Guitarist/songwriter/producer Tommy Denander is a busy man with Radioactive about to release their first new album in over ten years ‘F4ur’ on Escape Music. This features a stellar cast of melodic rock vocalists including the late, great Jimi Jamison, Jeff Paris, Steve Walsh of Kansas fame and more. Plus he is busy touring as part of the Bobby Kimball Band and producing and running the Legends Of Rock shows. Over to Tommy…
What have you got planned for the next few months music wise? e.g. tour plans, recording etc.
- I’ve been touring and traveling a lot around the world in the last 5-6 years with so many great artists like Dan Reed, Mitch Malloy, Bobby Kimball, Joe Lynn Turner, Graham Bonnet, Steve Augeri, Jimi Jamison, Fergie Frederiksen, Bill Champlin, Eric Martin, Robin Beck etc, the list is long haha
But I’m having my first kid in September with my lovely fiancee Cecilia so i am changing a lot of my work so that I will be home much more from now on.
I will absolutely keep doing some shows with Bobby Kimball Band and Legends Of Rock but not like before.
But I’m also part of running the biggest and oldest studio in Sweden, formerly EMI/Abbey Road Stockholm and now X-Level Studios, everyone from The Beatles, Abba, Roxette to Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Britney Spears, One Direction and Nickelback have worked there and this is where I have my studio plus i’m head of A&R for the company which is a lot of fun.
Being back also means I’ll be doing more guitar sessions again, some producing and i look forward to get back into writing more songs again because I just haven’t had the time with all the traveling.
I’m involved in new albums for Robin Beck, House Of Lords, Drive She Said, Ricky Delin, AOR, Bobby Kimball, Bruce Gaitsch, Pat Boone, Outtrigger, Saints Trade, some Eurovisvion songs etc plus we just released our 3rd Impera album so I have no problem staying busy! haha
Could you take us through the songs on ‘F4UR’ e.g. stories behind the songs, etc.
1. Summer Rains – Jimi Jamison
One of my all time favorite songs I’ve done!
I co wrote this with my old friend Ricky Delin and I’m so proud to have my wonderful friend Jimi Jamison singing it, like so many others I miss Jimi so much and can’t believe he is gone.
He did one of his best vocals ever on this song and he loved it so much that he begged me several times to let him have it for his solo album but i had to keep it for my album.
2. Back To The Game – Fergie Frederiksen
Another very bittersweet song since we lost both Jimi and Fergie in the same year!
Fergie was a soul bother since the first time he came to my home in 1999 to record my first Radioactive album, we did many albums together including the great ”Frederiksen-Denander” album and we got to do a few tours with Legends Of Rock as well.
We recorded this several years ago before he got sick with cancer and when he got sick I had a lot of issues with releasing the song since he sings about feeling strong again and being back etc so I called him up and talked about this but in his typical way he just laughed and said ”it’s just a song Tommy, and a great song so don’t even worry about that”….not that long after he passed away.
Feels very strong and important to have Fergie and Jimi on this album and they both leave a huge mark on their great legacy with these songs I think.
The original idea for this album was more progressive and this song is one of the few that I kept from those I wrote first so it’s got some pretty cool musical parts also.
3. Beautiful Lies – Jeff Paris
Jeff is just one of the greatest singers I know period!!!
We wrote this song several years ago and I just love how it came out, I’m a sucker for a great shuffle groove also haha
4. The Piper – Steve Walsh
What a huge honor to have mr Steve Walsh sing on this album!!!
I co wrote it with Steve and my dear friend Chris Ousey.
It was Khalil at my label Escape who asked me if I would like to have him him and i was so happy when he said yes!!
It’s hard for me to pick favorite songs on this album since I worked for 10 years on it and did my very best to make sure all songs are really strong but I love this one very much.
5. Alibis – David Roberts
When I grew up I was never a huge fan of the traditional AOR music, I loved classic hard rock and westcoast.
David Roberts album ”All Dressed Up” from 1982 was one of my favorite albums and it features some great playing by the Toto guys etc.
I became friends with David several years ago and we’ve always talked about doing more work together so I’m very happy to have him sing this great song.
In the very last week of mixing I got an email from Kevin Chalfant who asked me if there was any chance he could be part of this album and how cool is that, he is a monster singer and a really nice guy!!
All the lead vocals were done but he gladly agreed to do the backing vocals on this song and damn what a killer job he did!
6. When The Silence Gets Too Loud – Robin Beck
Robin is my soul sister for real!!!
We’ve done many albums together, I’ve written and co produced most of her recent albums, she’s been on my Radioactive albums before as well as Spin Gallery and we’ve worked on other people’s albums as well.
She really is one of the absolutely best female rock singers in the world and proves once again on this smash hit!!!
7. You’ll Find The Fire – Jean Beauvoir
One of the last songs to be written and recorded for the album and i love this one!!!
I’ve known Jean for a few years and we’ve tried so hard to get some work going together but it’s hard with our busy schedules but I was Las Vegas on vacation in December to see KISS play and he was there as well so we managed to hook up for a quick coffee finally which led to us doing this song, I had the music and he wrote the melody and lyrics.
I really hope we can do more song together in the future.
8. Heart Come Alive – Bobby Kimball
Also one of the few songs from the first bunch I wrote.
I co wrote this with Ricky Delin and Bobby.
Bobby has been one of my closest friends for 21 years now, I’m band leader for the Bobby Kimball Band and we travel all over the world together often, we just did 3 weeks in Chile including competing in the huge Vina Del Mar festival with our new song ” Living Your Life For Happiness” for 35.000 people in the audience and 160 million TV viewers, we did more than 100 TV interviews in 12 days including CNN so it was crazy!
One thing that pisses me off a lot is all these people on the internet writing that Bobby can’t sing anymore!!!
It’s not true at all, sure he is 68 years old and does about 250 shows a year so the voice can be tired but the reason why he sometimes has problem with his pitch live isn’t because he can’t sing, it’s because of very bad hearing!!!
He has special implants in both ears to boost his hearing 50 decibel which is a lot but it also makes it really hard for him to hear the pitch of some songs if the monitor mix in his in ears isn’t good.
I’ve done 150-200 shows with Bobby, recorded him several times in the studio and heard him countless times playing piano and singing and he is still one of the greatest rock singers on this planet….no matter what some lie spreading asshole from his old band is trying to convince people!
Plus he is a really sweet human who truly cares.
I’m very happy to have him on my new album!
9. Start All Over – Jeff Paris
Me and Jeff did this song around the same time as ”Beautiful Lies” and I love it!!!
The lyrics are brilliant and he sings it like few I know.
Jeff truly is the unsung hero of this album, he not only did the lead vocals on 3 songs including the Japanese bonus track ”Natural Born Dreamer” that I wrote with Jim Peterik, but he did some incredible backing vocals on a lot of the songs as well.
He is just a music genius!
10. If Only My Memory Could Lie – Dan Reed
Another of the first songs and a big favorite also because the amazing Dan Reed nailed it on the vocals!
Me and Dan got together and started touring around the world just the 2 of us playing acoustic shows and we had a really magical vibe going on.
This song was recorded in my studio during that first week and I think he is amazing on it.
I wrote this with Ricky Delin as well as many of the songs on the album.
11. Just A Man – Fergie Frederiksen
This is actually the one song that was left over from our ”Frederiksen-Denander” album, we just didn’t like it for some reason so I kept his vocal file on a hard drive and thought that some day I’ll look at it again.
When Fergie passed away I knew it was the right moment to do it so i rebuilt the track and made it better and his vocal is just so good!
12. Give Me Your Loving – James Christian
James is a very dear friend and we toured together and done many albums together including I think 4 House Of Lords, 4-5 Robin Beck, his solo album, earlier Radioactive and a few other things as well.
An top class rock singer and I knew this song would be perfect for him!!!
13. Memoriam – instrumental
When Gary Moore passed away it broke my heart because he’s been a favorite player since the early days of his career for me.
I was on my way to the studio when I found out and I just couldn’t get into doing what I was supposed to do that day.
So I just did this song in about 20 minutes and the quick mix I did is what you hear here.
It was done a loving tribute to Gary but it is also dedicated to my dad who passed away in 1999, Jimi and Fergie of course and a new friend Chris who was a fan from England and who I became friends with during his last year in life before he passed recently from cancer….I hate f**king cancer!!!
With Radioactive any plans to play any live shows or use the songs in a solo show?
- I still have the dream of playing a bigger stage at say Sweden Rock Festival with an all star band and 3-4 of the best singers so we could record a live CD and DVD, hopefully it will happen.
But other than that I have no plans at this point.
When writing the songs do you have the vocalist in mind/lined-up or do you write the song and then adapt it if needed for the vocalist you use?
- I always start with the music first and I know when it’s a song i wanna keep for myself and not give away to other projects.
And often when I work with these great singers on their albums we trade favors, I play for them and they sing for me so I go through what song I have to see if one fits them and if not I usually get inspired and write something new.
So I never plan out the singers in advance even though I always have a list in my head of people I’d love to have involved.
How did you get so many top draw vocalists on the album like Steve Walsh, Jimi Jamison and Jeff Paris?
- I’m very often hired to write, produce or play on their albums and it’s the perfect way to become friends and very often do they know about Radioactive so if the timing is right i ask them to sing for me.
Steve Walsh came through Khalil at Escape, Jeff Paris I think I met on Facebook haha, for Jimi Jamison I was asked to put together a backing band for so we could play Firefest in 2010 and the very first show we did after only one rehearsal is the dvd already classic live DVD!!!
I had worked with Jimi on a few albums before that but it was the first time we met and we just became like brothers instantly!
Is the song ‘Summer Rains’ the last recording by the late, great Jimi Jamison?
- It is not but it is one of the very last ones.
He actually did one more song the same day for an album I’m involved with but I can’t talk about that yet.
But Summer Rains is absolutely one of his finest moments and he nailed the whole song from start to finish in one first take!!!
How did the Legends of Rock idea come about and any plans to play the UK at all?
- It started with me getting a call about doing the biggest Christmas gala in Sweden about 4 years ago and the boss asked me if I could bring some big name singer from USA so I suggested Bobby Kimball which they loved.
Bobby and I had talked for many years about doing live shows together so I asked him if I could book a tour of Sweden while he was here which he loved.
So I put together a great band of Swedish musicians and we did 14 shows in 13 days!
Bobby loved the band so much that he wanted us to be the official Bobby Kimball Band.
After that tour I started thinking about how cool it would be to do another tour and involve Fergie, just the thought of having 2 Toto singers doing their greatest songs with my band was amazing…but what if we had 3…or even 4 of these great singers and each guy did his 5 biggest hits only?
So not long after that we did our first tour of Japan with Bobby, Fergie, Bill Champlin and Steve Augeri which was a dream come true on so many levels.
Right now I have more than 25 legendary singers from all these classic 80’s bands and it’s become a big company.
I’m working on some really big things for the coming 3 years including UK for sure!!!
Which vocalists would you still like to work with if given the chance?
- That list is endless, Steve Wonder, Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Chad Krueger cause I love Nickelback, Beyonce…I could go on forever.
I love all kinds of music which is why I became a session guy.
How did the tour with Robin Beck go? When in a touring band do you have many rehearsals or does the band gel on the road?
- We had a blast and the songs are really fun to play.
We usually only get one or two rehearsals but everyone comes prepared so it’s easy, but the fun really starts after 2-3 shows when everyone feels 100% at home with everything and all the songs.
It’s the same with all tours pretty much.
Message for your fans…
- Not a single day goes by where I don’t think about how lucky I am to have this life and I owe it all to all the work I’ve put and still put in but also in the biggest way to all the amazing fans around the world.
Each of you means the world to me, I always stop for every single person who wants a picture, autograph or just a chat….that will never change!
All my love to you!!
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