KROKUS

No doubt that Krokus is the real hard rock legend. The band made it big in the 1980s, did extremely successful tours in Europe, America and Japan and was on top. However, times kept changing and Krokus was changing as well. The band suffered the loss of several band members, released a couple of weakest albums in its career and was almost dead by the millennium. But singer Marc Storace and guitar player Fernando von Arb found the strength to start again with the new line-up and very powerful album "Rock The Block" (2001) that already reached platinum status in Krokus home, Switzerland. That's when we thought that the time has come to talk to the legendary singer. Here he is, Marc Storace!


MetalKings.com: Hello, Marc! Great to hear you!

Marc Storace: No problem! It's really nice to hear someone from the dark side of the world! (laughs)

MetalKings.com: Marc, can we discuss all of your career?

Marc Storace: That's okay, get going.

MetalKings.com: Well Marc, the most interesting thing about you is that you were born on Malta. How did it happen that you entered the European hard rock world?

Marc Storace: I was really born on Malta, an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Actually that's a group of islands and that's two hours of flight from Switzerland. I had very nice parents, I was born in a musical family so I became a musician by the will of God. I somehow had it in my genes but not in my blue jeans! (laughs)

MetalKings.com: And how did it happen that you decided to start music career?

Marc Storace: When I was 14 years old I got into music. You see, Malta used to be a British colony, a part of Britain. It meant that all influences and the whole culture was mostly British. Not only in the military form but also music, traditions, there were plenty of nice British girls. And we also had many radio stations. Most of them were pirate and illegal ones but they played lots of rock music from those times. We also listened a lot to BBC. That's how my musical influences came about for the first time.

MetalKings.com: But are you really Maltese?

Marc Storace: No, no! My mother is Italian and my father is British. Apart from Storace (pronounced [storache] - editor) I have the British surname of Crockford.

MetalKings.com: After Malta you relocated to Switzerland?

Marc Storace: No, I wanted to go to London because I had many friends from my Maltese times and decided to relocate to Britain. I was 19 years old. But it turned out to be very disappointing for me because exactly at that time Jimi Hendrix died, Janis Joplin died and Jim Morrison of Doors died. So my whole world fell apart and I thought about changing my location. Exactly at that time I met a Swiss girl, fell in love with her and when she left for Switzerland she invited me to come over. She said that there were many musicians there and I could find some musical friends there. So I relocated to Switzerland and almost immediately joined the band called Deaf. When I saw their sets of equipment I was really amazed because it was a hell of amount comparing to bands I used to sing in before. They had two Hammond organs, mellotron, great guitars and drums and everything.

MetalKings.com: Did the band last for a long time?

Marc Storace: No, it disbanded really soon. And when we played in some clubs a roadie of another Swiss band Tea recommended me to go and try it. That's what I did because at that time Tea existed for several years and needed a new singer. I auditioned for them and got the gig. I remember it was a really nice day and was so proud to join that band.

MetalKings.com: As far as I know Tea released three albums with you "Sprouts" in 1974, "The Ship" in 1976 and "Tax Exiles" in 1978.

Marc Storace: You're absolutely right. The band existed for six years and it was a major experience for me. We toured all the way to Germany, in Scotland and even in my homeland, Malta. Also I had an opportunity to discover myself not only as a singer but a lyricist as well. We worked with great producer of Scorpions Dieter Dierks who is a truly professional guy. But after those six years our record company wasn't satisfied with the sales of the latest album "Tax Exiles" and suddenly we lost the contract.

MetalKings.com: So what did you do then?

Marc Storace: Right about that time I fell in love with a British girl (laughs) who was a dancer in a night club. I needed a break from music and Switzerland so I returned to England again.

MetalKings.com: Does it mean you gave up music?

Marc Storace: No, I never thought about it. I formed a band in Britain called Easy Money. We recorded lots of demos because we had a chance to use a professional studio for free every weekend. It was really great, we recorded music and were looking for a record deal. We got very close to signing with "Chrysalis Records" but unfortunately the band faded because we had a couple of bad band members who spoiled everything at a certain point.

MetalKings.com: Did anything of those recordings survive?

Marc Storace: Yeah, there are two tracks officially available on the compilation album "Metal For Muthas" (1982) (very famous compilation of NWOBHM bands - editor). The album was in charts together with my first steps in Krokus. So I was in charts with two bands at the same time (laughs).

MetalKings.com: So what made you come back to Switzerland and join Krokus?

Marc Storace: Well, in fact I didn't come back to Switzerland. When Easy Money split I got a phone call from the manager of Rainbow and was asked to come to Geneva, Switzerland for auditions.

MetalKings.com: REALLY? I can't believe it!

Marc Storace: I also didn't believe it! (laughs) I thought it was a bad joke. But anyway I decided to give it a try. I came to Geneva, auditioned but it didn't work out.

MetalKings.com: Why? What was the reason?

Marc Storace: You might think they didn't like my voice, right? No, that's wrong. They liked me a lot. Roger Glover is a very nice person and we meet every time Deep Purple play in Switzerland, have fun together. The thing is that I decided not to join Rainbow. I didn't think I was good enough for the band, I needed more experience in the music industry.

MetalKings.com: So what about your relations with Ritchie Blackmore? Many people say he's such a bad person.

Marc Storace: No, that's not the truth. The thing is that Ritchie is very shy and very mysterious. He's very demanding to his band members and primarily to himself. I met him several times after that and though we are not friends I can see it in his eyes that he likes me.

MetalKings.com: OK, so what about Krokus.

Marc Storace: Yeah, back to Krokus. (laughs) Two weeks after the manager of Rainbow called me I got another phone call from Switzerland, from Krokus. They asked me to join the band, they knew my records with Tea so after the idea of joining Rainbow failed I decided to go to Switzerland again and audition for Krokus. On the nearest weekend I came to their place and we jammed. It was great, we liked each other but when they asked me to join in I said, "No". It was because I had a job in England, I was married to my first wife and I couldn't just leave everything behind and join the local Swiss band just for the sake of rock'n'roll. So the band was calling me all the time and finally we made an agreement that they would pay my bills, pay my rent if I relocate to Switzerland.

MetalKings.com: OK, after that you released many successful albums, got big in Switzerland and in the United States, toured in many countries. I heard that once Mandy Mayer (now in Gotthard) was in the band for a while. Why did he leave? He's such a great guitar player.

Marc Storace: Oh, that was what I call 'the sickness of Krokus'. We always changed guitar players. I guess that was because of egos and some musical differences. Before Mandy we had a great guitarist Tommy Kieffer but the other guys kicked him out after a couple of albums. He had problems with drugs and it came to a point that he couldn't even tune his guitar. So the guys found a new member in Mandy Mayer. And Mandy was really great, he was young and had no problems with drugs and other stuff. BUT... he was very young and beautiful and since we toured a lot in the USA he was on covers of many teen magazines. Mandy was shy and nice and people especially girls liked him a lot. Other band members didn't want him to be promoted so much so the only way they could stop it is to kick him out of the band. The situation became so bad that poor Mandy had to leave. I personally thought it was wrong but I was hired myself to sing in this band. Chris von Rohr and Fernando von Arb were the masters of the band and I thought I would not voice my opinion because they hire and they fire. I could be easily fired as well.

MetalKings.com: I see. So what happened to the band before the release of the album "Change Of Address"?

Marc Storace: Oh, it was the whole combination of things. We were really worn out from intensive touring. Also I was the only person in the band who didn't take drugs, the rest were deep in heavy drugs and couldn't get out. I was only drinking red wine once in a while. So just before the recording of "Change Of Address" bass player Chris von Rohr thought he had enough and left Krokus. Almost after he left financial troubles started piling up and we were under heavy pressure during the recording of that album. But after it was released it failed so the guys thought that the reason for the failure was the absence of von Rohr. They asked him to come back in the band. He did, we played a few shows together and one of them was released as "Alive And Screaming". It was recorded on the last night of our tour, in Boston, USA. However, the next album "Heart Attack" was a total failure and even the return of von Rohr couldn't save the band. So this time I thought I had enough and left Krokus.

MetalKings.com: OK, but in mid-1990s you returned to Krokus again. How did it happen and why you didn't succeed?

Marc Storace: Though Krokus continued to exist and tour without me they still thought about the reunion of the band with all original members. However, it fell apart just after one album. There are many reasons for it. First, we all had families and children and we couldn't go on tour for a long time. Second, there was simply no interest in Krokus. We had very low offers. Hard rock suffered its biggest fall in the 1990s so nobody wanted to see a band like Krokus performing. We still played a small tour in Switzerland and Germany. And several days after the tour ended we decided to split. Still some time later I ran into Fernando von Arb and he looked very sad. I asked, "Hey, what's wrong?" He said he was about to undergo theraphy against cancer. I was shocked but everything went smooth and now we're back together again.

MetalKings.com: Were songs from that tour recorded for the EP "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" (1994)?

Marc Storace: Not really. One of our first reunion shows was at a big festival here in Switzerland. We recorded the whole show and when the record company decided to release a single with that cover song we added several live tracks to make it worth the money.

MetalKings.com: In 2001 a company in Switzerland released the live album of China called "Alive" with you on vocals. I heard that those recordings were made in 1993, is that right?

Marc Storace: Absolutely. China called me in early 1993 and asked to do a tour of Switzerland. You might know that they had different singers on almost each record and that tour was supposed to be the ultimate reunion of China. They wanted to engage all the singers that went through the band. However, none of them was interested so they called me and asked to do the tour. I agreed and we played together performing songs of China as well as some Krokus stuff, some Deep Purple tunes, and some other covers.

MetalKings.com: In early 1990s you collaborated with Italian-native and Swiss-based guitarist Vic Vergeat (pronounced [virdzit] - editor). How did it happen? Can you tell more about him?

Marc Storace: Vic is a good friend of mine. He is an extremely famous guitar player in Switzerland, the national guitar hero like Hendrix. He went through many bands and projects. One of the bands he played with was called Toad and the singer was the former member of Tea. The band was a cross of funk and hard rock. Then Vic played in Island and later in Deaf, an art rock group. He also managed to release a solo album ("Down To The Bone" (EMI, 1981)). He is a very talented guitar player and can be successful if he wants. When we came down to work together we wrote several tracks to check out our abilities. Actually the album of that project Blue was supposed to be Vic's second solo album. But when I joined in Vic decided to turn his solo album into a project album so that's how Blue came about. When I left Krokus I returned back to Malta for a while and Vic called me out of the blue (laughs). I had no manager at that time. That album was not heavy music, the title reflected the style. It was a blues rock album since we didn't want to make a hard rock effort but release some deeper feelings and blues music was the best to make it. Anyway, I think the song "You Can't Stop The Rainfall" was good for airplay.

MetalKings.com: As far as I know Vic also worked with Paganini and Gotthard.

Marc Storace: Well, he produced the second Paganini album "It's A Long Way To The Top" (1986). And then he and Gotthard decided to write some songs together and they all turned out on the acoustic live album "dFrosted" (1997). That's when Gotthard became really popular and BMG decided to re-release the album we recorded. They also wanted to capitalize on the success of our names so the album was released as Vergeat/Storace.

MetalKings.com: Another project you were involved in was the Swiss Blues Anthology. What was it?

Marc Storace: That was the brainchild of George Chin. He thought about making an album full of classic blues tracks performed by various musicians. He heard the Blue project album and asked me to participate in it. Nothing was seriously planned, we did it just for fun and the project also had some gigs. Though it was great to do it, it wasn't really easy to sing those songs mainly due to my vocal range. I learned about singing from that project.

MetalKings.com: What about that strange album "D/C World"? And who is that guitar player, J. J. Bozzy?

Marc Storace: It was a great album. J. J. Bozzy is the Swiss guitarist who also played in the band called Genocide with current Krokus drummer Patrick Aeby. Together they also used to be the core of the Aeby/Cantrell thing Ain't Dead Yet. The band recorded a couple of albums and they were quite successful. After the band folded Aeby and Cantrell formed D/C World and started touring playing cover-songs of AC/DC. BMG Switzerland got interested in the band and they proposed a one album deal. That's when musicians started searching for singers. They wanted to have two singers, one would sing Bon Scott songs and another Brian Johnson tracks. Finally they contacted me and asked to do just one song, "Ride On". To tell you the truth, I wasn't very familiar with all of the AC/DC stuff so I had to take all those albums recorded with him and carefully listen through all of them. Then I sang that track "Ride On" and while I was preparing for going in the studio with them they thought of doing medleys made out of parts of different AC/DC tracks. That's how I ended up singing on the songs of Bon Scott and my successor in Krokus, Peter Tanner, sang on Brian Johnson tracks. That was a whole lot of fun.

MetalKings.com: Another interesting thing you did was the single with opera singer Peter Hasslinger. How could you make a single together?

Marc Storace: That's a very interesting story. Peter is a very famous opera singer here in Switzerland. He comes from the classical family, his mother studied in England in Her Majesty Royal School of Art and his father is an excellent tenor. Peter himself used to sing Gregorian-style music in churches. You know, I was always a big fan of Electric Light Orchestra and somehow liked this combination of rock and classical music. That's when I got the invitation from the record company to make a single with Peter. The whole song is written in German while the refrain is in English. It was not an easy job to sing on that track but I managed to do it and was really satisfied with the result.

MetalKings.com: The new album "Rock The Block" is released, the tour is underway. Can you comment on a couple of tracks from the album?

Marc Storace: Sure, no problem.

MetalKings.com: There are the following lyrics in the song "Looking To America", it says, "It's a global village in the high tech age..." What do you mean by it?

Marc Storace: That's how I see it. America has no boundaries, many different people live in it, they come from different countries and they all live in the highly technically equipped society. My ultimate dream is the world with no wars and no borders. And America is somehow an essence of that dream. The days of Columbus are over.

MetalKings.com: What about "Go My Way"?

Marc Storace: That's the song about my personal philosophy - do whatever needs to be done. Live up to your standards and try to succeed in life. Don't follow and don't listen to anybody - go your own way.

MetalKings.com: Marc, thank you for such a great interview! Hope you come to Russia some day to rock the block here!

Marc Storace: Thank you! I hope I gave detailed answers to all of your questions! We'll try to come to Russia if there are any invitations! Rock on! Bye!

Dead Ripper
MetalKings.com
(January, 2004)

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