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The Reawakening of Sunstorm

The Reawakening of Sunstorm

The Reawakening of Sunstorm

The melodic hard rocking sensation Sunstorm has been reactivated, featuring longtime member Alessandro Del Vecchio as well as new vocalist Ronnie Romero.  Taking the place of the legendary Joe Lynn Turner, Ronnie Romero’s amazing vocals have been featured in bands such as Rainbow and Michael Schenker Group – and within the realm of Sunstorm, Romero’s performance is absolutely mesmerizing.  Del Vecchio is best known for his membership within the ranks of Hardline and Edge Of Forever, as well as countless other projects and endeavors throughout his glorious tenure with Frontiers Music SrlHighwire Daze recently interviewed Alessandro Del Vecchio to discuss the mighty reawakening of Sunstorm, their brand new album Afterlife, his longtime association with Frontiers Music, and many other epic topics.  Read on…

Alessandro Del Vecchio of Sunstorm
Photo credit: Maurizio Del Piccolo

Hi Alessandro. First of all, congratulations on the amazing new Sunstorm album! Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Afterlife?
First of all, thank you very much! I’m excited as you are for the new album. Yes, so Afterlife was the first song that we wrote for the album literally after the day we decided to move on, and we got involved with Ronnie Romero. The title I guess says it all, because it’s just to show a new chapter and new step into our future. Afterlife has this concept of getting one foot in the past and one foot in the future, because obviously we were changing our singer and we were moving forward to rebuilding the band and the brand as more of an actual group of people and not something built around Joe Lynn Turner or around somebody else’s songwriting or things like that. Like an Afterlife, a life after the actual life the band already had – so like an evolution into something brand new.

Ronnie Romero is obviously an amazing vocalist. How did he become involved with Sunstorm and what made you decide to go with Ronnie?
Well, I’ve got to give kudos to our Frontiers president Serafino Perugino. I was in Florida back then. I woke up and had this message on What’s App saying “I want to move on with Sunstorm. Do you think that Ronnie Romero would be good?” And I totally jumped on it! First of all, Ronnie and I were friends, and promised ourselves to do something together as soon as we could. And to me honestly, it was the right occasion because we knew that Joe Lynn didn’t want to be part of it – he never responded to our communications about doing a new Sunstorm release. So, it was the perfect combination of our songwriting and our style – some kind of a newer voice – like a new generation sound and voice so we could project our band into the future.

What do you think of Ronnie’s work with Michael Schenker Group this year – and have you ever met or worked with Michael Schenker?
I met Michael Schenker. We played I guess 3-4 times with MSG in Spain with Hardline and then we did the 70K Tons of Metal Cruise when we were with Archon Angel with Zachary Stevens. I met very briefly only once Michael, but I’ve never worked with him. But I’m very happy for Ronnie to be one of the new singers for Michael Schenker. I mean it’s kind of ironic and cool that both Joe Lynn and Ronnie are with Michael Schenker (on the new MSG album Immortal). It’s a strange twist of fate, but cool. Ronnie is my friend and my brother, and I couldn’t be happier to see him to succeed and even be more out there. I support the guy – even before he became the singer that we all know him to be.

Ronnie Romero photo by Channel 9 Studio

Tell me about the inspiration behind Swan Song and that video.
The video is obviously a pandemic edition of what you would do with a whole band in a field filming all together. We had to film it separately – like four different locations and put it all together. And it’s Ronnie’s wife in the video. The video is obviously related to the lyrics, and the lyrics just tell the story of what we’ve seen in this very trying challenging time. We’ve seen lots of people just fall apart and go separate ways. I don’t know how many friends of yours have broken up, but I’ve seen lots of friends of mine, and they just couldn’t cope with the times – and they had to change everything they had around them. And that song is about your swan song – your last moment into a relationship, into your friendship, into your job, into something that you love – and you have to lose something somehow. But it’s also a hopeful message into everybody’s karma, into everybody’s who is in that moment. Well, you know, the swan song is never the last chance that you’re going to have in your life – it’s always a metaphor for change for something that’s coming next. The album is kind of a personal, spiritual, hopeful message – and just to say that whatever we’re living through right now, it’s not going to be forever, so we’ve got to learn at adapt. Things are probably never what we want them to be, but we’ve got to adapt to the challenges and possibilities that life is throwing at us.

What has it been to like to record this album in the middle of a pandemic and so much social unrest in the world?
The only thing that really changed was that I had more time to write. I had more time in the studio just because I wasn’t on tour. I was supposed to go on tour March 15th and stay on tour until the end of the year – and probably I would have written the Sunstorm album on the road like in the past. Like taking advantage of long flights and long travels and tour buses and countless hours around in hotel rooms. Normally I’m a natural writer and I always write. But recording, I guess musicians were the most pandemic ready, working class in the world to be socially distanced thanks to the Internet and have been making records like that for years. We probably would have done most of the process together, but it’s not the first album where musicians like myself or other producers do in the distance. I really like to embrace what is the good side of technology. The pandemic obviously hit us for the video, for pictures, for the fact that we couldn’t do the vocals and the drums all together, so we had to be separated – but you know, we took the good out of it. We had more time – that we weren’t on tours – Ronnie was supposed to go on tour as well. So, we turned a negative happening into something positive with this album.

Frontiers Music Srl is celebrating their 25h Anniversary this year. How did you initially meet Serafino and become involved with Frontiers?
So, the first time I got in touch with Frontiers was around 2002 when we were shopping the first Edge Of Forever album. Then we ended up signing to MTM Music, which back then was Frontiers’ competitor, but Frontiers was also distributing them through their distribution in Italy. In 2004, when we released the first Edge Of Forever album, Frontiers was distributing us in Italy, so I met them back then. And then we stayed in touch for the years because I had record distributed by them. But it was in 2011 – almost 10 years ago – I sent them an email because I was doing successful albums for other labels and I knew they had Dennis Ward and Erik Martensson working a lot with them, so I was like, “Maybe they don’t need another producer – maybe they don’t need another songwriter. But let me challenge my destiny.

Afterlife by Sunstorm (Frontiers Music Srl) – available now!

So, I sent Elio an email saying “How are you? It would be so great during this year to work together. I was guessing maybe we could get to a closer relationship. Maybe you need songs or a producer or a mixing engineer?” And he was like “Well, we’re looking for songs for Robbie LeBlanc and Find Me. Do you have songs?” I never have songs – I’ve got to write in the moment. I was like “I don’t have it, but I could write it and get back to you very soon.” And I don’t think they expected to hear from me for a few days, but the same day I sent them the first Find Me song. Then the asked for a second one, a third one, a fourth one, a fifth one, a sixth one – and then I got an email from Serafino himself saying “Well, I like what you’re doing. Tell me more about the way you operate. Do you have a studio or whatever is your way to getting these songs to us?” And I told him what I was doing and during that conversation, he was like, “Well, would you like to write and work with Johnny Gioeli?” And I was like “What!?!” He was in Hardline! Out of one email I sent, I got a job as a songwriter – and now I’m in freakin’ Hardline!?! Everything in the matter of a few days.

Back then, when I sent in the Danger Zone master by Hardline, Serafino asked “Who would you like to work with?” And I was like “That’s kind of a strange question from the person you’re committed just to produce.” And I sent them a list with Joe Lynn Turner, Fergie Frederiksen and so many others. And we still laugh at it, because we did everything that I sent in that email. So, our relationship started like I’m not that kind of musician – I’m not a good feature on myself – but I knew I had talent and qualities – and I knew what I could do in a label like that, because I knew I could do really great for the label if they gave me an opportunity. And thank God Frontiers is always open for opportunities. If you see all the new signings and the younger acts that they sign, it’s crazy. So out of one email, I got this amazing adventure with them – with 100 or more records and I don’t know – maybe 400 songs – it’s crazy! We’re still trying to keep the numbers, but it’s been a very fortunate, great creative 10 years together, and we’re pushing to more!

On the same day as the Sunstorm release, you have the new ISSA CD coming out – two new releases in one day…
Well, it’s actually three new releases, because I wrote three songs, and I recorded all backing vocals for Secret Sphere too. So, it’s three in the same day.

How does it feel that you have three albums coming out in one day (March 12th)?
It’s challenging on the one side because I would like to give promotional wise the same amount of push to all the albums, but obviously Sunstorm is a band that I’m a part of – so now what do I do? We always talk about it and “obviously your priority is on Sunstorm because ISSA is going to promote the album, herself.” And Secret Sphere – they don’t need my promotion. It’s more about me, because I like to give 100 percent to everything I do. But tomorrow I’ll come out and say “It’s another multiple release day and enjoy the albums. They’re all out there. Just love the music.” That’s the only thing I can do, but it makes me feel very grateful. I feel that it’s a luxury nowadays – with all the struggling musicians, I have found a way and a balance to put out all these great records and to somehow unleash this creative fury and strength and force that I have in me. So, it’s more like a good mirror of my person – a very creative volcano. It’s a little challenging on one side, but I feel very grateful, and I feel energized that I will do even more – and that’s a good push for myself.

What do you hope 2020 brings you for and for Sunstorm and for music in general?
For Sunstorm, we’re hopefully working through these challenges to bring the band on the road. So, we will do our best to turn Sunstorm into a touring entity as much as we can. For music in general, I really, really hope that 2021 is going to be a year where we can at least start to see some live activity because records are cool – and we’re all grateful that we can still manage to make records and produce – but the energy that you get onstage playing your songs, and seeing what your songs are doing to the crowd – it’s unbeatable! And it’s a bond that’s created between the audience and the musicians – and there’s nothing that could replace that. I really hope that the future is not online shows, because the interaction with the crowd is what makes concerts magical and unique. And I want to see the tears in somebody else’s eyes, and I want to hear the shouts. I want to hear the lyrics – my songs – our songs – loud through their voices. I don’t want to play for a screen – for a camera – that is fake to me. There’s no difference between that and a playback. Hopefully we will see concerts very soon. I know it will come back – I don’t know if it’s 2021 or 2022, but hopefully it will come back soon.

Sunstorm is:
Ronnie Romero – Vocals
Simone Mularoni – Guitars
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keyboards, backing vocals
Nik Mazzucconi – Bass
Michele Sanna – Drums

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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