A Talk With
Dan Bryant (lead vocals/lead guitar)
Lisa Tonra (bass)
Questionnaire by Sloof
I was thrilled and at the same time excited about the debut album of The Road Vikings for several reasons.
The second Hexx vocalist Dan Bryant featured this lineup, they bring outstanding US Metal and they have a lovely bass chick named Lisa Tonra.
Let’s be honest as great music and fantastic vocals are the perfect combination to conduct an interview with this newcomer that has the talent and skills to take a giant leap across the Metal Globe!
Q: Hi Dan, hi Lisa, thanks for having us! We are going to talk about the debut album and future plans, but first of all, I would like to know what happened after the Hexx release ‘Under The Spell’. Why did you leave Hexx?
Dan: I was kicked out. I had a bad attitude and I wanted to be cuter so I joined a glam hair-metal band. It was something I had to get out of my system (I finally got over it a few days ago :-) )
Q: Pretty strange that you are with Hexx again, after almost 30 years. I spoke Dan Watson last year while he was touring with vocalist Dennis Manzo, and it seems like Hexx is on the rise again! How comes that you replaced Dennis Manzo, in fact for the second time?
Dan: I suggested that we have Dennis and myself both do the shows. Dennis is a nice guy, but has hurt feelings. Our styles are totally different, like an apple and an orange. And now I’m stuck singing his songs! It’s hell! Dennis, please come and sing your stuff!
Q: Hexx is coming to Europe again to set the place on fire! I’m sure you are going to love it! Is there any chance that this European visit might be a leverage for The Road Vikings as well, as you are going to meet interesting people…
Dan: HEXX is Dan Watson’s band. The Road Vikings is my band. So yeah, I think my stuff is the best. Our plan is to take The Road Vikings out on tour. We’re hoping that this new thing with Hexx will help us connect the dots. (Is everyone over at Metal Blade UK listening? LOL…)
Q: Do you agree that Germany is the perfect base, the ideal angle to get The Road Vikings to Europe as well?
Dan: I am actually of German descent, from my mother’s side. Hard rock and metal scenes have gone straight to hell in the US. Europeans are the only people left that appreciate this style of music. A lot of American musicians have relocated to Europe. The Road Vikings would pack up and move to Germany in a second!
Lisa: I’m sure that metal fans everywhere would agree that Germany is the headquarters for all things rock and metal. All of the great European labels are based in Germany, as are many of the popular booking companies. I think if your band can make an impact there you have a chance at some kind of success.
Q: You recently signed a contract with the German booking and touring agency Red Lion Music. What does it include, what can we expect?
Lisa: Red Lion Music has been great, and our personal band rep, Jens Lindemann, is a really cool dude. Red Lion basically goes out and puts together both supporting and headlining gigs and festivals for the bands it represents. This can be anything from a huge summer festival to one-off gigs at small cafes and bars. We are currently in negotiations to support Loudness on a mini tour, which will include the Turock Sommerfest in Essen, Germany.
Q: RLM works with bands like Tygers Of Pan Tang, Vicious Rumors, Armageddon, Loudness and Circle II Circle. Did they offer the best deal, do they have the best match or do they support their bands the best way possible. What pulled you into the RLM company?
Lisa: We really liked how professional they were with both the veteran bands on their roster and the new bands that they work with. Our booker, Jens, goes out of his way to find us the best possible supporting gigs that will showcase our talent and sound. Being from the US, he works hard to make sure that all travel to Europe will be worth our while in terms of time and money. And RLM books some of the best, most established bands in metal.
Q: I reviewed the debut album and rated it 92/100. I guess that you noticed that review, and what’s your impression or reaction on it?
Dan: Thank you for the high mark. I’ve done a lot of CDs. The thing that makes this one different is the sound quality. Everything I ever did kicked a lot of ass, but the quality of the recordings was substandard compared to this one. We want to give a big shout out to our engineer, Tim Narducci, for the meticulous job he did on the mastering.
Q: I’m sure that I’m not a loner, as many people will agree that the debut album is a perfect slab of metal. Give us some feedback from reviews that you spotted all around the world!
Dan: Here’s the lesson… A band’s music could be average (or below), but if the sound quality is an ‘A,’ people are going to like it. Their EARS will enjoy it. Now add some great songs and great performances and BAM, you have The Road Vikings.
Q: Let’s have some quotes to get a personal feedback from the band: ‘Sometimes the vocals remind me of Dio meets Lips of Anvil, and that might seems to be a strange combination but things happen again and again’. Do we hear laughing out loud now?
Dan: Ha! I’ve had reviewers compare me to just about every bloody singer, from that dude in Twisted Sister (Dee Snider), to Dickinson (Iron Maiden). Hey, I’m just doing my thing, man, and it comes out how it’s gonna come out. I’ve been putting in the rehearsal time, and I’d say my voice is now 100% of what it was back in the earlier days of Hexx and Cacophony.
Q: Another one: ‘The sextet combines the power of a prehistoric man (Dan Bryant, sorry dude), with the excitatory skills of a female bass chick Lisa Tonra’. I have a kind of beauty and the beast feeling, how about you?
Dan: Hell yeah! Putting a girl on the bass was the best thing I ever did! Seriously, Lisa has been a huge asset to the band, and having a girl in the band really helps with ticket sales. Ha!
Q: Finally, we have another original quote: ‘It’s like the good old days of Cirith Ungol, as they brought magic to my ears, well anno 2015, the Road Vikings do it all over’. It seems like people are longing for a new band that is capable to bring music with an original twist and sound. A 2015 sound with deep roots in the 80ies. Do you agree?
Dan: I am stuck in a style – I do try to modernize it, though. Who wants to hear the same old crap? Some of these old bands I don’t ever want to hear again, yet I love even now Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Scorpions, Moody Blues, etc.
I think the 80s will never die – there’s something about the music from that era that is compelling, and metal-heads STILL want to hear a great guitar tone and solo that reminds them of the masters like Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen.
Q: The songs on ‘Requiem Of An Outlaw Biker’ are incredibly different, but at the same time so much the same. They breathe the same vibe, they all have a good dose of self-will and a wayward charisma. Do you feel comfortable with this description?
Dan: We are evolving. What The Beach Boys were to surfboards, The Road Vikings are to motorcycles. But there is a lot more. Our songs are life stories and often biographical. You will see this unfold in our third CD, which we’ll begin recording in the late summer of this year.
Q: Do you agree that the ‘DIY’ attitude is another trademark of The Road Vikings or is the band longing for a decent deal with a label that is capable to bring the band to new horizons? Is a label a necessity?
Dan: Successful bands have already made millions of dollars, whereas I have spent almost that much. I knew a long time ago that I would have to self-produce if I wanted to get anywhere.
Lisa: That being said, while no one has the best interests of the band in mind LIKE THE BAND ITSELF, it is still preferable to have the backing of a label. And YES, The Road Vikings are still on the prowl for the ideal partnership with a rock/metal label. We have the time (and pretty lofty standards), so we have the luxury of waiting for the right thing to come along. Things are looking very promising right now with both Megaforce and Metal Blade UK.
Q: Sometimes I’m confused about the album as it’s not crystal clear if it’s already released officially, or is it limited to an independent release, followed by an official release in 2015? On the official bio of the band, you mention a release in winter 2015?
Lisa: Yes, the CD is out! On the advice of our PR Rep, Scott Thomas, we decided to go ahead and (quietly) issue the CD in late fall. It is now available worldwide, and on the top internet music outlets: CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon. We couldn’t think of a reason to NOT issue the CD, so we released it ourselves.
Q: Is it correct that The Road Vikings encountered a major ‘drummer’ problem. At least 24 drummers joined the band, or tried to. Is this an exaggerated quote from the biography of the band, or a reckless truth?
Dan: I have personally auditioned hundreds of drummers over the decades, and The Road Vikings have gone through about two dozen drummers. It’s funny, and disturbing how most drummers don’t understand ‘timing,’ and ‘the pocket.’ It’s crazy how these drummers can pull off a fantastic solo but can’t play your stupid song!
Lisa: Not having a reliable drummer has been a huge challenge for The Road Vikings in the past. We would book shows months in advance, only to have to cancel later on when the drummer quit or was fired. We are very pleased with our latest (and final!) drummer, Dave Dab, who has been an absolute professional in every way.
Q: What’s the common factor in this story? Hardly to believe that there are no decent drummers in the Oakland area?
Dan: Unfortunately, Americans’ taste in music has sunk all the way into the gutter. Gangsta rap is now leading the way, followed by EDM (Electronic Dance Music). And these are YOUNG PEOPLE! The Road Vikings know that this is NOT the case in Europe. It’s a sad situation.
Q: How would you like to describe the music and sound of The Road Vikings?
Dan: Heavy Metal without the headache! We are usually described as a classic metal or Power metal act, and I think that is a very accurate description. It seems that the trend is finally coming back around to singers who actually sing. The Road Vikings have always stuck to our belief in the ‘clean vocal.’
Q: I must say that the name of the band is rather original, but at the same time weird. The band is influenced by Viking history, but at the same time adores ‘the 2 wheels monster’. How can you reconcile those two?
Dan: If you were to meet any outlaw bikers, you would quickly realize that they are ‘Vikings,’ just by land and not by sea. Ha! Other (famous) bands have done the Viking theme (Manowar, Iced Earth), or the biker/leather theme (Motorhead and Black Label Society), but we are definitely the first band to have both themes going simultaneously. But here’s the funny thing…in the US, biker clubs don’t want to hear rock or metal at all. They want to hear rap!
Q: The lyrical themes of the songs handle about brotherhood, fight for freedom and conquest. How would you like to add the Viking theme in?
Dan: The Vikings of old were viewed as criminals – raping, robbing, pillaging – yet the society had structure, believers, leaders and rules to follow. It will shock you to know how many of us are descendants of them.
Q: The band played already several shows, and I hope it’s only the beginning! Tell us, what are the future plans of The Road Vikings, what can we expect?
Dan: The Road Vikings need the support of a major label (or an extremely wealthy patron who would like to use us as tax write-off). Ha! But seriously, The Road Vikings are determined to get to Europe this year, where the real fans are. Trust us, this will happen!
Q: Can you tell us a little more about a live show. Is it pure rock’n roll with a lot of attention to the guitar solos or is a live gig something that you need to discover. A special event that can’t be missed?
Dan: We all make a real effort to deliver these songs with high energy. We’re workin’ on a show to rival GWAR’s. The Road Vikings have a three-guitar attack, so you’ll hear some amazing harmonies and individual soloing.
Plus we have stage props and theatrics that few bands are doing. Personally, I am very influenced by the great stage show that King Diamond had back in the 80s.
Q: I do hope that we will be able to attend one of these gigs in Europe and I do hope that you will inform us when things are about to happen! In the meantime, new material is probably written and if so, is it a logical continuation of ‘Requiem Of An Outlaw Biker’?
Dan: Yup…The new tunes will be a logical flow from those on the current CD. Proposed songs include: “Easy Rider,” “Empty,” and “The Viking Queen”. We will call these motorcycle stories.
We are looking forward to the new songs as well! We want to thank you for your time and consideration and before we end this chat I would like to know if there is a final message to spread?
Dan: There are many stories of strife and struggle on the rock scene (Anvil). My personal story is one of the worst you’ll ever hear. It is much appreciated that we are invited to this interview. Thanks for listening in.