Interview with David Readman, singer of PINK CREAM 69, III, David Readman Band
By Sven Horlemann for Melodicrock.com.
Interview was conducted April 2006.
Most of us know David Readman as the lead singer of PINK CREAM 69, some of his involvement with ADAGIO, a few might even know the III (THREE) record were he shares vocal duties with Paul Laine (ex-DANGER DANGER). Whatever you think of him following Andy Deris (who moved on to HELLOWEEN) within the Pinkies, it takes a lot of balls for a 21 year old UK kid to join a melodic rock band. In a foreign country! At a time were grunge ruled the world!!
PINK CREAM had opened themselves with their third record "Games People Play" to a new direction, expanding melodic rock and integrating modern rock sounds. Of course "Change", the debut PINK CREAM 69 CD for David could be considered a big step into the melodic rock meets grunge direction. You might even consider this a mistake, taking 2 steps at a time and frustrating the fans of the classic PINK CREAM 69 sound and failing to find enough new fans.
In my opinion there are some great records out there (DOKKEN, WARRANT to name just two) who tried to do just that - and failed also to get the acceptance from the fans. Like all PINK CREAM 69 records also Change is a damn good record. With "Food For Thought" they found a perfect symbiosis of classic and new PINK CREAM 69 style, though I think it not fortunate to hide the best tracks deep within the track listing. On the great live record "#Live#" David could win over most of the fans by his amazing performances of old and new songs. "Electrified" is the album that brought the Pinkies back to their original sound, generating classics like "Shame" and "Break The Silence". "Sonic Dynamite", "Endangered" and the 2004 rocker "Thunderdome" are the latest additions to the excellent PINK CREAM 69 discography.
PINK CREAM 69's members are busy, the most prominent being producer wizard Dennis Ward - He did produce the last 5 records of PINK CREAM 69 as well as last years melodic rock winner PLACE VENDOME, also producing and fronting (lead singer) KHYMERA to name a few.
David kept himself busy, being lead singer of the symphonic metal band ADAGIO, singing 2 records and even tour with them and adding to his fame. His friendly departure from ADAGIO found him with some time left in 2005 and so he was delighted to accept the offer to sing 5 of the 10 songs from the "III" (THREE) record (European release march 23rd), written and conceived by keyboard wiz Andre Anderson (ROYAL HUNT). He shares vocal duties with Paul Laine, another melodic rock classic. David also managed to negotiate a solo record deal with Frontiers records, so we had enough topics to talk about. I had the pleasure to meet with David at his home and get to listen to some of the preproduction demos in his studio.
SVEN: David, thanks for taking time for this interview. The III record got a huge review on MelodicRock.com.
David Readman: That's right, yeah.
SVEN: So how did it all come together?
David Readman: Well, I could give you a really romantic story now (grins). But, like a lot of things with these projects, it is not really a complicated story. It is more a kind of a funny story. Dennis (Ward, PINK CREAM 69) was working with Frontiers anyway. He did the Michael Kiske album (the superb PLACE VENDOME record) and mixes a lot of stuff for them. And I am always getting the newsletters from Frontiers to my e-mail account. One day I got an e-mail from Mario (Frontiers), him writing something like "Oh, by the way, our e-mail is now working correctly now ...". So I wrote back saying hello. I knew of course Dennis was working for them, and a few days later I got an e-mail from Serafino (Perugino, Frontiers CEO) saying something like "Nice to meet you at the Firefest, are you interested in an album?" (laughs).
I was like, ok, cool, I mean, "send me the stuff over"! I knew Andre (Anderson) from playing the same bill on festivals. I knew the story with DC Cooper, the collaboration with Kosta (Zafiriou, PINK CREAM 69 drummer) and I expect a certain quality (of the songs) but I wanted of course to listen to make sure my voice fits into this. It didn't take long and I got a CD through the postal service. I checked it out and there was a guide vocal on it, a real basic thing, you know, to get the idea of the song. I wrote Serafino back that everything sounds really great and asked him to let me know when to begin. If would have been a full record it would have been a bit difficult to make it. It is a lot more work just because you are the main man, in a way. And for me to be just a part of it was really ok. Honestly, I am not that much a believer in these kind of projects anyway. I haven't really done so many of them. ADAGIO in the beginning was a project that did become a band. But this is probably one of the first things I tried that ended with a record.
SVEN: Did you come up with your own melodies and words?
David Readman: No, no, it was basically ... this was also an important thing to me because if you are more involved you have to get to write lyrics and spend much more time. So if you start from scratch it is a more time consuming thing. If someone sends me a plain thing to paint on, I could do that. Although it is sometimes difficult to exactly understand what the person is looking for. If they write their stuff they got something in their mind anyway.
Back to "III". I might have changed the odd lyric, where I found something not fitting. Andre send me the lyrics and obviously, with me coming from England, you know, there are small parts I would do different. So pretty much I did the things as they were planned. Of course you add your own ideas with ad-lib-screams, beginning stuff. But that of course is expected. That is just me doing my thing.
SVEN: How to proceed with III. Are there any future plans regarding that record?
David Readman: It is really difficult to say, isn't it. Could be in 4 months Andre wants me to do it live, you know. If he is going to do it live I could fancy doing some songs, and with Paul Laine being there, with the three us getting to meet, who knows? It really depends a lot on the people. If we sell a few records and there is a definite interest in it...
SVEN: What did interest you in the III project?
David Readman: For me as a singer it was cool to hook up with a different genre of people. Andre is obviously very melodic, he is from Denmark... and it is kind of nice for me as a singer to attract different fans from different kinds of genres. When I was with ADAGIO it was amazing how people discovered that I could sing.
SVEN: Sorry, I don't know the ADAGIO records
David Readman: ADAGIO is kind of a melodic, aggressive, dark thing. ADAGIO definitely opened me up as a person. Suddenly I get French e-mails and entries in my guest book. You suddenly it was that for these guys on earth there is David Readman and he can sing! (laughs) I always tried to sing my best ...
SVEN: ... that's what you do!
David Readman: I would like to think so. But it wasn't until the ADAGIO thing that a lot of people were aware of me.
SVEN: There is always the problem that even if people are into a certain kind of genre, say, listening to TOTO and STING, they don't listen to other bands in that same kind of area ...
David Readman: ... they wouldn't give it a chance ....
SVEN: ... exactly. And most people don't have more than 30-40 CD's, you would not find any new bands there. They focus on the 10 artists they know and like.
David Readman: I mean the good thing about the internet is that if you look around then there is a chance that you are going to check out a band where you are interested in buying a record or unfortunately download it.
SVEN: I want to be honest - 92% is more than I would have rated the III record. To me it is a good mid-eighties record. I would like to explain this. Of course I know what you, Paul Laine and Andre Anderson did in the past. So, there is a big expectation. But, listening to the record, I don't think that the three of you did come together for a few weeks, writing songs and getting into the groove of each other. Because this is what I am not hearing. A merge of superior talent, honoring the writing abilities of each of you. How big a record could have been created, bringing the three of you together.
David Readman: I would definitely love to be more involved when we would be doing another III record actually. I mean with the ADAGIO thing I was involved as far as writing, I guess, three lyrics, and the rest of the melodies and a few parts here and there.
You know, I am bit like that with my solo stuff. It is my baby, and you want to be a big part of it. You let people do a certain level of things, but you won't let them get too involved. You want to be the master mind. What you might call the Malmsteen-effect (grins), you know.
SVEN: I think it is fair to say that with your own solo album you have every right to take over the artistic control. With YNGWIE MALMSTEEN (who's creative output I still like) I find this taken to extremes.
David Readman: Yeah, he is a bit over the top.
SVEN: He wants to dominate everything. If you listen to the latest records that Dougie White sang on, he can't really develop his singing because the tunes seem to be higher then Dougie would like to sing them. If you listen to his other band
yeah, I think there he really performs as a singer. Regarding the singer I am convinced that you have to work with the singer to make your records sound great. I believe that the songs will sound better, because they are performed better.
David Readman: There is a different attitude. On the other hand - at least it get's things going. Because if you rely too much on other people to come up with melodies and stuff and they don't deliver, you are in trouble.
SVEN: Absolutely. Of course I am talking as a guitar player myself. That's not a problem you have, being the lead singer of such great bands. In PINK CREAM 69 you are fully involved into the song writing.
David Readman: Yeah. On Sonic Dynamite (PINK CREAM 69) we got songs were everything was great, the music, the verse, but the refrain was not good. Then I messed around for a while, tried ideas, and with this one single idea made this song from a #3 on the level of new songs to a #1. Everything can be ok, but when the refrain is not very good, a lot of people will say This is not a good song. And to achieve this is harder then ever these days.
SVEN: The hook line and the groove are the most important things in a song.
David Readman: I have to say I like bands like Led Zeppelin not only because they had good choruses, but I liked the vibe of the songs. There were some cool songs! There a lot of songs that are on record that never are going to be played live. But if they have a cool vibe, I still get off of that. But people say, if there is not a refrain, What kind of song is that?.
SVEN: And then you have the 3 minutes attention span of the average audience
David Readman: I spend a lot of time writing. I write a lot of different kinds of stuff. You spend all the time to shorten things up. Let's cut this down, and this, let's get to the point and stuff like that. But sometimes I want to have a 5 minute song, you know.
SVEN: If you analyze radio pop and rock songs it is amazing how fast sometimes you get to listen to the chorus. I mean, apart from starting with the chorus it usually takes you 1 minute to listen to the refrain the first time. If you miss this, the audience might not me interested in your song anymore. Arranging songs is also an important part in writing songs.
David Readman: It is possible. If you got a good song, in the first place. If you got rubbish it is difficult to make the rubbish better. You got to have a spark. You got to have something in it that makes it a really good song. If you have nothing of course you can reach something, but it hurts me as a writer. Because I could put all the energy in there and at the end of the day it is still not very good. I need to have something already well done.
SVEN: So what kind of songs are you writing?
David Readman: In a way I have been writing a lot in PINK CREAM 69 style. I mean I was writing before, although I was not so experienced. In a way I have been going through a school with PINK CREAM 69. When I write songs now it is not necessarily in an absolute PINK CREAM 69 style, but the arrangements are in a certain kind of way, because it works. Why should I experiment when everything I've done so far works?
SVEN: When I saw the playlist on the David Readman Band (his cover live band), I was wondering which course your solo record would take.
David Readman: Well, regarding my solo record I could of course start to go insane and try to make a hip hop record. I could experiment. I like a lot of 70's music, and make such a kind of record, I don't know. I am trying to bring in all my influences. I like to bring a little influence on each kind of song and bring that into the whole project. At the end of the day it is going to be melodic rock. You gotta look it in the face. I am 35 years now. If I decide now to make a gothic rock record or a Bon Jovi record
David Readman: .. oh no, I mean (laughs),
this is what I do, this is what I am known for, you know. I don't strictly wonna be turning into another street. This is what I wonna do, this is what I do best.
I do believe I have a few songs that go not too far into PINK CREAM 69. I mean, I am singing on it in a certain kind of way, already people wrote about the III record David Readman brings in PINK CREAM 69 style! You know, when I was recording it I wouldn't have said that I tried for a minute to bring in such kind of thing. I just sing the way I sing.
SVEN: You are the voice of PINK CREAM 69!
David Readman: Well, now. But a lot of people still think it is the PINK CREAM 69 with Andy Deris. There are people out there, the last record they listened to was the one with Andy Deris (Games People Play).
SVEN: PINK CREAM 69 come from my home town, so of course I knew the guys even before PINK CREAM 69 coming together. Naturally it was a big deal to see those guys succeed, being signed by Sony Music, and everyone wished them luck. With Games People Play, the third record, there was a distinct change of direction. We all know this led to the parting of Andy Deris. Of course your first record with PINK CREAM 69 (Change), was hard to swallow for the die hard melodic rock fans.
David Readman: In the beginning we fully believed in what we were doing. I wouldn't say these decisions were mistakes. You could say that in a way we were finding our way back to were we were supposed to be coming from (laughs).
SVEN: Interestingly enough (for me), today I don't like the Change record so much. When it came out, I thought I was fabulous. I was convinced you make it! But today I have to say, this is not what I like in PINK CREAM 69.
David Readman: At the time, I heard the records before, and we changed a lot of things, but nobody knew what was right or wrong. Melodic rock
it was not dead, you would be put in prison if you would have made a melodic rock record at that time (laughs). Now it is allowed! Suddenly, in the last few years, if you make melodic rock, there is still a market for PINK CREAM 69. We can still make a record. We have especially in Germany a cult status, and with SPV (German record company) we are doing good. We are doing better then we did 1994 / 1995!
SVEN: Depending on the contract and the possibilities.
David Readman: You know, we have always been very careful with the contracts and stuff.
SVEN: So now with Frontiers Records you have found a great partner for your solo album.
David Readman: Yeah, I really would like to have the people to have a listen first. They judge my kind of style. I like to think that it is going to be a good record. I've must have worked on that record now for 3 years. There are songs on that from 1990. So there are also songs on the record that were written before I joined PINK CREAM 69. So it is impossible that they could be PINK CREAM 69 songs. There are probably 1 or 2 PINK CREAM 69 songs on that record that didn't quite make it. The rest of it are really from scratch.
SVEN: Did you write on your own or did you work together with other songwriters?
David Readman: On this record I wrote about 95% myself. I got involved with a guy called Paul Logue from CRY HAVOC, a Scottish band, a really great writer. He is a machine, he is writing millions of songs and he did send a few things over for me to check out. And a couple of these songs were asking for my vocals. I changed a few things, I kept a few things, and I thought that they fitted very well to the record.
And I am also, in a way, not necessarily limited, I do play guitar myself, but I am limited a little bit in my guitar playing. So it is almost impossible for me to create some stuff because of my lack of guitar playing. Whereas Paul, who is actually a bass player, but he's got other people involved, has other possibilities. There are 2 songs would have been in a way impossible for me to create due to their style of guitar playing. It is good that I finally found time to check out these songs and that I decided to put my own thing over it and I did send it over the net to him and he thought it is great. This is definitely a positive thing.
SVEN: Different songwriters just add to the flavor. Who is producing? And will you also work with Dennis (Ward)?
David Readman: Yeah, I work with Dennis. Obviously I will be co-producing. I am doing the vocals myself, the drums I did on half the record with Dirk Bruinenberg (ADAGIO, ELEGY), also a local guy who did work on some of Dennis's projects, in the next few months we go into the studio.
We have done about 7 songs. The bass is done for 7 songs, drums, the guitars and a lot of the vocals. I have just done another writing phase and these songs are now finished. They are ready for the drummer to do his thing. The first part of drums we did in House of Music in Stuttgart. It depends a lot on Dennis' schedule, he's a very busy man. And it could be that we go there again for the next 5 songs or we got to House of Audio. I mean, I like the House of Audio, because we did a lot of the PINK CREAM 69 stuff there. I feel very comfortable there.
SVEN: And you got your own studio
David Readman: Yeah, I did the III record on my own. Which was a kind of a weird experience because normally I record with Dennis. I am used to have somebody say
This was good, but you can do it better
(laughs). I considered to bring Dennis in on the III record but at the end of the day I could really do it by myself.
Dennis is going to mix my solo record. He is very good at that. He mixed the ADAGIO records, and they sound nothing like a PINK CREAM 69 record. I mean he could make every record he ever makes, and mix it in the same kind of way. But he didn't do that. Even with the last PINK CREAM 69 record (Thunderdome). He had his idea were the record should be going whereas I can't imagine that, I ain't got that kind of fantasy in this respect.
SVEN: Trust is also important in choosing those you want to be working with.
David Readman: For me the way to go is with Dennis. He is not only a band colleagues, and we did make a few records, and he is a close friend of mine. I believe he going to do a beautiful job.
SVEN: Who is also playing on the record?
David Readman: There is Paul Logue on the bass, maybe Dennis plays some bass too. I got some tracks from Alex Beyrodt (SILENT FORCE), they are really really strong. He brought into some nice aspects. Concerning my guitar playing he really brought it to the next level.
And Tommy Denander is on a few bits and pieces. I am looking into a few people, but not want to mention who will be involved or not because you don't know who will send you something. There is one thing between getting people involved and they say they are gonna do it and to actually get them to go into their studio and record. When someone says he is going to do it, cool, but unless I have the CD in my hand I am not really sure
SVEN: You seem to be someone to chose carefully your involvement in other musical projects.
David Readman: To do a lot of stuff means to be watering down your potential. But of course it brings you more to the people, more people are aware of you and the space of time you are on the planet. If you don't do so much, just little pieces here and there
it is a fine line between not doing too much and doing enough so people are still respecting you. But whatever you gonna do, it is gonna be good!
SVEN: David, it is been great talking to you.
David Readman: My pleasure. Let's go to the studio and I play you some songs.
And songs he did play. From what I heard everyone should be satisfied who like a good melodic hard rock record. The icing is David's voice, his phrasing and some very nice and unusual ideas.
Copyright by Sven Horlemann for melodicrock.com. April 2006.