SORA - DEMENTED HOUR - MTM
InterviewsKnow any newcomer veteran Canadian hard rockers? Now you do for Erol Sora is a Canadian singer, guitarist and song writer who might be better known for his work for others, but has now issued a debut solo album. It is called Demented Hour and rocks hard better than anything else from the northern shores in some time. - 14.07.2007
METALLIAN: Erol, before we get to the music can you talk about the story behind your relocations in Canada, Los Angeles, New York, England and others?
SORA: I grew up in Montreal, then moved to Los Angeles way back in the '80s to pursue a music career as so many others did. In a nutshell, I played in various bands while there and after the last band or project fell apart, due to managerial reasons, I decided to start afresh in London. It was something I had always wanted to do as I have been heavily influenced by British bands, and by the British sense of humour. I never lived in New York, but spent an extensive period there staying with an old drummer mate of mine, who I knew from Los Angeles.
I'm now in Vancouver, as it made the most sense to record my CD here, but I seem to get bored if I stay in one place for too long so I am not sure what the future holds. Most of my musician friends are either in Los Angeles or London and I really miss them.
METALLIAN: How did you get to meet and play with the likes of Charlie Huhn and John Lawton? Is it a case of perseverance, luck or methodical approach?
SORA: Well, working with Charlie Huhn was really a minor thing. In fact, I should take it off my biography. I met him while I was in Switzerland years ago when I was working on a project with a good friend of mine, a drummer, whom I also knew from Los Angeles. Charlie happened to be in the country at that time and I ran into him at a club by chance. The guy fronting the project with Charlie had me lay down a few guitar parts to some stuff Charlie then sung on. These recordings never saw the light of day. It was cool meeting Charlie though as I was always a big fan and I love the album he did with Gary Moore years ago, Dirty Fingers.
As for John Lawton, I gave him a demo CD of mine while he was doing a gig in central London. It turned out that the guitar player he had for that show was temporary so he called me a few days later and things worked out great. I was also a huge John Lawton fan. I think he's one of the best singers in the world. It was tremendous to work with him.
METALLIAN: Are you still in the band with Lawton or is the act defunct?
SORA: The band is currently on the back burner due to everyone being busy with other commitments, but I really hope to work with John again in the future. I feel there are many good songs left in us. I hope to see him possibly later in the year if I am back in England for a while.
METALLIAN: Hard rock guitar is in a sorry state nowadays. Even hard rock bands seem more interested in melody, keyboards and convention than ripping it up. How do you see this issue?
SORA: Well, I agree that at the moment, there aren't too many guitar solos in songs. I hope that changes. I think that as long as guitar solos are interesting, and well thought out, people will enjoy hearing them again, regardless of whether you are a musician or not. With classic songs from the '70s like Hotel California and Stairway To Heaven everyone loved those solos and they were very important parts of the song. I hope more guitar in songs come back. I am trying!
METALLIAN: Do you reckon everything is too commercial nowadays? If so, how does this affect art and music and hard rock or heavy metal?
SORA: I think music today, especially from the major labels, is marketed to very young kids. Music is presented with the idea that people have very short attention spans, which is perhaps why there is a lack of musicianship in many rock songs today. It is difficult to find bands which have long-lasting careers beyond one or two albums. Again, in the '70s, bands had much longer careers as it seems labels back then were prepared to work with groups on a much longer term basis like for five album deals. I guess it is all down to making a quick buck. I am not sure if things will change anytime soon unfortunately.
Hard rock music seems to have always been underground to certain extent, but the way things are now it is certainly not easy reaching a large audience. Having said that though, thanks to the internet and websites like yours and home recording studios there is still a lot of hard rock music available. You have to look for it though.
METALLIAN: Your music and album are fairly atypical for this century.
SORA: I think my CD has a lot of influences from 1970s' hard rock in terms of songwriting and from the 1980s in terms of guitar playing. I just wanted to make a CD based on songs first and foremost, and also appeal to fans of heavy guitar playing. I hope I have done that. I find that good songs are timeless. I am listening to so much stuff these days that were released twenty to thirty years ago.
METALLIAN: Your CD is in fact a re-release of an independent demo. How did you find the time and finances for it in the first place and why the changes for the new MTM version?
SORA: Well, I had demo versions of some of these songs for quite some time, which I gave to same mates. The first independent pressing was properly done at my mate's studio in Vancouver. None of the demo versions were ever released officially as I only wanted these songs to be put out in top quality. I paid for it myself, and my friend gave me a really good deal on his studio. It gave me the luxury of being able to get things right and sound the way I had envisioned it. It was tough time-wise, and financially, but you find a way. By the time I was in contact with MTM we all just felt that Highway To Nowhere was a better opener than the song Guilty and that the new cover was much more visually appealing. Besides that, it is the same CD.
METALLIAN: Before continuing on the label topic let me ask, how old are the songs on the disc?
SORA: Most were written in 2003 and 2004 although some such as NYC, Barstool Corner and If You Ever Need Love were written back in 1999. It seems like the heavier ones were written more recently and the poppier ones were written a while ago. Maybe I was in a happier positive state of mind years ago!
METALLIAN: How did you and MTM find one another and do you have a long-term contract there?
SORA: I contacted MTM, which were very approachable and friendly, and I sent them the independent release. I was so thankful they liked it and wanted to release it officially. Regarding a follow-up CD, I will be sure to send them the new recordings once they're finished and take it from there. We will see what happens.
METALLIAN: How are the newer songs coming along and what is your time-line?
SORA: The new songs are much heavier, yet still melodic. There is much more guitar playing on these ones. It wasn't so much by choice, but the new songs just called for more intense and heavy playing. There's not really any pop moments on the new CD, as the songs are darker, and are all in minor keys. There is more of a heavy Deep Purple influence on them I would say. As far as time-lines, we're finishing up most of the tracks now at the same place I did the last CD and hope to have thing wrapped up over the next couple of months. Things never turn out as planned though, so I'm nervous to speculate. So far so good though!
METALLIAN: Can you drop a couple of names or titles and should MTM not come through is your intention to keep shopping the music or go the independent route?
SORA: Sure, some new titles are Taste Of Rock 'n Roll, Diamonds In The Wind, and The Storm Has Begun. All are quite heavy melodic stuff and a bit more epic sounding than the last CD.
As far as releasing it, I am a bit superstitious to speculate at this stage as to the future of the CD, especially as the music industry is changing so much month by month. I must say that I really enjoy working with MTM though. It is really nice to have a label handling the distribution and promotion as it is hard being a musician and also trying to manage the business side of things yourself.
METALLIAN: Incidentally, is Sora a strictly studio project?
SORA: No, I really want to concentrate on playing live after the second CD is out. It was difficult in the past year, as far as making it financially possible to go to Europe, but there are a few things in the works now so next year looks more promising - touch wood! Plus, the new songs have a real band feel to them again. It will be good to have two albums worth of material to choose from live as well. I miss playing live so much.
METALLIAN: How is the response in Canada?
SORA: Well this style of music seems to go over better in Europe, as well MTM has a much stronger foothold there than in North America. I have been doing more European promotion for instance. Having said that, I was lucky to get some press here in Vancouver and after the new CD is out I do aim to concentrate on North America as well. Last time I checked, my CD in a downtown record store here was sold out, which is a good sign. Though there doesn't seem to be a huge demand for melodic hard rock here in Vancouver, I shouldn't base all of Canada on this. Things are different back east. I would love to do a tour of Canada. We will see.
METALLIAN: Finally, referring to your promotional photograph, would you say that you are the son of Ozzy or is he merely a far relative?
SORA: My hair is a bit lighter now, which will perhaps bring fewer Ozzy comparisons. Some guy asked me recently if I would be interested in singing in a Black Sabbath tribute a band though, simply based on how I looked! The guy didn't even know I was a musician! I love Ozzy by the way!
METALLIAN: Erol, thanks for your time today.
SORA: Thanks again, Ali for your interest and for the time you spent preparing these questions. I really appreciate it. I will talk to you soon.
Erol Sora's online presence is located at http://www.erolsora.com. Samples of the man's album can be found at http://www.erolsora.com/discography.html.
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