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Pride Of Lions

Pride Of Lions is één van de weinige nieuwe A.O.R. bands die echt een geweldig indruk heeft gemaakt de laatste jaren. Vooral hun debuutalbum was een prima staaltje vakmanschap en zal uitgroeien tot een ware klassieker in het genre. De ervaring van Jim Peterik gekoppeld aan het jeugdig enthousiasme en talent van Tobi Hitchcock is een goede combinatie gebleken zoals eens te meer duidelijk is geworden op de onlangs verschenen 'Live In Belgium'-plaat. Tijd voor een praatje met de heer Peterik, dus.

Door: Sjak | Archiveer onder hardrock / aor

Jim, it's been about sixteen years ago that you were in the spotlights for the last time with Survivor. Why did you feel the urge to start up a new band at your age (with due respect) and after such a long period of time?
I left Survivor in 1996 I believe because I couldn't really make a difference anymore. After leaving Survivor I did some World Stage live concerts, which is a Survivor type of format with great singing, and I really wanted to play guitar and sing myself (in Survivor Jim was only responsible for the keyboards – Sjak). So when I met this great new singer Tobi Hitchcock I decided to start up Pride Of Lions to get away from all the different situations. We added some World Stage musicians and started working on songs. We got full support from Frontiers Records and that has resulted in the release of our debut album a couple of years ago.

What did you do between the last period wit Survivor and starting up Pride Of Lions?
I'm a professional songwriter, so I've been working for a lot of different acts like Kevin Chalfant, 38 Special and Kelly Keagy. I also did the Gods festival with Kelly and reunited my other band Ides Of March, which plays music in the seventies style. I still tour with that band by the way.

The first Pride Of Lions release immediately was a huge success in the A.O.R. and melodic rock community. Did you expect such a good response and how did this make you feel?
I never expected it. I mean, the music sounded good to me, but the response was overwhelming. I'm 55 years old now and I also dreamed of a band that could make a difference and I guess Pride Of Lions could be this band.

Did this success put any pressure on you for your second release 'The Destiny Stone'?
Yes, as a matter of fact it did. Serafino (label manager Frontiers – Sjak) wanted us to record another album in the same year! This could be done in the sixties, but it is extremely difficult to do so nowadays. But I love a challenge and I think we came up with a good album again. The first one sold better, but I think that we didn't lose any fans with the second one.

band imageAlthough 'The Destiny Stone' is also a magnificent album, the impact it had was to my opinion far less that your debut album. Do you agree and if so how did that make you feel?
The albums are not dramatically different in my opinion, I guess the songs show a little bit more progressive influences and they are a little bit longer time-wise, which probably makes them not as catchy as the songs on the first album. I think that when a new group comes out the impact is always bigger then when somebody releases a follow-up album, that's a little less exciting. For the next record though we want to move back to the style of the first album and Survivor's 'Vital Signs'.

'The Destiny Stone' was released in November 2004, so it's been quite a while since we heard something new from the band. What have you been doing between your latest studio effort and this 'Live In Belgium' release?
I did a lot of production work like for instance Kelly Keagy's latest solo album, which took quite some time. Furthermore I did some live shows with Ides Of March, World Stage as well as with Pride Of Lions. Next to that I did a lot of songwriting, in fact today we'll have our first rehearsal session for the third album of Pride Of Lions.

Why did you decide to release a live-album/DVD and why did you choose to record the show at the Lokerse feesten for this?
It was the idea of the record company. Lately they've been involved in a lot of “project” bands and they wanted to prove that Pride Of Lions is a real band that can rock! We got a good offer from a Belgian company who was present anyway to record the festival, so we took this opportunity.

Why did you decide to include the studio-CD in the package
We just wanted to add a little extra value for money for the fans, that's all.

Why did you add 'Black Ribbons' to this disc, since there was already a mini-album released with that song on it?
We as a band do not have all the decision making authorities and it was actually Frontiers who wanted this and we were fine with this.

I really enjoyed the band performance at the Lokerse feesten and you could see the enthusiasm and fun you had. How do you look back on your performance that night?
We are really happy with the outcome. We flew in taking different flights, so we had a travel time of more than twenty-four hours. This caused us to only have about four hours of sleep before we had to do our sound-check, but when we hit the stage the adrenaline started to flow and we were really into it.

I must say that I like the DVD better than the CD because of the included visuals but also because of the fact that the public is faded in an out between each song. Why did you decide to do this?
To be honest, I'm very embarrassed about this. This was not the right call. We didn't know that the public would be faded in and out between the songs and we only noticed this when it was too late. I felt terrible but there was nothing I could do anymore, but it was not the right thing to do.

The sound of the recording is crystal clear courtesy of yourself and Larry Millas. Who's this Larry Millas and what has he been doing so far?
Larry is the founder of Ides of March. We started the band when he was sixteen and I was fifteen so we go a long way back. He's responsible for the live sound of all my bands and he is on most of my projects. He's quite famous is the U.S.A. because of his work with Billy Idol and Bruce Hornsby.

What's going to happen next? You've included some new studio tracks, but when can we expect a real new studio album?
I've got fourteen (and a half) songs more or less ready. The framework is there, the title, the choruses, the verses, they're all done. Furthermore I got tapes full of ideas. We want to go for about twenty songs and then select the best eleven or twelve from those to put on our new album. Release date will be probably in the January/February 2007 time frame.

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Will they be in the same vein as your previous work or will we see a slight change in musical direction?
The new material is in the same vein as the previous material, we just want to go back a little bit more to the era of Survivor's 'Vital Signs' with a little bit of 'Eye Of The Tiger' added to it.

Don't you find it difficult to keep writing new high quality songs, since you're limiting yourself to a very narrow street within the musical rock spectrum?
It is kind of a narrow street as you mention, because we can not add blues influences, no saxophone, no female vocals ha ha…So it becomes a real challenge to write new songs within the genre that sound fresh, but so far I believe that we have succeeded pretty well in doing this.

When are you planning to start the preparation and recording phase for the new album?
Today we will have the first session in my own World Stage studio and we'll have to hand in the result somewhere in November this year if we want to stick to a release date next year.

Will it again be released by Frontiers? I believe you must be very happy with all the support that you're getting from them?
I absolutely owe them a lot, so we definitely will stay with them. They more or less rediscovered Jim Peterik.

Any touring plans for the near future?
For the next period we will focus on the recording process of our third album. If it works, we will probably do the Gods festival in England and on October 7th we'll be playing in the College Auditorium, which is a pretty large club. Apart from that we don't have any touring plans so far.

In Survivor you played the keyboard, now you mainly play guitar and do a part of the vocal duties. Why did you decide to switch and why do you do part of the vocals when you have a truly magnificent singer in the band?
It's an ego thing really. I believe I have a good voice, which is not in the range of Tobi or Jimi Jamison, but it's good. I like to sing the verses of the songs and I've always wanted to play guitar but wasn't able to do so because of Frankie (Sullivan – Sjak) doing that duty within Survivor.

A few weeks ago I had a talk with Frankie Sullivan about the new Survivor album 'Reach'. Have you heard this album and if so, what do you think of it?
I haven't heard it, so I can't answer this really. What I do know is that they've used three songs that I co-wrote from the 1993 era.

Frankie is still using the Survivor moniker and a few years back Jimi Jamison also recorded a (solo) album as Jimi Jamison's Survivor. Do you feel that they should have used the Survivor name in each particular case?
I really don't like to comment on this.

Okay Jim, thanks for your time and your willingness to answer my questions. Any last words from your side?
Thank you for the interview. In your country we have some of our biggest fans and we're really grateful for their continued support.

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