For UFO, it's always the audience who passes the final judgement on the quality of a song. Only when a number has proved its worth at a UFO gig, can Mogg and the rest of the band be confident that it will also stand the test of time. So the live situation always plays a decisive role in the back of the minds of UFO's creative spirits when they start working on a new album.
"The parameters for our new tracks are that they have to work live," he explains the selection criteria applied to the material on The Visitor, which UFO are planning to tour with extensively this year. "So clear arrangements, catchy melodies and a certain energy are required – all elements which we paid attention to when we worked on The Visitor." The new UFO album will be out at the end of May 2009 on Steamhammer/SPV and includes almost a dozen new compositions.
The three original band members, Phil Mogg (vocals), Andy Parker (drums) and Paul Raymond (guitar, keyboards) plus American world-class guitarist Vinnie Moore composed more than 35 tracks for their latest album (bass player and original member Pete Way is currently suffering from a liver disease and was unfortunately not available for the studio production), thirten of which were thoroughly tested at an intensive meeting in Hannover, Germany before they were arranged in detail and rehearsed. Drums and bass parts were recorded immediately afterwards at the Area 51 Studio in Celle, while Paul Raymond contributed rhythm guitar and keyboards in London and Vinnie Moore put down additional rhythm guitar parts as well as the guitar solos in Delaware, USA.
When Phil Mogg travelled to Area 51 in February 2009 to record his vocal parts, the tracks already featured clearly defined outlines. "All those who have been into UFO for a long time will find all our characteristic trademarks on The Visitor, and anybody new to the band will enjoy our enthusiasm and dynamism," frontman Phil Mogg enthuses on the subject of the new songs. The Visitor sees the band benefiting especially from their collaboration with Vinnie Moore, who joined UFO in autumn 2003 and has made an excellent impression on the albums, You Are Here (2004) and The Monkey Puzzle (2006), and on the band's tours. Mogg: "Without running down previous UFO line-ups, it's been a long time since we had a team as strong as this one. Vinnie contributes his energy and amazing guitar technique, and in Andy's return we've seen the reappearance of a musician who has always been very important to the band's original sound."
So it's no surprise that The Visitor features the same musicality and energy which UFO fans have come to cherish from the band's tours in the past five years. Traditional rock music that could hardly sound more classic, with gritty hooks, Vinnie Moore's powerful riffs and leads, and Phil Mogg's lyrics full of eccentric humour, as well as a talent for observation and occasionally great depth.
If you're expecting cool samba rhythms and sexy Latin sounds just because this band is from Brazil forget it. MindFlow is a blistering hardcore band whose music comes at you like a force. For the past 6 years, the band has systematically set their career on its path through endless touring throughout their home territories in South America, releasing two self-produced powerful albums, developing and utilizing the grass roots street team mentality to promote themselves and their music and now, finally, capturing the attention of the international music industry. Appearances at music festivals in the U.S., Europe and Southeast Asia have started to build the band the same sort of loyal following from music fans all over the world, as they already enjoy in South America. Now is their time to go after the success that this talented, smart, hard-working foursome so obviously deserve.
The seed for this band was planted over 10 years ago when two Brazilian schoolboys Rafael Pensado and Rodrigo Hidalgo found themselves living thousands of miles away from home in Australia. The friendship grew out of a mutual love of music. "Rodrigo and I were both always in cover bands," explains Rafael, "but we both felt that we should be writing our own music so we started working together with me on drums and Rodrigo on guitar." Meanwhile, back in Brazil, Ricardo Winandy was busy learning to play a variety of instruments before settling on the bass guitar. At the same time, young Danilo Herbert was singing with a series of local bands while learning everything he could about vocal technique and music theory. When Rafael and Rodrigo returned to Brazil a year later, they met Ricardo and a mutual respect for one another's abilities brought them together, first as an instrumental unit developing their original sound. "Once we left high school, we were ready to devote our time and our lives to the band," announces Rodrigo, "so we set about trying to find a vocalist." "The auditions went on endlessly," recalls Ricardo, "these guys would all come in bragging about all they'd done and how great they were and then they would start singing........" But when a producer friend brought Danilo in, the other guys knew they had found their singer. They named themselves MindFlow, set about composing material, rehearsing, and planning for their future. The band's influences are like those of countless of young kids anywhere, and so their music combines the style of the bands they all liked with their own personal fearless approach to mixing genres and using music for more than just the power and entertainment.
Heavy metal, hard rock, modern rock...try to put MindFlow's music into a category and you either don't know where to stop or you can't find the words. It's all there -- the compelling energy of the rhythm section -- drums and bass pounding relentless power. And yet, add Rodrigo's guitar style which is as much substance as style -- melodic yet ear-crushing, and Danilo's surprisingly sweet vocals where one expects the usual metal screams and screeches and suddenly boundaries disappear and the band becomes more than just another gut-wrenching heavy band. The lyrics and the melodies are as important to the band's overall style as the volume and the rhythm. They write songs about the world, about life -- emotional lyrics that reach a listener's mind as well as their ears. Genres blend and yet there is no mistaking what this band is all about. Maybe the secret is not to try to figure it out too much but to just to let your whole nervous system get lost in it. And it will.
Based in Brazil, the band knew that breaking through in other parts of the world and becoming a true international success was going to take time and work. Although offers for record deals and management came their way, the band didn't fall prey to the temptations and fantasies, but chose instead to handle their career themselves until the right deals were given them. The first two albums, 2003's Just The Two of Us...Me and Them and 2006's Mind Over Body, were self-produced and self-promoted, yet, the two albums together sold a very impressive 45,000 without major industry support and backing. The endless work of the band's fans and street teams has made them one of the biggest selling rock bands in Brazil, popular throughout South America, and is starting to create interest everywhere else in the world that counts.
A couple of years ago, the band decided the time had come to reach out to the US industry, starting with bringing in a name producer to do the third album. A call to legendary producer, Ben Grosse (Marilyn Manson, Megadeth, Slipknot, Disturbed, etc.) and sending him samples of their music was enough for Grosse to travel to see the band live, and to agree to work with them on their third album, Destructive Device. Using a lot of what they had learned from working with Grosse, the band continued recording new material even after the Destructive Dev ice album was finished and started to release tracks one at a time through their website. When an offer from Nightmare Records came, the band decided to combine their favorite tracks from the Destructive Device album and what would have been a 4th release, the already online released tracks called 365. Their new album, With Bare Hands combines the best of both these newer albums and showcases the band's progression into a top-notch musical entity. It serves as a testament to the band's ability to keep themselves relevant while refusing to compromise their musical style and taste. On songs like "Break me Out" which opens the album, the vocals lead the song, but the subtle instrumentation and mix showcase the band's ability to use substance and style to put a song over while so many other bands have to depend on sheer volume to accomplish the same thing. On "Breakthrough" and the title track, "With Bare Hands" the band's pop, almost commercial abilities create hook-laden and riff-laden potential radio singles. And yet the band's hard rocking rhythm section never ceases to be the thread that holds all the songs on the album together no matter how different they each may seem on the surface. "Thrust Into This Game" pays homage to the band's hardcore influences taking old school metal instrumental and vocal stylings into the modern day. This track showcases the individual band members' mastery of their respective instruments as the rhythm section pushes it to the brink of exploding while the guitar leads are flashy without being overdone. If there were one word to describe the band's approach to its songwriting and playing it would have to be "tasteful." They don't depend on showy instrumentation because their natural abilities are enough just as they are.
Grosse's involvement led to the interest of American management company Rage on Stage Management and its founder/president, Frank James, who signed MindFlow. Now booking agencies, labels and promoters in the US, Europe and Southeast Asia are coming onboard -- all convinced that MindFlow is on the verge of international success.
"We could have probably done things a lot differently, and maybe a lot easier, but sometimes even in business, you have to go with what feels right," explains Rodrigo, who handles much of the band's business dealings. "We all agreed at the beginning," adds Danilo, "that we'd wait for the best situations and offers. We still feel that way." As a result, the slow, yet steady growth of the band's notoriety, skill and success is setting them on a path towards longevity and meaningful status within the industry. The band plans to tour the States and Europe throughout 2011.