So what's the story behind the new cd? Why call it "Wrecking Ball"?
Well, the first cd was called "Early Warning" because that's really what it was. It was a heads up to all these people out there that are calling themselves metal that have no idea what it even means. They've got DJ's scratching in the background, they've got synthesizers instead of bass guitars, and they've never even heard a Priest or Maiden record...how the hell is what they are doing heavy metal? I'm not saying what they do is bad or that it doesn't have merit, just call it what it is. The metal name has gotten too broad and it's confusing all the people like me who think of metal as guitars, a bass, some thunder drums and incredible vocals, you know? The Priest's, the Maiden's, Saxon, Sabbath, Dio, bands like that. That is metal. Anyway, we were trying to let folks know that we were going to try and show people what good old metal was about and either keep up or get out of the way, you know? You don't know us, but heads up, because we're coming up fast.
"Wrecking Ball" was chosen because based on the success of "Warning", we were ready to launch a full scale attack and knock down some walls. People are always saying "Oh you can't do anything unless you're signed to a big label and get all this radio airplay, blah, blah, blah." They are really just making excuses to keep themselves from being successful. We decided it was time to break down all those myths and show those people that if you work hard, make the music you believe in instead of what's hot and treat people with respect, that you can be as big as you want to be! We have sold cd's all over the world, and it's all done by word of mouth. I call people up from websites and magazines and tell them about the music, and then I send them a copy and let the cd speak for itself. I'm not into paying someone 500 bucks to write me a good review or put me in a magazine, you know? We are getting about 4000 hits a month on our website (www.johnnylokke.com), so the word is definitely getting out there somehow. Anyway, with every fan that comes on board, the wrecking ball gets bigger and bigger and swings faster and harder.
How would you describe the music on Wrecking Ball?
I call it Euro-metal, or classic heavy metal. Again, it's in the tradition of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. It's hard and fast, but there is always that element of melody so the songs stay with you.
I heard you have a special guest on this cd too?
Yeah, somehow the stars aligned and I got Stefan Leibing, guitarist for the German band Primal Fear, to play on two songs. He is phenomenal, both as a person and a guitarist, and really made the cd really special. I have also been contacted by another guitar legend, and he has committed to playing on the next cd, but I can't let the cat out of the bag just yet. I'm very excited, though.
How has the response from the reviewers been? Also, does it upset you when you get a bad review?
First of all, 99% of the reviews have been very, very positive. Most have had a similar theme to them...an "it's about time someone made a cd like this again!" type of statement. Again, though, I don't send out 500 cd's hoping people will review it. I send out a few to the folks that liked "Early Warning" and then to other folks that come to me and ask for them. I do check out their work, though, because there are a lot of "pretend" reviewers that want your disc for free and try to scam you.
On the question of getting a bad review, it doesn't bother me at all if it is thought out and constructive. I hate reviews like "This disc is crap". What good does that do the artist or the reader? I tell younger guys starting out all the time to not take anything personal. Everyone isn't supposed to like your music, just like there is music out there that each one of us doesn't care for. If someone just gave Shania Twain a great review and slams "Wrecking Ball", am I supposed to care? No, that person isn't meant to like it.
Where are most of your fans located?
Oh they're everywhere, but the majority are in Europe. I think metal music is still out front there. We (Americans) tend to be trend-jumpers and latch on to the latest thing, but the Europeans tend to grab on to something good and stick with it. I think that is especially true with metal fans in general, be they here or overseas. I would say that 99 percent of folks that bought "Early Warning" have also climbed on the "Wrecking Ball" as well, so the support is definitely there. I do try and e-mail every person that buys a cd and get their feedback so I can use it for the next cd.
This is a new one on me...you offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on your cd's?
Yes I do. You don't like the cd, just send it back to me and you'll get your money back no questions asked...ok, I might ask why, but only to try and improve myself. I think that is why file-sharing has run rampant these days...there is a lot of music put out that is total crap! I hate to pay 10 or 15 bucks for a cd and then find out I'm stuck with something I'm never going to listen to again, you know? So you buy "Wrecking Ball", take 30 days to check it out and if you don't think it's worth it, send it back. It's the fair thing to do. I wish more artists would do it...I know I'd buy a lot more cd's!
So what cd's have you bought latelyÖwhat do you listen to?
Well, I'm a huge Primal Fear fan, I have all their stuff. I also listen to "Accident of Birth" and "Chemical Wedding" by Bruce Dickinson a lot. I just picked up the re-issue of AC/DC's "Powerage" which is one of my all-time favorite records. As for newer stuff, I like folks like Cage, Sinner, and I absolutely love "The Blessed Hellride" by Zakk. That cd is awesome!
What's next for Johnny Lokke?
A lot. Scot (Goacher, drums) and I are putting out a cd of cover tunes that will ship to all those folks that have supported our music. It's basically a gift from us to our fans as a way of saying thanks, plus it shows them where I'm coming from musically. We have songs by Maiden, Priest, Krokus, Dio, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, UFO, KISS and the Scorpions plus an original thrown in for good measure. It's been a blast, and also features a friend of mine, Dean Taylor, who helps out with some of the guitar work.
As soon as that is complete, I'll be taking a couple weeks off and then I am producing a project in my studio for another band. After I wrap that up, it's right back into the next Johnny Lokke cd to be released next spring and hit the stages during the summer. It's a packed schedule, but thatís the way I like it. Having my own studio makes it much easier, though. It's nice in that you can set your own schedules, but on the downside, you don't ever seem to really get away from it either. That isn't really too much of a downside, though, because I live for this stuff!
Any final thoughts?
Just that I want to continue to give a heartfelt thanks to all those folks out there who take the time to support what I do, either by picking up the cdís or writing with words of encouragement. Music is a really cool way to connect with people, and Iím glad to have made all the friends over the years. Thanks to all those people that have climbed on the Wrecking Ball!
More info on the band at: www.johnnylokke.com