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

BONRUD

 

TANYA TALKS TO PAUL BONRUD

 

OCTOBER 2012

 

 

It has been a few years since I actually enjoyed a rock album that combines both hard rock and melodic rock music of such a high quality. Bonrud may have been absent for 8 years but they are back with a vengeance, more powerful and more determined than ever. Paul Bonrud, guitarist, songwriter & producer tells The Rockpit what has happened all these years and what the future holds for the band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

G’day guys, thanks for chatting to us at the Rockpit, First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your second album. I have to say that it is an excellent piece of melodic hard rock. It really rocked my world!

 

 



Thanks so much Tanya! That is really very sweet of you to say that! :) I’m glad you are enjoying the CD.

 

 



So first things first, How did you guys meet and get together?

 

 



I have known Paul Higgins since the late 90’s. We played in a couple bands together back then so it was only natural that I’d have him play in Bonrud since he’s my friend and since he also happens to be an awesome drummer! He played drums on the debut Bonrud CD and of course he played all of the drums on the new CD too.

 


I met Rick Forsgren (my new singer) about three years ago after I had moved from Seattle to Minnesota. Rick came highly recommended to me by other great local musicians like Lance King. Rick and I met for the first time at my house one Saturday morning and we immediately hit it off great as friends. We recorded three demos to see how we sounded together and our musical chemistry was great and the rest is history! The first song we actually demo’d was “We Collide”. “Bullet in the Back” was the third song we demo’d. The second song we demo’d was not finished for the CD but we’re in the process of making a proper recording of that track for the future. It’s a really heavy song.

 

 



Can you tell us a few things about the birth of Bonrud and the creation of this superb album?

 

 


Bonrud began many years ago when I started recording home demos with my first singer, Dave. We settled on the name Bonrud because all of the good band names had already been taken. J It was really my own pet project to write and record the song ideas I had been developing for several years. I met Keith Olsen about ten years ago in a recording studio out in Seattle and he was kind enough to give me some advice regarding my songs. When it came time to mix what became the first Bonrud CD, I gave Keith a call to see if he would spare an afternoon mentoring me in the studio and much to my surprise, he said “yes”. He had so much fun working with me on that first song that he wanted to mix the rest of the tracks too. I learned a lot from Keith during the mixing of that first CD. When it came time to write and record a new CD, my goal was to create a CD with better songs, better production, and better performances. It had to be better than my first CD. That was my goal. Keith co-produced the new CD with me which is why the production is so much better this time around. He also pushed us to deliver the best performances we could. Keith is absolutely brilliant at encouraging his artists to deliver their best. We also recorded all the drums for this new CD in the best studio in Seattle (London Bridge Studio) and Keith mixed the CD at Pogologo Studio in California.

 

 

 

So far the feedback for your album has been very good! How does that make you feel? Do you feel pressure to satisfy the audience’s great expectations?

 

 



It feels great! J I’m just happy to hear that everyone likes the CD and that the consensus is that I delivered the best CD of my career. I definitely want to please the audience but I felt a greater need to deliver the best I could for Rick and Paul Higgins. I didn’t want to let them down so I gave it everything I had. Also, I’m really my own worst critic and it is very hard for me to be pleased with anything I do. So, I push myself harder than anyone else. I expect an awful lot from myself. I like to say that I’m an imperfect perfectionist which is the worst type of perfectionist to be because as a result, I’m never satisfied with anything I do. There are a few moments on the CD where I can disassociate myself from having been the guitar player and say “Wow! That is really cool!” The whole guitar solo for “Save Tomorrow” was the first time I ever listened to one of my finished songs and thought “I want to be the guitar player playing that solo”…then I remembered it was me playing the solo! LOL!!! Having said that, I can still pick apart things on the CD and say “I could have done that a little better”. As I said…it’s not easy being an imperfect perfectionist. No work of art is ever truly finished…it is merely abandoned and that of course is the case here as well. I got all the songs to the point where I could finally let them go and let the world hear the new CD.

 

 



The new album is sensational, it received 5/5 stars on our site. Were there any songs you wrote or recorded that were not put on the album and if so what were there titles?

 

 


Thanks again for your kind words and the stellar review! J There were indeed a few songs that we wrote and recorded that didn’t make the CD. There was a really classy, bluesy ballad in 6/8 time that we left off the CD just because we decided we wanted to make it rock all the way through. That song was called “In Your Arms Again”. It’s always hard deciding what makes the cut and what doesn’t. I can assure you that if we release a third Bonrud CD, that song will be on the CD. It’s a great song. There are other songs that we have partially written and recorded and a few others that are nearly completed. One of the songs that is nearly completed is called “One More Shot”. I played the rough demo for the label and they loved it…they said it sounded like Boston (probably because of all of my harmony guitars on the track). We’re going to finish that song as soon as Eric Ragno gets back from his mini tour in Europe so he can lay down some keys. Then Keith can mix the song. There are three others in the works that are hard rockers and of course I have many other song ideas waiting in the wings for me to finish the current batch of new songs.

 

 


Paul, I see you are a comic ‘addict,’ which comic was your favourite when growing up?

 

 



I love comic books! J I started collecting comic books when I was around ten years old. I loved the X-Men as a kid and in fact, on the first Bonrud CD, there is a song called “The Phoenix” which was partially inspired by the whole “Dark Phoenix” saga from the X-Men. I always loved the Phoenix/Jean Grey character. I have more Spiderman comics than anything. Spidey is a great character because he was easy to relate to. He was always broke, was a nerd, and always had girl trouble. Then there was my childhood crush on Batgirl… J

 

 



I love the cover of the album, such great artwork, explain how the masterpiece that graces the cover of ‘Save Tomorrow’ came about and who designed the cover?

 

 


The cover artwork was drawn by my favorite modern day Marvel/DC Comics artist Adriana Melo. Adriana and I designed our own super hero for the cover art. Really, going with the album title of “Save Tomorrow” just gave me a great excuse to work with one of my favorite comic book artists. I couldn’t be more pleased with Adriana’s work. She’s a perfectionist like me and she put a ton of time and effort into that cover.

 

 

 

2004 was the last release for the self titled album of Bonrud, so why the long gap in between?

 

 



Life just got in the way. I never meant to be away so long but I took a new job which required that I move from Seattle to Minnesota, I got married, bought a house, and my wife needed four major back surgeries with long recovery times. There was a two year period where I didn’t even touch my guitar. It felt really good once I was able to get back to my music since that is a huge part of who I am. I had actually started writing and recording some of the songs just after my first CD came out but all of those tracks were put on hold until about three years ago when I finally had room to breathe and I could go back to really being me again.

 

 



How do you compare your other album ‘Bonrud’ musically to this one?

 

 



The new Bonrud CD rocks more than the self-titled CD. They both sound like me and are both pure reflections of my musical creativity. Truth-be-told, I could write songs like “Leap of Faith”, “I’d Do Anything”, “I’ve Changed”, and “Dominoes” till the cows come home! Those happy pop rock songs are so me. I push myself harder as an artist when I write and play heavier songs like “We Collide” and “Bullet in the Back”. Rick excels on the heavy songs because he lives and breathes that stuff. Paul Higgins excels on the heavy stuff too. My pop rock songs don’t challenge Paulie (as we call him) nearly enough. Paulie is a monster drummer and he gets to cut loose more on the harder rocking songs as does Rick. Actually, I get to cut loose more as a guitarist on the more rocking songs as well which is fun. There are still plenty of my happy pop rock songs on the new CD but there are a few heavier moments as well. If you were to hear the ballad that we didn’t put on the new CD, you would see that we actually went both heavier as well as lighter with the songs for the new CD. We just had a wider range of material this time around. I definitely feel the new CD is the best work of my career.

 

 




 

 


Paul, you are a multi-instrumentalist. Tell us your history of growing up learning to play all the instruments and what is your favourite?

 

 


Well, my first instrument was actually my voice. I loved singing as a child until my parents made me sing in the church choir which then immediately made singing not cool. J I played piano, violin, and baritone horn as a child. My dad was a professional tuba player and had his own polka band called Leon Bonrud’s Bavarians. The only instrument I ever really wanted to play though was the guitar and that was the only instrument my parents didn’t want me to play…primarily because they didn’t like rock music. In fact, my mom threatened to throw me out of the house if I brought home a guitar. She made that threat the day before I brought home a cheap electric guitar and amp for the first time. Fortunately she didn’t throw me out! That was the first time I ever rebelled and stood up to my parents. I was always a good kid and never got into any trouble. The thing was, I was a creative, expressive dreamer and I didn’t naturally fit the mold my parents wanted me to fit in. I can’t really blame them. If I was a parent, I wouldn’t want my child to grow up and run away with the circus either! Anyway, learning to play the guitar was one of the best things I ever did for myself. After all, how the heck was I going to get girls to like me if I didn’t play guitar? J I learned how to play bass as a result of learning how to play guitar. I can also bash out a solid AC/DC beat on the drums which is a massive achievement for someone as uncoordinated as myself. The guitar is by far and away my favorite instrument. It is a part of me and it is how I best express myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you do vocals too? Or would you prefer not to and stick to the instrumental side of things?

 

 



I sang about 65% of the backing vocals on the first Bonrud CD. If you listen to the backing vocals on “Hollywood Movie Star” for example, that is 24 tracks of me singing in three part harmony. I sing okay but I don’t have an exceptional voice. I sing on the demos. I don’t think I sang a single note on the new CD. That wasn’t by design but Rick is such a fantastic singer, it’s hard not to let him sing everything! He’s great at harmonizing too! Ironically, the first song Rick and I started working on after we capped the new CD was “One More Shot” and I sang backing vocals for the bridge. Go figure! I definitely have the most to offer instrumentally and I just want to use all of our individual musical gifts as effectively as possible to produce the best music we can. In a million years, I would never be able to sing as awesomely as Rick does so I’m thankful to have him belting out the tunes in his rich, soulful, and powerful voice.
 

 

 


Rick has fantastic impressive vocals and Paul’s drumming is tremendous and powerful, tell us a little about Rick and Paul.

 

 


First and foremost, they are both great guys and wonderful friends. I’m truly blessed to have them as close friends and musical collaborators. Rick was the lead vocalist for a fairly well known band called Conditioned Response. He sang with them for the better part of a decade and they released two full length CD’s and an EP. They were a great band! Rick made his living singing fulltime for several years. They had some record deals but never broke it big time. I have had the pleasure of working with some great vocalists with some pretty incredible ranges but Rick is easily the best of them all. He’s also a great guy and super funny. We’re both Norwegian so if you spent any time in the studio with us, the Norwegian jokes would be flying through the air!

 

 

I’ve known Paul Higgins for about fourteen years now and we first met as members of a Seattle band called Battery Kate. I think the first song we ever played on together was a demo called “Listen for the Rain”…it was either that or “Beautifully Black”. We also played as session musicians and the backing band for a solo artist in the Seattle area. Paulie still lives in Seattle and when he’s not recording drums for me, he’s playing in a Seattle band called Stone Bender that was founded by one of the guitarists from the early 80’s Seattle metal band, Culprit. Ironically, when I moved to Seattle in the early 90’s, I auditioned the lead vocalist from Culprit for my own project. He was at least ten years older than I was and was way more experienced. He had his Culprit record hanging on his wall and to this day, he is the only person who I have ever auditioned whose demo was a vinyl LP. J (He literally put the record on a turn table and dropped the needle in front of me for his audition!) Anyway, Paulie is an awesome drummer.

 

 


 

 


If you had to play in different genre of music, what would you choose to play instead?

 

 


Modern country rock. It is very close to the music I love, they value great songs and musicianship, and their fanbase is extremely loyal and support their favorite artists by purchasing their CD’s. Having said that, I am producing the music I love the most and since my time is limited, I want to focus on rock because that is where my heart truly is.

 

 



Where did you draw the inspiration for the songs and who writes the majority of the songs?

 

 


I probably wrote about 70-75% of the music and lyrics for the new CD. There were a few songs that I only wrote the music while Rick wrote the lyrics (American Dream, Save Tomorrow, Last Sunrise). Rick is a great lyricist! On the other songs where Rick is credited, he tweaked my lyrics. The inspiration for the songs comes from all kinds of places. Sometimes it comes from a story I may have heard or read, or more likely, comes from a real life experience of mine either past or present. When I want to write a song about heartbreak, I pull from past experiences as a teenager where a girl broke my heart. The last song on the new CD is called “End of Days” and I wrote that one for my wife. The title for “Last Sunrise” came to me while I was writing the riffs while simultaneously watching a special on the Discovery Channel about the sun. I actually wrote my own lyrics for that song but I didn’t like them so I turned over the lyric writing duty to Rick for that one with nothing but the music and title to inspire him.

 

 



You have recently shot a music video, For which song, and what’s the storyline?

 

 



We actually shot two..one for Save Tomorrow and the other for We Collide. They are both performance videos.

 

 



Can you tell me about your influences? From what I've heard I think that the melodic rock scene of the 80's early 90's must be a major impact to your sound.

 

 


Neal Schon is my biggest guitar influence without a doubt! Van Halen and Randy Rhoads were also big influences on me. At the same time, I’m really more of a song guy than I am a shred guy. The rocking Bryan Adams stuff from the mid 80’s was a big influence on me as a kid and I really liked the way Keith Scott (his guitarist) played. Boston was a big influence on me as was Def Leppard and Bon Jovi. In the 90’s, Alice in Chains was one of the bigger bands for me and these days I listen to Shinedown, Alter Bridge, Halestorm, and Daughtry.

 

 


How do you see the melodic rock scene of today? I' m asking this cause more and more 'new' bands are releasing great albums, but, also, some of the 'old' bands are back with some very good comeback albums!

 

 


The melodic rock scene has been on life support for a very long time. There are a bunch of us rockers who still love producing and playing this style of music but the record companies offer terribly small advances because they don’t sell enough CD’s anymore. You would be shocked if you knew how much of my own money I spent producing this new CD versus how little the label gave me as an advance after I had already turned in a completed CD produced by Keith Olsen, mastered by Steve Hall, and artwork by one of today’s greatest comic book artists. In truth, the business model is not sustainable for artists like myself. I produced this CD because I am passionate about my music because it is my art. I am definitely not a business man. If was a business man, I never would have bothered producing the CD to begin with. There’s no way I will ever come close to breaking even on this CD. Fortunately, that was never my goal. My only goal was to produce the best CD I could and have it be better than my previous CD. I’d really like to do a third CD because I am very passionate about creating music but I really can’t afford to lose this much money again. The flip side of that is I would not be satisfied if I cut corners producing the next CD. It’s quite a conundrum.

 

 



Are you more of a ‘studio’ band or do you play live and tour too?

 

 


We’ve been a studio band but we do want to play shows! Rick and I need to sit down and learn our songs and play a few acoustic shows to begin working out the tunes. We’d like to play shows in both Minnesota and Seattle. Paulie lives in Seattle, Rick lives in Minnesota, and while I spend most of my time in Minnesota, I do still spend a month or two in Seattle every year – it’s weird because we are both a Minnesota and Seattle band as a result. Last night I got a call from a friend on the East Coast who played my CD for the bass player of a well-known band who is touring in support of a HUGE band. Well, the reason my friend called me was because that huge band’s management now has the new Bonrud CD because they all loved it! The implication is that we might be given the opportunity to play arenas opening for this very, very well-known major band. It’s a very exciting possibility to say the least but something that requires very careful consideration. I’d have to balance it with my day job by either taking a ton of vacation or a leave of absence. I couldn’t afford to quit my day job at this time in my life since I have too many responsibilities and have too much to lose. It’s quite ironic to have the opportunity to have all of your rock and roll fantasies come true but have it be tempered by maturity, responsibility, and the realities of a complex life. It’s so much easier to go off the deep end when you are only 19 years old and don’t have a care in the world! I’m the sole bread-winner in my family so I have a heap of responsibility on my shoulders.

 

 



What can fans new/old expect from your shows?

 

 



You can expect to hear us rocking our tunes and having a great time doing so!

 

 



What have been the best and worst moments of your long career?

 

 



Making the new Bonrud CD has been the highlight of my musical career because it is the best work I have ever done and I produced it with a team of friends who I respect and enjoy working with. Having a song off my first CD going to number 11 in Japan was pretty cool too. I don’t really want to talk about the worst moments but suffice it to say it has nothing to do with music and everything to do with business. Everything bad that you have ever heard about the music business is true.

 

 



What do the band like doing in their spare time outside of music?

 

 



I collect comic books, I’m a SCUBA diver, I have a couple sports cars I really enjoy driving, I love spending time with my wife and our two dogs, and I enjoy fishing and going to football games. Rick likes brewing beer, spending time with his wife, and hunting. Paulie likes spending time with his son and riding his Harley.

 

 


I love all the songs on the album and it is hard to choose a favourite, What is your favourite song off the new album, and which is your favourite to play live?

 

 


It’s really hard for me to pick one favorite but “We Collide”, “Save Tomorrow”, and “End of Days” are my faves off the new CD. The only songs we have played live now are “Save Tomorrow” and “We Collide”. Both are fun to play but I am playing my butt off on both of them. The first half of “Save Tomorrow” is pretty easy but once I start soloing, it requires some focus. “We Collide” is intricate all the way through. When we shot the music video, I found I couldn’t move much during that song because most of my parts and leads are very challenging. That makes it fun from a musical perspective though!

 

 

 

What do you think is the most important, the lyrics or the riffs?

 

 


While they are both important, terrible lyrics with really good music will result in a terrible song. Great lyrics with non-exceptional music can still result in a great song.

 

 

 

 

 



So what are the future plans for Bonrud? We would love to see you this side of the world here in Perth, Australia, any thoughts of playing any dates here?

 

 


We would love to be able to play some big shows for our fans anywhere in the world. Australia would be fantastic because none of us have ever been there. We are definitely going to play some shows but it’ll likely be baby steps at first. If the opportunity for us to play arenas as an opening band for this huge band I mentioned earlier comes to fruition, we’ll really need to consider all of the financial implications very carefully before making a decision. Nothing would make us happier than being able to play some big shows for our fans. It would be fun for us but we can’t do it at the expense of our families. We’re just lucky our wives have supported our efforts in producing the CD because it required a big financial investment on my part and a huge time commitment from everyone.

 

 



I would really love everyone reading this to buy a copy of your album! What can you say to help?

 

 


I would love for everyone to buy a copy too! J I am selling the CD through my website at www.bonrud.com for $9.99 including shipping for sales within the US (I need to charge a little extra to ship to Australia). I’m trying to make our music as affordable as possible for everyone. Recording this CD was a labor of love. It’s my musical art and wasn’t done as a business venture. This CD wasn’t funded by a record label and in fact no record label had any input into its creation…it was funded independently by me. This CD was recorded by a handful of friends and music industry veterans whose only goal was to create the best CD they could.

 

 



And finally a question we like to ask everyone, What is the meaning of life?

 

 


To live and love to our fullest potential and hopefully leave the world a little better place for each of us having been here.

 

 


I would once again like to congratulate you on a fantastic album. I hope the music community will support the band and buy the CD and also checkout the Bonrud official site.

 

 



Tanya, thank you again for taking the time to interview me. I greatly appreciate it! I’d also like to thank everyone who has supported my musical endeavors both past and present by purchasing my CD’s. Thank you!!!!

 

 

 

by Tanya Hadlington