For almost 40 years now, Krokus has stood for high-quality, honest-to-goodness, hand-made power rock. No other Swiss rock band sells albums and its back catalogue worldwide like Krokus. The band has already sold over 14 million records, toured the world, and received gold and platinum discs in the USA and Canada. The milestones in their rock career are dotted around the world: from Australia and the USA to Mexico, Russia, Japan, and China. In the last four decades, Krokus has played over 2,000 shows across 5 continents. Every gig, every place and every crowd was different but all showed tremendous enthusiasm towards the band. Krokus recorded 20 shows for release consideration, eventually deciding on their last sold out show, recorded in their hometown at the House of Rust on August 30th 2013.
Highly anticipated by the band’s dedicated fans, “Long Stick Goes Boom Live: From Da House Of Rust” will be released in North America on April 22nd via The End Records. The show pairs an ecstatic audience, a killer location and the legendary Krokus for a truly memorable moment. The night night would go down in history as the night Krok ‘n’ Roll came back to town- to Rockcity Solothurn where it all started in 1975. Krokus proves that there is still a place for the eternal flame of Rock ‘n’ Roll! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Marc Storace to discuss his musical roots, the longevity of the band and what the future might hold for this legendary band.
Let’s take it all the way back to the beginning. What are your earliest memories of music in your life?
It began with your usual stuff like singing songs I heard on the radio. One of the very first songs I learned to sing was through my older sister was “All I Have To Do Is Dream” by The Everly Brothers.” I just loved the melody of that! [laughs] Then came the usual Christmas Carols and I sang in church with my father when I was five or six. He sang in a Gregorian Choir as a tenor. I was up there with the big pipe organs, cellists, violinists and sopranos while my Dad was doing the tenor bit. The emotion used to go right through my body! I used to cry and sing. I wasn’t certain what I was doing! [laughs] I was wailing away anyway! They let me do my thing, so I must have been in key! [laughs] That is very early in life. Like any normal fan, I carried on listening and learning songs, writing down lyrics and learning songs by heart just for my own personal satisfaction. Then came that day when I found myself becoming more interested in music. A couple of my friends had guitars. I thought, “The bass only has four strings. Maybe I should learn bass!” [laughs] I went to this space where a local band had a rehearsal thinking I could pluck away at the bass guitar but then I realized the bass player was left handed. He played the same way Paul McCartney does, the other way around. He had a violin bass as well, like Paul. I just boogied away on the four strings of the guitar, the fat strings. Eventually, the band found out I could sing. One day the singer was sick and they had a concert to do, a big birthday party, and they asked me if I would stand in. They said, “These are the lyrics. You know all of the songs. Just stand up there and don’t let the crowd bother you. Just do this for us so we don’t have to cancel the gig!” That was my first gig! Reading the lyrics from the lyric book! Then they asked me to stay on! They said they were going to tell their singer they didn’t need him any longer. I was fourteen. I was still at school and I was in the school choir as well. That is how I started to realize that I should maybe forget the bass guitar! [laughs] Singing was more fun because I didn’t have to spend hours and hours rehearsing. I just sang because I loved it! It was really doing my hobby! That is how it all started, you know?
Obviously, that decision to sing took you very far! Krokus has been around for so many years now and has been very successful to boot. To what do you attribute the longevity of the band?
I guess it all comes down to passion, the challenge and a certain camaraderie which is special, even though at times it might not seem like it. The chemistry between the musicians is very special. Of course, the song material we have created over the years plays a very big role. Each time you release an album, you are releasing a part of yourself. The more you have the more it gets you connected to that band and the people who were involved with you. It becomes a family thing. It is like old school buddies who did a few pranks together! [laughs] We were on the road together and we have a history. It is like a gang of cowboys or gangsters! [laughs] I guess that is what keeps you together from a psychological and emotional point of view.
The band’s music speaks for itself and has garnered you fans around the world. What can you tell us about the evolution of your songwriting process? How has the digital world impacted what you do?
Nowadays, we utilize some digital equipment, like GarageBand on a simple laptop with a microphone. We might even plug in direct and cut in GarageBand with guitar. We had drum machines in the early days, the analog days. When you go a step further, you didn’t have Pro Tools. We are not pro digital, especially not in the sound. We love the analog sound. We love vinyl. We love a warm, ballsy, hard rock sound. For the working process, when you sit down together, it doesn’t have to be the whole band, a couple of guys and sit together and work on an idea. Then you can send it to the next guy and he can put his idea on to it as well. It is not like the old days. In the old days, we would met in a motel room during a tour, bash out some ideas and work on them for a couple of hours and then try it out during a soundcheck on a huge PA in an empty hall. This is exactly how “Long Stick Goes Boom” was created. This way we could see if it fit to the arena rock style we needed at the time. These are the changes. Even writing lyrics, Chris Von Rohr and I sometimes play ping pong with a lyric. We are in towns about an hour’s drive apart. That is the biggest difference. Then comes the studio time. Sometimes, thanks to Pro Tools, you can be doing the real thing alone. In the old days, back when we did ‘Headhunter’ in Orlando, we were all in the studio together. The drum set was set up in the middle of the big room and then there were all these glass cubicles where we all played together while the drummer put down his tracks. That was so there was now leaking of sound into the drum mics. For me, this is my favorite way of doing it. It is more expensive, of course! [laughs] Even in this new way, if somebody plays a perfect track together with a drummer, the main focus is on the drummer but if I sing a song which I could not top later on, singing alone, then you can always use the first track. It is used as a guide vocal for the drummer. In fact, I have three examples from the “Headhunter” album, which were done that way. I was so fired up when we were all playing together that my performance was different when I was there alone and everybody else was somewhere else. “Screaming In The Night,” “Headhunter” and “Night Wolf” were three songs that I sang as a guide vocal with a Shure 58 microphone in my hand. This was opposed to using a fancy, Roll Royce type of studio mic! [laughs] It is amazing! There are many roads that lead to Rome, you know!
Are you the type of artist who is always writing? What do you have in store for us in the years to come?
I love to work under pressure! If you throw me into a room with a couple of musicians, that is when it starts happening with me. At home, I have my family, the kids and friends. I love to stay active vocally so my body, my vocal chords and my mind won’t rust. That is very important for me. That is why, at my age, I believe I can still deliver with a certain power. Of course, there is always wear and tear. With some singers it is really bad and with others it is still OK. As far as the future, we have a couple of songs on reserve. These are songs which were from other pre-productions. Sometimes you have a song that didn’t fit to one album but you might re-listen to it and think “Well, that was a good song. It didn’t fit on this album but now we see the picture!” It is always good to work on new stuff, you know. When you are fired up and write the first few good ideas, then the rest keeps following. Then, the more you have, the more you can see the big picture and know what is missing to make an album complete. It is like a jigsaw puzzle; the beginning is always the hardest part.
Krokus is releasing a new live album, “Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House of Rust.” What made now the time to release a new live record? I know you recorded many shows in anticipation of a live release. What made this particular show special?
First of all, it was a show we performed in Solothurn, which is where the band began. Secondly, it was a show we did in the place that became a second home to the band. We always rehearsed there before going out to do gigs. We were familiar with the stage and the acoustics. When it is full, the atmosphere is very special. It is not a huge venue. It is comparable to a House of Blues in The United States. It holds 1000 to 1200 people maximum. The reason we wanted to do a live album at all, because usually live albums don’t sell much and it is hard work, is because this could be the last live album. The first time in Krokus’ history, we have a six piece band. We have Mandy Meyer back in the band. He joined Krokus joined Krokus for a world tour in 1982. His first studio album was with me when I was the only original member left in Krokus on the “Hellraiser” album. Now, he came back to join the fold for “Dirty Dynamite.” It was really time to get this on record for prosperity in case another change happened. We didn’t want to miss the chance. Luckily, no changes happened and I don’t think anything is going to change.
You have been at it for many years. Looking back on your career, how do you feel you have evolved at your craft?
I think I know the shortcuts now. I also know my physical limits and how to go about no wrecking my voice. Trying to sing higher than last week, faster or louder is something I no longer do. Now it is fulfilling what the song demands from me without going beyond that. Sometimes I do slip and add something! [laughs] I might even do something less if it is not an important part of a song. The studio approach is different from the live approach. although you probably won’t notice some of those differences. I change some melody parts on the verses but not usually on the refrain or chorus because that is the trademark of each song. In this way, I am trying to save my voice, depending on how I am feeling at the moment on stage. This way I am able to carry out and deliver the whole one and a half hour concert, from beginning to end, without breaking down for lack of breath or physical power. [laughs] I have learned to pace myself much better, I would say.
You have covered a lot of ground with Krokus and as a solo artist. Is there still musical ground you feel compelled to cover in your career?
Definitely. There are many things I would like to do. When you are in a band, you have to be loyal to the band’s sound and serve that sound, even though there may be more inside you. People don’t necessarily want it within that band. If I do solo stuff, I can go beyond that and experiment. I have been a guest singer with various other projects and bands, even studio albums. I love doing that for the sake of going a little bit further and discovering how I sound doing other things. These are things that might not fit for Krokus. The last thing I just did was a live concert where I was a guest with Alice Cooper, the guys from Uriah Heep and Orianthi on guitar. We did three Krokus songs with “Rock Meets Classic.” You have this huge symphony orchestra in the background. It is the same sort of thing Deep Purple did back in 1969 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It is a classic sound mixed together with a rock band and I find it really exciting. My parents were into the classical thing, so I grew up with that around me and I really get a kick out of it.
You can serve as a terrific inspiration to so many young musicians out there. What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to those looking to make a career in music?
I would say you should first finish your school! [laughs] Do you music on the side and I know doing both is very tough but in case the music doesn’t work out, you have something to fall back on to pay your way. As soon as you have that and decide you can try a full time job as a musician and see where it gets you. Watch out for the contracts! You have to learn how to read between the lines! Make sure you read a little bit about show business. I don’t mean the stories about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll but the mechanics of show business and what it involves from songwriting to publishing to making a demo and basic things like that. You also need to communicate with other musicians during rehearsal and know what chord you are playing by name! [laughs] Read some poetry or love stories or watch some movies that will inspire to your lyrics. You can use your own life as an inspiration but if you are young you can explore the older passionate stuff.
I can’t talk to you about this release and the success of Krokus without touching on your dedicated fanbase. What does the fanbase mean to you?
Great question. I think if a band loses their fanbase, they might as well pack it up! The fanbase is the foundation and support of a band. It is like a lifeline. The active fans that let us know what they are thinking and feeling and support us by buying the album on the first day are the passionate fans! They are the ones who allow us to tour and not worry about how to pay the rent. They allow us to tour, tour and tour and reach everybody wherever we can. It always comes back to them.
Thank you all for supporting us from the very beginning! I hope we satisfy your wishes. I hope we can come and play in your towns very soon. We may not be able to visit every town but don’t get mad at us as there is probably a reason behind it and is beyond our control. Let’s look into the future and rock on together until we drop!
I couldn’t agree with you more, Marc! Thank you for rocking us!
Thank you, Jason!