Interview date

February 2007


Yann G


Bryan, Mike, Tim, thanks a lot for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine
First of all, can you please present quickly your band TOROK to the French readers (where do you come from? the line-up?...)

Bryan Erickson : We are from the United States, more specifically the Minneapolis/St.Paul area of the state of Minnesota. The "Torok" touring line-up is, Mike Torok lead/rhythm guitars, Tim Davis on the drums, Bill Holmberg playing bass, John Jankowski on the keys and yours truly handling the vocals and some guitar live.

"Addiction Of Fools" is already your third album. How do you explain that you're not much known from the European audience?

Bryan Erickson : Its hard enough to get the gospel of Torok out regionally let alone spreading the word to other parts of the world, but the one thing all bands today have going for them as apposed to ten years ago when we put out our first CD "Silence", is the computer age. It's amazing how many people you can reach through great webzines such as yours and all of the Internet radio stations playing and pushing unknown music around the world not to mention websites like "Myspace". These avenues are completely invaluable to all bands trying to make a name for them selves. When we put out "Silence" in 1996 the only promotion we could get was through a couple small magazines and the work Lance King at "Nightmare Records" put in pushing us through his connections. When we put out "Binge & Purge" in 2001 their was much more internet based promotion we could do along with the help we received through "Nightmare Records", but even then just six years ago their was no where near the amount of inexpensive avenues one could use to help hype their band.

Michael Torok : One of our biggest challenges is finding methods of promoting and introducing our material to European fans. One has to know the avenues to effectively promote. We know that there are people who would enjoy our music, and I have read that European fans are more open to newer bands that are not playing flavor-of-the-week music. Bryan and I write and record music that we both love and listen to.

Do you plan a better worldwide promotion and distribution for this new release?

Bryan Erickson : Like I said on the previous question, we are using any and all Internet based ways of promotion along with the connections we have made over the past ten years working in this business. That being said we are in the process of putting together packages and presenting them to any and all labels that want to listen. The goal definitely is to get the word out, world wide, whatever means necessary.

If you had to describe "Addiction Of Fools" in some words, what would you say?

Michael Torok : Loud and Proud!!!...This is a labor of love! Every penny we earn goes back into the band for better equipment. There is blood, sweat, blown amplifiers, broken guitars and sore vocal cords in the ingredients of this recording. The people who played on this record with us are our friends. We had fun making this recording.

It sounds typically like a great US hard-rock n' roll in the tradition of Van Halen and Extreme. Which other influences do you think this release contains?

Michael Torok : I have as inspirations; Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Zakk Wylde, Husker Du, and Playboy magazine (for the articles).

Bryan Erickson : For me, I hear "Deep Purple" in a few of the tracks. I also hear a little "Led Zeppelin" in the drums and also the overall production. I hear Zakk Wylde and Joe Perry in Mike's guitars. I also hear many of the bands of the 80's and early 90's in the song structure and musicianship. Bands like Mr Big, Tesla, Badlands, Whitesnake, Skid Row, Cry of Love and Brother Cane just to name a few. My personnel influences vocally are people like David Coverdale, Chris Cornel and Sass Jordan. My all time favorite vocalist is Ray Gillen. It's a shame he died so young.

Did you 2 previous albums already sound in the same way?

Michael Torok: When Bryan and I started recording our 1st release "Silence", our drummer had just quit, this put us in a difficult position, so we used a drum machine. This created more of a techno feel with heavy guitars, slightly industrial. We definitely like the feel of a real drummer much more then the stiff vibe you get from synthetic drums. That being said for the 2nd release, "Binge and Purge" we stripped the music to as raw and basic a form as we could and recorded it live as a band. It was representative of where we were creatively at that point in time. For this album, I tried to slow down my lead guitar playing and play a passage that people would remember instead firing off a flurry of notes.

Bryan Erickson- "Addiction of Fools" I like to think is a little more honed or crafted then our previous releases. For the new CD Mike and I worked out all the vocal melodies on the piano. Bill Holmberg, Tim Temple (Keyboard player on the CD) and myself would listen to Mike's guitar solos and give him input whether we thought he was on the right track or maybe it needed a little more work. We also wrote about twenty songs for the CD and with the help of about twenty different people including the CDs assistant producer my old pal Mike Jesmer we trimmed it down to the ten tracks, which appear on "Addiction of Fools". "Addiction of Fools" is more melodic, while maintaining the organic feel we had on "Binge &Purge". "Binge & Purge" to me has a little more of a "Metallica" feel, meaning longer songs extended jams and more of a winging it vocal approach. "Addiction of Fools" is more about the song then the big jams. We really concentrated on melodies and song structure for "Addiction of Fools". That being said, all of our CDs have their own merit.

On the first track, you have Todd Duane as a special guest on guitar. How did you know him and why did you choose him?

Michael Torok: Todd and myself used to be in rival Heavy bands back in the 80's. He was in a band called "Regime" and I was an original member of Shock Rock Kings "Impaler". So I have known Todd at least in passing for years. Todd currently plays around the Twin Cities area in a band called "Touched" which Bryan and I often jam with to keep the chops up and have a little fun. Through his new band "Touched" which also features one of the best singers in town Mark Westlund (Who also appears on "Addiction of Fools") Todd and I have become friends. Todd is a great player and nice guy so when it came time to ask some people to help out with the new project Todd was a perfect fit to add some guitar pyrotechnics to the project. "Impaler" by the way has a new DVD out called "House Band at the Funeral Parlor" which features some live footage from back when I was still playing guitar for the Shock Rock King's.

TOROK seems to love the true hard-rock n' roll as bands played it in the 90s. Do you feel nostalgic of this period?

Bryan Erickson : I would have to say that my favorite CDs all came out in the early 90's period. (Badlands-Vodoo Highway/Dusk, Pride & Glory, Coverdale Page) But I wouldn't say I feel nostalgic. I would agree that our sound is much closer to that era but its all music to me.

Michael Torok : I hate labels! If music is good it should be listened to. In the 90's there were some really talented bands and some not so talented. I wish that people would pay less attention to the flavor-of-the-week and more to if the music has merit. There is some good music being written and recorded today. Audioslave is an example. Some people say "Oh that is just 70's/80's/90's" rehash and they dismiss it. That is unfortunate.

Which new bands or new albums does each member of TOROK love today?

Bryan Erickson :I have to say I am very impressed with Richie Kotzen's new CD "Into the Black". The vocals are incredible, a combination of Paul Rogers and Glen Hughes. Other then that and the "Audioslave" CDs I have to go back to the second "SnakepIt' CD "Aint life Grand". I guess maybe I am stuck back in the 70's , 80's and 90's.

Michael Torok : I listen to Audioslave and Zakk Wylde. I think that some of the "shred" music...Trivium, Dragon Force, Lamb of God etc...are very technically good. I listen to a very broad range of music styles.

Tim Davis : "Not much" but if you twist my arm I would say the stuff "Sevendust" puts out is pretty cool...

Could you please explain us how each of you came to music : autodidact or by professional studies ?

Tim Davis : I started playing the drums because my father was and is a drummer. Also the first time I saw Neal Peart play I knew the drums were my calling.

Bryan Erickson : I took a few vocal lessons back in college, but for the most part I'm self taught. I recently got a few good tips from Lance King (Balance of Power/Pyramaze) on creating melody and phrasing which have come in handy.

Michael Torok : I am primarily self-taught. I can read music although very poorly. I started out playing bass guitar because a local band that a friend was in needed a bass player. I steal what ever I can from different styles of music.

Which themes and subjects do you develop in "Addiction Of Fools" lyrics ?

Michael Torok : Basic emotions like lust and love lost. I wrote lyrics called "Burn the Priests", but Bryan did not like them. I think that the lyrics in the song Addiction of Fools have extra shades of meaning to them. Good art no matter what the medium should communicate something to the recipient.

Bryan Erickson : Like Mike said some of the songs including the title track and "The Burden" are lust and love lost type vibes, while other tracks like "Y" and "Full Moon" are about maturing as a person and the way one deals with it. For a CD that has drawn many comparisons to 80's music, lyrically "Addiction of Fools" is a little bit dark. Tracks like "Forsaken" and "Infamy" are about the constant battles that I go through and I think most people go through just dealing with the way society is today.

Do you plan to come to tour one day in Europe?

Michael Torok : Just as soon as some kind benefactor sends plane tickets!

Bryan Erickson : We would love to. Hopefully if things start rolling the right way it would be cool to get included in one of those Hard Rock/Metal Fest that happen so often in Europe. I know Lance King has played a few of those types of shows over the years and he told me they were fantastic. We will see what the future brings.

What are your projects for the future? Maybe each of you has a side-project?

Michael Torok : My main focus is the band Torok and becoming a better musician.

Tim Davis : Along with my "Torok" commitments I also play drums in a progressive/old school project called "Breathin Sand"

Bryan Erickson : I have about twenty songs that I would love to finish up some day for another "Son of Eric" CD but my main focus is always Torok...

If you had to convince a French reader who loves hard-rock and who still doesn't know Torok to buy "Addiction Of Fools", what would you say him?

Michael Torok : If you like loud guitars, chest pounding vocals and honest songs with a groove, then this is the album for you. This is not a bandwagon album. This is a blood sweat and white-knuckle ride of straight-ahead hard rock music written and performed by people who love the genre!

Thanks a lot for your time and good luck for "Addiction Of Fools" promotion.

Michael Torok : Thank you for the interview.

Bryan Erickson : Thanks much Yann...