John Diva & The Rockets Of Love
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SPV / Steamhammer
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions! We have to hurry a little bit, here we go...
You're very welcome. It's my first time in the Saarland so I can take some time.*hahaha*
At first, could you please introduce you and your band mates, and describe each of you in two-three words?
Alright, well, my name is John Diva, I'm the vocalist, singer and frontman. I shouldn't talk too much about myself, somebody else should describe me, maybe you can do that later. Then there is Snake Rocket, who's a guitar player from Texas, Austin. His name is Snake Rocket. so you maybe get the idea. J.J. Love, actually his real name ist Julio Juan Amore. He is from Mexico and he used to be member of a Mariacci group. I went to High School with him.
And then we got Lee Stingray jr. on the drums. I met him at a party of Alice Cooper's house cause he used to play with his bass player in a band called Beasto Blanco. He brought in Remmie Martin on the bass who has a French mother who he never met. That's a sad story, but you know, now he has us. That's alright, we have enough love for him.
A big family.
Yes, a big family, that's right.
Your debut album Mama Said Rock Is Dead was released in February, through Steamhammer / SPV. I love it, it feels like a jump back to my youth, my teenage years. Great songs – congratulation!
Yes! Thank you.
The most important question: did mama change her opinion? ;-)
Oh yes, she did. You know, I mean, all the time it was a rhetorical question because mama always was a rolling stone. She was a Rock 'n' Roll fan, she was a groupie, she was around when the really big shows in the 80s were on. She told me to rock and she gave me all the freedom to be a musician, to be a free spirit. Obviously her heart was broken one too many times and I remember that quote, when she came home one day she said: „Johnny, don't do waste your time on Rock 'n' Roll, it's dead“. I think, I needed to prove her wrong, but she knew before.
Are you content with the feedback, the chart entries and the sales numbers of the CD?
Very much. You know, I mean, a lot of people actually really said: “This kind of Rock 'n' Roll you‘ll be doing, this is dead.” Whatever label you wanna put on, it's Glam Metal or Hair Metal and I mean, it was dead after Nirvana came up. So there is a true side of the story and we didn't really expect to go into the Billboard Charts with that. We didn't expect anything and that's a good thing if you don't expect anything. Well, we're too old for that. You can be positively surprised and we feel very happy.
It's important to be relaxed...
Very much, if you stay cool and you know, we were very confident about what we do, because that is the sound we love so much. We said, we gonna do this album for us, for our families, for the fans and whatever happens next, happens next and if it's good, alright! Obviously this success now gives us the power and the confidence to go on working with the second album, we are already thinking about.
You started as a cover band...
Yes and no. I mean, obviously we did some covers and as you probably know, I've been a songwriter for the big ones as well. So we combined our own songs with some classics, yeah.
You rocked the stages worldwide, at Wacken Open Air too.
We played Wacken three times, yeah.
Why did you wait so long until you've gone into the studio and recorded your own songs?
That's a good question. You know, we always wanted to be Rock 'n' Roller, rock stars. I think it had really something to do with psychology, when I talked about my mother and it's really at a certain age, when you're young, you might lose your path and we all did in certain ways. I went to be songwriter and this and that and so we lost each other. And then again, if you're a little bit older, you say: “Hey, actually there was a good time we had. Why did we stop doing it?'”
Most people just remember have a drink at night and go back to the boring everyday jobs, nine-to-five jobs, right? We didn't, we said: 'Hey, let's do it!' and with a little bit of luck and of course a lot of work and energy, we made it to become what we always wanna to be: a real rockin' band. So I think, that's why it took so long and on the other side we collected so much craftmanship to come over with a debut like this. You know, it's late but therefore it's really from our hearts and we really know how to do it.
Let us talk about two of my favourites – Dance Dirty, which even can wake up def leppards and Wild Life, which animated everyone to dance, the thin Lizzy too. ;-)
Yes, please. Oh yeah, I love them.
Could you please tell us a little bit more about this songs, about their origin and the lyrics?
Wildlife was an idea, that Snake Rocket came up with, cause he wanted to do something like a homage to Whitesnake. But I'm very happy to hear a lot of people listen or hear Thin Lizzy in it, because I'm probably the biggest Phil Lynott fan. This feels very satisfying to me that people compare that with Thin Lizzy, because that's my main band. I always wanna to try, because Phil Lynott is a storyteller and I didn't do that on this album so much, but I will be doing that, I will be trying to do that, really tell stories. As soon as Phil was singing you just drift away, listen to the lyrics.
Wildlife is obviously a homage to our fans, to what we do, to touring and to the moment, that one moment can change the night into the perfect night. It's about wanting more and more, always wanting more than you can have. It's actually burn yourself in a positive way, to the night and to Rock 'n' Roll.
Dance Dirty, I mean, that's a sexy song. It's a striptease song, it's a song to dance, it's a song to have good times, it's a lady's song.
As you said, you write songs for other musicians too. Please tell us a bit about the writing process - do you have to be in a special mood and/or do you need special ambience to be creative?
Hmm, when I talk to a lot of friends who go away, say: “Hey, I had it, I gotta go on an island“, you always expect them to come back with a lot of ideas, but very often nothing comes out. I do need to be feeling life, seeing people, experiencing stuff. So I could easily walk down the street and my whole mobile phone is full with ideas.
So, you know, I'm just standing somewhere and I'm singing something on that and I got an archive of the last two or three years with little sketches, let's say a word or a rhyme or a little melody. A lot of the songs you hear on the album are based on little notes, I recorded. But to put this into a real Rock 'n' Roll production, it was mainly Snake Rocket and I, and J.J. Love also, working in our home studio. The guys playing guitars, laying down drum tracks, drink something and as they do something, I'm walking around, into the garden, doing something, having a drink, listening, watching something on Facebook and suddenly, there's a word, there's a melody and I stuck writing, yeah.
In the moment I write, it's a little bit subconscious, the subconsciousness and at the same time I'm everywhere in the room. *John sings “nanana”* Then it really starts running and actually as soon as I got started, I write a lyric within 5 minutes. Obviously I go into it and change stuff again, but the basic idea, when it comes out, it comes out very quick. But I have to be inspired, because I'm a very hyperactive person, I need a lot of actions around me. They don't disturb me. As a young kid it was the same, you know. When I went home and did my homework, there was music blasting and radio on. So I really can concentrate in a lot of moments.
Did you first wrote the melody or the text...
It's changing. But the longer I do it, I‘m looking for a melody and the melody tells me, what words you need. But then again, there are some words, that are just too good and I look for a melody for them. But mostly it's more work the other way around. I'm having a melody and with the melody there comes a word. It doesn't make sense maybe, but I mainly start searching how to put sense into it.
The album was produced by Michael Voss. How did the cooperation with Michael come about, did you know each other before?
No, we didn't. We were talking to different producer, but it didn't really work out, before we got started, you know, time-referenced. We didn't really know what to do, because we were ready and set and we booked the studio and everything. Michael actually researched us and he wrote to us. He said: “Guys, I have been seen you. I think, you're doing a great job and I'll be very interested in meeting you guys". We went down to his little studio and after two hours of talking we said: "Man, why we didn't meet earlier? You know, we could have needed you earlier. But you are right now, right here, in the right moment of time." and we intend to continue working with him. He is a great singer, great guitar player, great composer and producer. But you know, from singer to singer, it easily can be either very difficult or very giving.
He helped me so much, he said: “It's great what you're doing, just do what you do.” And then at a certain point he said: 'What when you just pronounce this word a little bit different” Small things, where you really can see, that he's a total professional. He really has very good ears and he can totally step back, behind what artists are doing, as long as he's a producer, because he is an artist himself. I found that very inspiring and positive and Michael became a real friend.
You are currently touring Europe with Kissin' Dynamite. Is there a difference in the reactions of your fans in Germany and your American fans at concerts?
What I can say... I mean obviously, a lot of songs we play would be considered Folk Music in America. German Metal and Rock fans are so dedicated, they are so happy to come over and they are really true. We had a lot of people who've been travelling from Hamburg to, let's say Berlin and Munich and always come back to concerts. I mean, maybe it's due to the small size of Germany, compared to America, you can really do this here. But I also think that people are very thankful and very honest and once they become friends, they stay friends. While it's in America very superficial, you might just go to a basketball game one night, the other you go to a Metallica show, another day you go to a country singer. Which is totally cool too, but here people are very dedicated and some huge, great and very positive Metal scene. That's why you got Wacken, right?
If you would have the freedom to choose: in which location - worldwide seen - you would like to play a gig sometime?
Carnegie Hall wouldn't be too bad... and the bedroom of my ex girlfriend *hahaha*, one more time. *hahaha*
How long does it take until your styling (outfit and make up) is completely done and which of your band mates needs the most time in front of the mirror?
Ah, definitely Snake Rocket! He's the most beautiful girl in the band. *hahaha* If we do shootings, we get a style, we do a lot fashion and make up obviously. When we're on tour - 20 minutes? That goes quick, more or less... You know, we don't change our underwear anymore than. *hahaha*
What are your hobbies and interests besides the music?
Drinking. *hahaha* Well, you know, actually I'm a very boring guy if I'm not on tour. That's why I'm always on tour. What would be my hobbies? Seeing some old friends is something that I really find inspiring. Scuba diving, I have a very nice motor ship down in Florida Keys. I like doing that, just hanging out with the other horse power and listen to rock music. So actually it's also Rock 'n' Roll, not on stage, it's hanging out with a couple of beers.
Last question: Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?
Not really! I mean, what I can say is, the tour so far goes really well and I do have some addictive character, but in the good way, because right now I could just continue touring for the next 2 or 3 months. I mean, we still will be touring for 3 weeks, so people who read that, can still come out and catch us. We will be back in summer. Right now, I really enjoy presenting our debut live and it goes well, we have a lot of positive response. So you see me as very happy person at the moment.
That's great! When you come back as headliner, I hope you will book Saarbrücken Garage, because it's a little bit bigger... :-)
Oh yeah, I saw that it's really big! This one is super small. It's gonna be too hot.
We all don't understand it, because we thought, okay, Kleiner Klub, but if a lot tickets are sold, the concert will relocate to the Garage. Our friends had problems to get tickets, because they await further news, then the tickets was sold out, but no relocation...
Strange, yeah. I didn't know. I mean, when I heard that this is only 200 people I said, this is gonna be small. I mean this is super small. But it can be nice, it can be nice...
Thank you very much for your time. I wish you all the best and a lot of fun when you're on stage later!
Fotos: ©2019 by Ralf Louis und Marion Ney