If you love melodic hardrock music, then you must be familiar with Autograph. This band founded by Steve Plunkett became "world famous" with their superhit "Turn Up The Radio"; a song from Autograph's debut album "Sign In Please". Two more albums followed, "That's The Stuff" (1985) and "Loud And Clear" (1987),but in 1989 Autograph ceased to exist. Almost fifteen years later Steve releases a new Autograph album called "Buzz" and to the surprise of lots of critics, it is a good album. But before I talk to Steve about "Buzz" I would like to go back in time and let him explain what the "real" reasons for the break-up, back in 1989, were.
Steve: "Actually it was quite simple; the record company (RCA) did not give us the support they used to give us, like in the beginning years of Autograph. For example, the promotion for our third album was very poor and so we decided to leave RCA. Furthermore we were planning to change our sound; less keyboards and the songs had to become "heavier". That time, the end of the eighties, was the "death" of melodic rock; grunge music was born and the young people were only interested in Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana. There was no more interest from any recordcompany whatsoever for our music; so we decided to call it a day. The career and success of Autograph were over."
Martien: "What did you do then?"
Steve: "Well, I started to write songs for other people mainly. And in 1991 I made a record called "My Attitude"; a real Steve Plunkett solo-album, which was ignored by the press and the rest of the world I think...[ Not here! Read our review! ] Then later I wrote some songs for the movie "Rock Star" and that was lots of fun and maybe during that time I started thinking about writing some new tracks for Autograph. So I composed a couple of songs and some close friends of mine listened to them and they were very enthousiastic, so Autograph version 2.03 came into being. I have the rhythm section of the first Alanis Morissette and a guitarplayer called TJ from L.A. To find a suitable guitarplayer for our new band was the most difficult part, because he had to have that typical style; this "hammer-on" guitarplaying which is essential for our sound."
Martien: "Was it easy to write new songs?"
Steve: "As a matter a fact, yes it was. I had lots of ideas and I wrote all the 10 songs in a very short time. Ofcourse I had to keep in mind that any listener should recognise out typical sound in an instance; you know our musical elements: big choruses, harmonies, melody and last but not least hammer-on guitarplaying. I did not really update our sound, I just picked it up where I left, back in 1989."
Martien: "The music scene has changed a lot since 1989, do you think that Autograph can still fit in that scene, or maybe fill up a gap?"
Steve: "I am a realist and I know how the music scene has changed. We don't stand a chance, haha......I think that there still is a certain incrowd that listen to our "sort" of music, but the majority does not, and that's okay by the way. Here in the US if you listen to the radio you hear bands like Nickleback, Lifehouse, Creed or Audioslave and I really love their music, but there is no way that Autograph will be played on any major radio station. I know that the scene in Europe and Japan is quite different; there they still play Def Leppard and that sort of stuff. That is also the reason why we are with Point Music, to promote our stuff in Europe and Japan, as much as possible. I even have hopes that we can do a small European tour with Autograph. We never played in Europe or Japan, so it is about time...."
Martien: "How were the reviews/reactions to "Buzz"?"
Steve: "I am shocked to say that they were surprisingly good, haha.. I was a little worried that it would be labelled as crap from the eighties, but most of the reactions were excellent."
Martien: "The Leppard-influence is still very dominant, isn't it?"
Steve: "Yes, of course because they are still one of my favourite bands and therefore they influence me in writing my own material. My other influences from bands that I admire are obviously Van Halen and AC/DC."
Martien: "The song "Fed Up With Bein' Down" is a sort of settlement with the people who led you down in the musicbusiness?"
Steve: "No, absolutely not, that's a wrong interpretation, no it's just a reflection on a certain period in my life, that's all."
Martien: "Do you sometimes use politics as an idea for a song?"
Steve: "Never, I think politics and music together are not my scene."
Martien: "Last question: what is your favourite song on the album?"
Steve: "Difficult; I think "That" or "Shake The Tree"."
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on-line : http://perso.wanadoo.fr/autograph/
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