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








It’s as hot as the surface of the sun here in Perth Western Australia as Europe freezes when we catch up with Ken Savage the man behind Blanca White and the amazing new album ‘Resurgence of Rock’.



Ken: Hey what’s going on Mark? How’s everything?



Mark: Pretty good Ken, how’s the weather there?



Ken: It’s getting a little warmer over the last couple of days; we got socked by a big cold front last week which was pretty brutal, a lot people died in Eastern Europe but its gotten better these last few days.



Mark: It’s just gone below 100 here.



Ken: I think we need to relocate out there.



Mark: First of all thanks so much for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit, it was interesting to listen to the album and hear so many well known voices on there, I’m a huge fan of Terry (Illous – XYZ) and Loraine (Lewis – Femme Fatale) but it was great to hear Jeff Paris contributions too, but I think our good friend Paul Shortino did another amazing job. For those people who might not know tell us about Blanca White.



Ken:  Our album Resurgence of Rock is a Classic Rock style album, that has a sound like it might have been made in the eighties, but it is all new material. Most of the songs were written from the perspective of someone maybe a little older looking at the state of Rock today. We have four outstanding vocalists on the album singing our material and as you just mentioned they include Paul Shortino of Quiet Riot, Rough Cutt and King Kobra; Terry Illous of XYZ who has been touring with Great White for the past two years in North America; Lorraine Lewis who sang with the eighties band Femme Fatale and is still very active on the LA music scene and Jeff Paris who has sung and played with everyone from Cinderella to Keb Mo and everyone in between. So there’s some great vocal performances on the album.



Mark: So what’s the deal then? A lawyer doing good work for the benefit of all mankind?






Ken: Well it was a long odyssey for me to get there; I really am just a fan of rock music. I don’t have a musical background music and I travel a lot internationally with my work  and I always took my i-pod with me  and every year I was finding it harder to find any new good rock. So literally one night on a plane between Malaysia and France, maybe somewhere over Kazakhstan I decided to produce my own rock album. We began a two and a half year journey that let us to resurgence of Rock.



Mark: So the journey started with that dream, it wasn’t something you’d always wanted to do?



Ken: well I guess it was one of those things I had always had in the back of my mind, but I really never knew how to go about doing it. But I did really just have that one moment of frustration when I decided to give it a whirl and then it was a long road to get things done, one with lots of twists and turns but always a lot of fun and very rewarding.



Mark: I must admit it is a great album after hearing it, and it was an album I really didn’t have an expectations of, but after hearing those songs I can only imagine that it is what you set out to do – recapture those glory days.



Mark: Do you feel that the time is right for a resurgence of the melodic rock we all love so much?



Ken: You know I think it is. I’ve always thought that music is on about a twenty year cycle. I think the beginning of the resurgence was probably about 4 or 5 years ago when some of those computer games came out like Guitar Hero where you could play along to someone like AC/DC or Van Halen or whatever. But I think over the last couple of years there has been a wider appreciation from the public as a whole and now of course you have bands coming back, most recently Van Halen from that era. So yeah I agree there is something in the air and I hope that we can be a small part of that.



Mark: I guess the secret of longevity then is to push some of those new names forward and getting some kind of not necessarily industry, but some kind of support behind the new names too. Like you said.



Mark: Tell us a little about how the songs came about. Did you have bits and pieces hwere and there, were you always writing or did you just book a studio and start to write?



Ken: Well my partner on this project Austin Schell who is based in Austin Texas hence why we call him Austin from Austin!  He’s a great music writer. The way we went about it was that I would write out the lyrics and send them to him and he would start on the music and then we would get together and kind of thrash the songs out either in Europe or in the US. Whenever we got the chance really. And today technology helps in that you can send these large music files around the internet, and I don’t think that we could have pulled this off internationally even five or ten years ago. We then spent the best part of a year looking for vocalists to perform the songs, we had other vocalists that were interested in performing on the album who were just as talented, but we really wanted to get the right vocalists for the songs. A little like the Alan Parsons Project, which was kind of our model for this – two guys putting together the music and then going out to find the best performers they could find for each of the tracks. As I said that was the best part of a year long process to ultimately find those four singers.



Mark: I had wondered about that, if maybe you had other singers in mind that maybe didn’t make it or couldn’t commit?



Ken: We did have demos from other folks both in Europe and in the US but for whatever reason we didn’t feel that they fitted the music that we wanted them for, so there certainly was a selection process that went on here. It was really funny how it happened in the end as Terry Illous was one of the first people we found and then we eventually found Lorraine Lewis but we were looking for two more and Terry called me up, he’d



been on a French reality TV show and was looking for some legal advice – and it was he who put me onto Paul and Jeff Paris.



Mark: I did know that Paul and Terry knew each other and they are both great guys, I think last time I saw Terry was the first night he sang with Great White at the Brixton in LA the night Jack fell ill. I remember listening to the sound check and realising that I knew more words than he did. Great singer though and I loved his work with XYZ. One of my favourite tracks off the resurgence album is actually one that he does the very tongue in cheek ‘Your Boyfriend is Lame’ how did that one come about!



Ken: Well that’s a song to all my good-looking ex-girlfriends who ended up marrying kinds weird looking guys! Which seems to be a global phenomenon; unless you guys are luckier in Australia? Your right it’s pretty tongue-in-cheek and AC/DC was kind of the model for all of the tongue in cheek lyrics on the whole album. It was an album that was indented to be fun and hopefully the lyrics will make people grin, or roll their eyes. It’s meant to be fun, and there’s nothing dark or down on it. But it’s funny you mention that one and Terry, as we decided to include the key line ‘your boyfriend  is lame’ in English in the first verse then in French and Spanish and I think Terry is the only hard rock act on the planet to be fluent in all three languages! His father is French and his mother is Spanish and he’s lived in the US for thirty years so he was the man to deliver it all perfectly.



Mark: Yeah I’ve actually heard some of his Spanish language work, it’s pretty cool.



Mark: Paul is a legend out there in Vegas and one of the nicest guys you could meet, did you actually get to meet up with him or did he send in his parts too? Well we actually did get to meet when we were shooting video for the album, but on the recording side we traded files. But Paul is just a class act, not only incredibly talented but a great human being too, you know as are our other three singers. It was a lot of fun working with them all and I think that Paul and the others enjoyed the fact that they had a lot of liberty to make each of these songs their own, and I think that’s why the songs came out as strong as they did. We weren’t producers, lording it over saying how the songs should come out, on the contrary, we told the singers to make them their own. We were given some basic melodies and some general guidelines, and told them to make them their own and adopt them.



Mark: I must admit to having a poster on my bedroom wall of Lorraine Lewis, when I was a bit younger, and it was great to hear that her vocals sound just as strong as they always did.



Ken: Yeah, she does an incredible job, there are two songs. She does a “rocker” called “Still Turning Heads”, about a middle aged woman who’s still turning heads, which she’s still doing herself! She looks great and sounds great. She’s also a professional and an incredible human being. The second song is a ballad called “Hundred Years War”, which is a unique song with a haunting feel to it, and a medieval, model progression to it, which is not entirely modern. We also have some other very talented musicians on that record, like Kenny Cetera, Peter Ceteras’ brother, he sings a duet with her on the last chorus of the song.



Mark: Oh, I wondered who that was, I knew it wasn’t Terry, Jeff or Paul. I guess the big question is, if all goes really well is there any chance of this music being played or toured anywhere?



Ken: That is under discussion right now. I don’t have a firm answer, but I would like to see some live shows. I don’t know if we are going to be able to put together a show in the traditional sense, because we have four very busy vocalists, with very busy schedules. But, we would like to do a few live shows on the West Coast, in the US, and maybe in a few other places, maybe a few festivals as well. We are really excited about it, and we are already working on a second album.



Mark: That was my next question, with the second album were you looking at bringing in any other musicians, or sticking with the same ones?



Ken: I think it will be some of those, but then again our guiding rule is to try and find the best people we can for each of the individual songs. So, if that means bringing in a couple of extra singers, then that’s what it means. We’re going to follow the same format of having some variety, different guest performances on different songs.



Mark: Yeah, there are some great songs, and I love the idea of seeing that, especially on a festival stage. I hate to ask this question, but, what’s your favourite song? I know what mine is!



Ken: Well, I like our title anthem “Resurgence of Rock”, and I also like “Your Boyfriend is Lame” the song we talked about. But my favourite is the fifth song on the album, “Living it up in a Mexican Bar”. I grew up on the border in South Texas, and back in the eighties, Mexico, was a safe place to go, so we used to go there in high school, so that song is a personal one for me! It’s a lot of fun, and also sung by Paul Shortino, so a personal favourite.



Mark: I also saw in the press that you mention the whole Cabo Wabo experience, which is something I wish everyone could try for themselves. On a more far reaching note, as a lawyer, where do you see the music industry heading over the next few years?



Ken: Well, I’m not a lawyer in this industry, but it’s my perception, especially in the US, and probably globally, that it is becoming more fragmented over time. So much of it now is happening on the web, and I think the big producers in the industry, have lost a lot of marketing power. We are trying to do things over the web and organically, in addition to doing more traditional press type activities, in terms of promoting the album. But the web is an important part of it and I think that’s likely to continue.



Mark: I agree, and I think the hard part of it, without the money of a major label behind you, a lot of fantastic new releases that are coming out, just get buried in the sheer weight of numbers, and it’s hard to pick the great songs out, and get them out there. So, it’s great that we can let people know about your new CD. One of our final questions, if you could have been involved in the creation of any piece of music over the last thirty years what would it have been and why?



Ken: Well, one of my favourite albums of all time is “Back in Black”. I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall during some of the albums that AC/DC produced. On the more melodic side, I’m a real big fan of Van Halen, with a bit of a preference for the Sammy Hagar days! Our days in Mexico, resonate more with Sammy than David, I think he’s a little bit more fun than David. I guess those are my two biggest influences, so either of those band’s albums would be great for me.



Mark: Finally, an easy one! What is the meaning of life?



Ken: Well, in terms of this album, we just want people to have fun with it, we’re not out to deliver any political messages. In terms of music and rock, it should be fun and enjoyable, we don’t really have any higher purpose or calling in terms of our music. I hope everyone gets a kick out of “Resurgence of Rock”, and checks us out, and has fun with it.



Mark: I do too, I really enjoyed listening to it and all the best, it was great of you to spend the time talking to The Rockpit, and we’ll have the review up with the interview. Thanks for your time, and enjoy the rest of the Northern Winter!



Ken: Thanks, and thanks for all you’re doing, not just for us, but for the rock genre in general, and hello to everyone in Australia.




You can find Blanca White's Resurgence of Rock at:



By Mark Diggins