Interview date

May 2007


Yann G


Hi Joe Lynn, thanks a lot for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine
Can you please present us your new album "Second Hand Life" ?

The best way to describe the record is via my Studio Report. I pasted it into this interview for your convenience. It's a great way to share some of the most memorable anecdotes from the writing sessions and recording sessions.

Love Is Life
I asked my friend, Tor Talle, to write an up-tempo rocker track. Tor is a Norwegian guitarist/songwriter who wrote a lot of songs for commercials and movies. He also has his own project called Northern Light. After I worked on it awhile I realized it needed something more... so I sent it to Deanna Johnston who I met and sang with when I was in LA last year. She's known to many as one of the stars of the reality TV show "Rockstar: INXS." She added the big chorus and refined my lyrical ideas and made the song jump! It's just a great piece of commercial rock with a big melodic rock sound and a catchy melody that you can't get out of your head!

Got Me Where You Want Me
Martin Briley and I have been friends a long time. He's written for dozens of artists including Celine Dion, Michael Bolton, Kenny Loggins, Pat Benatar, Gregg Allman. I have many of his demos from over the years and wanted to do one of his songs! He originally wrote this song for Taylor Hicks who won last year's "American Idol." People who do not live in the USA should know that "American Idol" is one of the Top 10 TV shows in America. Taylor went a different route, musically, so this track then became available to me. It's familiar sounding but unique in it's own content. It's also one that we can do a nice job with acoustically. It's about someone who wasn't planning on falling in love, but just could not stop! Sound familiar?

Second Hand Life
This is a song that came out of the Deep Purple sessions with Jim Peterik in Roger Glover's studio. Jim was brought in to commercialize the band in the same way that Def Leppard and Aerosmith were reviving themselves at the time. Peterik is an amazing writer, as witnessed by his hit band Survivor. Just as an aside, the title was inspired by this booklet that writer/producer Desmond Child gave me when he was living in a commune here in the States. The song talks about how most people live a second hand life that sets out to please our parents, so we often never become ourselves. We end up trying to be what society and parents want us to be so we really are never free to be ourselves!!! It's as if our lives are being passed down like an old pair of shoes. This song rebels against this concept as if to say "cut the who you want to be." A very strong statement!

In Your Eyes
People have described this song to me by saying it's hauntingly beautiful. It came out of a session with Karl Cochran. We were working on a completely different song and getting nowhere. I started playing a bass pattern and Karl started playing the guitar melody and after that it fell together like magic! I felt it was a very special song and agonized a bit over the lyrics. I needed some help so I went outside of myself and asked Jaime Kyle for input. Jaime wrote "Stranded" for Heart and has written many other hit songs with well-known songwriters so I had a feeling she would come up with some good colorful images and she did! I took these images and finished off the lyrics. It's a love song about finding everything in someone else. As the old adage goes, "The eyes are the windows to the soul." Need I say more?

Blood Red Sky
I describe this song as a "Romeo and Juliet" story, set within the framework of Middle Eastern scales. A story of two lovers, who, because of the past situations could never be together...a tragedy of love! My time spent on tour in Turkey with Cem Koksal was a life changing experience and I wanted to bring some of that into the song. Karl came up with this Arabian flavored riff and I added a big melodic chorus. I was inspired by the colors of the Mediterranean, especially the dusk and dawn! A beautiful blood red sky as the sun came up and down! The crescent moon is a symbol of Turkey, but was always shining in the midnight sky over the sea....very awesome! The lyrics tell the story!

Stroke of Midnight
This was written for Deep Purple, complete with Blackmore's great riffs. We recorded this song when I was in the band working on the follow up to "Slaves and Masters." Purple re-did it as "One Man's Meat." I have Ritchie's blessing do it the way we did it originally and my version is pretty close. It centers around a classic bluesy riff and lyrically is about a dancer who leads two lives---a private life and a life on stage as every man's fantasy. There's a real person underneath that image people see and we want to know who she really is! Jim Peterik is also credited as songwriter.

Over The Top
It's a pure bluesy rocker with a great riff. The song is about a personal relationship between two people and one person is always exaggerating situations hence the title, "Over The Top." My friend Steve Johnstad (who is sometimes known as Zeus) co-wrote it with Karl and I. He's worked with House of Lords, EZO and Loudness out of Japan, Le Roux and others. It's a great groove and really rocks!

We nearly did this song when I was with Deep Purple. It was written many years ago when touring with the JLT band. We played it live in some cities and there actually may be a recording of it out there from a radio broadcast. On this album, I re-did it in a similar style but with a bigger groove. It's the only track on this disc that I wrote myself from start to finish.

Sweet Obsession
This came out of the sessions I did with Jack Ponti ("Keep Tonight" from "Sunstorm") when we were writing for Bon Jovi in the 80s. It's a solid song, one I always wanted to do. The German band, Bonfire, had a hit with it in Europe and it was a popular MTV video. It's another relationship song about someone who can't help his or her desire for someone else but likes the helpless feeling!

Love Is On Our Side
Although I did a great song with Brazen Abbot by the same name, this is not the same song! Titles come and go with writers and this is a good example! I co-wrote this with Aleks DeCarvalho in the 90's. I had not worked with or talked to Aleks for many years but we recently re-connected and will write material for TV and films. This is a mid-tempo ballad with a statement and its message is still true and applicable today. It's a plea for world peace and social harmony and to not to lose your faith...we can change the world. I know it seems a bit altruistic but at least we have to dream like John Lennon inferred in his song, "Imagine." I believe this dream is still within reach!

Two Lights (European exclusive bonus track)
This is another track I wrote with Aleks DeCarvalho. It's a cross between rhythm and blues and melodic rock. If it was produced differently it could be an Adult Contemporary radio hit. My personal assistant, who has been a fan since my Fandango days, says it's one of her favorite songs from these sessions, so we'll probably end up putting this on the USA-version of the album. It tells a tale of love and loneliness...something to which we can all relate!

Off The Hook (Japanese bonus track)
This is a real burning rock tune about a girl who is wild and a bit reckless so the expression "off the hook" fits here as the title. With all the melodic rock on this disc we felt we needed to have a real fast paced rocker just in case some critics thought we could not rock...LOL! Karl shreds on the guitar and there's a pounding double bass drum coming from Michael Cartellone (Damn Yankees, Lynard Skynyrd). It's a real up-tempo barnburner and was written by myself, Karl Cochran and my longtime friend and collaborator, Bobby Held. Great to play live!

This albums sounds very A.O.R. and bluesy. Some songs remind me the Richie Sambora's solo album "Stranger In This Town" and also ZENO albums. Do you agree with me ?
Which other influences do you think that this album contains ?

Sambora is a Blues enthusiast and I also love the blues so I have to agree. This album is a myriad of influences and sounds and that's what makes it special is the variety. We are all influenced but what we hear resonates the commercial rock genre of the 80s.

What is your line-up on this album ? How did you select the musicians ?

Karl Cochran, guitarist, has been a longtime friend and collaborator. He is one of my "usual suspects." Bobby Held also played on the record and he has been my longtime co-producer. Michael Cartellone (Damn Yankees, Lynard Skynyrd)gave the album an incredible drum sound. I had wanted to work with him a long time and he was finally available. Gary Corbett has worked with too many artists to name and is a total pro. But unlike past projects I only used a small circle of musicians on this album so it does have a more cohesive sound even though the songs show a great deal of variety.

Do you plan a new collaboration one day with Richie Blackmore ? What do think of his celtic evolution inside "Blackmore's Night" ? Do you like it ?

I did sing a version of "Street of Dreams" on a recent Blackmore's Night album I would love to work with Blackmore again but he seems like he is totally absorbed in the Blackmore's Night project and I do respect that. He has always loved that type of music. I like the's unique and has a very strong and loyal fan base.

How did you meet Jim Peterik ? Are you more a fan of Pride Of Lions or a fan of the old Survivor ?

I am just a fan period. He is one of the best writers out there. I believe I met him in Chicago...that's his hometown. We hit it off great ! I wrote a song with him back then, "Blueprint for the Blues" which appears on my "Hurry Up and Wait" CD.

You've played with so many fantastic guitar players from Malmsteen to Blackmore... Which guitarist remains your favorite one and why ?

I like them all for different reasons. Art is not something you should compare or rank. Blackmore is more of a song focused guitarist while Yngwie is more into creating opportunities in songs to show off his skill (and he is greatly skilled as is Blackmore). They are both brilliant and we made some amazing music together.

Your career is amazing : you count about 50 participations to misc. projects, 10 solo albums. Which feeling do you have on this whole career ? Of which period are you the most proud ? Do you regret anything ? If yes, what ?

I feel very blessed and fortunate to have had a career that has lasted this long. I owe most all of it to the appreciative fans, to the supportive media people, like you, and to God as well. As far as period I am proud of, each era has been a learning experience and has affected my life in a major way. I think the Rainbow era probably made the most impact on my career. I don't really regret anything but I was disappointed that the solo deal after "Rescue You" did not work out so that I could complete and release a second solo album in the 80s. I am also disappointed that Rainbow broke up when we did. I think we were just ready to break wide open.

What do you think of the AOR scene today ? Do you have any favorite bands ?

I am not very familiar with the newer AOR bands. I wish I had more time to check them on on the Frontiers website and other places. But, I have been so busy. I am getting ready for Japan right now and trying to get 10 email interviews done. It's insane...LOL ! But I wish all those bands all the best.

Will we have the opportunity to see you live in France ? Do you plan to tour for the release of this album ?

We do have some dates in Europe coming up but no shows are confirmed for France at this time. I love France, it is a beautiful country. It would be great to do some shows there and I look forward to possibly doing some in the future.

Thanks a lot for your time. Would you have some words for the french readers ? Maybe you wanna try to convince them to buy "Second Hand Life" ?

Thank you for your time also ! Thanks to the fans for their undying and loyal support. They continue to inspire me to make great music and I hope they enjoy the new album. I think the new album appeals to a wide variety of fans because it has some hard rock, some blues rock, melodic rock. It's got everything ! Enjoy !