Interview: JOHN PARKER and MICHAEL O’MARA of TALON

Talon release their fourth album, ‘Four Play’ on Escape Music on March 20th. They are back with original vocalist Michael O’Mara who fields the questions along with founder member drummer John Parker…

What have you got planned for the next few months music wise? e.g. tour plans, recording etc.

John:  Well, we are planning events around our “Fourplay” March 20th CD release date – including signing events and a Wounded Warriors benefit show in LA in May. We are also setting a few more shows for this Spring/Summer to support “Fourplay”.

Could you take us through the songs on ‘Fourplay’ e.g. stories behind the songs, songwriting process etc.

Talon - Fourplay

Michael:  When the band asked me to sing on the upcoming album with Talon, I had one condition; it had to be the best album that the band has recorded. The initial songwriting process for this album was the same as the others. Basically Kory and John worked on the music and sent me the finished ideas and I would add the lyrics and melodies. But it was the approach to the songs that we changed. I feel that we have a lot to prove as a band and the new album had to make a statement to show our growth and potential. We definitely didn’t want any “filler” tracks on the album. We wanted every song to stand on their own and when combined with the other songs, the finished product would be a memorable album that we could be proud of. So, thinking outside the box and removing the pressure of what this album should sound like and focusing on what the album could sound like was the best decision we made.

As I’d go through my day I would write down an idea or something odd I would say that might make for a good song title. For this album I started with the title of the song, which is also a different approach to what I’m used to doing, and I wrote the song lyrics and melodies based on the song title. Each music demo that they sent me had a distinct personality that determined the title, melody, and how I would sing the song. Here’s a brief interpretation of the songs and their meaning:

Spun

In describing a night of partying, our bassist, Phil will say that he was “spun.” In writing the song I associated the same feeling to the time that I’m actually on stage for a show. There are long days of travel, business to attend to, sound checks and more, that sometimes the time on stage is so brief that it goes by in the blink of an eye. So quickly that it’s almost a blur. So I used the word, “spun” as the basis of this song. The song is about the anticipation and the time it takes to get ready for the huge payoff of being on the stage. It’s something that we always look forward to.

Sin City Sister

We have a nice fan base in Las Vegas and I nicknamed two sisters the “Sin City Sisters.” I always thought that it would make for a great song title so I worked up the song about a woman who lives and ‘works’ in Sin City.

Holly Would

I like the play on words with this title. It’s about letting yourself slide into total submission with a highly skilled woman, to the point of intense gratification. I mean, the album is called FOURPLAY, right?

Set Me Free

I had a couple different titles for this one, and none of them seemed to work. One was a very dark approach that I was working on with my acoustic guitar. It wasn’t until I listened back that I came up with the title for the song. I’m sure that all of us have been in a relationship with someone who was jealous, overbearing, or both. It always starts off good but somewhere along the line, it goes sour. What’s my advice to anyone who’s in a bad relationship? Run fast, run far and don’t look back.

Tonight

Is there any way that the world can wipe the slate clean and start over? And before we choose our political and religious affiliations, can we first work on humanity? It’s only when a disaster strikes that we look beyond our personal beliefs and begin to work together as people who are united for a common good. Instead of concentrating on how different we are, we should be embracing our similarities. One thing I’ve always admired about certain music icons is their constant reminder of peace in their songs. John Lennon being one of them. The lyrics to Imagine had a lot to do with this song. It’s my opinion that we need to make some changes. This song is about the desire for change.

It’s A Fine Line Between Love And Lust

This is written about the struggle and eventual surrender to sexual temptation. There are those who think that love and lust are two different things. But I think that they’re closely related. I’m one of those who likes to walk the line so I can take from both sides.

Evil

It’s the people who say, “You can trust me, I’m a good person,” that you have to worry about. This is a true story about a musician I knew. Friends would meet this person and several of them remarked that this person was evil. No kidding, they actually used the word, evil. Eventually I came to realize exactly what they were talking about. When I wrote the lyrics I had Ronnie James Dio in mind. So when it came time to record it, I tried to capture some of the essence of Dio. Ronnie would have killed this song! If I managed to get 1% of Dio into the song, then I did my job.

I Don’t Wanna Cry

The only song on the album that was solely written by Kory. It’s the very first song that I recorded with the band years ago and thanks to that song I wound up recording the first Talon album. We’ve always loved this song and felt it deserved to be on the new album. As for the meaning behind the song, it takes a certain kind of person to be on the road and a certain kind of person to stay at home and wait for your return. I know a lot of musicians who gave up the life on the road just to appease their significant other. When I listen back to this song, I’m sure that Kory has had to make some hard decisions in his life.

Talon 2014

Love Is Like A Drug To Me

A while back I was working on a song called Love Is The Remedy. It never got recorded (maybe some day) but I had it in the back of my mind when I was working on this song. Knowing how much I value love and how much I appreciate it, I thought that love isn’t really my remedy, it’s more like a drug to me.

Raise ‘Em High

I noticed that many of my friends from England and Europe sign off by saying, “Cheers.” I wanted to acknowledge that by writing them a song. I had “cheers” in mind when I heard the demo music but when I went to sing the chorus, I sang, “raise ‘em high,” which sounds like something you used to say in the Old West when you’d make a toast. I liked it so much that I kept it.

Hole In My Head

We wrote and performed this song for our first show at The Gods. I was sitting around the dinner table years ago at Thanksgiving when my Aunt said, “Oh, I need that like I need a hole in my head.” It stuck.

There Ain’t Nothin’ In The World Like A Rockin’ Band

I had a layover at an airport and found my way to the bar where I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman who was telling me the historical value and significance that rap music has on society. Hell, I can appreciate the poetry of the lyrics and how they bring awareness to certain situations, but as far as it’s importance to music, he couldn’t be further from the truth. After he finished I took a sip of my beer and briefly explained the science and benefits of the human voice and of instruments that are played by humans, giving them the human feel, which is something that monotone talking or programming a computer can’t duplicate. As I turned to leave I said, “As far as I’m concerned, there ain’t nothin’ in the world like a rockin’ band.” It left him speechless and gave me a great title for another song.

How did Michael O’Mara get to rejoin the band?

Michael:  Two months after Talon’s appearance at Firefest, John called to ask me if I’d be interested in recording the fourth Talon album. That’s when I told him yes, but only if we agree to make it our best one. I know that after the Firefest show I received a lot of support from the fans asking me if I was going to sing on the next album. I think that John and the others in the band got the same email and messages from people saying that it was nice to see me fronting the band again. After talking we decided that it was the obvious thing to do and that’s when the songwriting process started. I’m glad I decided to come back because it’s been a great experience working with the band again and finally being able to work with producer and musician, Ty Sims. Between Ty and the band, I can’t remember one time when I was told not to say, change or arrange something. It was just the opposite. I came back because I wanted to make something that we can all be proud of. And, in my mind, we did.

You have legendary guitarist Tim Pierce guesting on two songs. How did you manage to get him involved?

John:  I have always been a huge fan of Tim’s work through the years and met him at last year’s NAMM show. We hit it off right away and I asked him if he would like to play on a couple tracks on our upcoming CD and he said “let’s go”! I met him at his home studio in LA and we spent a half day tracking some amazing guitar work that just blew me away!  Great player, great man, great friend!

How did the gig at the MelodicRockFest4 go? Do Talon find it hard to get a decent run of gigs together?

John:  What a great show ! We were the backing band for Stan Bush (again) and played our own Talon set also. Shows are far and few, but we like to be selective also. We have Rock ‘n’ Skull coming later his year also and are working on a few other shows for 2015.

Talon have been around for awhile now and kept going when many other bands last a couple of albums if that. What has been the driver that has kept the band going?

Michael:  As far as the driver, that would be John. He puts a lot of his personal time into the band. And you asked, why is the band still around? I learned a long time ago that bands are like relationships. Between the rehearsals, the travel and all the time on and off the stage, you get to know them very well. Some people get along and some people rub each other the wrong way. At the core of this band is a friendship between the members and that’s what keeps the band together. And it took a few years for them to realize just how much they missed me. (ha!)

At a recent Talon show, somebody asked me if I was mad that they recorded two albums without me. I told him that I don’t have any regrets because I don’t think the songs two albums ago would be as strong and as powerful as the songs on the FOURPLAY album. It’s all about timing and we recorded this one at the right time.

John:  Talon is a vision that myself and Kory have brought forward since 1995 when it started as Voxen. The entire band have a love for true Melodic Hard Rock that thankfully has an audience that appreciates the same! We enjoy writing songs, performing, producing this style of music that we love and hope to continue to for a long time! We have had some amazing friends and fellow musicians perform with us over the years – but it is like coming home again with Michael back. We have spent 16 months creating this amazing release and can’t wait for it to be released. Everything is clicking and 2015 is going to be a monster year!

Message for your fans…

We are extremely curious to what the reaction to the album will be. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Until then, thanks to all the friends and fans who believe in the heart and soul of rock and roll, just as we do. We hope to see you all soon!



 

The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was streamed on Sunday 22 November.

More about Josh: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/?s=%22Josh+Taerk%22


David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 22 November 2020.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 24 November 2020


Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Featured Albums w/c 23 November (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 JEFF SCOTT SOTO Wide Awake (In My Dreamland) (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 LAZARUS DREAM Alive (Pride & Joy Music)
14:00-16:00 RONAN FURLONG The King Of Leaves (Thoroughbred Music)

Power Plays w/c 23 November (Mon-Fri)

L.A. GUNS All That You Are (Golden Robot Records)
THE DUST CODA Limbo Man (Earache)
EBBA BERGKVIST & THE FLAT TIRE BAND 68 Twin (indie)
IRON SAVIOR Souleater (AFM Records)
IVY GOLD This Is My Time (indie)



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