Storm Force: Lightning Strikes Twice for Greg Fraser
By David DeRocco firstname.lastname@example.org https://twitter.com/?lang=en
He’s not quite as young wild and free as he used to be. But Brighton Rock guitarist Greg Fraser is back and declaring, “we came to rock.” Only this time, it’s not with his longtime band mates in BR. Fraser is back with a new project, STORM FORCE, featuring vocalist Patrick Gagliardi, drummer Brian Hamilton, and bassist Mike Berardelli. The band’s debut album, Age Of Fear, was released January 25th, featuring 10 tracks of chunky, guitar-driven hard rock that should send 80s metal fans salivating over their speakers.
With their first ever live performance scheduled for The Warehouse April 24th, Greg took time to chat with GoBeWeekly about their origin, their label and the hardships of naming a new rock band.
GoBe: You’re back in the game with a great new project. Tell me the origins of Storm Force. When did it all start happening?
GREG: It basically started 3 years ago. We tried to do a Brighton Rock record a few years ago and soon realized that it just wasn’t going to happen the way I wanted it to happen, where we could get together every week and record the way we did in the old days. We just couldn’t get our schedules together. I had all these songs, I’m always writing. So I decided to start a new band.
GoBe: What were the initial steps you took that lead to the release of the debut?
GREG: Basically, I went into the studio. I wanted to hear what some of my songs sounded like with vocals. So I knew Pat, our vocalist, from way back. I said ‘do you want to come in’ and he said ‘sure, I’ll come in.’ He laid it down and it was like ‘wow, want to make a record?’ And we did.
Gobe: Did the recording start right away?
GREG: There was no urgency because we didn’t have a record deal. It was just kind of fun. We went in each week to chip away at it and add some more songs. Next thing you know, we got a record deal. We actually got offered four to tell you the truth. We wanted to wait until the record was done before we even shopped aroudn. That didn’t happen, word kind of got out. Once we got the deal, the urgency was there. It was like, ‘where’s the new songs.’ It suddenly became real. Then we had to hunker down and finish the record. It was a good thing too, because it probably would have taken another year.
GoBe: I’m well aware of all the issues Brighton Rock had over the years with their label. How did you deal with the business end of signing on with a new label?
GREG: It’s kind of good and bad. In the old days, we had a worldwide major record deal, but we had managers doing all that stuff, being in contact with the label, handling the good and bad. It’s not always all good with a label. There’s roadblocks, and sometimes you have to butt heads. I’ve always been kept out of that, and that’s the way it should be with artists. You have managers to deal with that stuff. But now that I started this deal, we didn’t have a manager, so I had to basically do it. I don’t like doing that. That’s the business part of things. I like making music, the music part’s fun.
GoBe: So no issues with your label, Escape Music?
GREG: I’ve got a great rapport with them. They’re a European label, and they’ve got their fingers in a lot of things, especially in Europe. That’s a huge plus for us, instead of us releasing the album on our own website. We don’t really have the reach of someone like Escape Music. They’ve got connections all over the world. When they put out a press release for Storm Force, there’s a lot of eyes on it and that’s huge. Overall, it’s been a pleasant experience. They’re in it for the love of the music, and they’re really fighting for us.
GoBe: There’s no question about the musical style Storm Force has taken on Age of Fear. When you first got together with the band, was there any conscious decision about the direction the music should go? Or did the songs just naturally dictate the feel?
GREG: It’s just how I write. A lot of people when they pick up a guitar, they’ll practice their scales or play somebody else’s songs. When I pick up a guitar, right away I try to create something new. That’s how a lot of songs will happen, just stumbling on stuff. That’s what I bring into the studio. Let’s try this out, let’s work on that, I’m not feeling that one, let’s put that one aside. There’s no real discussion on direction. Whatever comes out, if we all like it, that’s what we work on. That’s what happened, and basically what you hear on the record. There’s 10 songs we all love. Actually, there’s a Japanese release that has a bonus track, “Way of the World.” You buy here and you get 10, but you can get that song on Spotify.
GoBe: The debut record was produced by Darius Szczepaniak (Black Crowes, Sum 41, Big Sugar). What did he bring to the table in terms of input and suggestions?
GREG: He took it to the next level. When you record in your own little studio, you get used to the way it sounds. You send it to a guy like that, and he makes it sound killer, like ‘whoa…man, you really brought it to the next level.’ That guy is a pro, and that’s what they do. They can really bring things out that you don’t suspect. That’s the problem with a lot of people and their home studios. You can record a record on your iPhone now or using Garage Band. A lot of people think they make good records. It might sound good to you, but when you bring it to somebody like Darius, whose full time job is mixing records, that’s all he does. He’s got knowledge that amateurs just don’t have. It’s the same if you have a band or a song you want to write. If you have mediocre guitar player come in or a great guitar player come in, you’ll hear the difference.
That’s what it’s like with this guy. He’s top notch. He made it sound like the big leagues. We couldn’t be more proud to have the guy on board. He’s like the fifth member of the band. He’s into it as much as we are. Its jut not another project for him.
GoBe: The timing is right for an album that sounds like this, don’t you thing? Especially given the often homogenous sound of modern rock?
GREG: I guess so. In Canada there seems to be a lack of this style of rock. People have been calling us 80s style rock. I think people of our age, we kind of miss that kind of stuff. If you listen to the radio today, al lot of the 80s bands get looked over. You’ll hear a classic rock station, and they’ll play 70s stuff like Springsteen, Tom Petty, and they’ll skip over Slaughter and Winger and Cinderella and Poison. Those bands had platinum records and they sold millions of records. They skip right over to the 90s. So there’s a void for people who still like that style of music. It’s not like we’re trying to wave the flag. We just like that style of music. That’s in our DNA. That’s our blood. If you want to label us that, so be it. We’re not going to change to fit into a category. Hopefully people can gravitate to it.
GoBe: And hopefully a lot will gravitate to the Warehouse April 24th for the band’s live debut. How much practice time are you all putting in to get ready?
GREG: A couple days a week so far. We’re just chopping away at it. We know the songs very well because we recorded them like that. A live situation is a little different. We’ll be ready. We’re pumped for it. We’re not talking this for granted that’s for sure. Anyone coming to that show will be treated to use going on all cylinders.
GoBe: Go light on the pyro, the Warehouse has a low ceiling.
GREAT: I hear ya buddy.
GoBe: Final question. Storm Force is a pretty solid name for a hard rock band. How many different names did you consider before you settled on Storm Force?
GREG: You have no idea. Pick a name. If you were to start a band right now, just a name jotted on a piece of paper, they go to Google and type the name with the word ‘band’ beside it, there will be a band. I guarantee it. That’s what happened. You pick a cool name, some band from Munich’s got it. Every single band name you can come up with is taken. Even Storm Force. There was a little pub band in Ireland that plays covers. They’re called Storm Force. Be we like that name. The label was like, ‘they’re not a recording act.’ We kind of pushed that name away from them. At first we were going to be called Ring of Steel. We weren’t sold on it, but the label hated it. They said it sounded like some Lord of the Rings things. We tossed names back and forth until we settled on Storm Force. We haven’t looked back since.
AGE OF FEAR tracklist:
"Because Of You"
"Age Of Fear"
"Ride Like Hell"
"More Than You Know"
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