Denmark’s Pretty Maids are one of those unique bands that seem to be on the scene forever. They luckily managed to evade ups and downs of the 1980s and 1990s and entered a new millenium with a solid, though limited fanbase that has been with the band for a long time and is not going to abandon it in favor of some attractive newcomers. This year, Pretty Maids have released their 10th studio album “Planet Panic” and embarked once again on an extensive touring route. We failed to contact the band on time to do a telephone interview, but singer Ronnie Atkins was kind enough to answer our questions by e-mail. In addition to talking about the new album, we made Ronnie reveal some info on obscure moments of his career. Don’t expect to learn the entire Pretty Maids history from this interview (we hope to chat with the band and ask more questions some time in the future), but if you’re more or less familiar with the act and its music, the following’s got to be of interest to you.
MetalKings.com: Let’s start with your latest album “Planet Panic”. In my opinion it sounds much heavier and more aggressive than its predecessor “Carpe Diem”. Was it done to match the lyrics or because you felt it was time to change the style of two previous albums?
Ronnie: We started writing “Planet Panic” in the beginning of September 2001 and we all know too well what happened in the world around that time but besides that we all wanted to do a more riff-oriented and more aggressive album anyway.
MetalKings.com: Do you consider “Planet Panic” a concept album or is it just a set of songs with common themes?
Ronnie: It's not a concept album by any means, though some of the songs lyrically are about September 11.
MetalKings.com: The album’s cover is somewhat similar to Savatage’s “Fight For The Rock”. Was it intentional? What do you think of this band?
Ronnie: I must say it was a coincidence since I don't know the album. Of course the cover picture itself is some kind of a cliche but we thought it did fit well with the title of the album and that's about it. Apart from that, the only album I really know of by Savatage is their first album “Sirens” and I used to think it was a killer back then in 1983 but I must admit I haven't heard it for years.
MetalKings.com: “One Way To Rock” (a cover version of Sammy Hagar) differs a lot from other songs on “Planet Panic”, it has a totally different mood. Why did you decide to include it in the album?
Ronnie: It was meant to be a bonus track or a b-side but ended up on the album because we needed an extra song (I personally don't think it fits on the album, neither like our version).
MetalKings.com: Pretty Maids have had no permanent keyboard player for the past 10 years. Why is that and are you satisfied with such a situation?
Ronnie: We think it works out fine the way it is.
MetalKings.com: I know that you are going to release a second live album this year. Are there any plans about a video anthology or a collection of videoclips on DVD?
Ronnie: There are no final plans for a live album yet, we are still considering it. There won't be a DVD or video release.
MetalKings.com: I have a few questions about the history of Pretty Maids. First, why did you choose “Pretty Maids” as a band name? Does it have any special meaning?
Ronnie: I think the name came from a book that Ken Hammer (guitarist) once read (though I doubt he ever read it). But that's the simple story behind it (stupid name anyway, right???)
MetalKings.com: What is Bullet Records that released your first self-titled mini-album in1983? How did you get in contact with it? Was that disc out of print and never re-released up until "First Cuts... And Then Some" CD in 2000?
Ronnie: Bullet Records was a little British label in the beginning of the eighties. The original album was later released on SBC and SONY Records in Japan (where you can still get hold of it).
MetalKings.com: : Who is A. Andersen who contributed to the songwriting for the “Pretty Maids” EP?
Ronnie: Hammer’s brother in law.
MetalKings.com: What is the relation between Ken Hammer (real name Kenneth Hansen), Rick Hanson (the band’s guitarist in the 1980s - ed.) and producer Tommy Hansen? Are they relatives?
MetalKings.com: The original cover of the "Pretty Maids" EP is very nice! Who decided to change it and why?
Ronnie: : You must be kiddin'??? (I think it sucks) (the cover depicts a beautiful naked girl - ed.)
MetalKings.com: Another question about album covers. The German and Danish versions of "First Cuts... And Then Some" CD have different covers. What is the reason?
Ronnie: There's a different order of songs on it and in addition to that it's released by two different record companies.
MetalKings.com: You recorded four live tracks for "BBC Friday Night Rock Show" in 1983. Were they released officially on any CD or LP?
Ronnie: Not that I know!
MetalKings.com: How did guitarist Angel Schleifer (later Bonfire, Demon Drive, Sabu) join Pretty Maids and why did he leave?
Ronnie: We basically needed a second guitar player for the Future World tour and he was in for the gig. He left cause he didn’t want to move to Denmark, which we required at he time being.
MetalKings.com: Do you maintain contact with any former members of the band? What do guitarist Peter Collins and bassist Allan Delong do at present?
Ronnie: I seriously don't know what they’re doing these days, I haven't been in touch with them for years.
MetalKings.com: Did Ian Paice really play on the “Jump The Gun” album (1990)?
Ronnie: Yes, Ian Paice plays on the tracks “Youngblood” and “Rock The House” and we were all drooling watching the session, what a great drummer he is.
MetalKings.com: Why was "Jump The Gun" renamed "Lethal Heroes" in Japan?
Ronnie: It was only renamed “Lethal Heroes” in America because the Americans thought it was a better title for the album (in Japan it was called “J.T.G.”).
MetalKings.com: Where did your current bassist Kenn Jackson and drummer Michael Fast play before joining Pretty Maids?
Ronnie: In various amateur bands.
MetalKings.com: All the songs from the acoustic EP “Offside” (1992) except “Fly Away” were later included in the album “Stripped”. Are there the same versions on these two releases or were the tracks re-recorded?
Ronnie: Same versions!
MetalKings.com: Whose idea was it to cover Queen’s "39"?
Ronnie: I guess [it was offered by] Ken and I.
MetalKings.com: I love your acoustic album “Stripped” very much! Have you ever played this acoustic set live?
Ronnie: Thank you!! Yes, we played acoustically (more or less) a couple of times in 1997.
MetalKings.com: What made you record “Far Far Away” and “Hard Luck Woman”? Are you fans of Slade and Kiss?
MetalKings.com: What is the meaning of the intro to the “Spooked” album?
MetalKings.com: Are the songs "Crazy Horses" and "Where The Blood Runs Deep" (bonus tracks for the Japanese edition of “Spooked”) released anywhere outside Japan?
Ronnie: I think more or less everywhere these days, either on b-sides or as bonus tracks in different countries.
MetalKings.com: You have a couple of live tracks on the "Hell On High Heels" single (1999). Where were they recorded?
Ronnie: They were recorded on the Roskilde festival in July 1997 (the whole concert was broadcast on Danish radio).
MetalKings.com: When was the song “Forever And Eternal” recorded? Is it an outtake from the “Spooked” sessions?
Ronnie: Yes it's a leftover from the “Spooked” sessions (in fact the very first song written for the “Spooked” album). It never made it to the “Spooked” album but appears on the best of album "Back To Back".
MetalKings.com: Who is the original performer of "Det Bedste Til Mig Og Mine Venner" (also a track on the “Back To Back” compilation)? Have you ever thought about writing your own songs in the Danish language?
Ronnie: A Danish band that we all grew up with in the seventies (the greatest Danish rock band ever). We never really considered singing in Danish. (The band is actually called Gasolin’. It’s strange that Ronnie doesn’t mention its name - ed.).
MetalKings.com: As far as I know, you are going to play in Moscow in late June. Can you say a few words to your Russian fans?
Ronnie: We're really looking forward to finally play in front of a Russian audience, in fact, none of us have ever been to Russia before and we're all very exited.
Roman The Maniac
Pretty Maids Discography:
Special thanks to Helen from "AMG" for her precious assistance in organizing the interview.
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