When you think of Swedish metal guitarists, Janne Stark probably isn't the first name that comes to mind. But Janne Stark has been around as long as the guys you're thinking of. He's been plugging away in a variety of bands and projects since 1980, and continues to do so to this day. He has played the prestigious Sweden Rock festival several times. He has played with legendary Dino performers such as Udo Dirkschneider and Uli Roth. Janne is very prolific. He stays busy and his discography is extensive. Most recently, he has released new albums with Locomotive Breath, Mountain of Power, and his reunited metal band, Overdrive.
So why is this such a big deal? Janne Stark is not a full-time guitarist. He holds down a typical 40 hour a week straight job in a high-tech firm in Sweden. And when he's not busy doing that or playing guitar with legends and cranking out albums, Janne is a rock journalist in Sweden. He spends his time interviewing legendary guitarists like Robin Trower, and Michael Schenker. A couple of years back, Janne even landed an interview with the elusive, reclusive Jake E. Lee (reproduced on this site), when no one had heard boo from Jake in a decade. So the point is, he's very much like most of us guitarists here at DRG. He just seems to get a whole lot more done than most of us comparatively lazy old men! How does he do it? Let's find out.
3/27/08 Interview conducted by Dinosaur David B.
DRG: Lets start off by talking about how many projects you're involved with. Because there are a lot of them! Give us a brief description of each one.
Stark: If we start from the beginning, there was Overdrive.
DRG: Give us a little history on Overdrive, because they were not a household word in the States.
Stark: Overdrive was formed in 1980. There were two local bands, one was called Paradize, and the other was called Ocean. And two of the guys from Ocean and three of the guys from Paradize formed Overdrive. It was right when the heavy metal era started to grow in England, and (it was happening) a bit in Sweden as well. So we were formed in 1980, we recorded a demo, and a 5-track mini-album in 1981.
DRG: You must have been 16 or 17 years old.
Stark: I was born in 1963 so I was 17. Actually, though in Paradize, we did a single in 1979, but that band was more commercial and influenced by Styx and REO Speedwagon. So anyway, Overdrive did the EP, and in 1981, we had a really cool gig with a Danish band called Brats, and that is the band that eventually transformed into Mercyful Fate. So we met those guys, and they had just made an LP called 1980, and we met their manager, and we decided to do a gig together, so we did in 1981, and they had a new singer, who was King Diamond. They were still called Brats, but with King Diamond on vocals and Hank Sherman on guitar, and they had just switched from a punkish style to the more Mercyful Fate style. And the audience was quite surprised cause they didn't recognize them from their CD. Anyway, Overdrive got a deal with Planet records, and we released our first album in 1983, and the second one in 84. The first one sold pretty well — 20,000 copies, which was pretty good in Europe at that time. And it got a lot of good reviews in Germany and Holland. And the second album, called Swords and Axes, was also released by Banzai records in Canada. Then in 1985, the singer quit. And we were having trouble with the record company. Even though we had sold quite a lot of albums, we hadn't received one penny. We actually had to get a lawyer to get the money from the label. So we quit working with the label, and we couldn't find a singer, so we decided to end it. The singer started playing bass instead, and we formed a band called Overheat and we didn't do much. We reunited part of Overdrive in 1993, and did a demo, and nothing else.
DRG: During the peak of the Overdrive period, were you gigging a lot?
Stark: Yeah, quite a lot in Sweden and Denmark.
DRG: How good of a guitar player would you say you were in 80-83?
Stark: I think I was pretty decent. I wouldn't dream of comparing myself to guys like John Norum, even around that time he was really great. What we had, and got a lot of good reviews for, was this kind of Thin Lizzy goes metal harmony guitars. So we worked quite a lot with the guitar arrangements and did a lot of harmonies and stuff.
DRG: Ok, so flash forward to where we are now. You've just released another Overdrive album. How did that come about?
Stark: In 2003, we had a local festival in Sweden called Rockslaget (The Rock Battle), and that festival had been around in the 80s, and they wanted to do an anniversary one-off festival, and they wanted as many of the bands from that era to reunite for just that one festival. So we did it. With the original lineup, and leather and studs and all. We also had guys dressing up like medieval warriors, spitting fire on stage, and putting on a full-out show. And it was really fun to do. And after we got an email from a German festival inviting us to play in Germany, some more offers in Sweden. And we figured we'd do some of them, and three weeks before we were starting to leave for Germany, the singer quit. Again. And we said: the show is booked, can't you do the one show? But he said no. So we asked the singer from my other band, Locomotive Breath, and he was filling in for a bassist in another band at the same time, so he couldn't do it. But he recommended Par Karlsson, who was singing in another local band called Unchained. So we sent him the music, and he liked it, and in two weeks he rehearsed all the songs, we did the show in Germany, and it went great. So we did about four or five shows, and we figured he sounds a bit like the old singer, except that he sings good! Because the singer in Overdrive in the 80s was actually the weak link. So then we figured it might be fun to re-record some of the old songs with him on vocals just to see what it sounds like. So we recorded four previously released songs, and one old song we had from back then, but had never recorded. And it sounded pretty good. And then we got the gig at the Sweden Rock festival. And we decided it would be good to have a release available at the time of the festival, so we released those five songs as an EP, and we sold about a hundred of them at the festival. And then we got offered a deal from Lion Music. And I wasn't sure I even was interested, because my thought was: Overdrive — that was in the past. It was fun to play the old songs, but the other guys in the band don't have as many projects as I have. But they wanted to do it, and I didn't feel like I could stand in their way.
DRG: So you did the new album?
Stark: Well, half the material on the album were songs we had written between 1983-85 (for what would have been our third album). And we rearranged them and updated them a bit. Then we wrote the other half of the album as new material. And we recorded it at a local studio not far from where we live, so it was easy to just go in and work on it on the weekends.
DRG: So what does a record deal from someone like Lion Music look like today. Because I don't even know anymore. What does a deal like that entail? Do they pick up the one album, or what?
Stark: It's just like a licensing deal. They license the master for about five years. And we get an advance which pays for the recording, more or less. And if they recoup the money, then we get a royalty as well. But most of the time today, the albums don't sell that much.
DRG: Are they pushing it and distributing it?
Stark: They're actually doing a really good job. They're sending out a lot of promos, and they put out some songs on compilations in magazines.
DRG: Do they get you on iTunes and all of that?
Stark: Yeah, and CD Baby, and Guitar 9. But there are so many bad labels out there today, you're happy if you just break even yourself so that you don't have to pay anything to record. And I have managed to get quite a few albums out, and at least break even, or sometimes get a little money back as well. I don't count on being a multimillionaire rock star!
DRG: OK, well before we get too far off track, lets talk about some of the other projects as well. When I first heard you, it was in the context of Locomotive Breath. And then Mountain of Power, and Constancia, I know you have a new project called BALLS. Give us a little rundown on what each of them is about.
Stark: Well, Locomotive Breath has released three albums. It's a melodic metal band, and the lineup changes over time, but it's basically me and the singer. The train is at the station now, and has been since the last album, Change of Track.
DRG: That's a nice album.
Stark: And we're recording one new song that will be released at the Sweden Rock festival. And everyone who buys a four-day ticket gets a free CD. There's a lot of bands on it and every one of them wrote a song called Fill Your Head with Rock, which is the festival slogan.
DRG: And what was the goal of the Locomotive Breath project when you started it?
Stark: It was just a band. It grew out of Overdrive, but band members changed for various reasons.
DRG: And the Mountain of Power project?
Stark: That grew out of the label, Grooveyard Records. They distribute Locomotive Breath in the US. On the second Locomotive Breath album, we did a cover of a song from a band called Target, and Joe the guy at Grooveyard, knew the original version, and liked our version of the song, and he asked me if I'd do a cover album. And I don't really like cover albums, but we discussed it for a year and a half, and I finally said: "If I can do 70s stuff that I grew up with, that hasn't been covered to death — and preferably not covered at all, I'll do it". So we bounced songs back and forth, and he had suggestions, but it had to be songs that I relate to. Songs I grew up with. So we came up with some stuff like songs by Budgie, Marcus, Derringer, Stray Dog. So I made an arrangement of the song. I programmed drums, and recorded some rough bass and guitar and sent it to a local drummer, a guy who'd been in Locomotive Breath. And he has his own studio and uses the same software that I use Cubase, so I sent the project to him. And he recorded the drums.
DRG: He just recorded it to a click track?
Stark: Yeah. Then I started lining up singers based on who I thought would fit each song. Björn Lodin from Baltimoore, David Fremberg from Andromeda, Mike Andersson from Cloudscape, Dan Swanö etc. So then I sent the demos with the drums and the rough guitars to the singers, plus a couple of bassists. And I just sent a WAV file and set start from the zero point on the screen.
DRG: So it's you and two drummers, and the rest of it is different people.
Stark: Yes. I play all the rhythm guitars and bass on 60% of the songs.
DRG: And then there's the new project.
Stark: Right: BALLS. Björn Lodin from Baltimoore asked me if I wanted to do a project with him. He was on the Mountain of Power, and he wasn't really happy with the situation in Baltimoore after a tour, so I said, yeah, sure. And I was already writing material with Micke "Nord" Andersson. He was working on a solo album, and we were writing for that, and Björn said: "maybe Micke's interested in joining (the project), as well." And we had put a live Mountain of Power lineup together with some of those guys for the Sweden Rock festival last year. And Micke was really into it. He's played with everyone who's come out of Sweden and has done a lot of world tours, and he's a rocker at heart. And we get along really well musically. We have the same background. At first we were going to continue on with the name Baltimoore, but when we started writing, we felt that the style was different. It felt like a new thing, and we didn't want any luggage to carry around. We wanted to keep it fresh, so we picked a new name.
DRG: So there is no more Baltimoore?
Stark: Well, he has the name and is probably doing something new there, but I'm not involved with it.
DRG: And the other guys in BALLS?
Stark: The drummer and bassist are two young guys who haven't done anything you would have heard of, but when we started writing, we felt the chemistry was there. But that stuff we also recorded it differently. I did my demos as I usually do with programming drums and recording guitars and stuff. I sent it to Björn who added some vocals and was cutting and pasting, and we were going back and forth — why don't we do this part twice as long, and so on. So we went back and forth and got to see the song grow. Then when we had all the pieces, we did a proper recording in a studio. I went up to Stockholm, and Micke and I recorded the guitars together.
DRG: And there's more!
Stark: Yes, there's also Constancia, which was basically the keyboard player from a band called Scudiero, and another called Token. And he had a bunch of songs and just asked me if I was interested in putting guitars on them. And I said: "yeah, sure." I have this problem with saying no. (laughs)
DRG: So here's the question: How do you manage to do so many things? How do you manage your time? Which things do you give priority to?
Stark: Well, I don't really prioritize watching TV. (laughs)
DRG: Right. Wanting to be productive is part of the key.
Stark: I often keep going until two or three in the morning, and then I get up at 7 am. I sleep late on the weekends. But I get a rush out of (working), and I have to force myself to go to sleep. I just love music. And doing different kinds. Constancia is like late 70s, early 80s pomp rock, mixed with progressive, and I like bands like Styx and Boston and stuff. BALLS is more or less what the name suggests — ballsy, straight ahead hard rock with a touch of AC/DC and Trower. Locomotive Breath is straight melodic metal, and Overdrive is 80s metal. So each is a different style, and I like all of the styles! And I feel that I write songs in all different styles. And I have songs written and recorded that I haven't been able to use, because I didn't have the right project for them. So maybe that's why I jump on them as well.
DRG: I can't imagine how you manage your schedule.
Stark: And beside that, I also wrote a song for the local hockey team, and a local football team. And we recorded a heavy metal version of the Swedish National Anthem, and one of Sweden's most well-known comedians is singing on it.
DRG: You're killing me. I'm such a slacker. How the heck did those things come about?
Stark: Sweden Rock was a sponsor of both teams, and they decided that the teams needed metal anthems.
DRG: Well, it sounds as if a lot of these things come about because you have such a great network of musicians living relatively close to you, even though I realize you're doing a lot of this electronically now. Let's discuss further how people collaborate on recordings like this, in this day and age. It's a different world. You've touched on it a bit already, but let's talk now about how you do what you do. You have a home studio. The people you work with have home studios. I know you like to do the drums live.
Stark: The drummer has a studio, and he records the drums live to my backing track.
DRG: So he mics up a full kit in a traditional way, and plays to your rough demo using a click track. And that gives you the foundation to go further from there.
Stark: Right. Then I just re-record my guitars later. If I'm doing the bass, I start with the bass, and add the guitars after that. When we did the last Locomotive Breath album, we actually did four rhythm guitars, two left and two right. It was a really fat sound, but it was almost . . . eh, it was too much. So now we just record one left and one right. On the Overdrive album, I recorded all the guitars with a Hughes & Kettner Trilogy amp, through a 4x12.
DRG: Mic'd up traditionally.
Stark: Yep, with an SM57. I record that in my home studio as well. On the Mountain of Power, it was a mix. Some was a Hughes & Kettner Warp 7 combo, and lot of the solos, I did with a PODXT. And on the BALLS, album, we recorded both a clean line signal, and the Trilogy and a 4x10. So we'll see if Björn finds any good plugins and if we'll use that clean signal (to reamp the guitar parts with a different sound).
DRG: I was going to ask you who produces all of these projects?
Stark: BALLS is mostly Björn, but we'll mix it together. He's the Project Manager.
DRG: So is there any part in these processes where you have the whole band in the same room playing together?
Stark: With Overdrive, we did that for the basic tracks. We were in the studio together. We didn't use any click at all. The drums were done live with the guitars. We used PODs and headphones so that the guitars didn't bleed into the drum tracks, and then each of us (guitarists) went back and rerecorded our own guitar parts later in our home studios, with real amps. And the singer did his tracks in his home studio. But when we recorded the drums we were all there in the studio together.
DRG: To get the basic scratch tracks feeling live.
Stark: Right. And the first two Locomotive Breath albums were recorded similarly. The last one, we did the guitars drums and vocals in the studio, and Marcel recorded the bass in his home studio. And on the Mountain of Power stuff, there were a lot of tracks being sent back and forth. We're spread all over Sweden, and two of the bassists, they're Swedish, but they live in Los Angeles.
DRG: So you're just FTPing tracks back and forth?
Stark: I send CDs with the tracks. Everybody (I work with) knows how to do it. How to start from the same zero point in the file as I had. And when they do that, it all works fine.
DRG: So is everybody using the same software?
Stark: No, as long as it's a WAV track, or an AIFF, and we all record at 44.1, we can all work with whatever software we have.
DRG: So those are the common denominators. So what is actually in your home studio?
Stark: I have the two Hughes & Kettner amps I mentioned, the Trilogy and the Warp 7. The Warp 7 is actually not a tube amp, but it works for metal. I've got the POD, a small mixer, my computer. I also used a Zoom Z-2000 rack mounted effects unit on the Mountain of Power album. It has like an Octiviar, a Fuzz face and all kinds of things.
DRG: Do you use a mic preamp when you're micing a speaker?
Stark: No, I just go straight into the mixer.
DRG: How do you like to record your rhythm tracks? I assume you record them dry and put any effects you want on in the mix?
Stark: I rarely use effects on the guitars. Maybe a little reverb occasionally, but I like the guitars fairly dry. I always record them dry.
DRG: I've noticed that on all of the things I've heard of yours. They all have that very in-your-face sort of sound.
Stark: Yeah, I got allergic to putting effects on them back in the days of the first Overdrive recordings. The sound engineer on that stuff had just finished working with a Swedish dance band. And those bands use so much reverb, you can't imagine. Everything is drowning in reverb, because they play so badly. And this engineer totally ruined the first album. I wish we'd saved the 24 track tape so we could remix it, but it's not possible.
DRG: I personally like a medium room reverb sound, to give some warmth, depth — some bigness.
Stark: It depends on the style. On the Overdrive stuff where we're playing a lot of fast things . . .
DRG: Yeah, it's going to create too much of a wash, and you want that stuff tightened up.
Stark: But I think on the BALLS, we have a bit more ambience in the guitar playing. So there would be more room for it there. And I like to use a bit of delay on the solos. 420 milliseconds and bit of that. But if I'm using wah or something like that, I'll record with it.
DRG: When you're putting a delay on your solo, do you record that to an adjacent track and then ride the fader?
Stark: You basically do the same thing now but it's on the same track now. It looks like an extra track with that effect, but it's the same track.
DRG: Yeah, everything is so much easier now. I'm at least a generation out of touch. So after everyone has recorded their parts, who puts it all back together?
Stark: In Mountain of Power, we mixed in the studio with the engineer, Pelle Saether. Mostly the guys send their tracks back to me. I put them into the projects and make sure everything is OK. I cleaned up the drum tracks — the toms tend to pick up a lot of ambient noise from the cymbals and stuff. And I clean up the guitar tracks so there's no (amp hum/pickup) noise coming from those tracks when the guitars aren't actually playing. Just the general cleanup. And I put the clean tracks on a portable hard drive and brought it to the studio and got them to the system there for mixing.
DRG: So you're not really doing any submixing prior to that.
Stark: Nah, not like in the good old days.
DRG: So you're doing a traditional mixdown of each track. Every individual drum, etc. After that do you do a traditional master process? Who does that?
Stark: On the Mountain of Power, it was a fairly new guy.
DRG: On that project, are these all the Grooveyard people? There was backing on this project. Did they come up with the producer, the engineer, the mastering guy?
Stark: No. I handled everything regarding the production, the recording, the arrangements, the mixing, the mastering.
DRG: Even when there is a record label involved.
Stark: Yeah. Same with the Overdrive album. I handled the basics and we did the mixing with me, the producer, the other guitarist and the singer. And we sent the mix to the guy at Lion music, and he arranged the mastering there. And the first mastering had so much compressor on it, that it distorted. And I hate that. And it was actually the third time lucky, where we got the good master.
DRG: Yeah, the mastering can really make or break it.
Stark: With Constancia, we've just made demo tracks, but we're having different people mix it. So Beau Hill who worked with Ratt and Winger has mixed one track. And Pontus Lindgren who produced Cloudscape mixed another, and a couple of other guys. And we'll put them all up on MySpace and people can vote for which mix they like the best. www.myspace.com/constanciamusic
DRG: So here's the delicate question: Who pays for all of this? I mean, I know you're all working out of home studios and that keeps some costs down. But if you're paying mixers and producers and engineers, and mastering engineers — I assume those people don't work for free.
Stark: Well the stuff for Lion was included in the deal. So we didn't pay for that. With Locomotive Breath, the mastering engineer was a new guy who did it for free.
DRG: He was a new guy looking to build his resume and make a name for himself.
Stark: Right, and the mixing part was included in the advance we get from the label covers the recording and the mixing. So far, we've managed to break even there so that we don't have to pay anything or wait for royalties.
DRG: So you're not going broke.
Stark: And the players I work with do it mostly because they enjoy it. I mean, when I guest on somebody's project, I usually do it for free.
DRG: So on something like Mountain of Power which is a release of covers that you didn't write . . .
Stark: I get no royalties for that.
DRG: So if Mountain of Power sells a zillion copies, you get nothing?
Stark: Well, I don't get a publishing royalty, but I get a certain amount for every CD sold. A royalty on sales. But nothing on performance or airplay.
DRG: And on the projects where you did do the writing, it's a better deal, right?
Stark: Oh yeah. I get the writing, the mechanical, the airplay. The Overdrive stuff actually got a good amount of airplay. So I get that as well.
DRG: So they send you these little checks?
Stark: Yeah. I think I get more money for the books I've written. Every time you borrow a book from the library, I get about 10 cents.
DRG: How many books have you written?
DRG: When did you find the time to do that?
Stark: I did one in 1996. The Encyclopedia of Swedish Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. The second one was in 2002. I'm collecting material for a third one, and in the mean time, I've been doing the layout for the Encyclopedia of Swedish Punk Rock.
DRG: You also write for magazines. Janne's a writer like me, just a way more productive one.
Stark: For Sweden Rock magazine, and Scandinavia’s biggest guitar magazine FUZZ.
DRG: And you get to do interviews with name players, like I do. Basically, you do all the same things I do, but you do a shitload more of it than I do. (laughs). And you also have played a bunch of these live things where you've gotten to play with a lot of famous players, such as Uli Roth and Udo Dirkschneider. How do those things come about?
Stark: Again, it's due to the Sweden Rock festival, and their kickoff events, which usually happen in November or December. They present the first 20 or so bands that will play on the next year's festival and start selling the tickets then. And last year it was Wolf, and David Coverdale and Doug Aldrich did an acoustic show. And then we put together this Sweden Rock Allstars, as a fun thing. And we had Udo on vocals, the guitarist from Hammerfall, Ian Haugland from Europe on drums, Ryan Roxie from Alice Cooper, a few others, and me. And we decided what songs we wanted to play and rehearsed the day before, and just did six songs. Balls to the Wall, Son of a Bitch, Metal Gods, School's Out, and a couple of others. And it was really fun. So it's become sort of a tradition now. And last year did the thing with Uli Roth, me, Liz Vandall, Ken Hensley from Uriah Heep Mark Boals, Mats Leven from Yngwie, and some other folks. And we rehearsed 14 songs the day before the gig for 6 hours. We also jammed. And it was incredibly fun.
DRG: What did you play?
Stark: Lot of old Scorpions, like Dark Lady, Pictured Life, Sails of Charon, We'll Burn the Sky. Some Electric Sun, like Firewind.
DRG: Did Uli sing on that, or was it the others?
Stark: It was actually Mats.
DRG: Thank god. (laughs)
Stark: So we rehearsed 14 songs, but the show was a bit delayed, and Gotthard was on before us, and they refused to cut their set short, so we only got to play six songs. And that was frustrating. But the day before was more fun anyway. And then I was down in Mexico, doing the Queen Magic show, which was two hours of Queen music. Together with an Italian Queen cover band with Polish guitarists and Swedish girls on vocals, and a Mexican symphony orchestra.
DRG: How did you get involved with that?
Stark: That was through the singer, Chris Catena. He was an old Overdrive fan, and he got in touch with me and asked me if I wanted to play some guitar on his previous solo album. I don't know how he gets all his guests on his albums, because he has guys like Carmine Appice and Earl Slick, Pat Travers, Uriah Duffy, Bobby Kimball. But I played guitar on that. And he also wanted to form a project — called Teenage Rampage, and the style is like a mix of Black Label Society and Velvet Revolver. I wrote two songs on that one and played guitars as well. And he asked if I was interested in doing this (project). There was no real payment but all the expenses were paid for: hotel, transportation, food.
DRG: So your flights to Mexico and all of that?
Stark: Yeah, the flights to Mexico. And we were there for seven days. To rehearse for 5 days and then do two shows. So yeah, of course! A paid vacation to Mexico, playing Queen, which I love, so yeah.
DRG: So did you take a guitar, or just show up?
Stark: I took two guitars, and I took my pedals. I bought a Brian May Digitech, the red one. It works pretty good. And I got down there and started rehearsing and it was really fun. And we did two totally sold out shows. There were over seven thousand people there.
DRG: How did it sound?
Stark: It sounded pretty good.
DRG:Trying to get that Queen sound isn't always easy.
Stark: The singers were not any Freddie Mercury copies or anything. And we had some women singing as well. So it was more like a Queen tribute thing. But I think I managed to get a pretty good Brian May sound with that pedal. And I played on Chris' new album. I've written one track and played on a couple of others. And on one of the tracks, I play rhythm and Pat Travers does the solo, and Bobby Kimball sings with Chris. And I did the Planet Alliance album, where Bob Daisley played bass on a couple of tracks.
DRG: Is that another case where you're piecing everything together in isolation again?
Stark: No, I was actually in the studio for that one.
DRG: Were those guys there?
Stark: No, just the singer and the drummer. With today's technology, it's so easy to do these kind of projects. And I don't really care if it sells a lot of copies. I . . .
DRG: You're not making your living at it. So you want to have fun.
Stark: Yeah! I want to hear the final product. Then I'm satisfied. And if people like it . . . if it sells . . .
DRG: Sure. That's gravy. Your livelihood is not based on it, so you're not living and dying by it.
Stark: And also, to be a professional musician in Sweden, to make your living at it, you have to prostitute yourself, and do a lot of crap.
DRG: Not just Sweden! That's everywhere!
Stark: But I've been really fortunate there, because I've been able to pick out the things that I love and do that. And I have a hard time saying "no." But I have said no to a few things, like some Emo band that wanted me to do a solo, and I hate that style. So I gracefully bowed out of that.
DRG: Well I think you're on to something. We — a lot of the staff members here at DRG, five or six guys — each of us with 20+ years on guitar, did a roundtable video at NAMM 08, and we talked about trying to pass on some knowledge to the younger players. And the questions from the young guys were things like: What were the mistakes you made, and that kind of thing. And by the end of it, the message was like: We're living in a different world now. Rock is not a popular music form anymore. Making a living at it is even harder than it ever was when it was big. So the message was: play your music for your passion, and go to school, and get an education and a degree in something you can make a living in, so that you don't have to prostitute yourself in wedding bands when music is your only thing. Cause we all have straight jobs now, and unless you were lucky enough to make it back then 25 years ago, you're even less likely to make it now.You found Jake E. Lee! You interviewed him for his first interview in . . . had to be over a decade. He was harder to find than Hoffa or the Loch Ness Monster. The guy plays guitar for Ozzy for five plus years, and the last time I saw pictures of him a year or so ago, he looked like he was living in a trailer. He doesn't have a job to fall back on. He's either playing his guitar, or God knows what. I look at the people we revere in this genre — the Glenn Hughes' and John Sykes' — people who I consider among the very best musically at what they do — and if they didn't have their old royalties coming in, they couldn't make a living playing music in this day and age. Guys like that, unless they're an arena act like AC/DC — most of them have been painted into a corner. They're damned if they do, and damned if they don't. If Sykes keeps touring with Lizzy, fans bitch at him for milking that. They want to see new music. I want to hear him do new music! But who the hell is paying John Sykes to get Blue Murder get back together or make new music? And Glenn Hughes — he puts out like an album a year because he's now clean, and so prolific — and frankly, I think he should actually take a little longer with each album and make it better instead of rushing it out. But if the release is like what they've done before, the reaction is: we've heard this before. And if it something different, the reaction is like: This isn't what you do — why did you give us this? So there's no win for these guys. They're damned either way. And what hope does some kid starting out with way less talent have? So if people can do music the way you're doing it — separate from it being the livelihood, they can at least enjoy it. The chances of success in music are the same either way — slim. And if it remains your passion, it'll always be a creative outlet, and it will always be fun.
Stark: And if something positive happens that lets it become your livelihood for a while, you'll have something to fall back on afterwards. I have a day job that I like, that I enjoy that is creative, and flexible. As long as I meet my responsibilities, I can schedule time off when I need it to pursue music. And the love for music is still there for me, even as a reviewer for the magazines. So I feel I get the best of both worlds.
We at Dinosaur Rock Guitar would like to thank Janne Stark for taking the time to answer our questions. Copyright ©2008 All rights reserved.