RON COOLEN INTERVIEW 23/02/20
MM:Hi congratulations on your Album “Rise” how pleased are you with the response from the media
RC:Thank you so much Seb, especially to you, being one of the first media guys that responded very positively. I am absolutely stoked with the response from the media sofar. Right until the final mastering I basically did not care what other people would say, as long as I was 300% happy myself with the result. But then, as soon as the masters were finished and I started media campaigns, I noticed that of course I did care what people would think. You know, people like Ozzy Osbourne, Annihilator and Biff Byford are releasing albums at the same time, so when I realized my music would be judged in the league of these big names, I got a bit nervous to be honest. So yeah, of course it is very cool to see all the great reviews that RISE is getting!
MM: How long did the Album take to complete and why the Album title “Rise”
RC:Having my own album has always been a dream since I was a kid. Sometimes it takes a while to execute things, and in this case it took many many years, but when I decide to go for something, then I go for it. 3 years ago I started writing my first song ever, and within a few months I had a number of songs, and decided to go for a full album. The main process of writing and structuring existing ideas into end-to-end songs happened until the end of 2018. I had about 25 songs, and worked on 15 of them from that point onwards. Searching for the right guest musician, approach them, get their contributions and get flabbergasted every time they submitted their parts. 2019 was a very intense year completing the whole album, not only musically, but also prepare for the promotional side of things, since I do everything myself.
Why “Rise” ? Well, the title is short, simple and powerful. And to me it is a synonym for the development I have made as a musician and as a person. Doing this album made me rise above anything I have ever done in music ever before.
MM: Where did you draw your inspirations and ideas from for the Album
RC:When listening to music I always focus on guitars and drums, so in my mind I am always thinking of rhythms and riffs. Over the years I have collected many ideas on paper, or whistling and humming them into my phone. So musically speaking, the ideas for the songs were collected over a long period of time.
Regarding lyrics, I have a broader interest in social themes like politics, religions, climate and all the mechanisms around them. I needed others to write lyrics, since that is really an art I had little experience with. Keith St. John and Francoise Vaal (who is the singer in my AC/DC coverband) wrote some beautiful lyrics on some intriguing happenings, like the huge bushfires in California in 2018 (which is what the song “Paradise” is about) and the “festival-killing” in Las Vegas in 2017 (the topic of the song “Too late to surrender”).
I did a lot of retrospective research into these disasters, to really understand what happened, and also, how victims still deal with the consequences of these events everyday, while the rest of the world has returned to business as usual. This is very sad, so therefore I hope the 2 songs will also raise awareness for the people of Paradise, and the victims of the shooting.
MM: What would you say is your favourite song on “Rise” today and why?
RC:All songs are totally equal to me, they all have an interesting personal and musical story and all have fantastic musical contributions. So I can only answer this one if you would put a gun to my head and force me to choose one. In that case I would say “White Summer”, not only for musical reasons, but also because of the difficult “birth” of it.
As soon as I wrote the basics back in 2018, I knew the potential of the song was big. I had a struggle however with getting the vocals organized. Before Keith St. John got involved, I had approached 2 other singers, who both did not deliver and kept me waiting for many months, delaying the whole project.
I decided to stop waiting for them, turned to Keith and kind of begged him to do this one (which was Keith’s song #6 for me). Luckily he saw the potential too and decided to go for it in October ‘19. I was astonished by the result. His vocals were beyond amazing, and they made such a good fit with the oriental touch of the music, and integrated perfect with the guitar solo’s of Stephan Forte. Although we were never in 1 studio together, it felt as a perfect match and synergy between the 3 of us.
MM: There is a mixture of very talented musicians on “Rise” how easy has it been to get everything together.
RC:Looking back now, the album maybe seems the result of a well worked out plan. But actually when I was in the middle of it, I was continuously puzzling things and often had no clue where I would end up. So it was not easy at all to get it all puzzled together.
The album is a solo project, next to my “usual” instruments of rhythm guitars and drums, I also play bass and keyboards on the album. So I had to invite singers and solo guitarists to for these parts. I was very aware that I have a network of good musicians, but I had to make sure that every guest musician’s individual skill added value to the song, giving exactly what the song needed, and lift the song to another level. Also, I was always aware that I had to make sure that so many guest players would not make the album too messy and too diverse. So I was very careful and conscious as to who I approached for a contribution. Keeping the total project in a good balance was a challenge too.
MM:The Artwork is awesome as well will you have that framed on your wall?
RC:Thank you so much. I really like the artwork too, A friend of mine recommended a designer from Greece (Jor Art Designs), who had made a cover for a Dutch band called Hate More, a few years ago. So Jor did the cover of RISE and the artwork of the CD booklet and the website. And yeah, someday I will put it up on my wall for sure!
MM: Do you plan to take “Rise” in the road
RC:In my head I have many plans and dreams for the future, the ultimate one is to play live with all guest musicians on the same stage. It is however difficult to get such a show or tour financed. But you never know what happens.
Keith St. John and I have plans and ideas to do some touring together too, but that needs to be further worked out. I can not be concrete about it now, other than that I would love to go out on the road, step in a van and drive around all across Europe. If there is enough interest, then I will go on the road for sure!
MM: You donate $1 to the Jason Becker charity for every record sold, why that particular Charity.
RC:Next to music I am a sporty guy doing crazy challenges. So in 2008 with a group of friends we decided to run the New York Marathon. In the Netherlands it is very common to combine such a challenge with fundraising for a good cause. I decided to raise money for Jason. I have been a Jason fan from the Cacophony period onwards, and followed him ever since. I still remember the day I read about Jason being diagnosed with ALS. He had just joined the David Lee Roth Band and it was only a matter of time before he would be a huge rock star. He had everything going for him, and that was all ruined at once, and I felt so sorry for him.
So back to 2008, via MySpace I asked many musicians to donate some memorabilia (signed CD’s, guitar picks, albums, posters, cymbals, whatever), and I the sold it to the highest bidder on eBay, with the proceeds going to Jason. I collected USD 3,000 for Jason, and through this, I got to know many musicians who appreciated the initiative. Many of them were actually a huge fan of Jason themselves. In the same year I went to see Jason at his house in Richmond, this was almost a spiritual experience.
Then in 2011 I was part of the group that organized the “Jason Becker Not Dead Yet Festival” in Haarlem (NL), where an incredible line-up of musicians paid tribute to Jason. We had Atma Anur, Guthrie Govan, Michael Lee Firkins, Stephan Forte, Andy James, Kiko Loureiro, Michael Lee Firkins, Timo Somers, Mattias Eklundh to name but a few.
So now with the release of RISE, it was logic to do something for Jason again. I learned from him to believe, enjoy, do what you love and go for it.
MM: What's the most memorable concert you've been to (other than your own) and why?
RC:Wooww, that is a difficult one, I have seen so many bands all those years, but I think I go for the Van Halen concert in 1984 at the Monsters of Rock Festival in Karlsruhe (Germany). With a group of friends we travelled on a bus during the night for 8 hours. I was young and easy to impress at that time, and I was so BIG into Van Halen. And just imagine that back then there was no YouTube, mobile or anything, so there was little knowledge of what to expect. It was in a big stadium, huge stage, and after Accept, Motley Crue, Gary Moore and Dio it was Van Halen that blew everyone away. Eddie was so good! I think I have never been that overwhelmed ever again…..
MM: What do you feel has been your biggest accomplishment so far with your musical career
RC:RISE, without a doubt by far my biggest achievement ever.
MM:Which are your Two favourite Heavy Metal Albums
RC:To me the best album ever is ‘If you want blood’ by AC/DC, I can dream every note and it. Bon Scott is the best rock singer in history of music. I never got used to Brian Johnson. The other one I would say is Van Halen - Women & Children First. For weeks I drove by the record store, looking at that great cover, until I had saved enough money to buy the album. “Everybody wants some” is such a great song.
Of course too many good albums have been made over the last 40 years, but since my references increase over the years, it is just impossible to beat the impressions of the albums of your youth.
MM: can you remember the first time you ever played live and how it felt to have people watching u
RC:To be honest I cannot remember my first gig, for sure it must have been in a small club with my first band Razor. In general I can say that I always love to play live and it’s great when the audience has fun and a good night out. I am never nervous or anything, but always look forward to get on that stage and work hard to win every crowd every night again, big or small.
MM :Who do you think influenced the world of Metal / Rock more than any other person
RC: Every generation learns from the previous generation. I am not old enough to really value the impact of people like Jimi Hendrix. From my own historical perspective I guess Eddie van Halen has really brought guitar playing to a complete new dimension and gave it a new direction. The basics of millions of guitar players around the world can be traced back to Eddie.
MM:If you could do a cover of any song which one would it be and why?
RC:As you may know I have been playing in cover- and tribute bands for the last 10 years, and I am happy to finally play my own music now, ha ha. With my current AC/DC coverband I love playing Riff Raff, that one is always a big blast at our gigs. If you ask me which song I would love to be able play, then it is Tooth & Nail by Dokken. I would do anything to be able to play that guitar solo. George Lynch is absolutely phenomenal.
MM:Tell us why we should buy “Rise”
RC:RISE is about passion and love for music. RISE has many high level guest musicians, often in unique combinations on the same song. If you like long guitar solos, then you should definitely buy it, of the total 55 minutes, almost 15 minutes are guitar solos by the best guys around.
That’s the beauty of being musician 9Ron Coolen) and record company (RC Music) in one, you can completely do what you want and stay away from the usual commercial conventions. Just make the best music you think is possible. And of course, if you buy RISE, Jason Becker will benefit from it too, soit also about doing good.
MM:Four words to describe “Rise"
RC:A dream come true
Final Words for your fans and our Readers
RC:First I want to thank you Seb for your earliest and immediate interest in my project, you were really one of the first. For an artist it is so important that an album gets picked up, so thank you so much for that.
The best thing that can happen to me now, is that people take the time to listen to my music. Just sit down for an hour and enjoy the music. Then let me know what you think of it. Send me an e-mail or message from my website, and I will answer each and every one.
The music was made with love and passion, and it would be a dream if people like it, get comfort out of it, if it makes them happy, gives them hope or anything one can get out of the songs. That would be so cool to hear. I would love to take this project out on the road and play live for you, I need you to make that happen by expressing your interest, wherever and whenever you can.
In any case, the positive response on RISE from the media and fans has definitely made me hungry to start working on the next album. So let’s keep in touch guys and thank you upfront for your interest in my music.
JASON BECKER CHARITY For every album sold, Ron will donate 1 USD to Jason Becker, who is suffering from ALS. Jason needs every support to pay for his medical bills. Jason has been a huge inspiration to Ron throughout his musical career, and Ron has done charity work for Jason before. Follow this link for more information on the charity for Jason.