Das Interview zum Album


Völlig unerwartet biegt Sänger Rob Rock mit dem Driver-Album SONS OF THUNDER um die Ecke – einer Scheibe, die auf fünf Songs zurückgreift, die Rock Ende der Achtziger mit dem damals völlig unbekannten, aber hochbegabten Gitarristen Roy Z. (heute ein gefragter Produzent solcher Acts wie Helloween, Halford, Dickenson, et cetera) als Demo für seine Band „Driver“ aufnahm. Driver wiederum waren als Rocks Soloprojekt gedacht, mit dem er an das Kultalbum PROJECT: DRIVER von M.A.R.S. anzuknüpfen gedachte. Doch aus einer Veröffentlichung wurde nichts – die 5-Track-Demo-Kassette kursierte lediglich im Underground. Bis heute …

Rob, after the huge success of the PROJECT: DRIVER album in 1987 all the Headbangers have been waiting for a second M.A.R.S. album. But it never happened. Why not?
I suppose that everyone in the band, Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge, Tony MacAlpine and me, Rob Rock, have all been busy working in other bands, tours and recording projects over the years. Rudy and Tommy went on to Whitesnake and had a great run, Tony went back to his solo career, and I did all kinds of bands and recordings over the years before finally going solo in 2000. I think we all have kept pretty busy and I would love it if we came together again in the studio.

As far as I know you’ve been prepared five songs for the PROJECT: DRIVER follow up, which was circulated as a legendary 5-Track-Demo-Tape somewhere in 89/90.
Who has participated in songwriting of those tracks? Roy Z.?
Well, it wasn’t really a follow-up as much as it was Rob Rock using the name “Driver” to start his own new band in 1989, because everyone new me from the M.A.R.S. PROJECT: DRIVER album in 1987. When I left the band Joshua after recording the INTENSE DEFENSE album for RCA, I started the new version of Driver and found Roy Z, the young hottest “up and coming” guitarist in L.A. Roy’s great playing ability and songwriting talent is what attracted me to him most as musician and we started writing songs together and working towards a record deal. We played live shows all over the West coast in 1989 and then we moved to the East coast and played there in 1990 as we shopped our demos to Atlantic Records in New York City.
We were fighting a losing battle at the time though because Grunge was becoming the next new thing that labels were signing and melodic metal was being left behind as Grunge took over the airwaves.

In which way did you get in touch with Roy and which role does he play for the M.A.R.S. project back in 1987?
I first got in touch with Roy in 1989 through the Driver and - previously Joshua - bass player Emil Brando, who knew him from the band Gypsy Moreno. Roy was not involved with the M.A.R.S./PROJECT: DRIVER-band in 1987.

What are the titels of those five songs you have been released now on SONS OF THUNDER?
The songs were never officially released before until now. We had made some demo cassettes to sell at our gigs in 1990 and those five songs were ’I’m a Warrior’, ’Heart’s on Fire’, ’Only Love Can Save Me Now’, ’Fly Away’, and ’I Believe in Love’. All five of those songs have been re-recorded again this year for the Driver debut SONS OF THUNDER album.

Why didn’t you continue working on the material for the Driver-album in the early nineties?
We did. Roy and I wrote and demo-ed over 30 songs in that year, on a 4-track-recorder.

If those material - the five songs of the “lost” demo tape - was supposed to be your own PROJECT: DRIVER follow-up: Wouldn’t have it been much easier to put it out on the banner of M.A.R.S. again?
No, it was not a follow-up, it was a new band. M.A.R.S. stood for MacAlpine, Aldridge, Rock and Sarzo, so no one else can really step in and take over someone’s name. M.A.R.S. was more classical heavy metal and Driver is more melodic metal.

On SONS OF THUNDER we can find again the hymn ‘I’m A Warrior’ which has been already released on one of your albums. Seems like this song means a lot for you. When did you wrote the song originally? And why did you put this song one more time on this album?
I originally wrote that song with Chris Impellitteri back in the very first demo version. The second version was written with Roy and I on the Driver-demo-EP. Roy and I recorded it for official album release on the Rob Rock HOLY HELL album. I didn’t want to release it again but: How could I put out the Driver album featuring songs from the original Driver demo and not record the Driver version of the song? Georg from the label really wanted that song on there, and I of course love that song so, we re-recorded it again for the SONS OF THUNDER album.

When did you get the idea to give the material of the 5-Track-Demo-Tape a second try?
It was Georg from Metal Heaven that had the idea and then contacted me about recording the album with Roy. Roy and I have continued on since the Driver days and each have had success and longevity in the music business since then, so it made sense to all of us to finally put out the Driver songs on a new album. Besides, the songs still sound great so they should be heard.

Was it difficult to you to reanimate the spirit and the vibes of the good ol’ times of the late eighties/early nineties, when you have been created the first ideas of the album?
It was not easy to just jump back in time. We even had to hire an extra engineer to help us re-create the guitar and drum tones of Driver, but in the end we locked in and nailed it. It was a lot of fun making this album. When we wrote the new songs to add to the EP songs, we made sure we were in the mindset of the original sessions and worked hard to make a cohesive album.

Last question: We do live in times when more and more of the old heroes come back for a reunion. Do you see any chances to come together with the other M.A.R.S. guys for some shows?
I’m ready, willing and able. I suppose it’s a matter of someone stepping up to the plate and making it happen by getting us all back together again to make another M.A.R.S. album. Meanwhile I hope to do some shows or festival dates with the Driver band and do a follow up album too, if the fans demand it.