing and working together and I knew he was the right guy to re-master it. Actually, I’m going up to Sweden on the 15th of November to start an album with Martin, a Kronlund-Reece album. That was a precursor to ‘Cadence’ being released…to remind some people who have forgotten about ‘On Target’ and do the press campaign and using it to be able to talk about a new album that will be coming out. So I think it was a good campaign to set things up for the release of ‘Cadence.’
BR: So it was in fact you who came up with the idea to go ahead and re-master ‘On Target?’
DR: Yeah, it was. Plus hearing all the people in the band whine about it when it was originally released, I knew it needed it. [laughs] It wasn’t really a secret…the band and the album were a lot better than the mix, so I took the opportunity and took advantage of it. [laughs]
BR: Why did the cover art of the re-issue change?
DR: Legal reasons. Old managers and ex-wives…the girl that is on the cover is an ex-wife of a former manager and I just didn’t want to get involved. People are funny…once a band experiences some level of success and notoriety, people come out of the woodwork and start wanting to sue you, so I thwarted that. No girl, no lawsuit. [laughs] Back in the day, BC had everything but also had some dirtbag people behind us in the business, a personal manager that really just wasn’t interested in the band, just the money and the scene. He was more interested in looking good than doing a good job. So I was a little bit concerned that something would happen legally and I just didn’t want to give him the opportunity.
BR: The songwriting credits on ‘On Target’ include a few contributions from some notable individuals. Specifically, ‘Angel In Black’ is credited to Steve “Plunk” Plunkett from Autograph and ‘Doin’ The Dance’ was co-penned by Jon Bon Jovi & Aldo Nova. How did the opportunity to record these songs materialize?
DR: Well, that’s about the only good thing that this so-called manager put together. He put me in contact with Jon Bon Jovi and Steve Plunkett. Steve came down with about 10 songs and we started going through tracks and ‘Angel In Black’ was just an instant classic to me. I knew it was perfect for my voice and I sang it with him while he was playing and I said, “Yeah, this is good.” And the Bon Jovi thing…he was helping Aldo Nova revive his career at the time and was at A&M Studios and was doing the ‘Young Guns’ movie soundtrack. I went down to meet with them and they were throwing tunes at me and ‘Doin’ The Dance’ just jumped out at me. It had the right feel so I picked it and that’s how it happened. ‘Loaded Gun’ was written by Ricky Phillips who is with Styx now and he used to play with Bad English. Ricky and I are actually writing songs right now, new stuff for the next BC album. So I’ve really kept it all in the family.
BR: In the liner notes for ‘On Target,’ you write that working with Producer Dieter Dirks during ‘Eat The Heat’ really helped you develop vocally and bring out the best performances in you. What lessons did you learn from him?
DR: When I was doing the club circuit before Accept hired me, we were playing 4-5 hours a night, 7 days a week. You copy a lot of singers doing cover songs and you want to sound as close to those radio songs as possible because the audience is dancing and you want to keep the club owners happy. You really think [to yourself] that you have it “going on” and know what you are doing. To be honest, when I walked into Accept, I had my head full of myself. But when it came down to really singing, I had to learn a lot. I’m crediting Dieter Dirks with him getting me to reach inside myself and use that voice that I had. If you sing like Dio or Halford or Coverdale all the time in cover bands, you are not going to be yourself. What he did was that he centralized the things about my voice that I had, but didn’t know I had and really capitalized on it and pushed me to use it and threw out of the window any “I know everything” notion in my head…he basically straightened me out. I would complain and he said, “Listen. If you want to be a singer in a band like Accept, you’ve got to go to work. You’ve got to work everyday because you’re going to start touring…it’s a job. This isn’t a club band, this is the real deal David.” And one thing he said to me that stunned me when he first said it, but now I understand it was, “David, you realize that if this album fails it’s your fault and it’s my fault. It’s always the Producer’s fault and the new singer that is involved when anybody makes a change so we’ve got to make sure that we do the best that we can.” Accept, rehearsed eight hours everyday. Brent, we were a machine and I brought that in to BC and push the guys I work with. That is why you see so much work coming out of me…I’m crediting the Germans for putting that in my mind because if you don’t, you’re never going to be successful. Believe me, every turn you take in this business, somebody is trying to shoot you down. So you have to fight. You have to wake up everyday…I mean, it’s Sunday and I’ve been in the studio all day today, I can barely speak and I’m leaving for Sweden next week to start another album. You just have to physically take care of yourself, sleep and work.
BR: Certainly, the German work ethic is something known and respected throughout the world.
DR: The German work ethic is great, but I bring the American feel to it. I use that mentality of working hard everyday but I try to put the soul behind it as well. You can work your ass off and not have any heart. As a singer, I try to listen to a lot of old African American singers and try to pick up on things and inject that inside the work mentality as well. I think you can end up sounding like a machine if you’re not careful.
BR: Bangalore Choir was your creation in reaction to your unceremonious dismissal from Accept and the ‘Eat The Heat’ tour. Was it your affiliation with your former employer that led Max Norman [Loudness, Dangerous Toys, Lynch Mob] to function as both Producer and Engineer for ‘On Target?’
DR: I’m not sure how he really came into the picture. I remember they were talking to a lot of people and the next thing I know…because in those days (and one thing that I’m glad is over), is that you were pretty much forced into using Producers that the label picked. He wasn’t really right for the band and that goes back to the unhappiness with the original mix. He was pretty good with the first two Ozzy albums of which he walked into that on a bit of a fluke as well as his work with Megedeth…but I think the Lynch Mob thing was because we had the same manager, the big, powerful management Howard Kaufmann, the good ones, had Lynch Mob at the time, so I think that is part of how he became involved [with BC]. But it wasn’t anything that was swayed by my former people. I’m really not sure.
BR: When it comes to re-mastering an album it is necessary to possess the original master. Was obtaining the original reels a difficult endeavor or were you always in possession of them per the terms of your contract with Giant/Warner Bros?
DR: Actually, they were absconded by a drummer that worked with the band and they are hiding in a closet somewhere in Las Vegas. What I did was took the original CD and enhanced it digitally with the technology that is available now because said person wouldn’t turn them over. When that certain person was fired from the band, they had enough sense to go ahead and steal those masters and hide them. [laughs] It has come to my attention that they are trying to be sold at the moment for profit. But it is a bit of a waste of time because you’ll need a Sony 1 Inch, 48 track digital machine to put the reels on and finding those things is virtually impossible. No, I could not obtain the tapes and so I decided to use the technology available.
BR: Since you have become somewhat of a journeyman singer espousing your talents with bands (in addition to Accept and Bangalore Choir) like Gypsy Rose and Sircle of Silence, how did you become involved with Kivel Records artist Tango Down and are you happy with the results thus far?
DR: John Kivel contacted me when they fired their singer and that goes back to the South Dakota Rock Fest gig. He said, “We’re in a jam, we have a contract to finish an album and need a singer…would you be interested in doing it? We think your voice would be perfect and we have some shows with Y&T and the South Dakota Rock Fest that we have to fulfill.” I was sitting on my ass doing nothing at the time and I thought that this is perfect because as a singer, you want to work, but one thing I’m a little concerned about is over exposing myself…I don’t want to become like some of the singers who are out there who perform on every record that’s available. I wrote three songs on the new album and the rest were written by outside writers and they are all very good. I’m very happy with my performance and as for the players, I haven’t heard the finals yet and I’m wondering when I will. I think John Kivel is a go-getter, has a good heart and works hard. I admire that about him. I can’t say enough about John. The one thing about John Kivel that I can tell you is that he kept his word with me and it is very important in this business…if you tell me something, back it up. I try to stand behind what I say and try to be more in control of my future. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. And with John Kivel, when he says he’s going to do something, he does it. That is another reason why I’m associated with AOR Heaven because of Georg Siegl. The royalties get paid, he never lies to me about stuff and we’ve had a great relationship. So far, so good.
BR: That’s wonderful. There are so many negative stories about the music business that it’s nice to report some positive feedback….
DR: And that is why I’m staying the course. I just want to be treated the way you would want to be treated. You ask me to do an album and I deliver it, so pay me for it. Because I’ve been through that…Sircle of Silence and ‘On Target’ (in the beginning)…we never got paid for that stuff. I don’t even know how many records we sold in the “old days.” Everbody else seemed to have nice cars and new clothes, but we never did. [laughs]
BR: Does the follow up to ‘On Target’ with ‘Cadence’ indicate that Bangalore Choir is once again your primary focus or are you still pursuing your solo career [‘Universal Language’ was released in 2009] and other endeavors outside of the band?
DR: Right now, I’m working with a Producer aside from Andy Susemihl referred to earlier named Christian Tolle. I’m writing songs with him as well and we’re co-producing my next solo album. But the more I get involved with this, the more it sounds like another BC album. To answer the BC question, yes, we’re here to stay. We’ve all agreed that we are going to do another album. I don’t know whether the songs I’m recording right now will go to the third album. However, I think I’m going to go ahead and release them as a solo album because I equally enjoy the freedom as a solo artist. I’m going to do an album starting in late November, early December with Martin Kronlund again…he is the guy from Gypsy Rose and even recorded the vocals for ‘Cadence’ at his studio in Sweden. He and I have a certain magic that I want to capitalize on and we’re writing songs right now. I’m leaving on the 15th of November to go to his studio and start that record. Anything outside of that, I have no answer for right now. If something really big came along that suited my voice and the things I wanted to do with my life, I might consider it. But BC is my baby and after Firefest 2010, the band deserves another album. Right now, my agency in the United States is working on a three band package tour for America and we’re also working at all of the festivals for the Spring and Summer in Europe for 2011. So we’re going to be touring and I’m just going to keep writing songs until I run out of ideas. But we’re definitely doing another BC album, the solo album is definitely going to come out as well as a Martin Kronlund-David Reece album. But anything beyond that…I’m also writing for some other artists and sending them ideas but nothing is concrete there, so those are the three things I’m up to my neck in right now. [laughs]
BR: I guess you answered my follow up question again which is, are there any plans for a formal tour to support both the ‘On Target’ re-issue as well as its follow-up, ‘Cadence’ either in the States or in Europe?
DR: Sure. But you know with the economy, and you’ve probably heard this a million times in interviews, all of us are fighting for that chance. It was such a blessing for Kieran to call me last summer about Firefest. He said that they always wanted BC, but weren’t sure that we could put it together. I’m glad they called this year because it was time for us to do it and everybody agreed. I think I won over a lot of the promoters, showed them what we’re all about and that gave us a little more leverage. We’re talking to some UK promoters as well. They’re out on tour with another band right now, but they are interested in booking us. We’re going back [to the UK] even if I have to do it myself!
BR: In terms of touring in The States, you mentioned a potential tour with a three band package. Who might be the other two bands?
DR: I’ve heard rumors that BC, Juan Croucier’s Dirty Rats and Pretty Maids were a possibility. I’ve heard some other stuff like maybe Udo Dirkschneider and I going out together. There is talk about the three vocalists from Accept comprising of BC, UDO and Accept [current lineup] three band package which would be really cool. But it’s all about people sitting down and shaking hands and saying, “Let’s do this.” Something will happen for sure.
BR: I’m certainly excited about all the upcoming releases containing your voice as well as seeing you again in another live setting.
DR: Thanks, Brent.
BR: And that leads me to my last question: I’ve only ever met one other person who was born and raised in Oklahoma. How did your salad days in the Mid-West influence you development as a human being?
DR: Okies are down-home people. My grandmother raised me and taught me to treat everybody that I was around like I wanted to be treated myself. Some people call that a failure in the music business because there are a lot of dickhead singers out there that make demands and scream and have hissy-fits. I was never one of those guys and some people say that is why I wasn’t super successful since I wasn’t demanding and arrogant enough. But I refuse to be that way. I was raised differently and that molded me. I go to sleep every night with a clear conscience…at least, most nights. [laughs] I’ve done some bad things back in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, but I’ve tried to focus on writing good music and being a good human being. That really is all that matters to me.
BR: And how generous you’ve been with your time for me, responding to the emails and your willingness to do an interview is case and point. It is clear that you definitely were raised well and were taught some great lessons early on which you never forgot. God Bless your Grandmother, she did well.
DR: Thank you.
BR: Again, I thank you for your time. I know you’re voice is shot from an entire weekend of recording and then having to wax philosophical with my questions! [laughs]
DR: I love it and appreciate the time. Without you guys nobody gives a shit about me. We’ve all got a purpose…the listeners and the players…there are two different types of musicians so we’ve all got to stick together.
BR: Rest assured that I am an ardent fan and if there is anything I can do on this side of the pond to trumpet to your releases and your efforts as a singer, band member or solo artist…whatever it may be, please just let me know and stay in contact. As a parting thought, I would like to encourage all the readers out there to visit the two websites for the latest news and merchandise at: www.reeceworld.com and www.bangalorechoir.com
DR: Brent, I thank you for your time today.