Goldmine Giveaway – Three More Releases from Deko Music — Plus Interviews!
We spoke with former Free and Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke and vocalist Steve Overland about Lonerider, Miles and Noah Evans about The Gil Evans Orchestra, and former White Lion lead vocalist Mike Tramp about his new solo album, all available through Deko Music.
By Warren Kurtz
LONERIDER is a ‘70s rock style band comprised of vocalist Steve Overland, guitarist Steve Morris, bassist Chris Child and drummer Simon Kirke.
GOLDMINE:Thank you for your music over the years with Free, Bad Company and now Lonerider. My favorite Free singles include one that you co-wrote, “Wishing Well,” along with “Fire and Water.” I hear an element of Free on the catchy new Lonerider song “Rhythm of Life.”
SIMON KIRKE: The music of Free has influenced countless bands over the years and as I played drums with Lonestar I guess my contribution has added a familiar element to some of the songs. I’m just passing on the musical baton to the next generation.
GM:My wife Donna danced to your music many times in the ‘70s, in high school and college, especially to Free’s “All Right Now” and Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough.” I hear a similar dance beat in “Gimme Your Love.”
SK: Yes, it is in the same rhythmic vein. I call it my “hard rock swing.”
GM:One of my favorite Bad Company songs is “Bad Company,” which I hear a bit of in “Wanted Man.”
SK: Each generation seems to have its love affair with lawlessness. There was “He’s a Rebel,” “I Fought the Law,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and more. The song “Bad Company” was a homage to that and “Wanted Man” brings it into the 21st century.
GM:Simon, thank you again for making a quick bit of time today for Goldmine. One final item.A couple of my favorite songs on the Attitude album are only available on the double vinyl version, so I made sure this is the format we feature for our Goldmine Giveaway, to include these softer recordings like “When Love Leaves Town.”
SK: “When Love Leaves Town” is one of the best songs on the album, so I am surprised that it is only available on vinyl. Thank you for your support of Lonerider.
GM:Steve, how did Lonerider form as a band?
STEVE OVERLAND: I had worked with Simon well over thirty years ago. Bad Company had come off the road and he wanted to do some playing. I made an album with Simon. I was only about seventeen or eighteen years old at the time. Being a massive Bad Company and Free fan, it was a real honor for me to do it. Mick Ralphs produced the album, so I got to know all the Bad Company guys at a very young age. We signed to Swan Song with our band called Wildlife and we toured with it.
GM:Ah, you had the final album on Led Zeppelin’s Swan Song label in 1983, with Bad Company’s debut in 1974 being the first album for Swan Song. You are part of musical history.
SO: I am so fortunate to have met Simon so many years ago. I have harbored this dream for awhile to make a ’70s style rock album where you actually play together in the studio, which is something pretty rare now. I wanted to get a great band together and all go into the studio, learning the songs, playing the songs together and getting that band feel, in the vein of a Free and Bad Company rock groove. I went to the record company and told them of my ’70s style plan. They said, “You have connections with Simon Kirke. If you can get Simon to play on the record, as there is no better drummer than him to play this kind of stuff, that would be great.” I sent an email to his management. I was on tour at the time with my band FM in Wales and I got an email back within twenty minutes from Simon saying, “It is fantastic to hear from you Steve. It would be great to catch up. Please send me some material.” I sent him a few songs and that is how Lonerider came about. Simon loved the songs. I had Chris Child on bass and Steve Morris on guitar. I was able to get the drummer of my dreams in the band. It sounds like authentic rock, very Bad Company and Free. I am so happy with the record. We actually achieved what was in my head.
GM:“Heart and Soul” certainly reminds me of Free.
SO: You’ll hear through this album so many songs where you might say that it is a bit like a Bad Company or Free tune. I was writing the songs with Steve Morris and we drew from our influences. We grew up with those records. It was not a difficult album to write. We didn’t set out to write anything specific to copy others, but we would say that we wanted something to sound like the groove of Free’s “Heartbreaker,” for example. The songs just came to us to easily. We wrote the whole record in a month. We tried to capture the same sound that Simon was used to the in ‘70s. We even hired a drum kit in the UK similar to what Simon used on those ‘70s records.
GM:In terms of a Bad Company sound, one that jumps out at me is “Rock and Roll Dreamer,” feeling to me like Bad Company’s “Shooting Star.” Chris’ bass is key in that recording.
SO: Chris is fantastic. When we were recording the album, he saw Simon through the glass playing drums and he looked as me and said, “This is a real bucket list moment for me, playing live with Simon Kirke on drums.” With Bad Company, they could write lyrics that were so easy to relate to and sometimes with rock music now, I think people try to be too clever, where Bad Company almost drew on the way that country lyrics are written, where a story is told simplistically and to the point. That is something that I tried to capture as well, where you can learn the lyric to a song quickly as a fan, sing along, and be easy to relate to. I can’t deny that everything about this record is Free and Bad Company and for once in my career I have achieved what I have set out to do.
GM:You mentioned country. “Yesterday’s Heroes” sounds like a country rock song, certainly fitting of the Lonerider western name, and is an anthem too.
SO: That was one of the later songs that came along. I remember Steve Morris sending the backing track to me and I wondered initially if it really fit the album or not. Then I did the lyric and melody to it and it came out so well.
GM:In addition to Bad Company in the mid-to-late ‘70s, Foreigner captured a bit of a similar sound initially. “My Imagination” reminds me of something from Foreigner’s Double Vision 1978 sound.
SO: I think you are probably right. I certainly had all the early Foreigner records. If you talk to Foreigner’s Mick Jones and Lou Gramm, they’ll say that Free was a big influence for them, too. “My Imagination” is a great opener with a lot of energy. I am quite happy with the comparisons to Foreigner, Bad Company and Free.
GM:There are a couple of songs where Steve Morris’ guitar work is so incredible and so different with each song. “One in a Million” has a strong chorus and tight verses and “Hard Habit to Break” is wonderfully bluesy.
SO: Steve Morris is a great player. He has been around for a long time including playing with Ian Gillan, from Deep Purple, for a lot of years. He has a real knack for picking out exactly what is needed for a record’s style. He totally hones in on what you are talking about in the creation of the recordings. I have worked with him for a number of years. “Hard Habit to Break” is a very powerful song with a great guitar solo. In recording a song like that, you need a backbeat drummer and there is no better backbeat drummer than Simon Kirke. You have him and you had John Bonham from Led Zeppelin and they were the kings of that sound. He’s like a metronome. Once he locks in, he doesn’t move from it. That is one of my favorite tracks on the album.
GM:There are so many favorites. “Angel Without Wings” is intense and moves me like a song from a newer Los Angeles band Lunden Reign called “Red Wagon.” Then there is one that is on the vinyl version only, “Have a Little Faith.” It is a big ballad. It is acoustic, and I think I am hearing a mandolin on it.
SO: Yes. There is mandolin on it. Free, Bad Company and Led Zeppelin would have an open tuned acoustic guitar on some songs on their albums. We said, “Let’s approach this differently. Let’s get some mandolin.” The great thing too about the album is that we have used proper percussion. The shakers are all played, not programmed. You just get a different vibe, like the way The Rolling Stones would use shakers on choruses to build them. When all the songs were recorded it was a tough decision on what to leave off as it may not fit and some of the slower songs were left off of the CD but included on the double vinyl version of the album. These extra tracks are really a bonus. They are all really good.
GM:I want to make sure that people hear about Attitude and that is why I am so key to promote this album and make sure it is the double vinyl version we offer in the Goldmine Giveaway.
SO: That is fantastic. It needs to be heard. We want to do dates and come out to the States. We will do some dates in the UK also. Goldmine is so beneficial to us to get the world to know about Lonerider. I just finished a tour as part of my band FM. We are doing all of the big European festivals. We’ll be with Whitesnake and Def Leppard this year and we’re on festivals with KISS as they are doing their final tour.
GM:I just saw KISS here in Florida, for my seventh time in the past decade and it was my favorite show with their best songs and twice the special effects. My lifelong friend Eric Singer has an entertaining extended drum solo and performs “Beth” at the piano on this End of the Road Tour. Whitesnake has a new album, Flesh & Blood. Their guitarist Joel Hoekstra is so fun to watch on stage, with big smiles, drawing in the audience to share happiness.
SO: To be on the bill with these big bands is just great. We never take it for granted. It is just nice to have another go with FM and I want the same for Lonerider.
GIL EVANS was a jazz pianist, with a thirty year string of albums from the late ‘50s through the late ‘80s, when he passed away, and is best known for his work with trumpeter Miles Davis. Now Gil’s sons Miles and Noah are continuing the family tradition with the first Gil Evans Orchestra recording of new material in decades. The plan is a for a trilogy of recordings. We spoke with trumpeter Miles and producer Noah about the first album in this series, Monday Nights.
GM:I had the song “Lunar Eclipse” on and my wife Donna asked what I was listening to. I joked that it was the group Chicago playing the theme from “Bonanza” with Buddy Rich on drums.
NOAH EVANS: That’s hilarious.
MILES EVANS: That’s cute. That song was written by Masabumi Kikuchi. He was a very interesting character that unfortunately passed away in 2015. He was a pianist and a great friend of our dad. He did a lot of cool stuff over the years with acoustic trios and electric bands. Whatever style he would do was from an innovative standpoint on a very high level. Noah felt we should include one of his compositions as he feels the same way about him as I do.
NE: Exactly. As much as possible with the tune selection. Where we weren’t doing a Gil tune, we wanted to do something from people who meant something to our dad, maybe part of his band. Our dad and Masabumi were very close. I think the same would be true for the song “I Surrender” that Delmar Brown and Alex Foster wrote. We wanted to represent some of the people who were unheard of or unsung who were very important to our dad.
GM:“I Surrender” sounds to me like a somber, reflective song in the middle of a movie.
NE: I think a lot of the stuff could be perfect for a soundtrack, mood music possibly for television, but would be more appropriate for movies. Specifically, with “I Surrender,” that was the one tune to me that we included because the band felt the need to do something to honor Delmar as a pianist. We did the first sessions in 2016 and Delmar was there but he sadly passed away the following year. That was the impetus and saxophonist Alex Foster suggested it.
ME: It is a shame that Delmar passed on, but we were happy to get it on the record. It would have been great for him to see this official Monday Nights release. With Delmar gone, it is fitting that the tune is sad.
GM:“Groove from the Louvre” has a ‘70s sound to me, like the music from the Rocky movie series that Donna got me into and Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good,” one of our daughter Brianna’s favorites.
NE: I think of it as a tune I would hear on a regular basis on Monday nights with the band. French horn player John Clark wrote that one. I would agree with your assessment of the song.
ME: I also definitely agree with that. It was a song that was a lot of fun to play at Sweet Basil, which is the jazz club in Greenwich Village where our dad played on Monday nights for years. A lot of audiences loved that song. It was perfect for that time period. It was a lot of fun starting off in a mellow way and building it up to the section with a free ensemble featuring all those crazy lines that the trumpets and trombones play. I think it was a nice addition to the Sweet Basil celebration.
GM:Now moving to an early ‘80s sound, I think about Grover Washington Jr.’s “Just the Two of Us” that he recorded with Bill Withers when I hear your melodic and uplifting composition, Miles, “LL Funk.”
ME: That’s interesting. I wrote that back in 1996. We were past the every Monday night phase, but we were still doing some Monday nights years after our dad passed. It was a mix of the Brecker Brothers playing horns or Lee Ritenour playing guitar and being with those guys, and maybe some of the pop music as well, that helped me come up with “LL Funk.”
GM:The new album starts off with pulsing fanfare on “Subway,” making it a dramatic opener.
NE: It is an interesting tune and one that I think of when I would see the band most Monday nights. The version we did, I think, was kind of cool because Pete Levin, the keyboardist who wrote this, added in all these atmospheric hints that would bring it out of the normal jazz realm with synthesizer sounds.
ME: The band really wanted to do “Subway.” Everybody was so psyched to do it. We also remember saxophonist George Adams, may he rest in peace, who used to also sing some lyrics to that song live. He passed away in the ‘90s.
GM:That is the decade when Brianna learned to play trumpet. She was in the Roanoke Youth Symphony led by James Glazebrook and was able to hear and meet an inspiration, Doc Severinsen. Miles, how about you and trumpet? Also, Brianna asks if you are named after Miles Davis.
ME: Yes, I am. In addition to his work with Miles Davis, my father had really awesome trumpet players in his band. When I was a young kid, I was hanging out with Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Lew Soloff and Jon Faddis, who were amazing trumpet players with such incredible personalities as well, and we would go to incredible restaurants with them, so it was a no brainer. I needed to learn to play the trumpet, tell corny jokes and eat the best pasta in the world. I pretended that I was playing trumpet in 1974 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, sitting next to Lew Soloff, getting all the right fingering, and it just inspired me to play trumpet. I credit it to those three guys.
GM:Noah, how about your musical background?
NE: Miles and I were so fortunate that our dad was who he was. From my standpoint, I didn’t really have a full understanding of what that meant. I thought it was normal to grow up with rehearsals and jam sessions going on in your apartment and having a father playing on the road until four in the morning and just having instruments everywhere in the house. I remember I was seven and Miles was six and Dad told us we had to take drum lessons. There was this guy, Bruce Smith, just down the hall and that was my very first instrument. Dad said, all music has rhythm and you boys will take drum lessons. I realized that I was not good enough to make it as a drummer. It would take a whole lot of practice and I ended up playing bass as it was somewhere between drums and guitar. Everyone was either into Jimi Hendrix in the early ‘70s wanting to play guitar or play drums like John Bonham or Keith Moon. I thought if I could play bass, then I could play with everybody. We were surrounded by music, so it was not possible for us not to be involved in music.
GM:Here is a question from Marty Jourard, the keyboardist and saxophonist from the band The Motels, who had a Top 10 hit single with “Only the Lonely” in 1982. Marty asks about the Miles Davis recording with your dad of “Concerto de Aranjuez,” the second movement, and calls it beautifully exotic and says that it is beyond comprehension on how Gil wrote that chart based on the Rodrigo original. He asks if you have any idea on how your dad created these orchestral textures and chord voicings.
ME: How he did it was is he listened to many great musicians in many great styles and put it all into a funnel and he would also listen to Stravinsky and Ravel. There are moments on the Miles Ahead album where you will hear a Ravel chord. He also listened to Debussy, Brahms and Beethoven. He could listen to classical music and bring that amazing diversity to jazz. He just had this ability to delve into some of the most complex orchestral music that there was.
NE: I think it was kind of a fusion. He had that ability to take orchestral music, and in this case, bring in the Spanish music, like two different kinds of food that can blend together. He was kind of a genius and was so open-minded, musically.
GM:Miles, you mentioned the Miles Ahead album. Marty says that “Springville” has the most beautiful and complex sixteen bars he has ever heard in a jazz composition. I love the multi-layered aspect in that recording.
ME: It just shows you how my father could really get so excited about somebody else’s composition, do this incredible arrangement, and make it so that most of us would want to hear the Gil Evans version. Maybe I am biased, but I know plenty of people who aren’t Gil Evans’ son who have said that this version of “Springville” is the definitive version. Do you know what I mean?
GM:I know exactly what you mean. We talked about rock earlier. It is through the band Cream where I first heard the Willie Dixon blues song “Spoonful,” but it is your dad’s version on The Individualism of Gil Evans album that is so beautiful, to take a blues song and make it pretty, it is my favorite version of the song.
NE: Like Hendrix doing Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and making it a completely different tune, I think that was what our dad’s talent was. He was so good at rearranging, arranging or orchestrating someone’s song that it almost became a new tune.
GM:Here’s a composer question for you Miles from my fellow Goldmine writer Leticia Lopez about your dad’s work, “Which song do you find challenging but wish that you composed?”
NE: That’s a really good question.
ME: It is nice to finds songs that are challenging, and it is also nice to find songs that are musically amazing and musically very interesting while they are challenging. When there is incredible music that is really hard, it is something that I really love, whether it is “Blues in Orbit” that George Russell wrote, which is on my father’s Svengali album with his incredible arrangement, or “Reincarnation of the Love Bird,” the Charles Mingus song with my father’s arrangement, which is a very difficult song, but yet is this beautiful piece. It is gorgeous, but it just happens to be hard. I have never had this desire or feeling that I wish I would have written these. I hope to survive another fifty years and in those fifty years have enough time to do a lot of amazing writing. Hopefully in that amount of time I can go to town and write some really cool stuff. It is important to write and read music, but it is equally important to understand music by ear. Our band can do both very well.
NE: May is our dad’s birth month, so we will be doing a birthday celebration at the Cutting Room in Manhattan on May 25. Miles and the guys will be playing some of the tunes from the album. We also have all the basic tracks for volumes two and three recorded for this trilogy. What could take time is getting all the special artists. The second volume will be Hidden Treasures – The Classics and we are trying to get the guest soloists for some of the tunes. The third album was recorded in 1983 and has our dad on it. Hopefully we will release one volume per year. Thank you very much for this promotion. It has been a pleasure.
ME: It has been a total blast and we hope to see Goldmine readers at the Cutting Room in Manhattan on the 25th.
MIKE TRAMP first gained recognition as the vocalist for White Lion, co-writing their big late-‘80s Top 10 hit singles “Wait” and “When the Children Cry” with the band’s guitarist Vito Bratta. Mike’s first solo album, Capricorn, was recently reissued on vinyl and featured in our first Deko Music Goldmine Giveaway promotion in January, and we interviewed him at that time. His 11th solo album, Stray from the Flock, has just been released.
Stray from the Flock features the steady electric guitar driven single “Dead End Ride.” Mike’s powerful vocal captures emotion on par with that of Rob Thomas on “No End to War.” That theme continues to a rocking protest song “You Ain’t Free No More.” “No Closure” is a deeply personal family song which captures the essence of some of the finest songs from his Capricorn debut. “Best Days of My Life” delivers wisdom from maturity.
MIKE TRAMP: Stray from the Flock is me in the current moment, but like spices on the shelf, I want to be specific and undeniable in flavor. I sell my music at the shows, travel around the world, generally just with an acoustic guitar and sometimes with a band. I hope to meet Goldmine readers at the shows.
To win all 3 recordings from Deko Music, all you have to do is put your email and address in the boxes below by May 16, 11:59 p.m. You will immediately be entered in the Giveaway and as a bonus you will receive our informative eNewsletter from Goldmine (collecting news/tips and exclusive articles and interviews with your favorite classic artists). We will randomly draw winners from the entrants. Deko Music has supplied us with two vinyl copies of Lonerider’s Attitude album, two copies of The Gil Evans Orchestra’s Hidden Treasurers Volume One -Monday Nights CD, and two copies of Mike Tramp’s Stray from the Flock CD to give away, so your chances are doubled.