GRAHAM BONNET On Using ALCATRAZZ Moniker Again: 'People Know The Name Of The Band, But They Don't Know Who The Hell I Am'

June 30, 2019

Legendary vocalist Graham Bonnet (RAINBOW, ALCATRAZZ, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP) recently spoke with Japanese journalist Masa Ito. The full conversation can be viewed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the in-progress album by the new incarnation of ALCATRAZZ:

Graham: "We're in the process right now. I think we have probably five or six songs ready. Joe [Stump, guitarist] has written some; we've got something from Steve Vai; I've got something from Chris Impelliteri for the album. It's ALCATRAZZ, but with guest players, so there's going to be a few guitar players that I've played with before, but it's still an ALCATRAZZ album... [It will also] probably [feature] from BLACKTHORNE, Bob Kulick. He may do a song too."

On his memories of the debut ALCATRAZZ album, 1983's "No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll":

Graham: "We found a great guitar player in Yngwie Malmsteen, who went onto other things. To do that first album, I wanted the band to be a little bit like RAINBOW kind of sound, so keyboard player, the same kind of lineup, and I think we pretty much got what I wanted. When Yngwie came to play, it was like Ritchie Blackmore, like I never left RAINBOW. I look at that album as sort of a starter album that, for me, went on to a better album recorded with Steve Vai. I like that a bit more than the first album, but most people like the first album because it was new and Yngwie was incredible."

On how touring with Michael Schenker helped him decide to use the ALCATRAZZ moniker again:

Graham: "It's really hard for him, like it is for me, in America especially. They know the band, but they don't know the guy that sings in the band or plays in the band, so when people ask me in America... I've been in a taxi and they say, 'Oh, you're in a band. You're going to play tonight at whatever theater. What band are you in?' I'll say, 'The Michael Schenker band.' They go, 'Who?' So I have to go, 'Okay, do you know who UFO is? Do you know the SCORPIONS? He was in those bands.' They remember UFO, but Michael Schenker — who's he? It was the same with me. I say, 'My name's Graham Bonnet, and it's the GRAHAM BONNET BAND.' They say, 'Never heard of you.' 'Okay, do you know who RAINBOW is?' 'RAINBOW... no.' 'Do you know who DEEP PURPLE is?' I have to go back with the history with that — 'Okay, well, RAINBOW was DEEP PURPLE. It became RAINBOW when I joined the band. We had a song called 'Since You Been Gone'.' 'Oh, I know that. I didn't know your name.' That's why we changed the name of the band back to ALCATRAZZ, because people know that name of the band but they don't know who the hell I am."

On the song "Night Games":

Graham: "I was sitting in a hotel room in New York. I remember my manager brought this tape of this song. He said, 'I think you should record this, Graham, after what's happened.' I was on my own again. He said to me, 'Just listen to it'... I thought it was a good song, so I recorded it. I had my friends play on it — Cozy Powell, Jon Lord... Roger Glover was going to produce it, but he didn't, so Pip Williams produced the song. He played guitar on that, and I was really happy with it. It was a really relaxed session. I'll never forget — I came to the session, and Jon Lord was sitting there behind all these baffles, ready to go. Then I hear a rattling of bottles — clink, clink, clink. Vodka comes out. Scotch. A bit of this, and a beer. Jon says, 'Gentlemen, the bar is open.' Those were the days when everybody used to drink a little too much. It was great, bless his heart. I miss him. Great keyboard player. What can I say? A great player, musician."

On staying young at heart:

Graham: "Everybody's a baby compared to me. I will be 72 soon — a very old man. I'm okay — I'm doing good. I'm very happy to be in good health. A lot of my friends have died — a lot of people I've known have died over the past two or three years. I'm glad I'm still walking and smiling."

ALCATRAZZ formed in 1983 and released three studio albums before disbanding in 1987. The group originally featured Malmsteen on guitar, but after tensions between Malmsteen and Bonnet boiled over during a 1984 concert in Oklahoma, Malmsteen quit and was replaced by Vai. Two years later, Vai left to join David Lee Roth's band.

Bonnet previously fronted reformed versions of ALCATRAZZ between 2006 and 2014 and then again for a one-off performance in Japan in 2017, which yielded the 2018 live album "Parole Denied - Tokyo 2017". The band's new album will be its first since 1986's "Dangerous Games".

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