Pretty Maids

Interview date

19 Mars 2012


Blaster of Muppets


Interview Ronnie Atkins (by email)

Hello, Ronnie. Thank you for answering these questions for the webzine Aux Portes Du Metal.

You’re welcome :)

“It Comes Alive” celebrates thirty years of Pretty Maids. This concert was recorded in Switzerland. Why did you choose that particular country?

Originally it was supposed to be recorded in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen in front of 20.000 people in April 2011. But due to sudden problems with Hal (Patino, the bass player) we had to postpone the whole thing. We picked Z7 since we’ve played there numerous times over the years and it’s a great venue in general. A good spot for a live recording really!!!

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you look back at thirty years of career?

A childhood dream coming true, really! You know being in a rock band was what I always dreamed of since I was a little kid. But the fact that thirty years have passed is actually quite unbelievable! But as some say “Time flies when you’re having fun”.

Some fans expressed concerns that this release might be a sort of farewell, can you reassure us and tell us that there will be some more Pretty Maids in the near future?

Well this was never meant as a farewell thing!!! This year we’re actually writing songs for a new album and also intend to play some concerts during 2012! The band spirit has in fact been really strong during the last couple of years, and I think that both “Pandemonium” as well as “It comes Alive” are a strong documentation of that :).

As bands celebrate anniversaries, it has become quite common to see them reunite with some old band members for special occasions. Is it something you wanted to do for this live recording and couldn’t do or were you just not particularly interested?

Well it was never really an issue to be honest! I mean as far as I know most of them don’t really play anymore!!! On top of that we don’t really have any contact anymore.

“It Comes Alive” sounds great, it has a killer production. What do you think of your previous live albums? “Alive at Least” disappointed some fans because the sound had more of a “bootleg” feeling, do you agree with that?

Well, I haven’t listened to “Alive at Least” since it came out back then. But I’m really pleased with the new one, and Jacob Hansen who also did Pandemonium has done a great job once again, he’s a GREAT sound engineer!!!

Was it difficult to choose the setlist for that special night in Switzerland? Were you frustrated because there were songs you would have loved to play and couldn’t?

Well you know, the more albums you do the more difficult it gets to select a set list. “It Comes Alive” is pretty much based around the songs that we played on the Pandemonium tour. That said, it’s always a combination of what our fans want and expect to hear and what we feel like playing! Some songs are obvious :), but even within the band we don’t always agree :)

While listening to this live album, one can really feel a party-like atmosphere, how did you feel on stage that night?

You know, my definition of a good Pretty Maids show is when the band and the crowd become one!! And I think we did just that on that particular night, it was fantastic!!! We were never really the kind of band that went out with big theatrical productions! Always just wanted to create a good vibe and give people a good time and a laugh for their money :)

Now, you know you’ve got fans in France as well. What are your memories from the HellFest and the Rockalies festivals in 2010?

I have good memories of both gigs, it was great to play in France again and I hope that more gigs will follow in the future!!! Back in the day (in the 80’s) France was a key market for us and I don’t feel that we’re all forgotten :)

Do you plan to do some more touring to promote this new record and celebrate your thirty years of career?

Well, we’ll play some gigs during the year, but the key priority this year is a new album and then do a solid tour after the next studio album!

When I saw you at the Rockalies, Hal Patino was your bass player. Why did he leave the band? Is that linked to the return of the King Diamond band?

To be honest it’s a mystery to all of us why he left, I’m not actually sure that he knows himself! But it wasn’t linked to the return of King Diamond as far as I’m concerned!

Now, as a band going through three decades, you’ve had your highs and lows. To you, what are the most memorable highs? Same question for the lows.

I guess the good things always levelled out the bad, so to speak!! But to me the period from 1985 up until 92/93 was an all time high. The Nineties were a little tough for this kind of music with all the trends that came and went :). So if it wasn’t for the Far East (Japan) which we toured a lot in the nineties, I doubt that we would have survived as a band !

Looking back, and with all the experience you have now, are there things you wish you had done differently? Do you have any regrets (like the clothes for the album “Future World”:))?

There’s a lot of things I would have done differently, especially the financial aspects, contracts etc. What’s the matter with the clothes we wore on “Future World”??? That’s fucking cool man, ha ha ha :)! Well yes!!! I guess we did our fair share of mistakes :)

I can imagine you’ve been asked this question a thousand times but I actually never knew why the band was called Pretty Maids. Why such a misleading name? I’m not saying you’re ugly, but you are certainly not “maids”. :)

I think the name came from a book that Ken read and back then we didn’t think too much about it! I guess we just thought that it sounded cool then :)… Another one of those little mistakes :)

Let’s look back at your career if you don’t mind. Every time someone mentions your name, the albums “Red Hot & Heavy” and “Future World” follow almost immediately. Isn’t a bit frustrating that these two albums seem to be the absolute reference for Pretty Maids even though you’ve released great albums later on?

“Red hot and heavy” and “Future World” were pretty much the albums that defined the band’s sound and style and after all those were our break through albums in the great eighties!!! So I guess that’s fair enough!!! Apart from that I think we did some really good stuff in the nineties but it just never had the same attention because of the times I guess!

These cornerstones put apart, what are your favourite Pretty Maids records? I love “Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Overdoing” and have always thought it was the best album you made in the 90’s, do you agree?

I actually like “Sin Decade”, “Scream”, “Spooked” and “Anything…” quite a lot! These are the albums that I referred to in the last question.

Some albums are not as popular as others, “Jump The Gun” and “Stripped” for example, what do you think of these records a bit more than 20 years later?

I never really liked “Jump The Gun”, to be honest!!! “Stripped”, I like it for what it is! Just good songs really, but not a metal record! Actually “Stripped” was a huge seller up here in Denmark!

Are there any re-issues in the works? Some of your albums have became very hard to find, I’m thinking of the excellent (and, in my opinion, underrated) “Planet Panic” for instance.

No reissues in the works as far as I know! Two years ago Sony Music re-released the first six albums as a mega bundle on the net!

Talking about “Planet Panic”, there was an excellent cover of “One Way To Rock” (originally by Sammy Hagar), one of the best covers you’ve made in my opinion. Have you ever thought about releasing a cover album?

I always preferred to do our own stuff, really! I guess that Hammer is the one who is into doing covers and he’d probably be glad to do a cover album. From my point of view it all depends on the material!!

You have been far less productive after “Planet Panic” (released in 2002, and only two albums came out since then) than you had ever been before. Why?

We simply decided to take a long break after the Planet Panic album since we felt that we’d been doing the same thing over and over again the previous ten years, so we needed a break! However for various reasons, illness, personal stuff, etc. the break turned out to be longer than intended :)

Have you already started working on a new album or will your fans have to wait another couple of years before you release something new?

We’ve started thinking (writing) for a new album recently, so let’s see how things go :). It should by all means be released within a year, maybe at the end of this year.

You have grown up listening to bands such as Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy or Rainbow. Those bands influenced you at the beginning of your career. What other and perhaps more recent bands have you come to appreciate lately?

Well no one in particular really! I’m really open-minded to music in general!! To me a good song is a good song.

How long would you like to keep Pretty Maids alive? Do you have special plans concerning the future of the band?

If you asked me that question like 30 years ago, I would never have believed that we would still be existing thirty years ahead! Well no one knows, tomorrow all kinds of things can suddenly happen, we just take one album at a time and sort of roll along! And as long as it’s fun and people still wanna go see us, I guess we’re in the game :)

A special word for your French fans as a conclusion?

Thanx for your support during all those years and hopefully we’ll be back to kick some ass in France before too long! Viva la France! Best regards.

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