VIOLENT STORM - STORM WARNING - GOLD STORM
InterviewsMick Cervino is Violent Storm is Mick Cervino. The Argentinean bassist has played with both Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen in the past, but is now focusing on his own US-based outfit. In advance of the release of the Storm Warning album Ali "The Metallian" interviews the man about topics related to the band but fails to ask why Cervino loves the word 'storm' so much. - 05.07.2007
METALLIAN: Mick, Thanks for calling this afternoon. Why don't we start by recounting the origin of Violent Storm?
MICK: The project has been in my mind for many many years. I have been writing songs and have had bands here and there, but in the last few years I have played with Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen. One doesn't get the chance to write with them because they write their own songs and you don't even get a chance to contribute. I have been writing songs and waiting for the right opportunity to put together my own band and release an album. It was just a matter of deciding when to do it. I finally decided I don't want to become too old before I do my own thing. So I have spent two years laying down some tracks and getting some musicians.
METALLIAN: How does one get gigs with both Yngwie Malmsteen and Ritchie Blackmore?
MICK: There are several ways to get these jobs like through referrals or things of that sort. I grew up in Argentina and I was 13 or 14 and heard Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple and right then decided I wanted to play with Ritchie. It was a long goal for me. I moved to England when I was 18. I said to myself that Ritchie is English so I will go to England and find him. I went there and met Ian Gillan instead! I moved to the USA where Ritchie was. I started sending demos here and there trying to get my demo to Ritchie. It didn't happen until 1997 when one of my recordings got into his hands. I knew that Ritchie liked Bach and I had a video playing Bach on the bass. He had his manager contact me. It took a little persistence and a lot of perseverance to accomplish this. I auditioned by sending different tapes to Ritchie's manager and finally passed an audition in person.
When I was finished playing with Ritchie Blackmore a couple of years later I just wondered whom I want to play with next. I like Classical music and I like heavy metal so the first person that came to mind was Yngwie Malmsteen. I approached his manager. He asked me to send demo tapes which I did. They contacted me when he was reforming the band for a South American tour. That is how it happened for me. I can write a book about the whole thing because it wasn't easy. It was long and tedious.
METALLIAN: Are you focusing solely on Violent Storm or are you simultaneously active with other bands?
MICK: I am strictly with Violent Storm at the moment. If I get a call to play or record with somebody else I might consider it, but my main focus is Violent Storm.
METALLIAN: If you had your pick of one more person to play with in a band or tour with who would you choose?
MICK: I would like to play with Weird Al Yankovic. I love the guy. He is great.
METALLIAN: How much of a band is Violent Storm? In other words, is it a stable line-up of four people or will different people join you at different times?
MICK: That's a touchy one because initially I envisioned it to be a band, but the more I work with different people the more I realize that it should be my project. There have already been some changes so at the moment it is really my project. I hope to retain as much of the original line-up as possible, but we will see how things go. The original singer of the band, for example, could not go on the European tour because of health issues so we had a replacement that didn't work out. We will probably get Matt Reardon for future shows again. Guitarist Dean Sternberg was never really in the band. He just recorded one song with us. I recorded the rest of the guitars on the album.
METALLIAN: How did you get K.K. Downing of Judas Priest to be your executive producer and what does the title mean in the first place?
MICK: K.K. initially got involved when I went to see Judas Priest and we hung out. Then he came to see me play with Yngwie Malmsteen. I asked him if he could play a couple of solos for the album. He listened to the songs and related to them completely so he accepted. He also became more involved with our development. In the last stages of the recording, he had some strong opinions and suggestions and I asked him if he would be the executive producer, which means he made decisions on certain sounds and mixes. He also brought in Roy Z. who helped with the album. He brought a couple of people, made some changes and occasionally helped make the album more radio friendly. I never lost control, but I was convinced that his decisions would be better ones.
METALLIAN: Is it realistic and important for you to have a radio friendly album?
MICK: I don't see why not. Some of the tracks could very well be on the radio. Songs like Alimentary Fable are strong and have choruses that could be on the rock radio. By the way, that song is from a band I was in when I was in England. The band was called One Hand Clapping. Obviously, the version now is very different from the original because we were a jazz rock group. I am quite pleased that it has already been played on the radio. It helps spread the word as much as possible. I value that.
METALLIAN: How much of the album's style is premeditated and how much is a natural evolution of your song writing?
MICK: It is a little bit of both. I make a conscious effort to be true to my roots which is the '70s and early '80s. Many songs are ideas I even had back then. At the same time, I didn't want the album to sound dated. So I listened to some newer stuff and picked up some ideas like the structure and sounds. I don't relate much to today's bands. I don't hear the same feeling in music nowadays as I used to. I accomplished what I was looking for. I wanted to have strong riffs and powerful rock sounds. I didn't plan it too much. I used the ideas and sounds that I had and adapted it to today's sounds just to make it more contemporary. It is what it is. I don't want it to be labelled this or that. I really couldn't care less. You can call it metal or heavy metal or hard rock or classic rock, but if you call it jazz then I would be upset. Jazz is a four letter word, as you know.
METALLIAN: Can you say a few words about the album's opener, War No More?
MICK: People try to grab onto the lyrics and try to find the political implications of the song, but to be honest with you it started with a riff. Most song ideas start with a bass riff. I got the idea of the battle between the bass and guitar when writing it, that's how the song starts, so when I had to write lyrics for it I thought about a battle here. Obviously, you hear about the wars going on and all the nonsense in this world so it came very naturally. The original idea though came from the music and the battle between the bass and guitar.
METALLIAN: Yngwie Malmsteen's solos on the album are some of his best work since his debut album.
MICK: I agree with you. In my opinion, he is very much stuck in his own ways. When he writes songs he does not allow input from anybody else. He does what works for him and he is happy with that. That is great, but the moment he is in a situation where he is working with somebody else's song and he has to add a solo it opens up a little bit of a world for him to explore. I think his solos on the album are some of the best works he has ever done and it is because he is in a band situation.
METALLIAN: Why cover Blackmore's Night's song Storm? Did you have to ask his permission personally?
MICK: As long as you give him credit for writing the song you can use the music, but as a courtesy I did contact his management. We got his approval and went ahead.
We played that song when I was in his band in the style he uses these days, which is the medieval and the renaissance folky music. Then again, when I was in his band I envisioned that song as a more rocking song and I thought to myself that I should do a rock version of it. The song is one of our favourites. It brings you memories of the Rainbow days with a Violent Storm touch. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out. Of course, I am a Rainbow fan. I grew up listening to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Rainbow and perhaps that is reflected in some of the songs. Then playing with Ritchie you solidify those roots.
METALLIAN: What was disappointing about Storm Warning was the use of a drum machine.
MICK: We were using Mike Sorrentino on drums but he was not available when I was available. He was doing other stuff. The project began two years ago and we had a little bit of pressure to get it done so basically I went ahead and did the programming. If we could back and do it again I would definitely use real drums, but given the time, the budget and the situation it seemed to be the only option. Yes, I could have gotten somebody else, but I didn't want another name involved. I don't play drums either. Actually, Yngwie programmed the drum machine on the two songs he played on. You probably have an exclusive there. Nobody knows that.
METALLIAN: How much of an effort will you be putting into the band? Is Violent Storm a band with touring plans or, as you alluded earlier, are you available for playing in other bands and putting the band on ice?
MICK: It depends on how things will go, but I am focused on getting Violent Storm as far as it can get. It really depends on the audience. This is my project at the moment and I don't have anything else in my mind. I have accomplished many goals including playing with Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie and now I am focusing on this. I focus on one thing at a time. I cannot predict the future, I don't know what will happen a few years from now, but if you remember in the early '60s when The Beatles came around George Harrison was asked how long the band would last and he answered that if they are lucky The Beatles will last a couple of years. I am not comparing myself to The Beatles, but I am saying that is hard to guess what will happen. If I am lucky I will do violent Storm until I die.
METALLIAN: What is next for Violent Storm?
MICK: We are working on touring in Canada, United States and Europe. Our website (www.violentstorm.net) is updated regularly so as soon as things are confirmed people will find it there. I will not confirm anything now because I am a bit superstitious. I learnt that from Ritchie.
Violent Storm has signed to Fusion 3 and Storm Warning should be out by the time this review is published.
If you enjoyed this, read Judas Priest