Alcatrazz and Former Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet’s interview
Written by Kevin Tanza on July 14, 2021
Author’s note: This interview was done a couple of weeks ago, but due to some technical problems, we couldn’t publish. We apologize and we’re back to the usual schedule.
Graham Bonnet is one of the hardest working Rock vocalists in the business and definitely one of the most consistent. The man’s CV speaks for itself: whether it’s with Rainbow, Michael Schenker, Alcatrazz, Impellitteri, Anthem or his own solo band, the man has always delivered quality material and, at the age of 73 years old, his voice is still as mighty as ever and still putting out quality material.
It was a great experience to have the opportunity of talking with a musician of Graham’s caliber and we discussed his solo project, his situation after the pandemic, the secrets behind his longevity and many other things. I hope you enjoy it.
First and foremost, thank you for doing this interview, Graham. It’s great to have you here. How are things going for you during this pandemic?
Hello! Thanks for having me. Strangely, I’ve never been busier, writing and recording for multiple projects.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently finishing up the third Graham Bonnet Band album for Frontiers Music and it’s going to be great. We have so many cool guests on this record, including my Rainbow bandmate, Don Airey as well John Tempesta (The Cult, White Zombie, Testament) and Mike Tempesta (Powerman 5000, Human Waste Project).
Rainbow’s Eyes of the World from their 1979 album, Down to Earth, featuring Graham Bonnet.
As someone with so much experience doing music, what is your writing process at this point of your career?
I get my ideas from everyday experiences, things I see on TV and I’m fascinated by unexplainable things and I like to write about that.
You have sung for so many bands throughout your career, in so many different styles. What do you think is the secret to adapt to those bands?
When I was a kid in the UK, I played in dance bands at social clubs, theaters, variety shows and dance halls. We had to do so many different styles within those bands; jazz, dance music, folk, R&B, whatever was charting at the time. The secret to it was not putting too much thought into it and just going with what the job required. It was great preparation for what was to follow.
You have been singing for so many decades and of course your body is your instrument. What do you do to keep your voice in shape?
I try to get a good night’s sleep, avoid too much caffeine and when possible, I like to cycle. My ENT told me not to eat gluten because it causes vocal cord inflammation. Prior to the pandemic, I had gotten very unhealthy but the pandemic has forced me to take better care of myself.
Music video for Graham Bonnet Band’s Long Island Tea.
One of your latest releases has been 2018’s Meanwhile, Back in the Garage, with the Graham Bonnet Band. What can you tell us about the making of that album?
Finding new ideas and subject matter is always challenging. On that particular album I pulled from real life events. Hotel was about trying to find the hotel late at night after a gig and we would be totally exhausted and the song Incest, Outcest USA is about a myth surrounding a town near where I grew up in the UK.
Although Conrado Pesinato is my favorite guitarist that I’ve collaborated with in recent years, it was a pleasure to work with Joey Tafolla.
This current lineup has been with you since 2015. What has been the secret to keep this band together?
Conrado, Beth-Ami and I are like a strange, little family. We get along very well and treat each other with the utmost respect. We have always been the core of the band. Mark Zonder was supposed to play on this record but had to pull out last minute for personal reasons. We replaced him with an incredible drummer called Shane Gaalaas whose has performed or recorded with a huge list of mega bands and players, including Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Uli Jon Roth, Vinnie Moore and the B’z. He is a fantastic musician.
Anthem’s rerecorded version of Gypsy Ways in 2000, with Graham Bonnet on vocals
One of the most interesting recordings of your career, at least from my perspective, has been the 2000 album you did with Japanese Metal band Anthem, Heavy Metal Anthem. How did you get in touch with those guys to record that album?
They called me and I happened to be in between bands at that time, focusing mostly on doing sessions. We chatted a bit, decided to give it a go and the rest is history. My biggest audience has always been Japan so to be able to be in a Japanese band was actually quite thrilling. I recorded with Anthem a year ago and we are meant to be doing some shows very soon.
How was the experience of recording and playing live with Anthem?
The musicianship was incredible. Their live show is as tight as a drum. I love performing in Japan because everything is taken care of. I don’t even have to think.
Music video of Michael Schenker Fest’s Rock Steady of their 2019 album, Revelation, featuring Graham Bonnet, among other vocalists.
In recent years you have also gotten together again with Michael Schenker with his Michael Schenker Fest album of 2019, Revelation. How was getting back together with Michael?
Performing and creating music with Michael Schenker after 40 years was absolutely sublime. Michael is the consummate professional and a joy to work with. His playing, like himself, has aged beautifully.
S.O.S. from Graham Bonnet’s 1981 solo album, Line Up.
Having played with so many musicians and bands in your career, what are the albums that stand out for you and why?
I’m most proud of the album Line Up from my solo career. I enjoyed recording an album that encompassed different genres. The musicians on that album were at the top of their game and could match me in the ability to play all genres. Real musicians….
Which projects do you have in store for us in the near future?
As soon as I finish the GBB album that I‘m currently finishing up, I will immediately begin writing and recording a new Alcatrazz record with Jeff Loomis (of Arch Enemy). Jeff and I became friends recently and he is positively inspiring. I can’t wait to see what the album can do.
I’ll also be doing another solo album along the lines of the aforementioned Line Up.
At this point of your career, what is your biggest motivation to make music?
Of course, financial incentive is a prime motivation but at this point in my career, it’s important for me to play with people that I like and respect and to create music that I enjoy. It’s my life and music keeps me alive. Every waking moment, there is music in my head.
Big Foot by Alcatrazz, with Graham Bonnet on vocals, from their No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll album.
Best guitarist you have played with?
They are all different and have qualities that I enjoyed. I have respect for all of them.
Thank you for taking the time to do this, Graham. It was a pleasure. Any last words for our readers? Where can we follow you on social media and buy your music?
The pleasure was mine. Everything I’ve recorded is available on iTunes and most streaming platforms.