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Interview - Frederic Slama (A.O.R.)

Interview with Frederic Slama from A.O.R.
by Katarzyna Zakolska at 30 December 2013, 10:42 PM

For years Frédéric Slama has been an AOR master, a creative guru that has been producing a finer edge of melodic Rock. Hailing with a new release with some of the best vocalists in the business of Rock in melody, Slama delivers ”The Secrets Of L.A.”, via AOR Heaven, continuing his ongoing legacy. Katarzyna talked with Frédéric about the new album, and his constant pursuit for melodic Rock.

Hello Frédéric, how are you? Thank you very much for the time to answer this interview for Metal Temple.

Hello Katarzyna, I'm fine and will be fine as long as I keep rocking ha! ha! J. Thank you so much for this interview. Metal Temple is among my favorite websites.

Following the "The Secrets of L.A." album, I noticed that there are well known stars like: Jeff Scott Soto, Robin Beck, Göran Edman, Bob Harris, Tamara Champlin, Fergie Frederiksen, Bill Champlin and many more. How did you attract such a group of amazing talents? Have you worked with them before? How long lasted the recording of this album with so many people?

Well I am lucky enough to have one of the biggest address books in the business that I built over the last 35 years. So it was quite easy for me to get the singers I wanted. All these singers knows I'm doing quality releases, contrary to many new bands that thinks that you should have guests to make a good cd, but lacks obviously of style for songwriting and arrangements. I feel really blessed that all this big names trusted me over the years. Counting my solo albums, I had more than 150 prestigious guests over 30 years (I started in 1984). The quality of my CDs are of course due to the genius of these singers and musicians who perfectly understand what I want and who are, like me, highly perfectionists. AOR is one of the original "band" to have guests on each tracks, and many have copied that formula since, with more or less success! I've worked with some of these singers before of course and they became friends over he years, and I also meet new ones and we connected right away. It took me more than a year to record all these musicians and singers, it was really hard work to make all this work smoothly!

Why titling the new release as “The Secrets of L.A."? Is it connected to anything in particular?

Since my first AOR album there is the word L.A (Los Angeles) (without the last "dot" as originally written in the USA in the 19thcentury) in the title. Everyone on two album the title starts with "L.A (L.A Concession, L.A Reflection, L.A Ambition etc..) and the other albums titles finishes with L.A ( Dreaming Of L.A, Journey to L.A, The Colors Of L.A etc.. ) ."The Secrets Of L.A" is entitled this way because it was a turning point in my career. It's harder and more Melodic Rock than before and the "secret” might be that I got some of the best singers ever on this album. It also have different meanings and everybody can find its own interpretation for this title. That's the secret and beauty of it ha! ha! J

What can you share about the efforts devoted for "The Secrets of L.A."? How you can describe work over this album? Were there any humorous moments during the production?

To record this album I had to travel 5 different countries and work hard on pre-production with Tommy Denander to get the best possible tracks possible for the singers. Usually what I do is that I record over 20 songs and I keep the 10 or 12 best for the album because I want the same level of quality for each track and fans must be happy to get an album with only good songs! I think the funniest moment was when I was with Tommy and fans asked him to sign my AOR albums; The fans almost pushed me saying to Tommy that AOR was great. Tommy said, "don't you recognize this guy behind you?" pointing his finger towards me. The fans said "no", so I put my sunglasses on , and they immediately recognized me saying "oh it's Frédéric Slama from AOR " !!! I guess I have to wear my sunglasses all the time now, 'cause people are used to see me that way ha! ha! J

Songs like “Deep Whirlpool” and “Back To San Francisco” were my favorites. Is there anything in particular that you wish to reveal about these two? Is there any chance to know the ideas behind the lyrics?

“Deep Whirlpool” is a very personal song I wrote specially for a great girl I had in mind and who asked me to write her a song about how she felt at the time (she will recognize herself surely, she like reading interviews on your website ha! ha! J). She thought she could never trust people and that all was black in her life, but this song is very positive and shows that even in the worst moments you can see the light of day and come back strong. The song was originally called "Dark Whirlpool" but I made a little change specially for Fergie Frederiksen who was more comfortable singing the words "Deep Whirlpool".

For “Back To San Francisco” I had in mind to record a new song with the fabulous Bill Champlin. So I thought about writing something for him reminiscent of the 60's in San Francisco and the days of the Fillmore (the legendary concert venue) and all these bands he knew while he was there with The Sons Of Champlin. And at the same time I didn't want to make an hippie song of course but try to have Bill Champlin on the most Melodic Rock song he has ever sung. "Back To San Francisco" hits hard and really rocks and with the fabulous Tommy Denander solos, it's one of the highlights of the new album.

Generally, what have been your main stimulations for writing the lyrics on album and the musical vision of “The Secrets of L.A"?

I wanted to do a more Melodic Rock album with smart lyrics that really have a story to tell and who rimes perfectly. The lyrics must have a beginning, an end and a strong theme. I don't like to put the same kind of lyrics like most Aor bands do. I need to have a story sometimes with complicated words and often with different meanings. I try to find catchy lyrics with nice metaphors. I'm a pro songwriter who wrote hundreds of songs for many international artists and the lyrics are a very important part of my work. Of course the music must fit the lyrics perfectly and be very melodic and singable! That's the "secret" of it !!

 “The Main Attraction” and “Web Of Lies” I listened to on the previous CHASING VIOLETS album, yet on your album these were embedded differently. Why decided on redoing these tracks?

I wanted to redo these songs because I consider them among the best I wrote recently and I wanted to give them a second chance and have more fans listen to these tunes. Not everybody bought the Chasing Violets cd and people who bought "Jade Hearts" might not buy "The Secrets Of L.A" In any case there was several changes on these songs, maybe not obvious to everyone, but some instruments were changed and of course the mixes and mastering are completely different. You have to understand that it's 2 totally different projects. And on the Chasing Violets albums these songs have a totally different vibe, feeling and emotion. The melodies are not exactly the same, the backings are totally different and the result is that you don't have the feeling at all to hear the same songs. Also in music many bands have covered some songs a lot of times (some songs have been covered more than 100 times by different artists) and nobody told anyone it was not a good idea. The songs I wrote for these 2 projects are really among my finest and I don't see why some other bands wouldn't cover my AOR songs. My first job is songwriter and I have a lot of Japanese bands who covered my AOR songs, and some of them were nice hits over there. Also you have to understand that many people are involved to release a CD! The artist himself, of course, the musicians, singers, engineers, the label and the press. But when I see the efforts involved and that most of the so-called "fans" illegally download the album, with no shame, you understand why so many musicians stop their art! Labels like AOR Heaven keep the flame high but more people needs to respect the artists and really buy the albums if they want their favorite artists to go on releasing quality CDs.

Who are your musical idols and influences as a musician?

Since my childhood I've been fans of bands like Foreigner, Survivor, Boston, Rick Springfield, Bad English, Journey, Giant, Toto, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Bad Company or Heart among many others and you can feel all these influences in my latest AOR album ! Of course I like hundreds of lesser known bands but it would take me 2 hours to write all their names ha! ha! J

Are there any other singers and musicians with whom you haven't worked yet and you would like to in the future?

There are still many singers I'd like to work with, so I think I will be here for the next 50 years until my wish list is complete. Of course legends like Steve Perry, Lou Gramm, Ann Wilson, Paul Rodgers or Bobby Kimball. But also many talented singers I hadn't time yet to work with or contact yet like Stan Bush, Joe Lynn Turner, Fiona Flanagan, Steve Walsh, Jimi Jamison or Richard Marx among many others. My wish list would take at least 10 pages ha! Ha! J

How about a live performance and support for the new album? Other future plans maybe?

Yes I'm planning a few big shows for 2014/2015, but you have to realize it's not easy to have at the same time on the same stage a dozen of legendary musicians and singers. So it will take time but once AOR will play live, nothing will be able to stop it. Fans have to be a little more patient about that and in the meantime can check the latest news about the AOR project on my website: www.slama.101.fr

What do you think about music scene of AOR? In your opinion are there good bands playing such a music that is virtually 80’s dominated or lack the context and expertise to do so?

There are still some great bands out there and luckily for us, many bands we love so much during the 80's keep on recording great albums. Look at Steve Lukather, LRB, kiss or Boston for example, always at the top of their games. There are many new bands from all over Europe releasing cd's now and I must admit the quality is often very poor and the lyrics are awful. What is strange is that they sometimes get good reviews, but in a year from now everybody will have forgotten their name and worse than that nobody really buys these cd's! These guys are all over internet and think they are already big stars but they don't bring anything new or original to the style we love so much and sometimes have terrible voices. We have Greek, Italian or French bands releasing cd's that would have never been released 10 years ago due to the poor quality of the releases. But now everyone who have a blog thinks he's a great journalist, so these album have sometimes good reviews though they have a short shelf life and nobody really cares about them after a month or two! AT the same time we have great new bands coming from Italy, Sweden and the USA. Among the new bands from the last couple of years i really appreciate are W.E.T, White Widdow, Blanc Faces, Lionville, Mecca, Two Fires, Pride of Lions and a few others…

Frédéric thank you for your time for this interview. I wish you all the best and hope to see you live on stage one day. Any last words for the readers?

Thank you for the great questions Katarzyna and for keeping our favorite music alive! I'd like to thank from the heart all the fans that will buy the album (and not illegally download it !). That way you allow your favorite artists to keep on recording and bring you the best music around. Thank you for your support and for more infos don't hesitate to check my website www.slama101.fr
Keep on rocking my AOR friends and I hope that you will enjoy my new album J



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