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WHITE WIDDOW
From: 
Australia
Band: 
Jules Millis - Vocals
Enzo Almanzi - Guitars
Trent Wilson - Bass
Xavier Millis - Keyboards
Jim Naish - Drums

Websites: 
www.whitewiddow.com

Latest Release: 
White Widdow - Oct 29 2010
(AOR Heaven)

*Live photo’s courtesy of www.lensofrock.com









http://www.whitewiddow.comhttp://www.lensofrock.comshapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1
Not since the days of Roxus has Australia produced a melodic rock band that has commanded worldwide attention in the manner that Melbourne’s White Widdow has in the last few months.  Having followed the band since their very first gig last year, it sure has been an amazing journey that has led to the recording of their debut album that is now about to be released on October 29th by arguably the world’s leading label for AOR music, Germany’s AOR Heaven.  From stadium sized anthemic rockers to pure melodic bliss, blistering guitar solos and keys galore....in this special feature, lead singer Jules Millis gives us an in depth insight into the band, the songs and the recording of the album.  Even better, we have soundbytes of all the songs for your listening pleasure....


For the benefit of those outside of Australia, our music industry is not full of bands like yourselves, in fact the last real well known melodic rock/AOR band was about 20 years ago, Roxus.  What led to the motivation of forming White Widdow?

You're absolutely correct. it's been a baron land for AOR/Melodic Rock for some time in Australia. I'm a massive fan of the AOR / Melodic Hard Rock genre and I've always wanted to put together a band in that style, dedicated to that mid to late 80's sound and I thought it was about time Australia was represented again in the AOR/Melodic Rock genre. It took a while to find like minded people to get the project moving forward, but once everyone was

on board things progressed quite quickly.


Taking that next question one step further, what led to the band being picked up by German label AOR Heaven?

I attended Firefest in the UK last year armed with a bag full of our 3 track Demo EP and handed out many copies. While I was there I met Georg from AOR Heaven, gave him a copy of the EP and explained the style of music and the sort of album i wanted to make and he seemed interested in listening to the EP.  When i returned home to Australia a few weeks later, Georg e-mailed me and we began discussions about White Widdow signing to AOR Heaven. We're very happy to be on a label with such an awesome roster of great AOR artists.


Whilst the album was mixed and mastered in Sweden by Martin Kronlund, it was recorded here in Melbourne.  How did you find the experience of recording your first album as a band? Did you self produce the album?

Xavier (keys) basically played the role of producer having had experience before.  He oversaw all the recordings and was the engineer on Vocals, Bass and some Guitars as well.  Xavier then corresponded with Martin over e-mail regarding the sort of mix and sound we were looking for.  From there we went back and forth working on the mixes until we got the results we wanted. We are very happy with the finished sound, however i think that it would have been smoother if one of us had been in the studio with Martin to guide the mixing process. I think that will be the plan for the next album!


So this is an often asked question these days in interviews but I will anyways...You are an Australian band releasing an album for which your main market is Europe or UK based.  How important has the Internet been and do you think will be, for spreading the word and music of White Widdow?

It is without question the most effective medium we can use to reach people with our music. Of course Magazines, Radio, DJ's and touring all play a big part also, but the beauty of the internet is that it's accessible to everyone all the time. 

 

SHOUKAI (INTRO)/TOKYO RAIN

This song as an album opener displays some prodigious musical talents and influences.  Can you give us an insight into the various musical backgrounds and influences that make up this band?

Thanks very much! This song is one of the band's favourites and probably best represents a lot of our influences individually as well as a band.  Enzo's Dokken influence i think can be heard on the guitar riffing, as well as the White Sister & Giuffria influence on Xavier's keys in the intro and the chorus. We each have a bagful of influences, Xavier loves early Bon Jovi, Journey, Survivor and Harem Scarem and Enzo being a guitar head loves Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen but also Mercyful Fate and Savatage. Jim's a fan of Def Leppard, Whitesnake and Dream Theatre, while Trent is influenced by Pretty Maids, Pink Cream 69 and Signal. For me the biggest influences are Treat, Heaven's Edge, Icon and Australia's own Roxus.


Obviously opening songs are chosen for a reason...what was yours with this song?

We wanted a big anthem to open the album that represented our overall sound as a band, I think Tokyo Rain is a good example of who White Widdow is and a great way to kick off the album.

BROKEN HEARTS WON’T LAST FOREVER

As with much 'AOR', lyrically, 'love' is a theme that exists through your album.  How did you find balancing uplifting keytastic music whilst lyrically portraying broken hearts, lost love and shattered dreams?

There is the theme of love lost and found throughout the album as there is with a lot of AOR albums.  With a song like Broken Hearts Won't Last Forever, there's the undertone through the lyrics that things will get better even though you'll be scarred from the pain. So working the uplifting style of melodies into it wasn't too difficult. 

WE’VE GOT THE WINGS

A track originally recorded by one of Australia's great underground melodic rock acts De-Arrow, how did you come to the decision that it had to be on the album?

 Unfortunately the band De-Arrow never got the credit they deserved due to them only ever releasing a three track demo cassette in 1987, however when Dragan Stanic left De-Arrow to join Roxus, he took with him two of those songs from the demo, "Rock' N Roll Nights" and "First Break Of The Heart". Roxus re-recorded and released them on their Nightstreet album, this left the song "We've Got The Wings" pretty much unheard and left behind. As a teenager i bought a copy of the De-Arrow demo from the now long gone Metal For Melbourne store, i loved the demo, particularly this song. So when we put White Widdow together i brought this song into the live set because it was very much the style of music i wanted to play and believed it was a great song people needed to hear. Sadly Paul "Jackie" Gleason from De-Arrow who wrote the song, passed away a few years ago, so we have dedicated our recording on the album to his memory.


Speaking of Australian melodic rock and being the oracle of knowledge that you are, who are some other Aussie melodic rock acts over the history of time worth mentioning?      

Haha! the Oracle of Knowledge! that's a bit much, but thanks none the less. For sure there has been some great Australian Melodic Rock bands that have been overlooked through the years. Obviously the mighty Roxus and of course De-Arrow top that list for me, but also bands like Ice Tiger, De'Mont, Avion, 21 Guns, Devils In Heaven, BB Steal, Boss and Empire who all released great albums or CD Singles, as well as the bands that only released demo's like the awesome Serpentine and Carmen Suite.

CROSS TO BARE

For me personally, this song defines White Widdow.  Prominent symphonic keys, some blistering guitars and a sense of urgency and expectation.  How did this song come together?

Thanks!! I think it does represent our overall sound as a band.  This one started out from a riff that Enzo (Guitars) had for the chorus, we got together and worked on a verse that would work well with it and from there then we continued to add to it and fine tune the arrangement.


The first 10 seconds of nearly all your songs hit the listener right between the eyes straight away.  From a songwriting perspective is this one of the top ingredients that you throw into the mix?

I think it's important to grab the listeners attention right from the start and set an overall tone for the song as early as possible, so when it comes to the song arrangement it's definitely an important part for us.

DON’T FAIL ME NOW

The glorious and magical sound of a key change, as illustrated at the 3.58min mark of this song.  For you personally, what is it about key changes that are so great?

I think if it's placed right, it can meet the listener at an unexpected time and lift the song. Definitely a great feeling when listing to outro choruses and it steps up a key.

SPIRIT OF FIRE

This is a song that is pure unadulterated 80's action montage music. This was obviously your intent with this song?

Absolutely! Xavier and I sat down at the keyboard with the full intent to recapture what as brothers we grew up listening to in 80's action films like The Running Man, Kickboxer, The Wraith, Iron Eagle, RAD, Karate Kid etc. Xavier's a big fan of Stan Bush and John Parr's work in this field, so we put together the outline of the song and took it to the guys and then we worked on it from there.


Lyrically, the song ticks all the boxes for this kind of song, inspiring me to that last rep of 200kg bench press haha! How much emphasis did you place on this song being as lyrically inspiring as it is musically?

Ha Ha Ha!! Glad that we can help with that last rep!! With a song like this, while it was hard to not get too cliche or tongue in cheek, we wanted to follow the tradition of the songs used in 80's action films and use the lyrics to set the scene of someone fighting against the odds and standing their ground.

SHADOWS OF LOVE

The big ballad on the album.  Did this song originate from a musical idea or was it the lyrics that dictated that the song was going to be a ballad?

The song was written around the vocal melodies, it was pretty much Xavier and I sitting at the keyboard working out the main ideas for the song, then Trent and Enzo added to it and we fine tuned it into what it became on the album.


Throughout the album there are some killer guitar solos, none more so than on this song.  Did your guitarist Enzo Almanzi have full creative license when it came to the solos? 

 No doubt at all there, Enzo's playing on the album is outstanding and this song is a really great example, this is my favourite solo on the album. For the most part Enzo has total control over creating his solos, we might chime in with some feedback if we think something might work better or suggesting a few extra spots in the song for him to add some solo licks, but really it's all Enzo when it comes down to what he plays.

ONE MORE DAY

Probably the "poppiest" song on the album, littered with an infectious keyboard melody and chorus.  Sometimes these kinds of songs can end up too sugary sweet, did that enter your mind writing this one?

Yeah i guess this one does have a poppier element to it, when Enzo first brought in the basic idea for it, it was a bit heavier with a few quirky changes in it.  We pulled it apart and put it back together the way it appears on the album. It was during this process that it became more melodic and poppier, once Xavier started adding in that main keyboard part, it took on a new sound, then the back up vocals were added and we had a very melodic song. It was pretty organic in how it developed in the rehearsal studio, so we weren't too concerned about it getting to sugary sounding. I think it turned out great in the end.

CHANGE OF PASSION

A stabbing key intro and a very classic AOR sounding chorus and song structure.  If someone asked you to pick a song from your album that you think best illustrates AOR, would this be it?

Yeah this one starts out with that mid 80's style stabbing keyboard and was actually the first song we wrote. I absolutely love the dut-dut style keyboards in songs, like Survivor's "Jackie" and Bon Jovi's "I'd Die For You", so for me it was a "must have" that we had a song that featured them. I would say this is probably the best example of us at our most AOR.


Speaking of "keys", it's not too often in the modern era you hear an album with keyboards so prominent in the mix as they are through your whole album.  Was this an absolute given, non negotiable requirement for this album and the sound of White Widdow?

I think you're right that it's not something we hear these days very often from new albums, but i guess for us it's a massive part of our sound. We were careful to make sure they were significant in the mix rather than being buried as they are on a lot of modern Melodic Rock releases, for us guitar and keyboards are as important as each other

FIRE AND ICE

Not directly relevant to this song, but can you give us an insight into the songwriting process for this album?

The White Widdow song writing process is for the most part a collaboration between Xavier (keys), Trent (bass), Enzo (guitar) and Myself (vocals). Most songs are usually started by one or two of us first who might have a riff or a vocal melody, then we will all build on it and add to it until we are ready to start rehearsing it live in the studio. Once we have the song arranged and are playing live in rehearsal well, we will begin laying it down as a demo and then analyse it further once we have it to playback and see if any further things need to be added or changed. With "Fire & Ice" in particular, this was brought in as a rough outline from Enzo that we then all added to and worked on.

HOW FAR I RUN

You have this song as a Japanese bonus track...but in my opinion it's one of the best songs on the album haha?  Please explain...

 At this stage we haven't secured a Japanese release for the album, however we did record this song with the intention for it. I'm stoked you like the song, it's one of those things that no matter what you do, you have to choose what songs won't make it to the album, it was a hard choice but for us we left this one off.

* Click on play to listen >