An interview with Nick Burr of the new british hard rock band FRICTION!
- Do tell us the story behind FRICTION, how did it all begin and where did Z-Records get into the picture?
Friction began purely as a song writing exercise. Gav and I have toured and recorded with each other on and off in various bands since the later 80’s (Passion, Paul Di’anno’s Killers and Battlezone). Over this time we have developed a mutual respect for each other as writers and players. About two years ago, we just decided to get together to write some songs with no particular direction in mind, primarily looking for publishing. There was no intention at that point to release any material.
- You and Gavin Cooper wrote all the songs together. I'm guessing there were only the two of you from the start? Did you have Steve Grimmett in mind as vocalist all of the time?
We had basic melodies and backing tracks demoed and started to think about putting vocals on them. Steve and myself are still friends since our Lionsheart days and as the first early songs developed a certain rock edge, we though it was almost logical step to get Steve to sing on the demos.
- Grimmett is an excellent singer isn't he? VERY powerful voice !
Steve does have a great gift with his voice. In his Grim Reaper days, he was singing more high pitched, flat out, metal edged vocals. When I joined Lionsheart, I started to realise the range of possibilities open with Steve’s range. With much of the material on Pride In Tact, we started to get a little more melodic and bluesey. I have always felt, as with great guitarists that vocalists are more effective when they are not pushing the limits 100% of the time. When it came to delivering the range of emotions required for the Friction material, we thought Steve would be the man for the job.
- Does he still wear the same leather pants ? :-)
Steve still wears his rocker’s heart on his sleeve, keeping his hair long, but no leather pants!
- Would you say, that the listener can find some Free/Bad Company influences on your CD? Classic British Hard Rock a-la 2002?
There are some definite British blues/rock influences on the album. This is probably our most common ground. Our separate influences show up on various songs. E.g. Gav came up for the basics for the Stones/AC/DC drive of ‘Blue Collar Fever’, the Guns and Roses style ‘Misery’ and the almost punky ‘Landslide’, whereas I came up with the 70s style ‘Little Miss Predictable’, the funky ‘Don’t Want you Back’ and the almost country/Aerosmith style ‘Tomorrow’s Another Day’. When you add Steve’s bluesey voice to the mix there is a classic 70s rock feel.
- Are you pleased with the album and do you have a favorite track?
We are all pleased with the album. It seems a little strange, because it started out just as a collection of ideas and only became an album as such when Geoff Gillespie, our representative, started to put the demos to record companies. We did the whole thing on my home studio ,bar a few mixes, as demos and suddenly Z records got interested and wanted a couple of extra tracks and hey presto an album! Gav and I like all the songs for different reasons. At the moment, I am into Blue Collar Fever, Breathe and Miss You but there are different moods on most songs, so it will be different next week.
- What's the story behind the song "I'm Back" ?
The album needed a song with this sentiment – you know coming back with a vengeance. I had a track with an up-tempo Glam/punk feel that was screaming out for this type of lyric, so I sat and worked on it until I felt the words and the song worked together perfectly. It is basically about doing your own thing and feeling good about yourself.
- And what inspired you to write the superb ballad "Misery"?
Gav’s inspiration for ‘Misery’ was from personal experience. He had a difficult relationship just prior to starting this project and he found that writing the song helped him start a new chapter.
- How come you decided to use programmed drums on the album, instead of a real drummer? I must say, that I'm not too crazy about them!
As the song started to take shape, we found it easier to get the results with a machine – something that had no opinion or artistic input! With a drummer the whole project would have taken on some new problems, i.e. cost, timing etc. The proof came when Z records were comfortable enough to release the project as finished.
- Have you found a permanent drummer by now?
We are currently working with a drummer called Lee who is a long time friend of Gav. He is an excellent session drummer who is a round all round musician. He does not have a straight rock back ground which brings a different, fresh angle to the music.
- Speaking of drummers! I guess you've heard that Mick Tucker (Sweet) is no longer with us. Your personal reaction?
It is a shame to hear about the loss of Mick. The Sweet was one of my early inspirations as a teenager. They were a great pop/rock group with excellent musicianship and came across as a good ‘team’.
- You covered their song "Action" on the CD. Why not choose a less famous song by SWEET, since 'everybody' has already done this one?!
We chose Action purely because it is a great song and a belter to play live. We did not necessarily want to be clever with a cover and felt that it sat comfortably with the other songs on the album.
- You and Grimmett were of course in LIONSHEART before Friction. How come you decided to leave that band 'kinda' early?
Leaving Lionsheart was a mutual decision at the time. The guys wanted to build a studio with the advance from the third album and self- produce. Although collectively we had a lot of behind- the-desk experience, I did not feel that we were quite ready. I started to write songs, with a mind to expand the Lionsheart sound further but ultimately the Band felt that this was not the right angle, so we parted company. I think that the first album had some absolutely classic songs on it, but for me, trying to be objective, Pride in Tact bears more repeated listening and has a wider range of appeal. I enjoyed my time in the Band but I had to move on.
- What are your future plans? You'll be playing at Z-Rock this year.
After the Z Rock Festival, we possibly intend to string some dates together in June/July/August. After that, depending on reaction in other territories, its "Look out, World"
Interview by: Urban "Wally" Wallström,