So Mark, Ring Of Fire the band name stared off as a solo follow up to your debut...what made it feel right to re-name it a band project?
I really felt I wanted it to be more than just a solo project, because it was such fun working with these guys, and I wanted to make it a permanent situation.
Musically, Ring Of Fire contains just about everything the melodic metal fan could wish for!
What was the master plan heading into the writing of this release?
Well, we wanted to take everything to the next level, of course, in every way possible.
My personal view is that drummer Virgil Donati is a legend. You certainly put him to work with those double kick drums and speed loops!! haha
Did you enjoying working with the boy from Oz?
Virgil is a great friend of mine, and also my favorite drummer!!!!
He is a monster!!!
How do you view this musically in relation to the debut solo CD?
Like I said above, I think it's one step beyond that. It's an extension of the work we started, and as we work together more closely in the future, touring, and making more albums, we will continue to grow both individually and as a unit.
Let's talk about the line up on Ring Of Fire. How did you hook up with George, Virgil, Philip and Vitalij?
Ok, Virgil has been my friend for a while, as I first heard him playing with his band Planet X at a live show here in LA, and got to talking with him after the show, because I was simply devastated by his playing!
Vitally was introduced to me by Yngwie at first, when he was considering keyboard players, and he thought Vitally was good, but too inexperienced.
I thought he was fantastic, so I kept him in mind for a future purpose, which I realized on the solo album, and now as a band member for "The Oracle".
George was introduced to me by Vitally, because he had played on one of Vitalij's solo albums.
He was great and also easy-going, so he got the gig.
Philip was needed after the departure of my friend Barry Dunaway for bass, because of another gig he had, so I was at the Steve Vai studio, and he happened to come by, and so he jammed with us a little, and everything clicked.
So, there we have a Great Band!!!
Any plans to change this line up for future releases, or is this now a locked in band project?
It is a Band, a real band, but we will be growing and changing, and doing it together as a unit.
George certainly plays his ass off on the album, did you expect this from him, or were you also surprised at how good the record turned out?
I fully expected every note that everyone played! I have even higher expectations for the future!
Any live dates possible at this stage?
Yes! Of course! We will be playing in Japan in Feb. 2002, and also Hong Kong and Taiwan.
We are also trying to tie in some Europe shows!
We would love to come "Down Under" some day!
Love to have you down here! How would you personally describe the release and the style of hard rock you specialize in?
Well this album is definitely neo-classic melodic rock by definition, but I think the band has much more capabilities which we will continue to exploit more fully in the future.
You wrote all the music on this album, what do you consider is your musical influences in your life?
Influences are all around me, but mostly from classical and ethnic music lately, and also from my surroundings and the musicians I am working with.
How do you conduct the writing process? Everyone seems to have a different way of doing it, what is yours?
Mine is different for every song. Sometimes it is the music that I write first. Other times it is the lyric or melody. Other times, it is the whole song that suddenly appears in my head, and that's my favorite way!
You also produced this album - do you enjoy the hands on approach that you have?
I do enjoy it, but I wouldn't mind working with a great producer, either. It's mostly out of necessity at this point to do it myself.
Making an record from scratch is obviously a hard task. How do you fire yourself up to such a task?
It's not so hard once you actually get started. It's just getting the first few songs done that is difficult sometimes. It really helps to have a band also, which is why I wanted to do a "band" as opposed to a "Solo" album.
Do you enjoy the studio work side of things?
Yes, I do, but my favorite thing is playing concerts!
Nothing in the world beats that feeling you get when you play that great song in front of a great crowd and you hear them screaming because they love it!!!
How does it vary making a record when you are in control, to a situation where you have little control (or no control at all!!), such as working with Yngwie Malmsteen?
Both are interesting and different. I always learn something new when I am making a record, whether it's for another artist, or myself.
I really enjoy both, but at times there can be some frustration with someone telling you to do another take when you know you just did the best one you'll ever do!!!
Also there can be frustration with the songwriting if you're not allowed to participate at all.
You and Yngwie have had a mixed relationship (as do most that work with him), but you keep going back to him? How do you explain this, or putting it better - what calls you back?!!
Ah, it's the call of the wild!
You know how it can be so fascinating to swim with the sharks, or run with the bulls, or go on safari and sneak up on lions or rhinos, etc, etc.?
I guess it's something like that.
Yngwie is sort of like a wild animal, untamed and dangerous, but also fascinating sometimes!
The two of you have obviously made some great records - but the last one was somewhat of a disappointment - production wise especially....
Yes!!! as I mentioned above, it started out that we would co-write some songs and there would be a producer and all, but it turned out to be a whole other thing by the time it was finished!!!
I think I was more disappointed than anyone!!!
Do you know why Yngwie chose to produce that record himself?
I think it was the old, "anyone can do it" feeling that got the best of his better sense.
There were obviously tensions there, as you left soon afterwards?
Yes, obviously, for the above reasons and others. Broken promises, you know how annoying that can be?
But he called on you to join him on tour after Jorn Lande dropped out mid tour (again after problems...) - first he said some pretty bad things about you as a singer, but you ended up together anyway....what did he say to convince you to re-join him?
What did he say? Other than I was crazy and greedy or something like that?
Anyway, of course I am not any of those, but I AM a person ready to help a compatriot in need!
He was really in a fix, so I said I would help, and I had a great time doing the tour!
Any plans to work with Yngwie again?
I am very busy at the moment, and we had a bit of disagreement at the end of the tour(!)so it doesn't look like it.
.What plans do you as an artists have in mind for 2002? What can we expect next from Mark Boals?
First will be some live shows with Ring Of Fire, in Feb. 2002, and a live album/ DVD from that. Also there will be a new solo album that I am working on now, with some other great musical geniuses, to be out in late spring/early summer. Then, look for the new Ring Of Fire album to be out in November, to be accompanied by a full on tour!!! I have a few more surprises for next year as well, so look out!!!
Anything you would like to add Mark - to the casual reader or to fans of yours?
To anyone reading this, I hope you all enjoy my new work and stay tuned for developments that are coming soon, because 2002 is going to be a Big, Year for Ring Of Fire and a lot of other great work that I have been holding back!!!!!
How do you see the current scene for melodic metal and other forms of heavy music?
I think it has been on the decline for so long, especially in America, so that if previous cycles repeat themselves, we should see a resurgence very soon in heavy melodic rock music!!!!
Is there anything fans can do to improve the situation for the artists involved?
Yes, they should get behind their favorite artists and write to radio stations and record labels asking for that kind of music. Sign in on band websites and add the web hits up to show the labels that people want to hear something different than the corporate rubbish that is fed day in and day out to the world !!!
I think a lot of people are waiting for the next guy to do it, but please, everyone - us artists have a tough time making ends meet very much of the time, so it's harder to make the great music that you love, SO PLEASE GIVE US A HAND!!!!!
Thanks for taking some time out to talk to me and answer these questions!