Friday, June 19, 2020

Torchlight Parade ( Interview by David Kiss)

1) You are from missouri, land influenced by jazz charlie parker, count basie, by Rock n` roll Chuck Berry, blues Big Joe Turner, music styles like country, hillbilly ...what do you remember musically from your childhood and then your adolescence? What music did your parents listen to?

 There certainly is a long history of rock-n-roll in St. Louis, Missouri.  In a way our song "Red,White and Blue" is a patriotic tune about coming from the same place where rock-n-roll was born.  There is a statue of Chuck Berry on the same street where we have played a few shows. Pioneers Ike and Tina Turner lived in St. Louis.  We pay homage to these founders during out live shows. We have covered Berry's "Run,Run Rudolf" and do a cover of "Proud Mary" which is based on the Tina Turner version of the song. While we are certainly aware of the foundations of rock in St. Louis and Memphis, and the birth of heavy metal in late 60s Birmingham, our  introduction to hard rock occurred during the mid 80s age of the guitar hero, which informs the music we play.  I was nine years old in 1986 when I was first handed a copy of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Blizzard of Oz”, at which point dad’s old country and mom’s Barry Manilow, no longer held any sway over me.

2) Matt and Doug, you are brothers, who influences who, to form the band? How is the hard core of the band formed? from 2006 to 2019 I think it has been a reasonable time to record an album, how do you do to compose, rehearse?

 Torchlight Parade was first formed in 2006 by brothers Matt and Doug Engel.  At that time they played several shows around town and recorded a couple of demo albums.  Most of the songs which appear on the new album first appeared on the demo albums.  The band then went into hiatus for several years before being reformed in 2016, with a second guitarist and a new drummer. Four years later, after refining the songs, adding a couple of new ones, playing many shows, bringing back the original drummer and getting a new bass player, we finally recorded a proper album. 

 3) Do you consider yourself a band like yesteryear, or is it the band of ...?

 We are playing classic heavy metal, heavily steeped in the 70s foundations of the genre, with a strong nod to the 80s era where the guitar solo was king.  Our influences are there in every song.  Bands such as Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Kiss, Wasp and Alice Cooper inform our sound, but we are striving to also bring something new to the world in the classic metal style.  Equally important is our goal to put on a memorable live show in the tradition of the grand masters Kiss and Alice Cooper.  Sadly, theatrical rock has fallen by the wayside for the most part, and we are trying to bring that back.
 Three fifths of the band have day jobs at a local funeral home.   The lead guitarist Doug Engel is a hearse driver, the lead singer Matt “Torch” Engel, is an embalmer and the drummer Greg Umfleet is a funeral director.  Only bass player Larry Hunter and guitarist Danny Nichols are not in the funeral business.  When you have a metal band full of actual morticians, you have to work that into your set.
The band’s name, Torchlight Parade,  is meant to invoke the image of an ancient funeral procession.  The funeral motif is an element in our live shows which include coffins, bagpipers, torches,  Michael Myers from Halloween and sometimes even trumpets, but always with an ending of balloons and confetti.
Unlike Alice Cooper or Gene Simmons though, our singer is an actual licensed and practicing embalmer.  

4) Talk about your album, what your songs are talking about, producer, record label, collaborations ,,,

 Following the funeral theme our songs often consist of messages of death and an afterlife, with the occasional tune about a hot rod or a celebration of the country that founded rock-n-roll.  The album was self produced.  We had been playing the songs so long, with enough of a cohesive vision as to how they should be performed, we did not really need an outside producer.  Doug and Matt were really great about allowing us newcomers to put our stamp on the songs, while staying true to the original concepts.  The album was recorded at Encapsulated Studios in Maplewood, Missouri.  We benefited greatly from the skill of sound engineer Gabe Usery, who also did the mixing and mastering.  Gabe was a dream to work with and really helped us to sound our best.  Although we have collaborated with Johnny Rod and Stet Howland of WASP fame, as well as the John Ford Highland Pipe Band for our live performances, the studio album was performed entirely by the five members of the band.

5) I would not like you to take this wrong, since it is my personal perception, but are there influences from W.A.S.P and Accept 80´s in the golden age with singer Udo?

Your perceptions are spot on!  We are in fact heavily influenced by WASP.  Former WASP bass player Johnny Rod is a good friend of the band and often joins us on stage to play a song or two.  If you look on youtube you can find a video of us playing “Wild Child” with a partial WASP reunion, Johnny on bass and Stet Howland on drums.  This was a life highlight for me!  You are also correct about the Accept influence.  We have played their song “Balls to the Wall” at several of our shows.

6) You used to open concerts for other bands, Stryper, Quiet Riot ... I imagine it must be fantastic and a dream to play on the same stage that you possibly saw live some years ago as an audience ... ha ha ha

 The best thing about the past few years of Torchlight Parade has indeed been the opportunity to share the stage with so many great bands.  Quiet Riot, Stryper, Faster Pussycat, Bang Tango, Metal Church, Enuff Z’nuff, Autograph, Beasto Blanco, Ryan Roxie, Another Lost Year and American Grim have all given us time on their stage, and every one of those bands has been incredibly gracious to us.  I remember at one point sitting back stage huddled together with the guitarists from Faster Pussycat, Bang Tango and Ratt talking shop.  Another time Steve Lynch from Autograph took time to explain the iconic solo in “Turn Up the Radio” to Doug and I.  Alice Cooper’s super talented daughter, Calico, who is probably badgered for photographs and autographs all day long, went out of her way to spend time with us.  I try to play it cool when we get our moments with the big shots, but at the end of the day we are all fans.  There is a real camaraderie among rock and metal fans and musicians.  Everyone has been really cool.  They say never meet your heroes, but our heroes have exceeded our expectations.

7) I think that live, you make a good show, confetti, bagpipes, coffin, can you explain a little bit what the show consists of?

 In the early days of KISS they had a band motto to treat every show, no matter how small, as though it were Madison Square Garden.  “Like it’s the Garden” is a motto we have adopted, throwing everything we can into every show.  Thematically, we are going with the concept of a torchlight gothic funeral procession.  Torches, bagpipes, monsters, coffins, sacred readings, etc. Plus confetti, when the venue allows it.  Matt once described our show as a Rock and Soul Ceremony, and I think that is accurate.

8) one of the things I have read in your shows, the last song you play versions to warm the public before the headliner comes out, I agree with this position, since the new bands have to defend their songs but alternating with well-known songs makes the audience pay attention and get lost in the bar ... What do you think ?.

 I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to the covers versus originals debate.  It is true the covers get a better reaction, but we really like bringing something new to the world and take great pride in our set being mostly originals, or covers like you have not heard them before.  Most of our shows we get a 30-45 minute set. We usually will throw in one or two covers, but it might be AC/DC’s “Long Way to the Top” with a full bagpipe band, or “Proud Mary” with a trumpet player or “Wild Child” with Johnny Rod on bass guitar.  A couple of times a year we play a giant party at a local castle where we have a two hour set.  In those cases, we will do about half covers and half originals.

9) I have also seen that you played with Carmine Appice (King Kobra, Rod Stewart ...) and Johnny Rod (king kobra, W: A: S: P ...) the latter I saw with WASP on the Electric Circus tour opening for Iron Maiden in Barcelona (Spain), how does the contact arise ?, how are they? Is it easy in the USA to talk to musicians, let's say it more recognized?

Johnny Rod is originally from St. Louis and has been living back here for several years.  He met Doug years ago through a mutual friend and they have become close friends and been collaborating on musical projects ever since.  Doug and Matt had an opportunity to play with Johnny and Carmine, as part of Carmine’s band when he was doing drum clinics.  Doug wrote one of the songs on the last King Kobra album and almost joined the band for a European tour at one point in early 2016.  Growing up as mega fans of WASP it is always a thrill whenever we get the opportunity to play with him. He has been a big help and a great friend to the band.

Over the course of the last few years, we have had the opportunity to spend time with many musicians whom we admired , of various levels of fame, and every one of them has treated us with complete kindness and respect, as though we were their peers.  We have yet to encounter a single touring act which was not gracious and friendly.  

10)-Do you have future plans to come and play in Europe, Latin America?
If the demand was there that would be great, but for now we are focused on conquering Missouri today, tomorrow the world! - This goes for all the members of the band is a generic question

-first album you bought? Metallica “Master of Puppets” and Ozzy Osbourne “Blizzard of Oz”   at what age? Got them both for my 10th Birthday
- first concert you attend, how old were you? AC/DC on the Razor’s Edge Tour. I had just turned 14.
-Best concert you remember seeing in your life? Alice Cooper on the Brutal Planet tour, and I saw KISS play the Forum in LA last February, that is hard to top.
-your favorite groups? 1. HammerFall from Sweden.  I am guessing they are well known in Spain, but not too many people know of them here in the States.  Far and away the best band ever, in my opinion.  2. Iron Maiden  3. Motley Crue 4.Megadeth 5. Alice Cooper
-what kind of music do you usually listen to ?. I love all genre’s of rock and heavy metal.  Even extreme death and black metal.  But my absolute favorites are Power Metal from Europe and 80s Sunset Strip glam metal.
- a group or song that you are ashamed to say that you like? (smile) ha ha ha I secretly love the Goo Goo Dolls, Limp Bizkit and Meat Loaf.  Really.  Have seen all three of those bands in concert and loved every minute of it. 
-Finally what do you pursue in music and what would you like to achieve? My goal is to get as good at guitar as Doug, but I am a long way from that!

-first album you bought? KISS “Dressed to Kill”  at what age?
- first concert you attend, how old were you? KISS at age 18
-Best concert you remember seeing in your life? KISS
-your favorite groups? 1. Kiss 2. Alice Cooper. 3. Elvis Presley
-what kind of music do you usually listen to ?. 80s metal
- a group or song that you are ashamed to say that you like? (smile) ha ha ha Lady Gaga
-Finally what do you pursue in music and what would you like to achieve? To take it as far as I can

-first album you bought? Quiet Riot “Metal Health”  at what age? 14
- first concert you attend, how old were you? Rolling Stones at age 15
-Best concert you remember seeing in your life? KISS reunion tour 1996
-your favorite groups? 1. Kiss 2. Judas Priest. 3. Alice Cooper
-what kind of music do you usually listen to ?. Rock n Roll
- a group or song that you are ashamed to say that you like? (smile) ha ha ha Mother Love Bone
-Finally what do you pursue in music and what would you like to achieve? Play the White House and the Superbowl

-first album you bought? Grand Funk Railroad “Caught in the Act” 
- first concert you attend, how old were you? Bad Company
-Best concert you remember seeing in your life? Alice Cooper on the “Welcome to My Nightmare” tour
-your favorite groups? 1. Judas Priest 2. Budgie. 3. Kiss
-what kind of music do you usually listen to ?. Hard rock/heavy metal
- a group or song that you are ashamed to say that you like? (smile) ha ha ha “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
-Finally what do you pursue in music and what would you like to achieve? Have a song on the Billboard Top 100

-first album you bought? Twisted Sister “Stay Hungry”
- first concert you attend, how old were you? KISS at age 5
-Best concert you remember seeing in your life? Slayer farewell tour
-your favorite groups? 1. Slayer 2. DRI. 3. Kid Rock
-what kind of music do you usually listen to ?. Rock, rap, etc. Everything.
- a group or song that you are ashamed to say that you like? (smile) ha ha ha I am not ashamed of anything I listen to

11?-Finally what do you pursue in music and what would you like to achieve? 

Share my music with as many people willing to listen.

 Interview by David Kiss

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