An Exclusive Interview With:
Erol Sora is a Canadian guitarist in The JOHN LAWTON BAND. Erol plays and writes on the new CD "Sting In The Tale" [Classic Rock Productions], and contributes a few of the discs best and heaviest tracks. In this exclusive interview Erol tells [in his own typed words] his musical history, as well as his influences and about the new JLB album. For more on Erol Sora or to buy "Sting In The Tale", check out: www.johnlawtonband.com
*thanks to Erol for this great interview!
Q - Can you tell me a bit about yourself? where you're from, how you got in to playing guitar...?
Erol: I grew up in Monteal, got into playing guitar after seeing KISS on TV in 1976. They're to blame for everything! I must have been about 10 or 11 at the time and I can still remember what an amazing feeling it was hearing KISS and the sound of a distorted electric guitar for the first time! Amazing!
Q - Who were some of your favorite bands, guitarists, songwriters and influences growing up?
ES: Early on KISS, Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, lots of American Rock then I got into Deep Purple and all the British bands. I love anything Deep Purple related, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Gillan, MSG, Gary Moore etc... Guitarists I love are Ritchie Blackmore, John Sykes, Randy Rhoads, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker and Yngwie Malmsteen.
Q- I am a big Randy Rhoads fan. He makes the first 2 Ozzy LPs for me, no later Ozzy LPs come close.
ES: I totally agree, saw Randy Rhoads in Montreal 1981 blew my mind!
Q - What bands and/or recordings have you been involved with before the John Lawton gig?
ES: To make it brief so I don't bore you, I moved to LA in 1985, played in various bands and projects there and stayed there on and off till about 1993. Did the usual scene there where I played in various bands playing the strip trying to secure a deal to no luck. Did various studio projects with members of bands like Quiot Riot, Survivor, Lita Ford band etc... Had an original song I wrote called "Without Love" (ballad) covered by a band called Misslead in Norway released on a CD in 1989. The song got a postive mention in an album review in Kerrang which I was happy about. Also hung out in Switzerland for a while at a mate's place in 1989-90 and just by chance ended up doing some demos there that involved ex Ted Nugent/Gary Moore singer Charlie Huhn. I was always a big fan of his and I saw him play the Monteal Forum with Ted Nugent years agi so that was fun. After that went back to LA in and the last band I played with there was was called Siberia and featured a singer who was really well known in Russia years ago from a band called Autograf (not to be confused with the American Autograph). Due to personal differences and management issues the whole thing fell apart though it started off quite promisingly. After that moved to London to experience Europe. In a nutshell, played some bluesy covers with a drummer mate of mine at club in central London for a while. In 1998 after working a day job in London for a while, saved some cash and went back to Canada for almost two years where I spent time recording just about two CD's of original material. Came back to London in 2000 to work and save money again and to get my British Citizenship.
Q- Quiet Riot & Survivor I am familiar with - Any names? Any recordings?
ES: Franki Banali from Quiet Riot. He won't remember me, it was a project funded by this singer named Ricki who had known Franki for years. I have some cassette demos back in Canada. Mark Dubay (I forget his last name) ex drummer for Survivor played drums with the project after recordings for a while but it never got off the ground. Gordon Copely,ex bassist for Lita Ford and Black Sabbath (he played on Seventh Star) did the bass parts in the studio. It was so long ago, I'm sure none of them remember me!
Q- Charlie Huhn - Great singer! what have you done with this stuff?
ES: That was a Swiss band called Netz who paid for Charlie to come over from Detroit and recorded 4 tracks. I have some cassettes of that but all I added was a couple of rythm guitar things as it was the drummer's project and he wanted a very Angus Young type player. I just happened to be in Switzerland at the time so it was fun. Charlie was a really nice guy. He told me his favorite recording he had done up unttil that point was the Gary Moore album Dirty Fingers which I think is great. The songs were very AC/DC-ish. I have a cassette also buried somewhere back in Canada.
Q - How did you get the gig in John's band? were you familiar with him [his past or present] or any of the other band members before joining?
ES: I went to John's gig at the Borderline and brought along my CD to hand to him in the event he possibly needed a guitarist and ended up giving it to a great guy named Perri who said he'd personally give it to John. Anyway John called me a few days later and we met up while he was recording Stepping it Up. My audition I guess was to put a couple of solos down in the studio for Rain and Tonight. It worked out pretty cool and I've been hanging around since. I was still in the process of sending out my own CD's to anyone who would listen at the time of the Borderline gig and if I didn't hook up with John, I'm not sure if I'd still be in London now as I was debating what to do at the time music wise (and were to do it). I wasn't familar with the other members but funnily enoough I had bought a CD years ago by the guitarist Misha Calvin due to the fact it had Tony Martin from Black Sabbath on vocals. Anyway after looking at it recently I realised Steve had played bass on it. I was very familiar with John's work though with Uriah Heep and Lucifer's Friend and had bought Fallen Angel when I was probably 17 or 18. I've always really admired his vocal style hence the reason I was very anxious to pass my CD to him.
Q- I love the stuff Tony Martin did with Sabbath, very underrated singer in Sabbath history.
ES: I agree, he's now singing with Bernie Marsden and Micky Moody doing Whitesnake songs. Hopefully they'll do some original material.
Q- Your audition involved actual recording for the [then] new album!? Cool. Rain is a classic!
ES: Yeah, it was done last minute so I wasn't sure John was gonna keep what I had put down or not but I'm glad he did. We did actually rehearse after that just to be sure we clicked.
Q - What were your impressions of John personally & as a singer in the beginning?
ES: Very nice guy, easy going, straight to the point and totally professional.
Q- [OK, i gotta ask] Any favorite Heep or Lucifers Friend LPs or songs? And anything from John's past in particular that you like playing live [or would like to]?
ES: I really ike the unreleased track that John wrote Right to Live. I also like a lot of the stuff on Fallen Angel though a lot of people disagree with me and think it's too poppy. I enjoy playing Let Me Down Slow and Ride the Sky live. I love the Abominog CD too. Great track was Think it Over.
Q - What have been some of the Live highlights so far during your time in the JLB? any fave gigs or stories?
ES: No real outrageous stories unfortunately but highlights were the two London gigs last year as I thought the band had played at it's best then. Plus the atmosphere was really cool at those gigs and the fans and friends were great.
Q - The new disc was a real band effort with everyone contributing songs. How did the whole process go, and how much fun/work was putting the new recordings together?
ES: We all had demoed songs and presented them and then had a band meeting. John came to the final decision as to which tracks would be used which we were all happy with. It was fun and hard work. I hold down a day job so it was a bit of a juggle doing both, plus my back was beginning to act up towards the end of the recordings but overall it was very rewarding and a relief to finally have it released. Having said that it was always quite a fun relaxed atmosphere in the studio.
Q - You wrote a few songs > Written On The Wall [my fave track on disc!], and Angels They Cry [another great tune]. what can you tell me about these songs - as far as how they were written, what inspired them... etc..?
ES: They were both inspired by the unfortunate violent events/acts which have occurred on this planet over the last few years and have similar themes. Written on the Wall was mainly about making a mental note/reminder of certain tragic events and not forgetting. Though we all complain in life, when you put things in perspective, most of our lives are pretty good and when I think of some of the terrible things that many people in this world have gone through and have to endure, I feel extremely fortunate and have nothing to complain about at all really and try to keep things in perspective. Angels They Cry is mainly about about people following a leader or cause blindly and causing violent acts or killing in the name of it. I find it very worrying when some people are so readily willing to cause harm to innocent people in the name of thier so called cause or belief without flinching an eye.
Q- What are you personal fave moments from the album? any highlights as far as your guitar playing goes?
ES: I think John's songs Lately, and I will be Here turned out very well and come at a nice point on the CD and add color to the overall album. As far as my playing goes, I was happy with the feel of the solos. When I lay down solos, I have to have the right motivation or vibe. If you're feeling right it makes sense to try and get as many done while you're "up" so my solos were done in one day and the rest of my days in the studio were spent on the other rythmic parts or backing vocals.
Q - Do you write a lot of songs, and might we see more of your songs in the future - be it another JLB album or solo?
ES: This answer will cover question 11 too. I Love writing! That's one thing I'll always do. I'd still like to re record a lot of the songs I had demoed in Canada prior to meeting with John and would still like to put them to use in some way so we'll see. Though I write a lot of heavy stuff, I also write a lot of singer/songwriter type songs, more acoustic based songs that aren't all blood and guts!!! I love singing myself and would also love to work with a great female singer in the future on some more acoustic based ideas. Canada's great for that!
Q- Are your solos planned out or more spontaneous at the moment?
ES: More spontaneous though I tend to build them in the studio and will have a rough idea of what positions/type of solos to play before going in especially if you're on a budget and have to get things done quickly. I tend to play the solos quite differently live sometimes. Steve played a lot of guitar on the CD too so my actual days of recording weren't that many.
Q - Can you give me a list of your Top 10 all-time favorite albums?
ES: That's tough cause it changes but here's a list of some albums that really inspired me;
Deep Purple- Burn, Stormbringer
Black Sabbath- Heaven and Hell
MSG- One Night At Budokan
Joan Osbourne-How Sweet it is
Stevie Nicks- Bella Donna
KISS- Rock and Roll Over
Bad Company- Straight Shooter
Rainbow, First and Rising
There's so many others, currently CD's on my playlist are the new Cardigan's CD, The new Donnas CD(great rock n roll!!), Vannessa Carlton Be Not Nobody, new Zebra CD, new Glenn Hughes.
Q - Are you still in touch with the canadian music scene? any favorite Canuck bands [old or new]?
ES: Funny you should ask that. I've lately been rediscovering loads of Canadian rock. Probably cause I'm really missing Canada. Just got April Wine Greatest Hits, live Rush, Teaze (amazing singer!!!), Rik Emmett and Triumph.[I noticed the April Wine and Carl Dixon (great singer!!!)]. I feel I've come full circle and I really feel proud to be Canadian and realise that we have some amazing bands! I'm listening to a lot of stuff now that I listened to when I was growing up.
Q- Are you familiar with any of these guys?
ES: I saw Carl play in a cover band I think called Firefly at my High School years ago but never met him. Brian Greenway used to live near me and knew some of my friends in High School but never met him.
Q- Anything you wish to add? thanks.
ES: Just wanna say thanx so much for your interest. It's a pleasure to participate in something like this. Also wanna say thanks to all the really nice people who've sent me emails, totally appreciated!!!
Interview: © Kevin J. Julie, August '03