Graham Bonnet, the 63 year old vocalist, who has played in bands with the likes of Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai, has plans to bring his current version of the resurrected lengendary group, Alcatrazz, into the spotlight once again. RockMusicStar.com recently conducted an interview with Graham Bonnet. Read excerpts below.
RMS: Graham, over the years you have played with four true guitar legends Richie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai. How does your current guitarist Howie Simon, who is from my hometown Buffalo, NY, compare to those aforementioned guitar gods?
Graham Bonnet : Ha, well he’s had a lot of listening to do. He has incorporated his style into the style of those other guitar players. Because we do perform the music that I did with those others guys, so he incorporates those styles, plus he is very versatile. He kind of like from my background because we both were into R&B and now we are into this Heavy Metal or Heavy Rock or whatever it is. On his days off, he plays with my bass player and does causal gigs playing top 40 to keep in shape. But, yeah he has his own style and people really like him because he is a great player.
RMS: Recently, the Rainbow album that you appeared on “Down to Earth” was recently reissued with bonus tracks. When you originally recorded that album, what was the experience like?
GB: Well, I was like the 81st singer that they auditioned for the band. So, by time I become involved, the band already had most of the ideas down. I had no idea what to do with these tracks. I never had experience writing those kind of songs, with a band, because I wasn’t use to that kind of music. My background was more like Pop and R&B and stuff like that, not what they were calling Heavy Metal at the time. Roger Glover wrote all of the lyrics, and he would give me a rough idea of where to put a vocal line in, and then kind of, let me go with it. So that’s how we did it. It took quite a long time, Roger was kind of panicking because he didn’t know what to write the songs about. And I didn’t understand how these songs were put together, because it was a totally new concept to me. There was all this semi-classical stuff going on, all over the music. I was use to sitting down with an acoustic guitar, and making a song that way. This was way more complicated for me.
RMS: “Down to Earth” was quite a stylistic departure from the previous Rainbow releases, in which Ronnie James Dio was the vocalist, especially, the first single “Since You’ve been Gone.” Where you at all surprised that that particular track did so well? Did you feel after you recorded the song, that it was going to be a definite hit?
GB: No. Nobody thought it was going to be anything. Nobody even liked it. Not one person in the band liked it. When I first joined the band, I heard the title “Since You Been Gone” and I just figured that it would be a bluesy type song, like a BB King song or something like that. And then when I heard it, the version that I heard, was by a band named Cloud, which was a girl band that had recorded the song, and had a minor hit with it. And then I had Russ Ballard’s version, and it was all real jolly and poppy. So, it was left to the last minute to record it. It was done very quickly, and with anger and aggression, to make it a little more like a 'Rock' song. We also slightly changed it vocally, so it would have more of a rock edge. But, I never thought that the song would do anything. I really didn’t think anything of the whole album, to be honest. After I finished recording it, I didn’t think that it would be, what it became. I was very, very surprised that it did so well. I looked at my gig in Rainbow as being just another job. I didn’t think that I would fit in with the band. I thought ok, I will do this album, then come home, and then do more solo albums. That’s what I thought was going to happen, but then suddenly the album took off, and that was my job for a year or so.