Brazen Abbot: Resurrecting Their Best Album Yet.
Nikolo Kotzev talks about the new My Resurrection album, getting the best from his vocalists and work on a new rock opera.
G'Day Nikolo, I'd like to throw some interview questions at you if possible!
Hi Andrew. Nice to hear from you. Thanx for the interest.
Congrats on the new album My Resurrection! It is, I think, the best the band has sounded on any record to date. What can and do you do as principle performer and producer to ensure the studio performances are captured as best as possible and then those performances are relayed to the record?
Thanx. I appreciate the compliment. I always make sure that I hire first rate musicians to begin with. I will never compromise with that. Heaving ensured that, all I have to do is make the performers comfortable in the studio, give them the freedom they need to express themselves and work hard on capturing that little extra quality everyone of them has. The very same quality which made me offer them the job. Obviously I like having good chemistry flowing and try to encourage the guys in every way I can. Usually all of them like to play it safe at first, but I always try to take them over the boundaries and provoke them to be themselves.
How important is the process of mixing and editing those performances?
Extremely important. There is not much editing going on, cause I believe in getting things right a couple of times, maybe three and pick the best out of them. Mixing, however, is a completely different game. I will do it again and again 'till it gets just right. Mixing is about sacrificing smaller things for the greater good. When you get the right balance, everything work perfectly. Getting to that balance though, is very difficult. Since I am also involved in the creative process, "killing your darlings" becomes an extra painful affair.
This new album seemed to come around in pretty quick time compared to the wait between previous records. What circumstances lead to that?
Nothing particular. I make new records when schedules and other duties allow me to write and record. This time I saw a possibility to make a new record rather fast, so I grabbed it.
What was the process of involving the orchestra into these recordings? They add another dimension to the tracks - especially when used on the rockers as well as the ballads (where you would more expect orchestral parts).
I try to make a step forward with every new album. I try to make them slightly different from each other.
That keeps BA fresh and growing. This time around I saw the chance of using an orchestra. While writing the material for the album, I often found myself thinking: "Now, wouldn't it be great if I had and orchestra for this part or that riff?"
Well, I believe in pursuing my gut feeling and go for that extra achievement, which will make your creation memorable, so I decided to use the orchestra. It is true - the orchestra adds another dimension and I simply love that. I arranged everything for few days and recorded everything rather fast too - I used parts of Bulgaria's best state orchestra.
And back to the production - how hard was it to incorporate the orchestra into the songs without losing balance?
At some points it was quite hard. I avoided using the orchestra just "for the sake of it". Getting the right blend with the band was not always easy - I had to be careful not to shoot my own leg. I wanted to enrich and enforce the impact of the band and not disturbe it by showing-off with the orchestra. That's why the orchestra arrangements are at times rather basic, but always well placed and mixed. The mix is just right. Whenever I need more orchestra, I make sure it is heard really well.
Is it hard to perfect performances when some parts -such as vocals - are recorded in studios half way around the world from you?
Oh, but they are not....;-) All singers always came to me in Finland, you know...
Well, that explains the great atmosphere/mix! To the songs of My Resurrection - 12 on offer here - when were these written? All new songs for this album?
I started writing in March 2004. All the songs are new, written for this album. It usually takes me three months to write an album. It depends on inspiration and mood....Sometimes it is easier, sometimes - difficult.
It is tough to stay fresh and productive, that's for sure.
We see a couple of different angels from you as a writer this time around. This record is a little more aggressive in places - was that a conscious decision? Tell us about such tracks as Bad Madman and Godforsaken for example.
That was intentional. I looked for a contemporary approach in the writing, the sound and the performances.
It is usually the song which dictates to a different extent how much of this contemporary feeling I can have.
Obviously some of the songs on the album, like the two you mentioned allow more space for that.
Both of these songs' lyrics are quite provocative and allow the singer to interpret in a special way - more aggressive and powerful.
From your very first album, you have always used different vocalists within an album. Tell us why you chose to use that option?
It was a pure accident. Originally Göran Edman was to be the BA singer, but when the backing tracks were laid and it was time for singing, he got some problems with the record company and they wouldn't allow him to sing more than two songs. Then I sent a demo tape to Glenn Hughes (Ian Haugland was just going on a European tour with him). Glenn agreed to do three songs....So I still had six available songs with no singer for them. I called Thomas Vikström and that's how it all started.
Ah, so you have considered using just 1 vocalist for an album!
Yes, I have. In that case, I will use the right one, but I can decide only then, depending on the timing and the situation. For now, I am fine with things just as they are.
You and Joe Lynn Turner seem to have the most natural partnership - built I guess through years of collaborating. Tell us a little about working with Joe?
Magic. I know how to write the perfect song for him, he knows how to make the best out of it. If you look back, everything we did together turned out rather well. We've got the right chemistry going, the mutual respect for each-other and we are very productive. If you put us both in a room, we'll come out with a new song...ha, ha...
And you have worked with some other great names as Jorn Lande and Glenn Hughes. Anything to share about these greats?
Well, anything I say will be pale... Just like in the case with Joe, these guys are the ultimate professionals.
They will deliver at a 100%, with the right feeling and devotion. In fact, I feel blessed for having worked with all these singers.
Glenn's participation in the first BA album opened many doors for me rather quickly and I am very thankful for that. Jörn is already a well established name among the new generation of singers with very, very long career ahead of them. I am looking forward to working with all of them again and hope I'll have that chance.
Now to the line-up for this record - Goran and Joe has been with you from the outset, but this time 2 new vocalists. Tell us about your collaborations with Tony Harnell and Erik Martensson? How did each come to pass and how are you pleased with the outcomes?
Obviously, they are both first class singers. Tony was recommended to me by the record company. I admit, that I didn't really know him. I knew of TNT and that it was a great band. So, I went out and bought the latest TNT album and checked Tony out. A fantastic singer....Obviously, I gave him a call.
Erik has been quite active on the Swedish scene lately and I always saw a potential live singer in him. I'm impressed with his talent - he is quite multi-directional, plays guitar too....A good asset to BA in my opinion.
I confess to absolutely loving the Goran track Beggars Lane - what a great intro and texture!
Thanx, I love that song too. It's one of my favorites. Not for everyone and probably many people won't even understand it, but then again: hey - noone is perfect! ;-) ....
That's of course just me joking... It is a special one. It probably won't appeal to fans of
real heavy stuff, but fans of melodic rock will love it.... Just listen to the lyrics...it's good stuff.
Looking back now, how do you rate your Nostradamus rock opera?
I am really proud of it. Sometimes I can't even comprehend the fact that I actually wrote that....;-) A great achievement on my personal scale.
Do you think you could do such an ambitious project again and if so, do you have any plans already?
Most certainly. I am writing song number six (out of 22) for my next rock opera. A rather huge enterprise too.
I will have eight singers, three will be female. Only three of the singers have been approached and they all agreed to participate. The other five are still to be casted. The story is great, I have been inspired by some tales and stories, but rewrote it all and made a script which will be suitable for my needs. The story is about great (and not so great) human values, sacrifice, love, trust and the fight between the Bad and the Good.
I simply love it and am very excited about the whole project. And of course, I am planning on using an orchestra.
It will all be ready sometime next year, I hope...
But still more Brazen Abbot planned?
BA has always been and still is my highest priority. I am planning and hope to be able to keep up with productivity and release many albums in the future. Playing live is something I love and I hope there will be many chances to do that.
Do you see yourself playing many shows in support of this release. How hard is it to get the band and singe/s together to showcase an album such as BA?
It is not hard on my behalf, but in today's difficult business I need promoters, venues, managers and lots of other things to be taken care of
It simply becomes an expensive affair, so touring is not at all easy....I hope we will be able to tour.
Do you have a favourite album you have recorded, or is it a case of the best is always the last and next one?
I think my favourite album is always the one I am about to make next. Of course I love all my previous albums and think they are all very good. I have always put the best I had into them, that's for sure...
Speaking of...what is next for you Nikolo? Anything other than this huge rock opera that is! What comes next and do you envisage doing anything differently next time around?
I am writing songs for the new rock opera. That'll keep me busy for a while...I hope I can do some touring in Europe during the Summer and Autumn.
Anything you would like to add to fans of yours reading this?
Thanx for the support and for being there for me!
And remember! Fight the music pirates - illegal downloading kills musicians.
Thanks for your time!
You are welcome, thank a lot and best regards!!!!