Interview: RON PERRY of CHINA SKY

China Sky’s debut came out back in 1988 and is one of those ‘must have’ classic melodic rock albums of the 1980′s. Sadly though due to various issues band never made that second album until now, some 25 years later! ‘China Sky II’ is released on 20th February 2015 on Escape Music and features original members Ron Perry and Richard Smith. Over to Ron…

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

Well, we spent two years recording the album, and very little time actually playing as a band, so for the next few months, we plan on honing our live show, doing some live dates in the states, and planning some kind of a European tour, if we can work out all the logistics…

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

In my opinion, the material on the new album is stronger than the first, and definitely rocks a little harder. I have been asked numerous times if the material is all new, or recycled stuff leftover from the 80′s, but we never even considered using old material. We wanted this album to be totally “of the present”, so that kind of set a tone for the songs right from the get-go. Of course, they had to sound like China Sky, and be recognizable as such, but we also tried to bring a current element into the arrangements and production, and bring some real lyrical depth to it, not just mindless “party rock” stuff, or trite ballads. I think the songs can be enjoyed equally by people who were fans of AOR in the 80′s, and younger people who are discovering it for the first time.

As far as the individual songs, our first single, “One Life” is, in a way, about getting up off of our asses after all this time to put the band back together, and spending an ungodly amount of time in the studio creating this album, when we could have just continued to exist in our own little comfort zones. “One life is all you get”… we would have regretted not taking this opportunity, and I’m glad we did. Anyone sitting out there who has a dream, but is apprehensive about getting up and taking a chance, this song is for you. Don’t let your apprehensions keep you from doing the things you want to do right now. Your time here is not infinite.

The second song, “The Road Not Taken” is a song about owning the choices you make in life, and finding your “home”, whatever that means to you: inner peace, a loving relationship, a particular place that you want to be, a journey that you want to undertake. I don’t think anyone can be truly happy until they find “home”.

“You’re Not Alone”, the third song, is pretty self explanatory. I have been with my wife for 20 years now, and it’s kind of a little love note to her.

“I Believe In You” is another song that I hope will motivate and inspire. I have always been lucky to have people in my life who believed in me, so it has been easy for me to pursue my ambitions, but some people are not so lucky. There are a lot of haters and naysayers in this world and it’s easy to let them bore into your head until you start believing the negativity. Success starts with belief in yourself. If you believe you can do it, others will believe it too. Sometimes you have to just tell YOURSELF “Hey…I believe in you”! I would encourage anyone who has someone close to them who is not pursuing their dream because of the fear of failure or ridicule, or whatever, to tell them “I believe in you! Go for it! I will support and encourage you!” Imagine what inventions, what great art, what great discoveries might result from just one person believing in someone.

China Sky II

“I Wish I Could Fly” - I think almost everyone has had this feeling after a breakup or whatever bad situation the may find themselves in. Sometimes, you just have to remove yourself from wherever you have been wounded and just take the time to recover. It’s kind of a sad song, but also hopeful. A fresh start is a great motivator.

“Enemy” and “I’m A Survivor” are both songs about bad relationships with narcissistic people. Apparently this is a common occurrence among musicians…

“The Richest Man In The World” is a classic love song. “I’m the richest man in the world ’cause I’ve got you”. In a world where everyone aspires to have more “bling” and “get paid” and have more, bigger, better stuff, what really matters is getting lost. Value those you love. All of your stuff won’t comfort you as you take your last breath.

“You’ll Get Yours”, was written by our guitarist Steve Wheeler, features a great guitar riff, and lyrics about another narcissist. Again, a common theme!

“The Darkness” is about keeping negativity at arm’s length. You have to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but you can’t be sucked up in to it and let it consume you. This goes not only for the darkness that’s happening in the outside world, but also the darkness within yourself. “Give It Up” sort of runs along the same lines. Don’t be led into the darkness unconsciously.

The final song, “Dreams I’ll Never See” is the only cover song on the album. It was written by Greg Allman, but the version that’s most well known is from Molly Hatchet’s first album. Our drummer is, of course, Bruce Crump, who was Hatchet’s original drummer. We thought doing our own version of the song would be a cool tip of the hat to Bruce, and may bring us good luck. It was Hatchet’s first hit, so maybe it can bring the same mojo to our effort. It’s definitely been re-worked. We wanted to make the song our own, and as a result, it sounds nothing like the Allman Brothers or Molly Hatchet versions, but it will still be familiar to those who know the song.

What spurred the band to reform after such a long time?

Honestly, I hadn’t thought about China Sky in many years when I started to get emails and inquiries about the band. People wanted to know about different versions of the CD, if such and such a printing was legit or bootlegged, if there were plans to reissue the first record, whether we had thought about doing another album or a reunion show… I had no idea anyone even remembered China Sky, let alone that our album had become a sought-after collectors item, so I was blown away. Eventually, I received a call from Khalil Turk at Escape Music asking me if we had any old tapes suitable for release, which I did not, and then he threw in the notion that we should make a new record. It took several years of just kicking that idea around before we decided to do it. Could we pull it off after all this time? Could we make a record that would stand up to the first, and still be relevant? Did we still have the fire in us to make a passionate, exciting, intelligent record? It took a while to convince ourselves, but when we started working, it felt right. The material was good, and we could still deliver convincing performances, so at that point, we jumped in with both feet.

You have former Molly Hatchett drummer Bruce Crump in the band now. Was there any chance of getting Bobby Ingram being involved at all, even as a guest on the album?

We have had virtually no contact with Bobby since 1988. He basically abandoned China Sky six weeks after our album came out, and we never heard from him again, so we never really considered asking him. He has a full time commitment to Molly Hatchet, so I don’t think he could have done it anyway.

Was there ever any attempt at reforming the band in-between times?

No, We tried to forget China Sky for twenty years, as it was a very disappointing episode for us, the way it went down, in the 80′s.

Why do you think the debut album never gained the success it deserved?

The breakup of the band six weeks after the release of the record was definitely one of the main reasons. The record company put it on the back burner, and without us on the road promoting it, it just kind of died on the vine. The fact that it has become something of a “cult classic” is very vindicating, however, and it led to the opportunity for us to do a new record, and to do it our way. As good as the first record was, I think this one is more representative of our initial intention, and more substantive, so we have high hopes this time around.

Message for your fans…

I would just like to thank everyone who has listened and kept our music alive all these years. All the people who have sent messages telling us what the songs have meant to them in their lives…people from all over the world. It’s very humbling. I’d also like to thank our new fans. People who, in many cases, weren’t even born when our first album came out. Young people have been discovering what they now call “melodic rock”, and are embracing it because it contains all the things that are missing from current pop music. Actual people playing actual instruments, a vocal melody as opposed to just yelling over a drum beat, and a high level of musicianship in general. These are the people who will carry rock music through the 21st century. We want to give them inspiration to draw from. If we can influence just one kid sitting in his bedroom with a guitar, then we have achieved our goal.

Peace, Love & Rock & Roll
Ron


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