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Alliance's Gary Pihl: "We've got the passion and the time right now. I can't wait to get back to Robert's studio with the guys!"

Interview with Gary Pihl from Alliance
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 16 June 2019, 10:53 PM

Time is a factor, but in the end of the day, it is all about the passion to create, to play and become. After being under the radar for so long, the AOR / Hard Rock supergroup Alliance are back in the game with "Fire And Grace". The old flame is still there, burning bright. Steinmetal talked to guitarist Gary Pihl, also known as the legendary Boston's lead axeman, about Alliance's new accomplishment, current state of AOR and more.

Hello Gary, it is a pleasure having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, what have you been up to recently sir?

I've been helping to archive video tapes from all the Boston tours. Quite a big job. I've also been helping the songwriter, Tim Barrett, make demos of his songs. He's got two songs on the upcoming Tommy DeCarlo CD on Frontiers Records.

I think the last time Alliance put up a studio album was back in 2008, and here you are, eleven years later with “Fire And Grace”. What took you so long?

We've all been so busy with our other bands and projects. Boston has been touring more in these last ten years than ever before. David has worked with Sammy Hagar, Fitz was out with Springsteen, Van Halen and Yanni. Robert has been touring and recording with Greg Kihn and of course the Keith Emerson 3.2 CD.

Why the chosen title “Fire And Grace”, what was the initial meaning to it? What does it mean to you personally?

For me, Fire and Grace means taking your passion and energy and focusing it on making the world a better place.

I noticed that your longtime keyboardist, ex-Night Ranger, Alan Fitzgerald, didn’t take part in the new album. Any particular reason that he didn’t continue onwards with you guys? Loss of interest perhaps?

He's just been so busy and in other parts of the world that he couldn't make it. We miss him and hope he could join us on stage when we do some touring.

Looking back on your early discography, do you think that “Fire And Grace” is a step forward in your songwriting abilities or maybe a kind of a direction in your AOR / Hard Rock mixture that should appeal to the new generation of listeners?

I would never try to guess what kind of music will be popular in the future, I just want to write and play songs that mean something to us, try new sounds and take Alliance where we've never been before.

Continuing with the comparison to the past, do you believe that “Fire And Grace” shares a different atmosphere? 

I hope our listeners hear our roots in our music but are also surprised by our new songs. We'd love to have them think the last album, "Road To Heaven" was terrific but this one is even better!

With the talk about AOR music, comes the next question. Once this direction of melodic Rock was a big hit, especially in the 80s, and it also comes to mind in “Fire And Grace”. As a veteran musician, do you believe that AOR music is still relevant nowadays? Would it have the chance to reshape the charts once again?

I think music will always progress forward. As we hear new songs and styles, those become part of our listening experience, our musical lexicon. Sounds and melodies that would have been difficult to understand in the past are easy for us to grasp today.

Back to “Fire And Grace”, do you think that your vocalist, Robert Berry, found his best vocal edge to date on this album? What is your perception about the vocal line?

Yes, Robert has outdone himself again! He sounds better with each song. He's got such a range of emotion and commitment in each song that the lyrics come to life and he seems like he's singing to each and every person who hears him.

A little tough one. “Fire And Grace” surely made it clear that it was worth waiting for, but I wonder, which of the songs on the tracklist made the defining impact on you? Please explain your choice

The title song, Fire and Grace was particularly special for me. It started with a guitar idea, Robert had some lyrics and a melody and David broke into an amazing groove on the drums. All our experience of working together and trusting each other made magic happen. We turned on the recorder and wrote that four-minute song in four minutes!

With the comings and goings of Rock artists in this market that sometimes feels overcrowded, which of the newcomers are you following? Do you think that there are younger artists that might have the chance to be the next Boston for example?

There are so many wonderful new musicians and bands that I can't keep track of the all! I mostly hear new music on the radio while I'm driving and they don't always say who's being played. I have to ask my kids the names of all the bands, they know more than I do!

Do you think that there will be another long hiatus for the Alliance crew after this album?

NO! We've got the passion and the time right now. I can't wait to get back to Robert's studio with the guys!

How do you intend to support “Fire And Grace”? Any chance for a tour that is not merely US based?

I'm hoping we can do some festivals in the US and Europe. It seems to me that the audience at a festival, where you might have 10 or 20 bands, is expecting to hear some brand new music. They may recognize us as musicians but I'll bet we'll surprise them with and brand new Alliance sound.

Gary, I thank you for the interview and your time. You guys at Alliance proved that you have it in you to create special releases. All the best mate.

Thanks for your interest in what we're doing. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with such great musicians and friends in Alliance! Best wishes, Gary
 



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