Csaba Zvekan, Joe Stump and Mistheria discusses the new TOWER OF BABEL CD with prog Pulse
You have a really great voice Csaba, what have you done prior to Tower of Babel?
CSABA: Thank you very much and thank you for the interest in “Tower of Babel”. I have been in many bands and projects in the past but I can say that EXORCISM, RAVEN LORD and METAL MACHINE are the better known. These bands are still active and have periodic releases out.
Is this a real band or just another studio project?
CSABA: This is the real thing and we want to do the whole nine yards with it. Recording albums, promoting it and touring of course.
Will you be touring?
CSABA: Absolutely, yes. Once the record is officially released we will talk with our booking agents and set up some dates in Europe. It’s great to make a record but even more fun to to tour with it.
JOE, is Tower of Babel the new Reign of Terror, or do both bands actually exist?
JOE: I haven`t done a Reign Of Terror record for quite awhile, while it was my thing I never officially disbanded it . I had just gotten quite busy during that period of time recording and touring quite a bit with HolyHell . But now with Tower of Babel in full swing it`s looking like I`ll be doing this for sometime to come, so I guess you could say that this new Tower of Babel record is getting back to some of the types of things I did with Joe Stump`s Reign Of Terror .
What were your main influences when making this album?
JOE: Lake Of Fire to me is much more of a classic hard rock record more so than a full on power metal type of affair . The main influence for this record is without a doubt Ritchie Blackmore and his work with Rainbow and Purple. When you listen to the record is quite obvious and of course anyone familiar with my work knows that Blackmore is one of my heroes and main influences . That being said it`s no secret that Yngwie Malmsteen is another one of my main influences and in addition to the Blackmore/Rainbow influenced tracks there`s a few things on the record with the vibe of the early Rising Force material . Tracks like Eternal Flames, Lamb And The Wolves and Thoth as well as the instrumental track All Out Warfare very much like that. Also with the tune Addicted I was going for a more straight up melodic Michael Schenker Group/Axel Rudi Pell kind of a departure from the darker /heavier stuff I normally write musically. Another one of my favorite players is Walter Giardino from Argentina`s Rata Blanca , Walter like myself is a real Blackmore/Yngwie disciple and I love his playing and he writes killer tunes as well, great band .
Do you agree Joe, that this is your best band to date?
JOE: I`ve been quite fortunate that in every band I`ve played in whether it be my solo thing/HolyHell/ Reign of Terror/RavenLord etc. that I`ve always worked with great musicians and with this new band that`s certainly the case once again . Csaba`s a world class singer and did a great job on the record both singing and compositionally. Mark Cross is a powerhouse drummer , just killer- a modern day Cozy Powell and he drives the band tremendously . Nic Angileri is a top notch bass player, he can play highly complex unison lines with me as well as hold down the groove and rock like a motherfucker and Mistheria is a virtuoso on the keys . The Maestro not only plays wonderfully technically but also has great sounds and really enhances the tracks with his creativity and ideas .
You have been involved in a lot of different projects, how did you end up in Tower of Babel?
MISTHERIA: It's been not that difficult having already collaborated in the past with all band members, except for Nic Angileri, both on my albums, their albums or we just were featured in third parties songs and/or albums. We had and keep having amazing collaborations with singer Csaba, great friend of mine (such on my last "Vivaldi Metal Project - The Four Seasons") and when the Tower of Babel band was in the making, I got call from him to join and I've been very happy!
Do you think that this kind of hard rock is also appealing to the younger generations, or is this mostly music for people who grew up with Rainbow and such bands?
MISTHERIA: My teaching experience will better answer you: in the Rock Academy where I work, I keep seeing (with always bit of surprise) that young students and my student bands approach music and playing starting from the roots of "old school" bands such as Rainbow, Dio, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Juda Priest, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and list goes on and on... It doesn't matter genre and style, awesome music never dies!
Why did you choose to cover Rainbow's "Eyes of the World"? - Great cover by the way…
CSABA: There are so many great tunes from the past. When I was asked which one we should cover I picked “Eyes of the World” as it was the least covered song by other bands.
Not only is it one of my favourite tunes from the Graham Bonnet / Rainbow era as it was more to try out the phenomenal range that he has as a singer.
Csaba, who are your main influences?
CSABA: My main influences you can hear on all my work is Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillen, Glen Hughes, Rob Halford, Robin McAuley and Chris Thompson. You can hear probably even more from the old school era that I’m not even aware of hahahaha.
Mistheria, What are you main influences?
MISTHERIA: I'm a Classical trained musician graduated in the Conservatory of Music in Italy. Pianist, organist, keyboardist and composer, I love the greatest Classical Composers - of course - but At age of 15-17 I've started to listen to Prog-Rock, Rock and Metal, especially Pink Floyd, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Marillion, YES, Deep Purple, Rainbow, and more, until when a friend of mine offered me as gift a very colorful cover album which I loved totally and that drove me to the Neoclassical Metal... That vinyl Was Yngwie Malmsteen's "Trilogy". Last year, after 30 years of that release, I've been playing it on tour in Italy with the original singer and great friend of mine Mark Boals, it's been a blast!
Do you think Tower of Babel will be around in ten years?
MISTHERIA: Any band that starts has it as main wish, and we, of course, don't make the exception. We'd love to be there as long as possible and we'd like to spread our "vintage meets modern" hard - rock music On stage, the best place to be for any band, feeling audience and fans, and best path to have a long rocking life!
Joe, what do you normally prefer, working as an instrumental solo artist or as member of a band with a great singer?
JOE: I enjoy doing both , of course doing my solo records as well as instructional dvds/books appeals to a very niche audience of mainly guitar players as well as fans of intense guitar driven metal and hard rock. That being said between touring / playing live as a solo artist as well as doing clinics and master classes , lessons etc. that whole thing has done very well for me so I can`t complain as I`ve built a strong loyal fanbase . But you`re always going to reach more people with a vocalist and I do enjoy playing in a band situation . So for me I`m not about to abandon one for the other , if Tower of Babel really takes off and I`m quite busy touring and recording with it for the next few years that would be great.
Do you think you will find a bigger audience in Europe or the US?
JOE: Of course you have great metal fans here in the states but Europe is the place for this kind of music (especially as far as this new band/record are concerned) That`s one of the reason it`s great to have all of the guys in Tower Of Babel from over in Europe . Not only do they play and interpret this type of hard rock to perfection but when it comes time to go out and do damage live touring I`m the only one that has to come over so it makes things much easier budget-wise . Regardless where you`re based if you`re a fan of guitar driven hard rock in the style of Rainbow/Purple you can`t go wrong with this record. All the playing is top notch and the tunes are killer.
How did you choose the members of the band?
CSABA: They were carefully hand selected hahahaha. I wanted to make sure that they were all based in Europe except for Joe Stump of course so we have an easier logistic schedule for future touring plans. Also the musical chemistry was important as it would not make sense to put a band together with opposite genre interest.
In the beginning we had a handful songs from Joe for the upcoming Raven Lord album. I could not merge the two guitar players work into one working record so the best way was to split things up and have Joe to continue writing a bunch more in the same veins. So then we were able to call it a complete new band.
Once that was done I had Craig Gruber (Rainbow, Elf, Gary Moore) interested in the project and we were going to do this record with him. Unfortunately Craig has passed during the time and we had hired Nic Angileri (Exorcism, ex-Jorn) instead.
Mark Cross (Scorpions, ex-Helloween, ex-Firewind) for me was always one of the top drummers in the World and I wanted him on board for sure. He then analysed lots of important drummers to get the very same feel for the project. What a great job he ended up doing!
Then of course the band needed some great keyboard work with lot’s of Hammond, textures and moods. People who know how I work the best also know that I heavily rely on some colors in the music so I can tell my story. First choice for our music like this was Maestro Mistheria (Artlantica, Ian Pace, Vivaldi Metal Project etc.) who understands what needs to be played.
Overall I’m extremely happy with the outcome of the record as the chemistry was perfectly matched.
Thank you for the readers and for this interview. We see you all out there on the road \m/
TOWER OF BABEL:
Csaba Zvekan- all lead and backing vocals
Joe Stump- all guitars
Maestro Mistheria -keyboards
Nicola Angileri- bass
Mark Cross - drums