The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world







Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from the Rockpit. Are you at home, by that I mean are you in Switzerland or Australia?



Nic: I’m in Switzerland, I’ve been here since August.



Mark: For me personally, I remember first hearing Gotthard in Melbourne, I bought a compilation CD in a bargain bin by K Tel in Switzerland: a compilation of rock music called ‘The Finest of Hard Rock’ with all the classics on there and a few tracks by a new band Gotthard, it was just before the first album came out, and I was suitably impressed. I guess with your family background you’d heard of them before?



Nic: Yeah, definitely. I spent half of my life in Switzerland and grew up around Australia. I definitely knew who the band were, even back in ’94, I was in a band and we were playing at a festival, and Gotthard were headlining.



Mark:  OK, so you were in a band prior to the one you had in Australia?



Nic: Oh, yeah, I’ve been doing this for a long time!



Mark: I think being in Australia, a lot of bands don’t get the recognition they deserve outside of our borders, and I guess the same goes for your new band, I think they’ve had eleven albums go to number one in Switzerland, and so a relatively small number of people really know about them outside of the Europe. How do the band see that after all these years? So much success at home, but doing it harder overseas.



Nic: We do tour, and the band are well known in Europe. But the band has always been big in Switzerland, and has lots of media coverage, which, I didn’t realise until I started being on the news all the time! The guys are such down to earth, normal guys, and I spent a lot of time with them through the auditioning process, which took a while, it was August when I moved here and joined the band.



Mark: It must be quite refreshing to come home and people are camped outside your door!



Nic: Yeah, it’s a weird feeling, but I’m getting used to it! It was really strange in the beginning!



Mark: Obviously, myself and other rock fans were shocked with the news, about Steve’s tragic death in 2010, it’s hard to believe it’s nearly two years ago now. It must have been a huge task for you to fill the shoes of such a great vocalist? I hear a bit of Steve in your voice, but it must have been daunting.



Nic: I think it was more daunting before I met the guys, and then when I actually met everyone we just clicked. It could have been really awkward, and weird, but, it really wasn’t. The more time I spent with them, and I was under the microscope, it was really intense, and in the end, I thought: if it works it works; and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t! I’m just going to do the best I can, and see what happens. And, that’s what I did with the song writing and the recording the album and doing video clips, and dealing with the media, which I had to get used to. I’d done a bit of press before, but nothing like this. I took every chapter one at a time.



Mark: It was a great introduction with the release of “Remember it’s Me”, a great song and good to see it on the album as well. How was that received? It’s strange when a vocalist leaves a band, whether they move on, or in the case of Gotthard, tragedy strikes, how was the reaction to that first song?



Nic: The reaction was amazing; we had obviously no idea how things were going to work out. I felt really lucky, I’ve been welcomed by the fans in an amazing way, from reading messages, and letters and things that we get, it’s great, I’m really happy for the band, it was something I was really passionate about doing. Even for the last record we did for Starlight, the fans that came down for the crowd that we needed in the picture was amazing. There was lots of encouragement.







Mark: It sounds like there’s a very positive, family atmosphere there, which is fantastic.



Nic: Yes, there is and it’s something that constantly comes back, welcome to the family, and it’s a big machine, there’s a lot of people who work for the band, and are employed by them, this family of people have been together for a really long time! That’s one of the things that attracted me as well; they have been together for over 20 years!



Mark: I’ve only had the album for a couple of days, and I’ve heard it a couple of times and there’s some great stuff on there! I noticed it was produced by Paul Laney, as well as Leo of course, who worked on a few of my favourite Gotthard albums. What was it like working in the yellow House Studios in Lugarno?



Nic: Yeah, they’ve done a lot of the albums and Leo has a studio in his house. It had its moments, but was pretty relaxed, and working with Paul was great.



Mark: There are some great songs on there. We liked Starlight, which is the first release that you talked about doing a video for, and “Remember it’s me” which has been out for a while, and has a Whitesnake feel about it, but “Tell Me” was one I particularly liked. What were your favourites on there?



Nic: I sort of change a lot! “Give Me Real” was a favourite, which when we wrote it, we all contributed bits to it, and were really happy when it all came together. At the moment one of my favourites is “Take It All Back”  



Mark: It sounds like you had a hand in the recording process as well? When you are working with guys who have been together for such a long time, I suppose they have their own habits. Does anyone have any quirky habits, in the studio, or was there anything you weren’t allowed to do?







Nic: Generally, it’s Leo, Freddy and I that sit down and nut out the musical bits, melodies and things. Then once that’s done I’ll go off and finish lyrics. It’s Freddy who comes up with all the more complicated bits, you know, the clever stuff! And Leo will get in on the other side to simplify things and make it more “Rock”, and Leo’s probably responsible for keeping the band Gotthard sounding like Gotthard, he will keep the band sounding like the band.



Mark: I see you are about to go to South America and play a few dates there, before going to Europe in July, and then later in the year another huge European run, are you excited or scared about such a lot of dates in such a short space of time?



Nic: Yeah, we’ve got a lot of gigs. We are actually off to South America tomorrow, starting with the warm up shows. There’s a lot to do, and it’s a bit daunting when you look at all the dates. Up until October it will be pretty easy, the festivals will just be on weekends which should be cool, and then from October it gets tough!



Mark: The question I have to ask or I will get lynched, is any chance of any Australian dates?



Nic: We have been talking about it, when we did the video clip for Starlight, we had the management there and everyone, and were able to chat, and because we are going to Japan, we said maybe it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to come down and do a few dates.



Mark: Yeah, maybe a Sydney and Melbourne date? There are a lot of bands recently who go to Japan and then tag on a few Australian dates, which seems to work OK. I’m sure there would be plenty of interest on the east coast.



Nic: Yes, we’d love to do it and we are looking in to it, both myself and the guys would love to do it.



Mark: The band has such a great back catalogue of music, so how much of the new CD are we likely to hear on the tour and which old songs are you particularly looking forward to singing?



Nic: There’s twenty years worth of songs, and a lot of albums there, so a lot of it will be the old stuff, with some new. In South America, we’ve got an hour long show so we’ll be doing about four new ones, I think. But as we go on and the shows get longer we’ll add more in. We’ll try and put as many as we can in there, as well as keeping the classics, there are songs you just have to do, which we will keep doing. Probably a favourite one of mine is “Anytime, Anywhere”, it’s a fun song to sing.







Mark: We only have a couple of minutes left, so here are a couple of our generic questions. If you could have been involved in the creation of any piece of music at any time in the history of rock, what would it have been and why?



Nic: I would say the “Back in Black” album, it’s one of the best albums ever!



Mark: Good answer. A really easy one to finish, what is the meaning of life?



Nic: Make the most of every moment.



Mark: Excellent!! Thank you very much indeed, I’m really looking forward to catching you guys at some point, hopefully in Australia, where I think you will get a lot of support and people attending the shows. Good luck with the tour and I love the album, I think it’s a great return to form and it’s good to see the band back, and thanks for your time.



Nic: No worries, thanks a lot mate, it was a pleasure.




By Mark Diggins