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Mark Cross (Firewind)

Interview with Mark Cross from Firewind
by Yiannis Dafopoulos at 12 October 2006, 9:58 AM

Firewind have a new drummer and his name is Mark Cross. I bet that most of you know him pretty well. After their brand new album, Allegiance, Mark Cross was more than happy to answer to my questions (and correct my mistakes!)...

 Hello Mark. First of all thank you for taking the time for this interview. So, you are a member of Firewind. How do you feel about that?

I feel great! There is nothing more challenging and nicer to be amongst nice people and talented musicians and I’m happy to see Gus (Firewind’s guitar player) and everyone else’s devotion and vision to Firewind’s music and career.

 Allegiance has up to now earned great reviews. How do you feel about your first album with Firewind?

It’s absolutely fantastic and I am very proud to be part of it. You know, I must admit that ever since I left Helloween it is the first time working again with a real band, meaning spending time in the rehearsal room, writing together and sharing ideas. That is the little secret behind a good album and a little success! Teamwork is a priority if you want a strong band sounding album! There are plenty of musicians out there who believe rehearsals and co-writing are secondary, but let me tell you, exactly that is the little key and secret to success.

There is nothing more valuable than perfect chemistry in a band to create that rock of team play. Only then, you will understand its power.

So many times, I have received a tape with ready compositions and just had to play along to done arrangements. That works too but most of the times the spice is missing. These are only paid jobs. To achieve a strong album, kick it off on stage, and truly show your skills, at first you need good songs and ideas, then you need to spend some time together, get to know one another and play together. It’s chemistry man, it’s just like being married. Once you’ve done that, you’re in!

Firewind is a band and not a one man show as many think it is, we all contribute and give our best, it’s not about who wrote the most songs but what fits and makes sense for Firewind. For instance, I wrote Dream Chaser and a few lyrics on the album.

Dream Chaser was originally meant to feature on my solo album I was working on for the past couple of years, but it matched perfectly for Firewind. The song might reflect a bit to my emotions I had the past 2 years. Life goes on and yes… I am a dream chaser and that means I am alive, I never give or gave up! I am happy that the world still welcomes and recognizes good music and I believe Allegiance has definitely earned its high position in the industry!

 Are there any plans for live performances?

We will head out for a huge tour with Dragonforce across Europe and the UK on October 21 in the Netherlands. Before that, we will head for Japan and play the first 2 shows in Tokyo, one secret gig and on October 14 at the Loud Park Festival with Megadeth. We plan to do a few shows in Greece and Italy in February 2007. We had planned these shows earlier, but with the  Dragonforce  tour dates, there was no possible match.

 Have you listened to any of Firewind’s older releases?

Of course I did. I liked them and there’s some cool shit on them, Gus amazes me because he plays and squeezes his ESP like a forty year old chap who’s sucked the shit in life, hahaha. But no, he’s only in the mid 20’s and I believe that’s very rare nowadays to find someone play like that. It’s cool for me too because I’m the oldest in the camp and I am old school.

 How do you see Apollo? Does his voice fit better than the older singers Firewind had?

Absolutely. It was the perfect match and as I said, teamwork is of great importance. Working with Apollo (Papathanasio, Firewind’s singer) has been a nice experience, he is a down to earth person and great guy, a fantastic singer, writer and lyricist and a very strong frontman. I never met Steven (Firewind’s first singer) but love his voice and Chity (Firewind’s previous singer) is a friend of mine who I met many years ago. Chity decided to leave Firewind for personal reasons and we had to cast a new singer. Et voila… Apollo, I believe it all makes perfect sense! Allegiance speaks for itself.

 Does the fact that all the other members of Firewind are from Greece makes you feel a bit uncomfortable?

Absolutely not! Why? I also live in Greece, my wife’s Greek and I speak the language and let me tell you, it’s big fun joking around with these blokes doing the Malaka (no comments) thing, hahaha.

 You used to play in bands like Helloween and Metalium and now play in Firewind. Looking back, how do you see your career has developed?

I left Metalium 5 years ago in 2001 and then joined Helloween. Unfortunately, I had to leave Helloween due to the virus I caught during their sessions that had left me out of play for nearly a year! Life can be a bitch sometimes but we have to move on. I always move on, I do different albums and play with different bands and all that is great inspiration. Sometimes I have the feeling that I can play every style by now, hahaha. I must have over a 1000 songs in my head I could play them instantly. Good or bad, I don’t know, but that gives me the ability to play anything I want.

I know many people consider me being a drum whore since I do plenty of session jobs, but hey, we all have to pay our bills. Music to me is my life and my job. I know it is confusing for the fans, but let me assure you that I am fully committed to Firewind and my other bands have become secondary.

 During all those years, you remained dedicated to Power Metal. Is this something that just happened or Power Metal is the genre that appeals to you the most?

I really don’t know, but I think since my double bassing has always been strong and solid, it simply placed me into that category. Of course you should not forget, that I am a half ~Hamburger and the other half Londoner and in Hamburg most German Power Metal acts reside and that’s were it all began. To be honest I’m not the biggest fan of Power Metal, gimme Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Saxon and other bands like that and I’ll be a happy camper!

A few years ago I worked with Kingdom Come and recently recorded the drums on old British act Saracen’s new album Vox in Exelso.  It’s a great classic conceptional album and I am proud to have worked with those guys. With Firewind I’ve got all these elements in one, old, modern, new, our music is versatile and has elements and influences of the 70’s/80’s and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That album makes me smile and feel good.

 Power Metal is a genre that is slowly dying due to stability and lack of new ideas. Do you agree with that?

Possibly, I think it’s not only power metal that is dying, but the lack of creativity and good songwriting! You can create sounds and productions, but if the songs are too weak and you have nothing further to give you won’t go far, unless you’re the greatest actor and entertainer and know how to sell yourself, after all, we’re in showbiz and everything goes. To me that is not enough. Many bands out there are copycats with no personality at that is the problem!

As I said, all you need is a good team, songs, image and strong believe in what you do. Good music and good songs will never die, no matter what genre. The market is full and has fallen into pieces. I don’t see any reason in more releases of secondary artists and one-day rip off flies.

 Are there any Power Metal bands that make you see a glimmer of hope out there? Bands that you think will make a great impact on the Metal scene in the near future.

Yes, Firewind… hahaha! It’s a battle, may the strong and the ones who deserve to be on top survive!

 So Mark, I leave the last words to you.

The usual, stay heavy! Hahaha… And yes of course…. Martin Luther said the right thing once….Who loves not wine, women and song, remains a fool his whole life long… See you all on tour!

 Thanks a lot and good luck in everything you do. Stay heavy!

I thank you…


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