Josh Ramos: Two Fires becomes one. Josh talks in detail about his great new AOR project Ramos.
Hey Josh. Ok, here we go with some questions!
First up - your saw my review, so you saw I really like the new album. Based on the albums you have been involved in previously, what was the game plan for the album before you hit the studio?
I wanted to write songs, ideas that had been in my mind for some time, but I didn't want to use them with anyone else, I wanted to write the words and music for at least half of the CD. Sometimes it's hard when your in a project with someone else and you say to them, here's a song that I've written, it can cause friction, because the other person feels left out, or doesn't want to accept the fact that it's your vision,
You have recorded and album that touches on your past, but also has a new sound in there too. Is this Josh Ramos asserting more of hi sown individual sound/style?
Yes, I think so, a person needs to grow, and move in a different direction in order to find yourself, sometimes express what your all about, I've always added my style of writing and playing to other artist and often wondered what my individual sound would be, I guess some of the songs I've written alone, reflects a light on what I'm all about as a musician and songwriter.
I don't have the full songwriter credits, but from what you have aid previously, you wrote, or co-wrote all the album's songs. Did you find that task daunting, or did you jump at the chance to be in full control?
I don't think anyone really needs to be in total control, what I mean is, there's so many great ideas coming from the people around you that are working with you, from song writing to production etc. I think you should have a clear plan of what you want, but yet be flexible with your understanding and understanding of other people's ideas, to listen and be aware of everything around you, and then make your decision.
I don't want to get into any comparison deal with Two Fires - as that's its own project and one I have really enjoyed - but would you like to have written more songs on these two albums or The Storm records?
Yes, I would have. With Two Fires, Kevin had already written most of the songs, but then I would play these ideas I was working on and Kevin would start to sing a melody and then the next thing you know we have another song. I tend to be a chameleon and adapt to that other persons style of writing, with The Storm I did include some of my ideas, but again, most of the material had already been written, plus Gregg and Kevin were doing the majority of the song writing, and I think I was the new kid on the block working with these heavy weights, so I still needed to prove myself in the writing department.
There is only 1 issue I would like to raise - there is one track on the last Two Fires album that didn't feature you - why was that? You still play gigs with Kevin Chalfant - is there any chance of a third Two Fires album?
Well the reason for that was, I had already finished all of my guitar tracks, I guess Serafino wanted another uptempo song, so after I left to go back home Kevin decided to record that song. I think maybe if we all had tried, I could have recorded my guitars on that song via sending it to me or something, anyway
Then to name the song Ignition, which is the title track to the CD, and not have me on the song, well I mean it's supposed to be Two Fires, Kevin and I
it's behind me anyway, I have been doing shows with Kevin as The Storm, except without the other guys, it's been going pretty good, as far as another Two Fires CD, I don't know, the circumstances would have to be different, but I'm enjoying my solo career for now.
How about a third Storm album with Gregg Rolie if he was interested?
I don't think that will ever happen, Gregg is very serious about his band and his Latin roots, plus Ross is doing great with Journey, it would probably have to take a lot of fans wanting another CD, plus money if anything was going to happen, it would be great thou.
Let's talk more about the Ramos album. The players involved on the record - where were they drawn from?
Well, lets start with Atma, I've known Atma since '86, I love his playing, I had been working with Neal Schon and his line of guitars at the time, I would go to there rehearsals, they were auditioning drummers for (Raised on Radio) tour, I kept telling Neal I have a drummer for you, he kept saying yeah, yeah, until the last day of auditioning I brought up Atmas name again. This time he said, call him but he has to be here soon, I called Atma, he was there in a flash, he sounded great, Steve Perry came up to me and said thank you very much, I'll have your baby any time, and then we laughed, long story short I don't want to say what happened with Atma and Journey, you would have to ask him.
Atma was great on my CD, I've said before, I always play with drummers that come from a fusion music background, they give me what I hear and need for my music, Stu Hamm played with Atma in another band and asked if he could play on my CD, I almost fell on the floor, he's such a great player, Russ Greene was in a Journey tribute band, so I knew he could play all those keyboard parts I was thinking about, he's also a great Classical player, Micheal T Ross plays with me in Hardline.
I needed some other key parts and he was there for me, Scott Snyder is a Bass player with Micheal in a band called Accomplice, he plays 5 string Bass which I needed for the songs, and he nailed everything and played on the rest of the CD.
Finally Mark - I was already recording with another singer, he didn't work out, so I started auditioning singers, nobody really touch me, one day I heard from this guy who was mastering the Hardline CD that he had a friend that we should check out, we did, and he blew me away, Kelly Hansen who was producing my CD had him come down to the studio when I wasn't there, he called me and played a little of a song he had Mark sing on, when I heard it I thought it was Kelly, because Kelly has a great voice too as you know, he said no, that's Mark, and I knew I had found the singer, things happen for a reason.
Good to see Michael T Ross involved (from Hardline) - what about Russ Greene's excellent keyboard work?
Russ is one of those players that can play anything your thinking about in a song, and adds his own style to it, like (The Dream Is Alive) or the beginning of (Winds of Change) it gives me goose bumps, I love when a musician can do that to me and Russ does.
How did you find working with Mark?
Mark is great to work with, He's not afraid to try different ways of singing, for example the song (Living in the Light) Kelly suggested trying a different approach, more breathy, something he hadn't really done before, but when he tried it , it came out perfect, and he's a great guy too, I have a picture I took in the studio while he's recording a vocal track with his baby in his arms looking up at him with these big eyes while he's singing, great shot.
Favourite tracks on the album? I love the title track and Winds Of Change!
Winds of Change is one of my favorite songs, I love what Stu and Russ do on the opening chords, and then Mark comes in with that beautiful voice, Living in the Light is another one, the solo on that one came out pretty good.
Tell me Why, the Egyptian voice into the guitar intro was very cool to do for me, it came out exactly as I had pictured it in my head, The Dream is Alive is another song that I love Marks voice on, lots of room to just concentrate on his voice.
I love what he does coming out of my solo, Come back to Me, Love is the Magic, again Marks voice, the message of the song, everything came together in that song, and Willie, for my brother, I love all the songs on my CD, they all have something good to say.
Take It Or Leave It rocks!! Might we here more of that side of you in the future?
I think so, I love uptempo songs, most of the other artists that I've worked with tend to shy away from songs like that, but yeah.
I still hold in high regard the Two Fires Gods 2000 show -shame it wasn't ever released as a CD. What a line-up!!!
I had a wonderful time at that Gods fest, we sounded great, I was so lucky to have been playing along side Jim Peterik, Kelly Keagy, Gary Moon and the rest of the guys, I'll never forget that night including other things that made it magical, I agree with you that it was never recorded properly and released, what a shame.
What's the best few gigs you have ever played?
Wow, I've played so many great gigs with everyone, the first time I played with The Storm on tour with Bryan Adams, because it was my first big tour, playing with Menudo at Radio City Music Hall in New York, almost ever gig in South America, every show for me is the best, because you make the best of any situation.
When was the last time you spoke with Neal Schon? You guys seem to swap half-hearted insults and compliments!
I saw and spoke to Neal last year with Journey, I have never said anything bad about Neal or will ever, he has always been a friend to me and one of my biggest influences.
Other than Journey and Schon, what other bands/artists have you grown up with and been inspired by?
Well, I grew up listening to mostly fusion music, for example UK with Allan Holdsworth and Tony Williams, nobody plays like him, Al Dimeola on Elegant Gypsy, Gary Moore on anything he's played on, Eddie van Halen, Lenny Whites album with Neal Schon on one song, the list goes on and on.
What would you like to do next Josh? Another Ramos record or have you something else planned?
I would love to tour with my band in Europe, and play this stuff live, and then I would love to start another Ramos CD.
Is there anyone you would really love to work with?
Yeah, David Coverdale, I love the way that guy sings, and of course Steve Perry, I wrote Winds of Change with him in mind.
In the album Track By Track we did, you speak of your past band Elan. Who were this band and what was your history with them?
Elan was a band that David Peterson, one of my best friends had that I joined back in 86 thru 91, we were managed by the great late Bill Graham, Elan won Best Bay area band a lot of times in San Francisco, we were a great band, everyone always came to see us when we played, a couple of times Neal Schon came and sat in with us, we came so close, too bad we never had a real chance, but I still write songs with David, for example Love is the Magic.
Are there any other projects you have worked on but have not been released?
No, I don't think so, unless someone released something I'm not aware of.
Anything you would like to add Josh?
I just hope my fans are happy with the music I'm putting out, anything that comes from the heart is always pure and honest, so this is my gift to all of you, Life is short, so live it like if it was the last day on earth, love to you all!
Thanks again for taking the time out to talk to me!
Thank you Andrew and Melodicrock for your time.