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With his 'M.A.R.S, Project: Driver' album, which was released on Shrapnel records, the journey of Rob Rock began. The album featured stellar performances by debut vocalist Rob Rock, guitar virtuoso Tony MacAlpine, and the brilliant rhythm section of Ozzy Osbourne's 'Blizzard of Oz' band; Rudy Sarzo on bass and Tommy Aldridge on drums. The album created a huge cult following all over the world and still stands as THE metal masterpiece of the mid 80's.

Rob's first solo album 'Rage of Creation', was released in 2000 to rave reviews and a strong reaction from the industry. In 2003, Rock released his second solo album 'Eyes of Eternity', followed by many appearances worldwide including the 2003 Bang Your Head Festival in Germany and a tour of Japan in January 2004. This album again featured Roy Z (Judas Priest, Halford, Dickinson) as co-songwriter and producer and received an avalanche of positive reviews and accolades.

By October 2004 Rock moved on to join the AFM Records label roster and since then he has released the albums 'Holy Hell' and 'Garden of Chaos'.

Reunited '80s melodic heavy rock band DRIVER - featuring powerhouse vocalist Rob Rock and acclaimed guitarist/producer Roy Z - will release its debut album, 'Sons Of Thunder', on September 26 via Metal Heaven.

What are you currently up to?

Driver was released in Europe in September and now it is coming out in Japan and the US this month, so I'm doing a lot of interviews and promotional dutuies for the new album.

Personally, I am also working on the storyboard and editing for a new Rob Rock live DVD/CD that we just shot at the Progpower USA Festival in Atlanta GA.

We did a US mini-tour a couple of weeks ago and recorded the festival show for a 2009 release on AFM Records.

Could you take us through the new Driver album ‘Sons Of Thunder’

Well, we knew we had six strong songs to start with from the 24 track demo EP we recorded in 1989. So, we set out to write five more new ones and then record them all, along with Change of Heart which was a 4 track demo we recorded at around the same time.

I always believed Change of Heart was a hit song ballad so we recorded the original version of it. (Some people have heard the Bruce Dickinson version that was recorded several years later and never knew that Driver was the original band to write and record that song.)

We worked hard at capturing the original Driver sound, recording the drums (with the original demo playing instead of a click), hiring an extra engineer to get the right guitar tones, and writing new songs that were just as strong and in the same vibe and sound as the original demos. It wasn't easy and took some time to accomplish, but we are very happy with the results.

What sparked getting the Driver album out now? The EP received favourable reviews back in the late 80's why did a full album never follow?

I got a call from Georg from Metal Heaven and he had the idea of putting out a full length Driver CD and include the songs that made the demo EP a cult classic. I contacted Roy and we both agreed that the Driver album is long overdue so we decided to make it happen. We never got the chance to release an official album back in 1990 because the labels were leaning towards the new grunge sound and we got left behind.

How do you view the current music scene? Have you seen an upswing in interest over the past couple of years in melodic/hard rock?

I think it's a brave new world out there with the internet. It's changed the whole scene and now it's a totally diferent game than before. I think everyone still loves good classic high quality songs and new kids are getting turned on to it too, so there is an upswing in interest but a slow down in physical CD sales with downloads being so popular.

Impellitteri - you are back working with the band. What were the highlights first time around and how is the new album progressing?

Yes, we have a killer new album coming out in 2009. It is now complete and in the hands of JVC/Victor Entertainment Japan. Highlights with Impellitteri were touring Japan all the time. I have fond memories of the Japan fans and the great gigs and promo tours we did there.

How do you approach writing and recording a solo album? Which of your solo albums would you recommend to a new listener to your music?

I usually sit down with my producer/song writing partner Roy Z and we discuss what we should aim for as far as sound, direction, songs, etc.

Once we know what we are aiming for we each start writing songs and gathering ideas to fit the album over the next few months. Then we'll get together again and decide which ideas we'll build into songs and narrow down any demos we have to create a group of songs that will make a great album. Then we continue to write the songs as we make plans for the production of the album.

I would recommend the newest one - Garden of Chaos. I think GOC is the natural progression from the Holy Hell album, which certainly got a lot of great attention on the melodic metal scene. Or, you could start with the first one that started my solo career - Rage of Creation, which is classic Rob Rock.

What have been the most memorable live shows for you and why?

Progpower 9 in Atlanta GA with Rob Rock Band - just did that one and it was a blast! I can't wait to get into editing the DVD.

Also, the Kobe Earthquake benefit with Impelliteri Band in Japan, huge show, great audience, and great reason for rockin'.

The Bang Your Head Festival in Germany 2003 with Rob Rock Band, great bands like Dio and Twisted Sister were headlining and we had a great time there.

Sweden Rock was a good time too in 2005...I also really enjoyed the Rob Rock tour with Masterplan and Circle to Circle, and my first tour with Axel Rudi Pell.

I think what makes the gigs so special is the fans, and the chance to perform live for them. I'm grateful for every opportunity to perform.

How did you get your first break into the music business? What piece of advice would you pass onto budding musicians?

I guess my biggest break was landing the gig for the M.A.R.S. Project: Driver album in 1986. Playing with legends like Rudy Sarzo and Tommy Aldridge was a dream come true, and making what would become a classic metal album was very special for me. What a great start for my recording career!

I paid my dues though previously with many years in the clubs performing over 300 shows a year, three sets a night of covers and originals. I was ready, I was confident and I knew my time had come. I think preparing for the opportunity before it ever comes is what will make you ready for the moment it does come. Believe and be prepared!

What do you like doing with your spare time outside of music?

What spare time? I need more time for life. I don't get enough time for my wife and child. When we do have some time, we like spending time together, whatever it is that we're doing. We live near the ocean but still don't get there enough.

I'm hoping we can take a vacation in the near future, it's much needed.

Message for your fans...

Thank you all for your support and I look forward to seeing you soon.

You'll love the new Driver CD and I hope we can bring it to you live in 2009!

Interview © September 2008 Jason Ritchie.
All rights reserved.

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