Snakecharmer release their self-titled debut album through Frontiers this month. The band’s line-up includes former Whitesnake members Micky Moody and Neil Murray, vocalist Chris Ousey (Heartland) and Ozzy/Headspace keyboards player Adam Wakeman. The line-up is completed by Magnum/Thunder drummer Harry James and guitarist Laurie Wisefield.
Photos: Bob Singleton (band press launch, 05.12.11)
1. What are you currently up to?
At the moment I’m continuing to write songs for a possible follow up to the last Rhyme and Reason solo record. I really enjoyed putting the last one together and I realise if Snakecharmer are going to busy promoting the first studio album in 2013, there may not be a lot of time for writing. Chris Ousey
We are looking forward to the release of the album in late January, and we’re involved in a lot of promotion for it, which Frontiers Records has set up. We hope to be playing many live shows in 2013, but there are no details yet, apart from our London show on 23rd February at the Islington Assembly Halls, which will be a major launch for the album and the band in the UK. Neil Murray
Currently rehearsing for a one off show with 10CC in Russia, early Jan and writing for the next Headspace album. Adam Wakeman
I am currently on tour with Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds playing in the UK until Xmas and Germany at the beginning of next year. We Will Rock You Shows during the Xmas break. Writing when I get the opportunity. Laurie Wisefield
I’ve just completed a series for an online tutorial for a soon-to-be-launched website. It deals with techniques and personal tips and advice regarding both electric and acoustic guitar. I’m still writing the follow up to my book Playing With Trumpets, writing some more library music and also playing a few gigs. Micky Moody
Currently writing songs and planning for 2013 having just been on a long successful tour with Magnum and playing with Thunder at the Christmas shows. And looking forward to gigging and promoting our new album. Harry James
2. Could you take us through the new album ‘Snakecharmer’?
The recording started with Smoking Gun and Turn of The Screw. I guess the band was just finding their feet at that point and they were closely followed by White Boy Blues and To The Rescue as I recall. There’s a strong blues influence in those tracks and we decided early on not to over embellish the recordings. We wanted to allow the individual performances to come through to see if we had a strong recognizable style as a band.
Harry and Laurie came up with a couple of strong backing track ideas pretty soon after. Harry with the musical idea that would become Stand Up and Laurie with an idea that would evolve into Accident Prone.
For me both of these ideas came together pretty quickly. Stand Up led me vocally down a vaguely Bad Company type route and was a lot of fun to sing in the studio. Accident Prone had a strong song structure to begin with and that obviously made it a lot easier when it came to finding the right lyrics and melodies.
Laurie also threw a slow ballad into the mix around this time that was to become Falling Leaves. The original idea left a lot of scope for recording a simple but emotional song, that was also a lot of fun to put down vocally. Guilty As Charged also came out of a musical idea from Laurie.
I had a lot of fun working on ideas penned by Micky. He has a really distinctive style that I think comes across strongly on A Little Rock and Roll and Cover Me In You. Nothing To Lose and My Angel, originally ideas from Harry and Micky, were completed with a real band effort to put the lid on a record we’re all very proud off. Chris Ousey
The writing was open to all members of the band and there were no specific intention to sound like anybody else except ourselves. Of course, with Neil and myself in the line-up, there was always going to be a comparison with early Whitesnake, which is not a bad thing! The writers made demos of the backing tracks and once in the studio, the final musical arrangements were by the band as a whole. Micky Moody
3. How did Snakecharmer come together?
Neil came to a gig I was playing and we spoke of playing together again. The original idea was to play some vintage Whitesnake for fun but there was so much potential in the line up that we expanded the repertoire to include songs that were accredited to individual members. Manager Martin Darvill took a personal interest in us and suggested that we record some original tunes. Micky Moody
4. What made the band choose Frontiers as they don’t normally release many blues rock albums?
Let’s get one thing clear – Snakecharmer is not a blues rock album! There will always be a blues influence in my musical persona but this album is big on melody. A scribe mentioned recently that there are echoes of early Whitesnake, Bad Company and Foreigner on the album. That’s hardly blues rock in my opinion. Micky Moody
5. As all the band members have other commitments in other bands/musical projects how do you manage the time and prioritise Snakecharmer?
I think, to any great extent, that challenge is yet to come. Though for a few live events in 2012 Snakecharmer has seen guest appearances on drums and keyboards. The band is something we all take seriously and would like to take as far as we possibly can. Chris Ousey
It’s not easy, but we try to set things up a long way in advance, and we try to prioritise Snakecharmer as much as possible. It depends on the situation – if for example Adam is on a big tour with Ozzy Osbourne, or Harry is touring with Thunder, then we would probably have to work around that, either by waiting until everyone is available, or very occasionally using a stand-in musician. The ideal situation would be if Snakecharmer becomes very successful so that there’s no need to do other work, but in the current economic situation, it’s difficult for any new band to break through, even if there are well-known musicians in the band. Neil Murray
It’s not easy to juggle everything and we haven’t bee that busy with live shows, so the studio time has slotted in between our other commitments ok. Next year will be tricky I expect but we’ll make it work! Adam Wakeman
It’s something I really wanted to do and so made the time. Some other work had to be put to the side, but it was great to be able to have the opportunity to be creative. Timewise the writing and recording was a bit of a juggling act, but we got there in the end. Laurie Wisefield
With great difficulty! Thankfully Maria at QEDG has the patience of a saint. Micky Moody
I’m fairly organised to be honest so it all works out pretty good on the whole. Harry James
6. What does it feel like playing the classic Whitesnake tunes again onstage and once the album is out how much of the set will be made-up of Snakecharmer songs?
I’ve been playing early Whitesnake stuff with Bernie Marsden and Neil on and off since the late Nineties (The Snakes, Company of Snakes and M3) so it’s a continuous progression on an established theme. We haven’t made up the new set list yet but a mixture of both would seem appropriate. Micky Moody
7. How do you view the current live scene for blues and rock music in the UK and Europe? How much have magazines like ‘Classic Rock’ and their spin-off magazine ‘Blues’ helped promote rock and blues?
Its great that there are still these publications going strong – its a sign of how strong the market is for this type of music. All kneel and praise Classic Rock mag! Adam Wakeman
I think those magazines have helped immensely, but it’s a shame there are not more decent venues out there for new bands to play & learn their craft. Laurie Wisefield
8. What have been the live highlights for the band and why?
Particularly enjoyed the gig at Silverstone in the Summer although the cars were louder than us at one point !! Harry James
9. What can we expect from the Ozone album featuring yourself and Steve Overland amongst others? Any news on a new Heartland album?
The Ozone project, as far as writing in concerned, is pretty much ready for recording. I’m looking forward to working with Steve. It’s just a matter of mapping out a period of time for recording that works for everyone. We’d both like to have Mike Slamer involved in the recordings and he’s a pretty busy guy these days! Chris Ousey
10. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time away from music?
Recording and performing can be a pretty unhealthy business. Either locked up in the studio or else a lot of travelling and late nights when performing tend to leave you run down. I like to get outside and I do a fair bit of cycling and running to try and keep fit for whatever’s next down the road work wise! Chris Ousey
I enjoy travelling when I get the chance, and although I’ve toured many countries in the world, there are still hundreds of places I’d like to visit. I do non-musical creative things on computer, and I’m interested in my family history, which is like being a detective. Neil Murray
What’s ‘spare time’? I have 3 young children so spare time is just a distant memory! I’m also launching a production music library in 2013 so that has taken up any free time I might have had this year. Aside from music and family, I enjoy running 2 or 3 times a week. London marathon in the Summer if I’m in the country. Adam Wakeman
Haven’t had a great deal of spare time for a while but have managed the odd break away with the Mrs, and the odd game of golf!! Laurie Wisefield
Reading, writing, appreciating irony (no, not ironing!) and co-ordinating my goat farm. Micky Moody
I enjoy my football….BIG Crystal Palace fan. So far…so good so I’m a happy bunny at the moment Harry James
Anything else to add and a message for your fans…
Looking forward to getting to play for as many of you guys as possible in 2013 and onwards. See you there! Chris Ousey
We hope that all the fans of all the bands we’ve collectively played in,which must be dozens, will check out our album and come to see us play live, if possible. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! Neil Murray
Thanks for the support – hope you enjoy the new album and we’ll see you at a show in 2013! Adam Wakeman
Just really looking forward to getting out there, promoting the album and playing this music LIVE !! HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! Laurie Wisefield
Looking forward to the release of Snakecharmer and working with the rest of the guys. Happy New Year! Micky Moody
Looking forward to seeing everyone in 2013 and I hope you like our debut album. Harry James
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