VOODOO CIRCLE – Pour That Whisky
No rest for the weary – or guitarist Alex Beyrodt. Currently playing in four bands with four record deals between Primal Fear, Sinner, Silent Force and the current act up for a talk Voodoo Circle – he’s living the dream of touring the globe and recording new material on a fairly annual basis. If you love bluesy hard rock in the classic 70’s to early 80’s mold, the fourth album "Whisky Fingers" should be right up your aural alley. A mixture of up tempo rockers, mid-tempo anthems, and the occasional ballad that could cause shedding tears, Voodoo Circle brings classic rock to a contemporary audience.
Reaching out to Alex before he spends a lot of time on the road in the first half of 2016, this conversation is like talking to an old friend – thoughtful, exciting, and sometimes humorous. You’ll learn more about the musicians behind Voodoo Circle, plans for mini-tours, as well as handling the dreaded ‘this sounds exactly like Deep Purple/ Rainbow/ Whitesnake / Led Zeppelin’ questions that come up often in reviews, interviews, and from his fan base. Enjoy and feel the bluesy classic rock fingers rip…
How are you able to map out time to consistently release such top quality product between your four active bands: Voodoo Circle, Primal Fear, Silent Force, and Sinner? Do you end up having to advance your schedule a year or so ahead?
"That’s a really good question. I just do it, I just love music so much. I don’t have any other chance but continue to do it. It’s like a drug, I need music and I need to make music to be happy. If I don’t make music I’m dead. It is exhausting these days, that’s for sure- especially next year as I will play around 100 shows in the first half of 2016 which is going to be crazy. That’s exactly how I want it."
The new album is "Whisky Fingers" – where do you see this album in Voodoo Circle’s discography, and how do you feel the writing, recording, and performance end of things went this time?
"I think this is our masterpiece for me- this album is special and different than the others. All the other albums were great and received very good reviews, but this time I feel even more related to the songs. Like a song such as "Watch and Wait (I Got My Eye on You)" for example- that’s a very special song to me. I feel much more mature, mature as a musician as an artist."
I’d love to know your thoughts on a few of my favorites from the record: specifically "Trapped in Paradise", "Watch and Wait (I Got My Eye on You)" as well as "Devil Takes Me Down"?
"Well "Devil Takes Me Down", I actually wanted to have this song as an opener. And now it’s on number 9 (laughs). I hate doing this, a running order for the CD, as I want to put every song on number one. "Devil Takes Me Down" is a rocker in the traditional "Burn" from Deep Purple sense. The first video "Trapped in Paradise", I always wanted to write a guitar riff in a song which is made with a toggle switch of the Les Paul- that stuttering effect that you can make. Finally I came up with this idea, and "Trapped in Paradise" was born. It has all the Voodoo Circle trademarks – melodies, dynamics, a great breakdown part with a nice guitar solo, and the shared vocals between David and Alessandro- it’s a good song to show the people what Voodoo Circle is all about."
Do you consider it beneficial to have seasoned musicians and producers within the lineup like Alessandro, Mat, and David for the final product?
"If you have musicians and people like this in your band and you are surrounded by these people, it also has a great impact on the album and the production. I’m really proud and happy to have these people around me. I can take advantage of their talent, their ideas and everything."
How hard is it to develop original material in that Whitesnake, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin mold without becoming a carbon copy of your influences? Are you super critical yourself when it comes to idea development?
"For me it’s really easy to write a song in that direction, it’s the music I love the most and that’s where my roots are. Whenever somebody says it sounds like Deep Purple or Whitesnake or Rainbow I actually say yes, it does- and it’s supposed to be that way. Because that’s what we like and what we do best. Those bands don’t deliver that kind of music anymore, but we still want to listen to that kind of music. That is what Voodoo Circle is all about."
Were you ever fortunate to see Rainbow or Deep Purple with Ritchie Blackmore in concert- or Whitesnake with John Sykes back in the day?
"Yes- I saw Purple with Blackmore and Ian Gillan. I have seen Whitesnake in every incarnation. I saw them at least 15 times- I saw them every year. Even when they started on their very, very first tour. The early era is the Whitesnake era I love the most- before the 1987 album. Albums like "Ready an’ Willing" and "Slide It In", they are the roots of the whole blues based hard rock scene in my opinion. I have opened for Whitesnake while playing in Sinner, and I’ve also played around 60 shows together with Ian Gillan during the Rock Meets Classic tour."
Were you a follower of David Readman’s career in the mid 1990’s with Pink Cream 69 prior to him becoming Voodoo Circle’s singer? He just has the perfect bluesy range and smoothness that compliments your guitar playing seamlessly…
"I saw David on his first tour with Pink Cream 69. You have to understand that Pink Cream 69 and my band by that time, we came from the same area. We visited each other’s shows in small bars and clubs even before we got our record deals. I followed their career from day number one- I saw David’s first show with Pink Cream 69 on their first tour. To be honest I was never a big fan of that era in the 1990’s- for me there was too much grunge, and that all started later when I played on David’s solo record and I invited him to play a couple of session gigs with me. That was when we started Voodoo Circle."
Do you think anyone has any particular misconceptions about you as a person or your guitar playing that you would like to clear up?
"I don’t know and I don’t care. In these days as a musician you have to know it’s not easy to survive. If you have four bands that have record deals and they are all kind of successful what’s to complain about? I work hard and I give people the best of what I’ve got. I try to make them happy."
Considering the tragedies over the years with pyrotechnics and the terrorist attack at the Eagles of Death Metal show in France, have you ever had to worry about your own personal safety or security when it comes to live shows?
"Once, but that was a long, long time ago. Back in 1985 and (this) was with my first band. We had played at a festival in Germany where a Formula One race now takes place at, made by Marlboro. There were 25,000 people and the promoter stopped our show. We were headlining and he had a strict curfew so we had to stop. Our singer went to the microphone and made a mistake by saying that we have to stop playing because the promoter told us to. And 25,000 people started to riot because they were drunk and they wanted to party. We were really young, I was 19 and the people burned out down the front of house desk, throwing bottles on stage. It was kind of scary! We had to escape, and we never came back."
How did it feel to finally get Voodoo Circle over for a US performance at ProgPower? Are there particular countries or cities that you feel have a stronger audience appeal for the band?
"I loved it over at ProgPower. I’ve been over there three other times, and I always love it. This time with Voodoo Circle, something special happened. The whole vibe in the audience and on stage, something was going on when we entered the stage and started playing. We want to come back to the United States and play more shows. We have a big following in the UK, but we’ve never played there. I get so many e-mails and responses over there. If we could play over there I am sure it would be a big success. The promoters don’t book us because they are afraid of the costs for flights and all of that stuff, which is a shame. One day we will play over there- because Voodoo Circle doesn’t sound like a Germany band, we sound like an English band, especially because we have an English singer."
Seems like 2016 is already mapped out as a busy one for you with Primal Fear and Rock Meets Classic activities, are there hopes to squeeze in a few Voodoo Circle shows during festival season – or possibly a mini-tour?
"Yes, we will do a mini-tour in March of next year, right in between the Primal Fear European tour, and the Rock Meets Classic tour. We will do a Voodoo Circle mini-tour, and then we are in negotiations with a bigger band to join them in the fall of 2016 for a four week tour all over Europe. I can’t tell you the band right now, but let’s hope that this is going to take place."
And how do you feel coming back to the United States on a co-headlining tour with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, that should be an interesting bill?
"I think it’s going to be a blast! It will be packed, I am sure there will be many people attending those shows. I’m looking forward to do that, I look forward to playing the states, even if there are some shows which are not so well organized. Most of the time it’s great, the people really appreciate that we travel all over the world to bring European melodic power metal to their homes."
Any final thoughts?
"I just hope that people will give us a try, listen to us and check us out. I hope we do something right to make them happy about our music, its classic rock and classic rock is never dead, and never will be dead."