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Interview with Marc Storace of Krokus.
Interview and photography by Rob Kern.
“It feels fucking great to be rocking on an American stage!” exclaimed Krokus front man Marc Storace at their recent show in Cleveland, Ohio. After an eighteen-year absence from the American rock scene, Krokus have returned to reclaim a piece of the rock market. Marc Storace led the Rock The Block lineup (with past-Krokus alum. Mandy Meyer filling the departed Fernando Von Arb slot) through a classic set featuring tunes old (“Night Wolf”, “Long Stick Goes Boom”) and new (“Mad World”, “Rock The Block”). In the past two decades, Marc’s voice sounds as fresh as ever and the band displayed a fire and energy that left those in attendance shouting for more.
Shortly before taking the stage in Cleveland, From Out Of Nowhere editor Rob Kern sat down with Marc Storace and discussed Krokus’ return to the states and future plans for the band.
FOON: So how’s the US tour going so far?
Marc Storace: Fine, we’re having a very good reaction from the people. Even if it’s only 300 at times, it sounds like 5,000 out there. The whole energy and spirit of rock and roll is alive and we’re happy to help make it grow.
FOON: It’s been quite some time since you’ve been stateside.
MS: Yes, far too long, eighteen years!
FOON: The big question people have been asking is, “Where’s Fernando?” Let’s talk about his replacement, Mandy Meyer.
MS: It’s no big question, it’s a normal question and lots of people have stepped down during the history of this band and actually the new lead guitar player is no new lead guitar player at all. He (Mandy) stepped down in 1981 and I called him immediately when Fernando stepped down and asked him to rejoin the ranks. He was real happy that I called him, we stayed buddies (through the years), we barbequed, we partied and drank a few beers every time we met. He knows my family and I know his family, so on and so forth. We only live one hour apart and now he’s back and we’re on the road, going through the test, you know, and it’s working and I’m happy with the new band.
FOON: You’ve had Fire and Gasoline Live! and Rock The Block come out stateside last year, how did that come about, did you have a hard time finding a stateside label that would give you support and distribution?
MS: The way it was found, it happened just by chance. I was offered to do this project with Warrior, it’s a heavy metal band from the 80’s from California. Joe Floyd, Warrior’s lead guitar player, works at Silver Cloud Studios as engineer and producer and Warren Croyle is a producer and owner of Silver Cloud and also CEO of Reality, which is the company we are with in the USA. So it was like one and one makes two and Warren said, “How about Krokus, lets talk about it…” and I said I would carry the suggestion home and talk to our manager, he was due to come to the states and check on about 12 or 16 contacts and we would add them to the contacts and we would see what happens. When our manager returned to Switzerland, he said, “Reality is number one on our list.” I was like, “Great, I know the guys” it’s keeping things close, it’s always good to have a relationship with somebody already going, it was great news to me.
FOON: Any word on a DVD release in the US?
MS: In Europe we have a DVD included with the Fire And Gasoline Live! package and here I believe it’s a different package, without the DVD. It has its reasons, production costs and everything. The way I see it, is it’s only a matter of time until we reestablish ourselves in the USA. We bought new equipment, which we are going to leave stateside, we have a new manager here in the states, Adam Parsons, he manages Motorhead. We have a new booker, Mark Hyman, he works with Paradise Artists who have Queen and Paul Rodgers and a whole number of acts, you can check out their website at www.paradiseartists.com. We are in good hands and it’s just a matter of actually doing, we just have to do it and that’s what we’re doing (laughs).
FOON: So Krokus is in this (US market) for the long haul, it’s not a one-off tour?
MS: No, it’s not a one-off, we’re gonna leave our stateside gear here to save on shipping and freight and slowly reestablish ourselves. We’re happy to be here with just our skeleton crew and really basic needs, we’re not doing any big arenas or anything like that. If we did, it would be like a spontaneous thing, “Hey, someone has dropped off a bill, would you…” If anything like that turns up… I just talked with my old friend Alice Cooper, maybe if his opening act would drop out (laughs)… That’s only an example; it’s really great to be back here. My heart was yearning for this for years.
FOON: It’s great to have you back, I thought that Rock The Block was a real breath of fresh air as far as a straight ahead rock record goes. It reminded me of early 80’s Krokus.
MS: Thanks, we aimed for that, we just said, “Let’s just be ourselves…” Even the new guys in the band, they actually liked to go for what we were known for best. Give the people what they want. So it was very satisfying when we realized that we achieved the goal and saw the results of our hard work. For the first time in Krokus’ history we achieved a number one with a bullet hit in our own country. It’s no matter of fact in the land of banks, watches and chocolates, it’s quite a conservative country, everyone loves rock and roll but it’s still different. The whole scene was going through this kind of confused time, so many new, different music styles including techno, house and hip hop, stuff like that. So, actually, it meant that people’s dollar was being split in so many different ways than it was twenty years ago. So one doesn’t expect to have the same amount of sales as one hoped to achieve in the 80’s, you have a more humble attitude. We’re just happy to be rocking and making ends meet.
This tour is like a break-even tour and if the merchandise sales are very phenomenal then we’ll have a little bonus, which I think everybody in this group deserves. We’re traveling long distances, spending nights on the bus; it’s really back to the roots. I think that’s good for the music, good for the attitude, good for the shows. The shows are really kicking ass and it reminds me of the beginning days before Krokus entered the glam era.
FOON: It seemed like a good number of the early 80’s rock bands kind of went out with a whimper instead of a bang due to the meddling of the record labels and their clamoring for a hit single.
MS: Yeah, that was, I think, our downfall. We gave in to the greater power of Arista Records to tell you the truth. They were a multi-million dollar giant who was backing us, and what can you say? They chose the producer… The record that broke our neck (Change Of Address) was the most expensive record we ever did in our whole career. Which is very ironic, I wish we had that much put behind us in the early days. I guess they wanted us to cross over but I think our spirit was so imbedded in what we do best, and that is rocking hard. You can’t turn, how can you say, a chicken into a duck… That’s the way things are sometimes, or just drop the band, let them go, set them free, but that’s not easy when you have a contract. Then grunge came along, grunge was tough, it was real, down to earth, street and it kicked our ass because our scene, hard rock, was false, it wasn’t real anymore. When things aren’t real then they tend to fall on their face.