Myke Gray and Matti Alfonzetti from Red, White and Blues Interviewed at Wrexham’s Central Station (10/12/11)

This is Lee Walker from conducting an interview with the Myke Gray and Matti Alfonzetti from Red, White and Blues.
LW – You are on the final date of this current tour. How has the tour been ?

Myke – The tour has been absolutely amazing, because we’ve mixed two tours together, we’ve been doing The Quireboys tour and we’ve obviously done three shows with Whitesnake, so its absolutely fantastic. Both bands are amazing to tour with and its been a really happy experience.

LW – For those people out there who are just discovering Red, White and Blues as a result of this tour how did the band come into being ?

Myke – Well I used to be in a band called Skin and Matti and I used to be in a band called Jagged Edge a long long time ago. When Skin toured last year we invited Matti to come over and open the shows for us, and that’s how the connection basically got back together again we were just jam idea back stage and we go ‘ooh this is kind of cool’. Matti came over sometime earlier this year just to listen to a whole bunch of songs we picked out the songs that we liked and all of a sudden a band formed, it happened very, very quickly we got together 15 songs very quickly, we recorded the album and we put out a tour, this is the fastest project I have ever been involved in terms of meeting, writing touring and all in less than 6 months.

LW – How did you pick the bands name ?

Myke – Its literally we were talking about the kind of music that inspired us, and all the bands that we’ve listened to have always had a kind of blues influence, whether it be Free, Led Zepplin, Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, our heritage comes from that, so we thought What can we kind of do to make sure that everyone realises that, that’s all our heavy influence is, you know we’re not new metal, we’re not a thrash metal band, we wanted people to know what the heritage of this band is, so once we knew that blues was the essence of it, all of a sudden Red, White and Blues came out of the air and Martin Scorsese had a movie based around the heritage of English blues music and that was where it kind of came from.

LW – In terms of Skin – is it a case of that door on your musical history being permanently closed or are there any chances of “one off” re-unions ?

Myke – I mean when Skin reformed to play Download it was with the idea that of it lasting 10 days, you know, we’d get together for three days of rehearsal, we’d do three warm ups, we’d play Download, we’d hug each other, see how nice it was to see each other and that would be it, but then it transpired into 2 albums, 2 DVDs and 3 tours, so it went on much, much longer than we thought it was going to. The reality is that the band members have full time jobs, they live in different parts of the world, so it went on much, much longer than we thought it was going to. It was fantastic, we’re all very close friends. If something happens in the future, who knows, at this moment in time there’s nothing in the foreseeable future all of my priorities lye with this project. Nev got up on stage with us three days ago in Cardiff, and he’s a close friend, so I wouldn’t rule it out, but at this moment in time Red, White and Blues is what its about.

LW – Throughout the years you have played at countless venues and festivals. What has been your most memorable performance to date ?

Myke – Well there’s obviously been many, I mean the show that we did three nights ago with Whitesnake was a fantastic show in Wolverhampton, there’s been many highlights obviously, Night Of A Hundred Guitars with Gibson, Monsters Of Rock 1994, Download 2009 and 2010, there’s been so many. Supporting Bon Jovi was fantastic, opening for Ozzy was fantastic, there’s been lots. But what happened the other night with Whitesnake that was very special because it’s a new project, we didn’t know how it was going to be received, and so to have a huge cheer when we to go on stage before anyone’s heard a note was a very proud moment and we just want to build upon that and take it to higher levels.

Matti – Yeah, I mean I’ve had so many moments as well, but the one that springs to mind right now is this Wolverhampton gig, it was just like Myke said, we didn’t really know what to expect and I actually remember distinctly when we got on and the intro tape started they took the house lights down and it was instant cheering and the crowd were really sort of up for it, certainly that was amazing. It was an amazing gig.

Myke – There’s another one I remember, which is odd because it was with another band, a couple of years ago,10 years ago maybe, in Holland at the Dynamo Festival. We were the opening act and we played 11 o’clock in the morning and that’s when the festival opens, so we start playing as they open the gates, and 70,000 people just storming in. That was a sight, it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.

Matti – Sounds like a Braveheart moment.

Myke – It was, it was like are we going to die, or whats going to happen next (laughs)

LW – You have recently released Red, White and Blues debut album “Shine” – How does it compare to some of your earlier releases with Skin or Jagged Edge?

Myke – This was a very strange album, it was recorded in a way I never recorded and album before. We got the songs together, the drummer who is called Che Beresford, who is a fantastic drummer from Manchester. He was literally learning the songs and then he recorded them, so he, over the course of 4 days learnt 14 songs, recorded them and they were the master takes. He just happens to be an exceptional drummer. And then we flew over to Sweden and basically we did all the guitars in Sweden, I came back and Matti did all the bass and all the vocals in Sweden, and then I came over and did the solos,

Matti did the mixing and production and a load of other stuff. So unlike other albums where you generally have the whole band together in a room for a period of maybe 6-8 weeks, a tight unit. This was done in bits and pieces, completely chopped up and sporadic. It was very unusal, very hard to get my head around it at that particular time but, Matti had been used to working like that for some time because he’s a very established producer. And it all turned out absolutely fantastic and I’m very, very proud of it.

Matti – Yeah, I mean exactly, its like Myke said, I’m quite used to working like that. Most people do that now as its all digital and you can sort of send stuff to each other and all of that, but obviously we had to have a drummer to record the drums so that was done in Manchester. And that was so intense as well, because we had these limited amount of days, and we were rehearsing with Shea and then we were recording, and me knowing that some genres take a lot of time to get the take it could have taken a week, two weeks, but he’s an amazing guy and it was like one take or two takes and that’s it, lets move onto the next song. So it was great.

LW – Do you have any favourite tracks from the album ??

Myke – Well my personal favourite track on the album is “A Little Too Late”, it’s a very personal song and it was fantastically sung and that’s my favourite song.

Matti – Yeah I really like that one too, but I think for me right now any way, I could change my mind next week, but right now its “Rescue Me”. Yeah I really like that one, but that’s just right now.

LW – What are your plans for next year? Are there any festival appearances lined up, any tours?

Myke – Well the first thing we’re doing in January is supporting Chickenfoot, we are supporting them in London and Manchester. We were hoping to have another tour in March/April time and then we are going to be playing at the Download Festival in June.

LW – What are your favourite bands at the moment?

Myke – I mean we listen to music all the time, and if you ask me for anyone in particular, the band I’m listening to the most is The Quireboys at the moment (laughs) they’re my new favourite band. Last time I saw them was way back in the 90’s, so seeing what they’ve developed into which is this amazing rock ‘n’ roll band, I’m just loving being on tour with them. I like Shinedown, I like Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry I’m very much into. Yeah their probably the bands I’m listening to most.

Matti – Actually, We played a festival a while back and there was this band on before us, Black Spiders, I really enjoyed them. They seem fairly young guys and they seem really good.

LW – Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to your fans ?

Myke – Thank you for everyone who has bought the album, thank you to everyone who has been incredible on this tour, the response has been fantastic. Check us out, we’re on check us out on Facebook. Have an open mind and enjoy the music.

Matti – He said it all I think, I agree with all of that.

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Freelance Journalist/Photographer. Covers Liverpool/North West of England.