May 9, 2014 Interview – Marc Storace of Krokus
The 1980’s was the golden age for heavy metal. With an invasion of powerhouse European bands taking the world by storm, Switzerland’s Krokus launched to stardom after the release of their 1980 album Metal Rendez-vous. Riding the wave of success, the band enjoyed two gold selling albums in North America and tattooed their name on the genre for years to come. Together almost four decades now, the band continues to tour the world, record albums, and satisfy new and old fans. Recently, we sat down with lead vocalist Marc Storace for a look at the rise of Krokus, their time together as a band, their new live album, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Krokus has been around for nearly four decades. In that time the band has established themselves as one of the world’s leading heavy metal bands. You joined up as lead vocalist around 1979, releasing Metal Rendez-vous a year later, which was also the band’s most successful album at that period in time. You have been a fixture in the band all these years later. What was it like initially joining Krokus for you?
Marc Storace – Well, I had been living in London two and half years prior after a long stint in Switzerland, so I was very familiar with the Swiss way of life during my time with the Swiss progressive rock band TEA. I had toured with them all across Europe and we were the first Swiss band to tour in Great Britain. When Chris von Rohr called me up, he had my number because I bumped into his manager on the road in London and we exchanged numbers, Chris called me and I was not too interested in returning to Switzerland. I was established at the time with my own band called Eazy Money. I had just done an audition for Rainbow at the same time as well, because I was looking for other outlets. I told Chris it was best to talk with me in a month’s time when you you are going to tour, in the meantime send me some material. He sent me the first three albums and also a cassette containing demos of the album they wanted to record with me. I listened to everything and the demo really caught my fancy. Those songs eventually recorded after I joined on Metal Rendez-vous. I had known Krokus, because with TEA Krokus was our opening act on our last European tour. I was really fond of their guitar player, Thomas Kiefer, god bless his soul. He played genius and incredibly touching solos on “Fire” and “Tokyo Nights” , to name a couple. It was a really homogenic way of being a band, everything was so natural. I felt they are not writing songs that are going to revolutionize the music industry, but they write good down to earth hard rock with good melodies, good musicians, I was familiar with the Swiss, and I guess I can do this for the next ten years. Here we are about to celebrate the fortieth year, incredible stuff really.
CrypticRock.com – That is a great story how it all happened. As mentioned, Metal Rendez-vous was the band’s most successful album to date, but it was proceeded by a string of successful records in North America including Headhunter (1983) and The Blitz (1984). What was that experience like for yourself and the band to break through into the North American market with such success?
Marc Storace – For us it was like a bunch of kids being let loose in a candy store. We came over for the first time and played ChicagoFest. This was right after we played Redding festival, the welcoming was incredible. We were riding on the very beginning of the new wave of British heavy metal. When we arrived, we still had no USA management. We came with our Swiss manager and he introduced us to our first US manager. He also introduced us to other people like Arista Records in New York, Mike Bohn, even John Kalodner was there of Geffen records. We started to get into the scene and the different dimensions of the USA. It is a huge country with no borders, so when we toured we did not have to go through customs every few hours, step out of the tour bus, show our passports, change money, and all that crap (laughs). For us it was really the home of the free, it was like wow… you can really use the same money all over this continent. Of course we got to know the fans and the way people were so openhearted and really wanted to socialize with us. The way we were treated by other bands, one of our very beginning memories was touring with Sammy Hagar. He would come into the dressing room every couple of days and spend time with us. He would ask us every day if everything was ok and if we needed anything. It was really great hospitality and we started to grow and nurture our feelings, inspirations, and our popularity. Eventually we came as an opening act and played thirty minutes, and a year later we were special guests at a few shows. It kept escalating after the huge tour we did promoting Headhunter on the Def Leppard tour. We eventually became a headliner after that because Headhunter, to date, was our most popular album in the US. It was compared to Metal Rendez-vous, a very metal album. No wonder we had someone like Tom Allom of Judas Priest producing us. For me it was also the best experience of recording ever in a studio.
CrypticRock.com – It sounds like it was an amazing time. Those were very memorable times for yourself and the band I imagine.
Marc Storace – Definitely, we grew accustom to life on the road; we become real road warriors. It was like we dreamed and we were fulfilling those dreams. We spent months on end on the road touring, stopping at motels, washing up, doing gigs, eventually staying at 4 and 5 star hotels, and still enjoying being on the road. It was really our dream come true.
CrypticRock.com – It has to be surreal. The one thing I think would describe Krokus over the years is consistence and stability. There has been a few changes in the line-up through that time. What do you think has been the driving force to keep Krokus alive after all this time.
Marc Storace – The driving force is music, survival, and wanting to get on stage and play live. It is like a virus; a virus you can never get rid of. It is a positive virus because it motivates you when it grabs you. We were lucky; we were lucky to come out with Metal Rendez-vous at the right time and probably in the right place. It took off like a dry wood on fire and it spread like wild fire. We just went with the flow, we wanted to tour, we wanted to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The door was open, we wanted to take the opportunity while it was there, because in show business we were always indoctrinated that you have to make hast while it lasts. Every band has its ups and downs, we had musician changes, which was not very good sometimes for the sound of the band. We even had producers that should maybe had never produced Krokus, because we had at times a too polished sound. Krokus should always sound raunchy in our opinion. When you are running in the wheel like a hamster, you are inside, and you cannot see yourself from the outside, so you lose a certain amount of objectivity. This is what happened to us a couple of times, that is why sometimes we lost touch with our roots, appearing on stage in glam. We had our soft rock era as well when the production was too polished. We managed somehow to survive, we took breaks in different formations. There was a time when Fernando was the only guy left from the originals, then there was a time when I was the only guy in the band from the originals. Then we all got back together again in 2008, now we sound better than ever. We are mature and we know how to do it without trying to over indulge, just do what is needed and we serve the songs.
CrypticRock.com – That experience really paid off. The band released your seventeenth studio album Dirty Dynamite last year. It is really a great record. What was the writing and recording process like for that album?
Marc Storace – We decided from the very beginning of the reunion that Chris would be the producer, so everyone threw things his way and we left it up to him to sort it out. He started piecing things together musically with Mark Kohler and Mandy Meyer, then I would come in and check out vocals, check out keys, approaches, and listen to what he had. I would pitch in my ideas in, we would write lyrics, and slowly piece the whole thing together. As soon as we had the first two or three numbers, then it started to roll with even more ease, because then we started to get a feel of what the big picture should more or less look like. What it needed rhythmically, if needed a fast song, if we already had a ballad, we always try and do a couple of songs which are more melodic than the rest, then there are songs which are only meant to be played live because they are more ruthless maybe. All and all, we write songs which one does not forget so fast. It is a very colorful album to listen to. Even live now, because we have such a large repertoire, even now it is a pain deciding which songs you are going to leave out. In the end, the landscape of our live show is a variety which never gets boring, even to play; it never gets boring to play the same songs over. That is what the fans love, it is good to see the younger fans turning up as well with their parents. It is looking good, we hope the new concerts we play, even more people turn out and we can stay on the road a little bit longer possibly.
CrypticRock.com – It is great that young and older generations are combining to see the band live. Now you are set to release a live album titled Long Stick Goes Boom: Live From Da House Of Rust. It was actually recorded in August of 2013 in front of a sold out crowd in your home town. This must have been a special evening. What was the particular show like ?
Marc Storace – It just turned out to be so good. We needed hardly any overdubs. It just needed to be well mixed. I guess we had done so many shows on the road and being the final show of the tour we all gave it our best, figuring we will have enough time to recover after this one (laughs). We played in the house of lust, that is our nickname for it, which is like the second home of Krokus. That is where we rehearse before we go out on tour or before we go into the studio. It is also based in Solothurn, Switzerland, which is the birthplace of the band, so that was fitting. The audience was also hardcore Krokus fans, their reaction was something worth having on record as well, not just the band (laughs). It was these factors, it was also a goodwill thing that we gave all the proceeds that we earned from the concert to charity to a friend of ours who has a school for poor Kenyan orphans in Africa. The whole thing made sense. The music sounded great, we had a great performance and great atmosphere.
CrypticRock.com – It came out great and fans will really appreciate this live record. CrypticRock.com covers music and horror films. We like to focus on all the genres. If you are a fan of horror films what are some of your favorite?
Marc Storace – I remember my first nightmare when I was a kid was when I went to the very first The Mummy (1932). I only saw the trailer and I was only about six or seven years old and my sister was freshly married and had a baby boy. I remember them leaving me babysitting with the baby when they went out for the evening. I was totally scared shitless, having these impressions of the Mummy. That was an impressive age, when you see the movie now it is not scary at all, compared to the new stuff which comes like Saw. Saw is gory and it maybe a little bit too much. I am not too much into gory horror films. I like a good horror film, for example I am really into Alfred Hitchcock.
Purchase a copy of Long Stick Goes Boom Live From Da House of Rust here.