The mysterious man of many hats, The Earl Grey of Chimay has devoted his life to the pursuit of mastering the guitar while entertaining audiences with his charisma, wild antics and inane sense of humor.
Since 2008, The Earl continues to serve as a proud member of the critically acclaimed Medieval Rock group Blackmore's Night. The rhythm guitarist, bassist, and mischief maker with an infamous reputation for shenanigans was also a producer and staff writer for National Lampoon before putting on the hat in Blackmore's Night. "Richie Blackmore has a long history of playing with and recruiting some of the best musicians in the business and his bass players have been no exception." - Freddy Villano ("To The Moon and Back with Mike Clemente of Blackmore's Night", Bass Player Magazine Website September 2017).
Blackmore's Night is happy to finally share "Here We Come A-Caroling" with all our friends and companions! With four new festive songs it's just perfect for the Holiday season. The EP is available as strictly limited green 10" Vinyl, limited CD Digipak and of course everywhere digitally to download and stream. It also comes with a wonderful new lyric video of 'O Little Town Of Bethlehem' that you can watch below.
...and there's much more coming soon, but we can't talk about it quite yet!
For now you can buy our EP "Here We Come A-Caroling" here: https://blackmoresnight.lnk.to/caroling
• It Came Upon A Midnight Clear Lyric Video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oih2dsk55ZI
• O Little Town of Bethlehem on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgmcYeHFUd8
• Here We Come A-Caroling on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77g6XDmKhdw
• Silent Night on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9do8jB9Y3A4
CLICK HERE to check out the new single "Spellbound" by Tempus. Spellbound marks a special collaboration between Tempus and Yours Truly; contributing with lyrics and music video editing for their first English-language single. The music video premiered in November on YouTube and the single is currently available for purchase and streaming through all major music outlets. Tempus and I are thrilled at the overall positive reception of the song and we hope you enjoy it too. Here's the official press release:
TEMPUS to release music video single “Spellbound”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 4, 2020
The medieval rock band Tempus has unearthed a seductive, fiery ritual culminating at the seasonal time of Samhain in the form of a new music video single. Their latest offering “Spellbound” truly reveals something mysterious and magical. Fans have previously associated Tempus with folk-oriented music, but the latest music video Spellbound reveals a heavier, more rock-oriented side of the band. The song fits into a medieval rock style in which the band is evolving towards as they currently work on their upcoming untitled second album release and follow-up to their 2015 debut album “Bílá vrána”.
The lyrics were created based on images and visions of the singer Linda Miklova, who composed the music. Spellbound is really colorful in styles. Initially, it’s romantic and delicate before the song develops into a myriad of rock, celtic, and medieval elements. From its inception, the song was perceived as a representation of an old, lost ritual where people are coming together in nature to meet the souls of their deceased loved ones. The lyrics were created in collaboration with American musician Michael Clemente, who also contributed with editing the music video. This is the first time Tempus is releasing a song in English, as their previous work has been exclusively in Czech. Spellbound was recorded during the summer in the critically-acclaimed Indies Studio in Brno by producers Dušan Souček and Broněk Šmíd, with whom the group collaborated with for the first time.
The music video was filmed by Roman Mácha (who also filmed their previous music video “Vitr”) and the drone camerawork was provided by Šimon Blažek. “Filming had to be completed within one day as the situation was uncertain. Despite all weather complications, and a brief encounter with the police, everything was managed in time,” states singer Linda Miklova. Preparation for filming was carried out several months in advance. Various props were constructed and custom-tailored costumes for each band member were designed and created by Linda. The construction of the throne was a collective work of band members and friends of Tempus. An essential role in the video is the “fiery priestess”. “When we wondered who to choose for this role, Ivka Neterderová from Carpe Noctem was a clear choice,” says Linda. Tempus fans will also notice the addition of new members to the band. The latest additions include bassist Petr Vobejda , and David Zima on hurdy-gurdy, joining the lineup of Linda Miklova (vocals, shawms, recorders), Pavel Bílý (guitars), Rosťa Blaha (drums), Lenka Musilová (flute), Dalena Morávková (recorders), Lukáš Mayer (rhythm guitar). The addition of the hurdy-gurdy combined with the other medieval instruments, such as the shawm and cornamuse, create a massive wall of sound for the entire composition. The hurdy-gurdy played by David on the recording and in the music video is one of the first APLO prototypes from the workshop of MM Hurdy Gurdy (Ancestore).
For fans that wish to support Tempus, “Spellbound” can be purchased and downloaded in any of the major online music stores. For those that prefer physical media, Tempus will offer an option to purchase their first album “Bílá vrána” which will include the Bílá Vrána CD paired with an additional download card for the entire album plus the Spellbound single for digital download. The talented artist of the magical illustration used for the Spellbound digital single is Jiří Dvorský. Spellbound will also be released on Spotify on Sunday 8th November 8, 2020, at the following Spotify profile: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2S7g0vH7IebB2eaXRfHL29
For more information, please visit www.tempus.cz. Tempus can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.
Spellbound by Tempus Links:
• Spellbound Music Video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2_JnoWZK-g
• Purchase Spellbound through Tempus.cz: https://www.tempus.cz/en/music
• Spellbound on Apple iTunes Store: https://music.apple.com/us/album/spellbound-single/1537571523
• Spellbound on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spellbound-Tempus/dp/B08M3GS96Z
• Spellbound on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2S7g0vH7IebB2eaXRfHL2
Here are additional Czech media links pertaining to Spellbound:
• Spark Rock Magazine: https://www.spark-rockmagazine.cz/tempus-okouzluji-s-ohnem-v-novem-videoklipu
• Blesk.cz: https://www.blesk.cz/clanek/zpravy-kultura/661720/rockovou-pecku-z-rise-elfu-hraje-skupina-tempus-i-v-novem-klipu.html
• Rockshock: http://www.irockshock.net/?p=16749
Special thank you to Fernando Navarro and the staff at Hush Magazine (Deep Purple Fanzine) in Spain for interviewing me. Live action photos of Yours Truly used in the interview were taken by Paul Glass - https://pasttimmeswithgoodcompany.myportfolio.com. Below is a transcript of the interview translated in English, along with the original transcript in Spanish:
It is an honor for us and myself in particular to greet again an excellent musician named Mike Clemente who is best known in the musical world as Earl Grey of Chimay. Thank you very much in advance for being so kind and granting us this interview for Hush Magazine.
Thank you Fernando and thank you to Hush Magazine for interviewing me.
Hi Mike, I'm Fernando, how are you?
Thank you Fernando, I am fine thankfully despite everything that is happening in the world at the moment. I hope all is safe and ok by you and everyone at Hush Magazine (and everyone reading this interview) during this time.
Tell me a little, when you started playing, what was the reason or inspiration that led you to it?
I initially took an interest to music when I was fourteen years old after seeing my friend’s band perform at a school dance (picture a heavy metal thrash band performing at a school dance!) Afterwards, I immediately quit my aspirations of being a baseball player and started learning the guitar. My friends were all starting to play too, so it was the right time to learn. The guitar is deceptively complex and continues to be a lifelong challenge for me to attempt to master. I feel this is what has really drawn me to my commitment to the instrument.
Who were your great musical influences?
As a teenager, I listened to and was influenced by all the great hard rock and metal bands - Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Scorpions, etc. Ironically, Ritchie Blackmore is the primary reason why I became interested in learning classical guitar. I was reading one of his interviews in a guitar magazine when I first started learning and he had stated that if one want to be a good guitarist, they should study Bach. So at my next guitar lesson, I was trying to convince my teacher to teach me classical guitar and Bach on my electric guitar. He protested initially because I did not have a proper classical guitar, but finally agreed to teach me on my electric. I was also drawn to sounds that were unique and different, Gypsy music, regional folk music, Flamenco guitar, early music - Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, etc. Additionally, Spike Jones and the City Slickers is one of my favorite groups because of the way they incorporated absolute lunacy and comedy with musical virtuosity. As I continue to develop as a musician, I find that I get influenced by those that I perform with. Candice, Ritchie, and my bandmates have had considerable influence on my playing, songwriting, and approach to practice and performing.
How has your musical career been?
I have been very fortunate. I have tried repeatedly to have a “normal” career such as being a school teacher but none of those professions ever seem to pan out for me lol. But my work and involvement with music and entertainment have been fairly consistent. I started touring when I was nineteen years old in a rock band from Staten Island, NY called “Scraggly Jane.” Fast forward twenty-two years later and I’m still at it, performing in Blackmore’s Night for the last twelve years. I’m very grateful for the experiences I’ve had.
Since when does your passion for medieval music come?
My passion for Medieval Music really developed from learning from Candice and Ritchie and the direct influence to the repertoire we play in Blackmore’s Night. My appreciation continued to grow from going to Rennaissance / Medieval Festivals and listening to music from the medieval groups that perform with us on the road. Now I often find myself lighting torches and cooking over campfires in my yard while listing to CDs from medieval bands that we met in Europe. I absolutely love it. I try to recreate a medieval atmosphere as often as I can at home without my neighbors looking at me too funny. I have also taken an interest to learning medieval instruments like medieval bagpipes, rauschpfeifes, and recorders.
Where did you learn to master the Spanish language?
Lol thank you, I wish I had mastery of the Spanish language. I am totally cheating and using Google Translate to help me with this interview. I did watch some Spanish television growing up. One of my favorite shows was a program called “Sábado Gigante” hosted by Don Francisco. I could hardly understand any of the dialogue at the time, but they did all sorts of crazy games with beautiful women so it was very entertaining. Perhaps I subliminally learned a little Spanish then. I have since learned some basics in Spanish -- it has similarities to Italian. I speak basic conversational in Italian, German, and Czech, some Russian too. I have found that it has been easier for me to try and learn multiple languages at once. It is interesting how parts of a language sometimes connect or share similar variations of vocabulary or grammar with another.
Do you work on personal projects other than making music with Blackmore’s Night?
I have considered the thought of putting my own band together eventually one day but it would have to be something truly unique and different than the usual. For the last few years, I have been approaching music in a more scientific way, trying to invent a new or unique signature sound that I would apply to such a project. I do continue to write and develop songs on my own. But for now, I continue to remain committed to Blackmore’s Night. I feel there is a great responsibility to maintain the integrity of a band by committing to it rather than exploit its notoriety to self-promote another project.
In your role as producer, what types of jobs would you like to produce?
I have a lot of crazy ideas that I would like to put to good use one day for low budget movies, music videos, etc. Once I get my hands on a good proper camera and some financing, I will be invincible!
And in your actor profile, which characters would you like to play the most?
The majority of my roles have been background characters; usually musician roles or long hair hippy roles for movies that take place in the late 1960’s / 1970’s. I never took acting too seriously. I primarily got involved in acting with the intentions of giving my friends a good laugh in the event they were watching a movie and I suddenly appeared on screen for a few seconds. If I were to pursue it more, I think it would be a good challenge and something I would consider to try and establish an acting career in Europe. I can have fun playing all the American stereotypes in the overseas market.
As a writer I know that you also do it well. Do you have something in mind currently? For example, would you like to write, interpret and produce the life of Ritchie Blackmore?
Some friends keep suggesting to me that I should write a book of short stories about all the crazy things I’ve done. I started putting a list together of stories I can remember (and stories that friends had to remind me about lol). I don’t know if there would be any real interest for such a book, but I think it would be good educational book for young people to teach them “things they should never, ever do with their free time!” As far as a biopic for Ritchie Blackmore, I think his life, influence, and notoriety would make a great film. After seeing how they created “Live Aid” for Queen in the film “Bohemian Rhapsody”, I would absolutely love to see how a filmmaker would recreate the Deep Purple California Jam incident!
Did you like the experiences of making movies and television? Is there a specific project that you would like to work on?
They were all good experiences. Lots of long hours, but I met and worked with some interesting people along the way. The film “School of Rock” was fun. I was one of the extras responsible for catching Jack Black at the final concert scene in the film when he jumps into the audience. The series “Game of Thrones” would have been an incredible project to be involved with. I am a big fan of the early historical epics like “Lawrence of Arabia” and fantasy epics like the original “Conan The Barbarian”. It would have been a great challenge and achievement to have been involved in the making of films like those.
Tell me, what is or what was The Godfather?
“The Godfather” was a nickname I got in school when I was a teenager. I used to make money in school by selling homework answers and doing term / research papers for other students. My friends and I once got our hands on blank report card forms and we started making and selling “passing” report cards that failing students could show their parents so they wouldn’t get punished. We had a whole underground business going on and being that my last name was similar to the character Clemenza from the film “The Godfather”, friends started calling me “Godfather”. My nickname was officially validated when one of my teachers even started calling me “Godfather”. Later on when I worked in college radio, I continued using the nickname on the air and it carried over to my early work as a local concert promoter and as a performer when I perform locally at home.
Is it true that you have or had in your shows, a repertoire of more than 2000 heavy and hard rock songs?
Yes, my current song repertoire is over 2,000 songs, spanning just about every genre with lots of classic hard rock and heavy metal songs.
I read once that you offered to buy free beer if you did not know a song that the audience member requested to you in your performances. Is it true?
Yes, for several years I performed an act called “Stump The Godfather” where the audience would have to name any rock band from the 1950’s through the 1980’s. If I couldn’t play at least a verse or a chorus from one of their songs, I would buy the audience member a drink. It was a fun game for many years where people who really knew about music and obscure bands would come down and try to stump me. But then the smartphone was invented and people who knew nothing about music would go on their phones and look up really obscure bands that no one (including myself) ever heard of. I was instantly out of business with my contest!
How many songs do you have written or composed?
I’ve written many songs. I wouldn’t be able to put a number on it but they’re all written down on notes and in books and journals I have kept through the years. I probably have enough quality songs for four or five albums.
Are you planning to get any new work out of your compositions?
Maybe one day. Selling songs doesn’t seem to be a lucrative business for disconnected musicians nowadays lol. But recording technology has significantly improved and maybe one day I will attempt to record some songs at home, cast them off to the dark voids of the internet and see if anything bites.
Which hard-rock and heavy metal bands are your favorites?
Some of my favourites include Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rainbow, The Scorpions, Guns N Roses, Riot, Judas Priest, Dio, Megadeth, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Raven, Metallica, SA Adams, Grim Reaper, Jethro Tull, Sabaton, Motley Crue and UFO.
In which older or more modern band would you have liked to play?
I’m not sure, but I think it would have been great fun to throw television sets out of hotel room windows with Keith Moon.
If you had a rock band, which musicians would you accompany yourself with?
I have a lot of personal musician friends that I would consider. I joke around with the idea that if I were to put a band together one day, the focus really wouldn’t be about music or communicating a particular message, but more along the lines of getting all my personal friends together to go on the road and have some precarious adventures. The concert would be the initial performance, but the real performance and emphasis would be the shenanigans and lunacy that takes place after.
Is there an instrument you have left to play or experience?
I wish I had a better understanding of the drums. I used to have a drum set but I never took lessons or really learned properly. I am still trying to learn bagpipes though I don’t practice nearly as much as I should. I continue to focus most of my practice time on guitar and classical guitar at the moment.
At what point are you currently in your professional life?
I have reached a reflective stage of my life personally and professionally. I am a believer in following fate’s hand and allowing fate to guide me to a certain extent. I had some unexpected personal losses this past year which has caused me to develop a greater awareness of mortality and prompted me to plan for the future a little more carefully.
How do you see the music scene, how do you think things will turn out after this global pandemic?
I’m not sure how things will turn out after the pandemic. This pandemic has completely sidelined the culture. I know we would all like to see it come back in a big way. I never thought in a million years we would see anything like this in our lifetime. I only hope it resolves soon.
With which instrument do you enjoy playing the most, of all the ones you know or have experienced?
I love playing classical guitar the most. It is the most challenging and, for me, the most spiritually rewarding. It has the ability to either frustrate me or relax me. It typically puts my mind at ease to sit alone at night and practice classical guitar for a few hours. It also gives me the discipline to do more on the electric guitar and bass.
How did you contact Ritchie Blackmore? Tell me what the auditions were like, or how did he tell you that you were in the band?
I was introduced to Candice and Ritchie through a mutual friend, film producer J. Andrew Colletti. Our initial meeting was in a dimly lit, quiet Italian restaurant. About thirty minutes into the conversation, Ritchie asked me “Why did you pick this restaurant to meet?” (He’s the one that picked the restaurant.) I responded “Well….it’s the perfect place, they have one of those old-fashioned toilet bowls you can tape a gun behind.” He gave me a look and then started laughing. Ritchie, Candice, and I all have the same sense of humor and we clicked. After our meeting, I received an email offering me the position in the band.
If Ritchie had asked you to be Rainbow's bassist, would you have accepted?
I’ve had such a great experience working with Candice and Ritchie in Blackmore’s Night that if they asked me to work on any project I would gladly accept.
What is your opinion of the current Rainbow?
I am happy for Ritchie that he decided to put a rock band together; I think it was great for the fans to experience. It looked like a lot of fun.
Is it difficult or demanding to work with Ritchie Blackmore on stage, for his jokes or improvisations?
In the beginning it was a little intimidating. But I practiced and I put in the work, learning the entire song catalog and learning how to evolve. In my first few tours, there were many late nights I would take a guitar back to my hotel room and practice for several hours after a concert. It all paid off, making me a better musician and it helped develop my ability to adapt to any potential unpredictability in concert. I also feel we currently have the best lineup we have ever had, consistently delivering and performing cohesively to Ritchie’s direction. That has definitely helped. Concerning the jokes on the stage, we all have the same sense of humor. We all have a lot of fun performing together.
Which medieval and hard-rock composition do you like most about Ritchie Blackmore and why?
The Blackmore’s Night songs I like most are Empty Words, Health To The Company, The Circle, and Darkness. These songs take me back to the feeling and nostalgia from my early days in the band and my early tours with them. Others that come to mind are All For One, Keeper of the Flame, Troika, Spirit of the Sea, Minstrel Hall, Gilded Cage, Dancer and The Moon, The Last Leaf, I Still Remember, Now and Then, and Writing on the Wall (2017 version). Some of these are songs I love to perform in concert, and others that I wished we performed lol. With regards to Ritchie’s rock compositions, Highway Star is one of my favourites. It was the first guitar solo I ever learned when I was first starting on guitar (I also created an arrangement to fingerpick Jon Lord’s organ solo on the guitar too.) I also really like Burn, Stormbringer, The Gypsy, Hard Lovin’ Man, Speed King, and Soldier of Fortune as well. From Rainbow, Kill The King, Temple of the King, Catch the Rainbow, Tarot Woman, Rainbow Eyes, Man on the Silver Mountain, Long Live Rock and Roll, Death Alley Driver, and Stone Cold are my top picks. Lots of great times were had to those songs.
How would you define Ritchie Blackmore, as a person and a musician?
As a person, he is incredibly sharp, knowledgeable, experienced, and a good friend. As a musician, his brilliance, innovation, and influence puts him in a category of his own. Truly one of a kind. Our modern-day Bach. It has been and continues to be a privilege to work with one of the last great masters of the guitar.
How do you see strength in Ritchie Blackmore, to continue playing some more years?
Each new day is a gift and I’m convinced he will continue as long as he wants.
In 2008, I saw you playing in the German city of Karlsruhe with Blackmore’s Night. How do you value all this time in the band?
It has been a life changing experience and a pleasure and privilege to be a member of Blackmore’s Night for the past twelve years. This experience has left a positive impact on my development as a musician and as a person. I am forever grateful for it.
Tell us how and where did the name of Earl Grey of Chimay come from?
The name Earl Grey of Chimay was decided at my first meeting with Candice and Ritchie. Towards the end of the meeting they said that I needed to come up with a medieval stage name. As a joke, I paired my favourite tea to my favourite beer and said “Earl Grey of Chimay” and they agreed to it.
Well this is all Mike, thank you again for your attention and kindness and wish you to stay safe and in good health.
Thank you very much Fernando. I hope you and your family and the staff of Hush Magazine remain safe and in good health. Looking forward to raising a few when this is all over, the next round is on me. Cheers and beers to you.
Es para nosotros y para mi en particular un honor saludar de nuevo a un excelente músico llamado Mike Clemente mas conocido en el mundo musical por (Earl Grey of Chimay). Muchas gracias de antemano por ser tan amable y concedernos esta entrevista para Hush Magazine.
Gracias Fernando y gracias a Hush Magazine por entrevistarme.
¿Muy buenas Mike , soy Fernando que tal estas?
Gracias Fernando, estoy bien, gracias a pesar de todo lo que está sucediendo en el mundo en este momento. Espero que todo esté seguro y bien para usted y todos en Hush Magazine (y todos los que lean esta entrevista) durante este tiempo.
¿Cuentame un poco , cuando empezaste a tocar , cual fue el motivo o inspiración que te llevo a ello?
Inicialmente me interesé por la música cuando tenía catorce años después de ver a la banda de mi amigo tocar en un baile escolar (¡imagina una banda de heavy metal thrash tocando en un baile escolar!) Luego, inmediatamente dejé mis aspiraciones de ser un jugador de béisbol y Empecé a aprender la guitarra. Mis amigos también estaban empezando a jugar, así que era el momento adecuado para aprender. La guitarra es engañosamente compleja y sigue siendo un desafío de por vida para mí intentar dominar. Siento que esto es lo que realmente me ha llevado a mi compromiso con el instrumento.
¿ Quienes fueron tus grandes influencias musicales?
Cuando era adolescente, escuché y fui influenciado por todas las grandes bandas de hard rock y metal: Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Scorpions, etc. Irónicamente, Ritchie Blackmore es la razón principal por la que me interesé en aprender guitarra clásica. Estaba leyendo una de sus entrevistas en una revista de guitarras cuando comencé a aprender y me dijo que si uno quería ser un buen guitarrista, deberían estudiar a Bach. Entonces, en mi próxima lección de guitarra, estaba tratando de convencer a mi maestro de que me enseñara guitarra clásica y Bach en mi guitarra eléctrica. Inicialmente protestó porque no tenía una guitarra clásica adecuada, pero finalmente accedió a enseñarme con mi guitarra eléctrica. También me atrajeron los sonidos únicos y diferentes, música gitana, música folklórica regional, guitarra flamenca, música antigua: medieval, renacentista, barroca, etc. Además, Spike Jones y City Slickers es uno de mis grupos favoritos debido a la incorporaron la locura absoluta y la comedia con virtuosismo musical. A medida que continúo desarrollándome como músico, descubro que me influyen las personas con las que actúo. Candice, Ritchie y mis compañeros de banda han tenido una influencia considerable en mi forma de tocar, escribir canciones y mi enfoque para practicar y tocar.
¿Cómo ha sido tu trayectoria musical?
He sido muy afortunado. He intentado repetidamente tener una carrera "normal", como ser un maestro de escuela, pero ninguna de esas profesiones parece funcionar para mí jajaja. Pero mi trabajo y participación con la música y el entretenimiento han sido bastante consistentes. Empecé de gira cuando tenía diecinueve años en una banda de rock de Staten Island, Nueva York llamada "Scraggly Jane". Avance rápido veintidós años después y todavía estoy en eso, actuando en Blackmore's Night durante los últimos doce años. Estoy muy agradecido por las experiencias que he tenido.
¿Desde cuando viene tu pasion por la música medieval?
Mi pasión por la música medieval realmente se desarrolló a partir del aprendizaje de Candice y Ritchie y la influencia directa en el repertorio que tocamos en Blackmore’s Night. Mi apreciación continuó creciendo al ir a Festivales de Renacimiento / Medievales y escuchar música de los grupos medievales que actúan con nosotros en el camino. Ahora, a menudo, me encuentro encendiendo antorchas y cocinando sobre fogatas en mi patio mientras incluyo CD de bandas medievales que conocimos en Europa. Me encanta Trato de recrear una atmósfera medieval tan a menudo como puedo en casa sin que mis vecinos me vean demasiado gracioso. También me ha interesado aprender instrumentos medievales como gaitas medievales, rauschpfeifes y grabadoras.
¿ Donde aprendiste a dominar el lenguaje castellano?
Jajaja gracias, ojalá hubiera dominado el idioma español. Estoy totalmente engañando y usando Google Translate para ayudarme con esta entrevista. Vi televisión en español mientras crecía. Uno de mis programas favoritos fue un programa llamado "Sábado Gigante" presentado por Don Francisco. Apenas podía entender el diálogo en ese momento, pero hicieron todo tipo de juegos locos con mujeres hermosas, así que fue muy entretenido. Quizás subliminalmente aprendí un poco de español entonces. Desde entonces he aprendido algunos conceptos básicos en español, tiene similitudes con el italiano. Hablo conversación básica en italiano, alemán y checo, también en ruso. He descubierto que me ha sido más fácil intentar aprender varios idiomas a la vez. Es interesante cómo algunas partes de un idioma a veces conectan o comparten variaciones similares de vocabulario o gramática con otro.
¿ Trabajas en proyectos personales aparte de hacer música con Blackmore’s Night?
He considerado la idea de armar mi propia banda eventualmente algún día, pero tendría que ser algo realmente único y diferente de lo habitual. Durante los últimos años, me he estado acercando a la música de una manera más científica, tratando de inventar un sonido característico nuevo o único que aplicaría a dicho proyecto. Sigo escribiendo y desarrollando canciones por mi cuenta. Pero por ahora, sigo comprometido con Blackmore’s Night. Siento que hay una gran responsabilidad de mantener la integridad de una banda al comprometerse con ella en lugar de explotar su notoriedad para autopromocionar otro proyecto.
¿ En tu faceta de productor , que tipos trabajos te gustaría producir?
Tengo muchas ideas locas que me gustaría aprovechar algún día para películas de bajo presupuesto, videos musicales, etc. Una vez que tenga en mis manos una buena cámara adecuada y algo de financiamiento, ¡seré invencible!
¿Y en tu prefil de actor , que personajes te gustaria mas interpretar?
La mayoría de mis roles han sido personajes de fondo; generalmente papeles de músico o papeles hippies de cabello largo para películas que tienen lugar a fines de los años sesenta / setenta. Nunca tomé la actuación demasiado en serio. Principalmente me involucré en la actuación con la intención de hacer reír a mis amigos en caso de que estuvieran viendo una película y de repente aparecí en la pantalla durante unos segundos. Si tuviera que perseguirlo más, creo que sería un buen desafío y algo que consideraría para intentar establecer una carrera como actriz en Europa. Puedo divertirme jugando a todos los estereotipos estadounidenses en el mercado extranjero.
¿Cómo escritor se que también lo haces bien , tienes algo en mente actualmente? ¿ Por ejemplo , te gustaría escribir , interpretar y producir la vida de Ritchie Blackmore?
Algunos amigos me siguen sugiriendo que escriba un libro de cuentos sobre todas las locuras que he hecho. Comencé a armar una lista de historias que puedo recordar (e historias que los amigos tuvieron que recordarme sobre lol). No sé si habría algún interés real por tal libro, pero creo que sería un buen libro educativo para que los jóvenes les enseñen "cosas que nunca deberían hacer con su tiempo libre". En cuanto a una película biográfica para Ritchie Blackmore, creo que su vida, influencia y notoriedad serían una gran película. Después de ver cómo crearon "Live Aid" para Queen en la película "Bohemian Rhapsody", ¡me encantaría ver cómo un cineasta recrearía el incidente del Deep Purple California Jam!
¿ Te han gustado las experiencias de hacer cine y televisión , hay algún proyecto en concreto en el que te gustaría trabajar?
Todos fueron buenas experiencias. Muchas horas largas, pero conocí y trabajé con algunas personas interesantes en el camino. La película "School of Rock" fue divertida. Fui uno de los extras responsables de atrapar a Jack Black en la escena final del concierto en la película cuando salta a la audiencia. La serie "Game of Thrones" habría sido un proyecto increíble para participar. Soy un gran admirador de las epopeyas históricas tempranas como "Lawrence of Arabia" y las epopeyas de fantasía como el original "Conan The Barbarian". Hubiera sido un gran desafío y un logro haber estado involucrado en la realización de películas como esas.
¿ Cuentame , que es o que fue el padrino?
"El padrino" fue un apodo que obtuve en la escuela cuando era un adolescente. Solía ganar dinero en la escuela vendiendo respuestas de tarea y haciendo trabajos de investigación / término para otros estudiantes. Mis amigos y yo una vez tuvimos en nuestras manos los formularios de boleta de calificaciones en blanco y comenzamos a hacer y vender boletas de calificaciones "aprobadas" que los estudiantes con fallas podían mostrar a sus padres para que no fueran castigados. Teníamos todo un negocio clandestino y, dado que mi apellido era similar al personaje de Clemenza de la película "El Padrino", mis amigos comenzaron a llamarme "Padrino". Mi apodo fue validado oficialmente cuando uno de mis maestros incluso comenzó a llamarme "Padrino". Más tarde, cuando trabajaba en la radio universitaria, seguí usando el apodo en el aire y se trasladó a mis primeros trabajos como promotor local de conciertos y como intérprete cuando toco localmente en casa.
¿ Es cierto que tienes o tenias en tus shows , un repertorio de mas de 2000 canciones de Heavy y Rock?
Sí, mi repertorio actual de canciones tiene más de 2,000 canciones, abarcando casi todos los géneros con muchas canciones clásicas de hard rock y heavy metal.
¿ Lei una vez , que invitabas a cerveza si no te sabias una canción de las que el publico te proponía en tus actuaciones , es verdad?
Sí, durante varios años realicé un acto llamado "Stump The Godfather" en el que el público tendría que nombrar a cualquier banda de rock de la década de 1950 hasta la de 1980. Si no pudiera tocar al menos un verso o un coro de una de sus canciones, le compraría una bebida al miembro de la audiencia. Fue un juego divertido durante muchos años donde las personas que realmente sabían sobre música y bandas oscuras venían y trataban de confundirme. Pero luego se inventó el teléfono inteligente y las personas que no sabían nada de música iban a sus teléfonos y buscaban bandas realmente oscuras de las que nadie (incluido yo mismo) había oído hablar. ¡Inmediatamente me quedé sin trabajo con mi concurso!
¿ Cuantas canciones tienes compuestas o escritas?
He escrito muchas canciones. No podría ponerle un número, pero todos están escritos en notas y en libros y diarios que he mantenido a lo largo de los años. Probablemente tengo suficientes canciones de calidad para cuatro o cinco álbumes.
¿ Tienes pensado sacar algun trabajo nuevo de tus composiciones?
Tal vez algun dia. Vender canciones no parece ser un negocio lucrativo para músicos desconectados hoy en día jajaja. Pero la tecnología de grabación ha mejorado significativamente y tal vez algún día intentaré grabar algunas canciones en casa, lanzarlas a los oscuros vacíos de Internet y ver si algo muerde.
¿ Que bandas de hard-rock y heavy metal son tus favoritas?
Algunos de mis favoritos incluyen Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rainbow, The Scorpions, Guns N Roses, Riot, Judas Priest, Dio, Megadeth, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Raven, Metallica, SA Adams, Grim Reaper, Jethro Tull, Sabaton , Motley Crue y UFO.
¿ En que grupo antiguo o mas moderno te hubiese gustado tocar?
No estoy seguro, pero creo que hubiera sido muy divertido tirar televisores por la ventana de la habitación de hotel con Keith Moon.
¿ Si tuvieses una banda de rock , de que músicos te harias acompañar?
Tengo muchos amigos músicos personales que consideraría. Bromeo con la idea de que si tuviera que formar una banda algún día, el enfoque realmente no sería sobre la música o la comunicación de un mensaje en particular, sino más bien en la línea de reunir a todos mis amigos personales para salir de gira. y tener algunas aventuras precarias. El concierto sería la actuación inicial, pero la actuación real y el énfasis serían las travesuras y la locura que tienen lugar después.
¿ Hay algún instrumento que te quede por tocar o experimentar?
Desearía tener una mejor comprensión de la batería. Solía tener una batería pero nunca tomé lecciones o realmente aprendí correctamente. Todavía estoy tratando de aprender la gaita, aunque no practico tanto como debería. Continúo enfocando la mayor parte de mi tiempo de práctica en guitarra y guitarra clásica en este momento.
¿ En que momento , te encuentras actualmente de tu vida profesional?
He alcanzado una etapa reflexiva de mi vida personal y profesional. Creo en seguir la mano del destino y permitir que el destino me guíe hasta cierto punto. Tuve algunas pérdidas personales inesperadas el año pasado, lo que me llevó a desarrollar una mayor conciencia de la mortalidad y me llevó a planificar el futuro con un poco más de cuidado.
¿Como ves el panorama musical, como crees que van a quedar las cosas después de esta pandemia mundial?
No estoy seguro de cómo resultarán las cosas después de la pandemia. Esta pandemia ha dejado completamente de lado la cultura. Sé que a todos nos gustaría ver que regrese a lo grande. Nunca pensé que en un millón de años veríamos algo así en nuestra vida. Solo espero que se resuelva pronto.
¿Con que instrumento disfrutas mas tocando, de todos los que conoces o has experimentado?
Me encanta tocar la guitarra clásica más. Es el más desafiante y, para mí, el más gratificante espiritualmente. Tiene la capacidad de frustrarme o relajarme. Por lo general, me tranquiliza sentarme solo por la noche y practicar guitarra clásica durante unas horas. También me da la disciplina para hacer más en la guitarra eléctrica y el bajo.
¿ Como contactaste con Ritchie Blackmore, cuéntame como fueron las audiciones , o como te dijo que estabas dentro de la banda?
Me presentaron a Candice y Ritchie a través de un amigo en común, el productor de cine J. Andrew Colletti. Nuestra reunión inicial fue en un restaurante italiano tranquilo y poco iluminado. Unos treinta minutos después de la conversación, Ritchie me preguntó "¿Por qué elegiste este restaurante para conocer?" (Él es el que eligió el restaurante). Respondí "Bueno ... es el lugar perfecto, tienen uno de esos inodoros antiguos a los que puedes poner una pistola". Me miró y luego se echó a reír. Ritchie, Candice y yo tenemos el mismo sentido del humor e hicimos clic. Después de nuestra reunión, recibí un correo electrónico ofreciéndome el puesto en la banda.
¿ Si Ritchie te hubiera propuesto ser el bajista de Rainbow, habrias ceptado?
He tenido una experiencia tan excelente trabajando con Candice y Ritchie en Blackmore's Night que si me pidieran que trabajara en algún proyecto, con mucho gusto lo aceptaría.
¿ Que opinión tienes de los actuales Rainbow?
Estoy feliz por Ritchie porque decidió formar una banda de rock; Creo que fue genial para los fanáticos experimentarlo. Parecía muy divertido.
¿Es difícil o exigente trabajar con Ritchie Blackmore en el escenario, por sus bromas o improvisaciones?
Al principio fue un poco intimidante. Pero practiqué y puse trabajo, aprendiendo todo el catálogo de canciones y aprendiendo a evolucionar. En mis primeras giras, había muchas noches hasta tarde que llevaba una guitarra a mi habitación de hotel y practicaba durante varias horas después de un concierto. Todo valió la pena, convirtiéndome en un mejor músico y ayudó a desarrollar mi capacidad de adaptación a cualquier imprevisibilidad potencial en concierto. También siento que actualmente tenemos la mejor alineación que hemos tenido, entregando constantemente y actuando de manera coherente en la dirección de Ritchie. Eso definitivamente ha ayudado. Con respecto a los chistes en el escenario, todos tenemos el mismo sentido del humor. Todos nos divertimos mucho actuando juntos.
¿Qué composición medieval y de hard-rock te gustan mas de Ritchie Blackmore, y porque?
Las canciones de Blackmore's Night que más me gustan son Empty Words, Health To The Company, The Circle y Darkness. Estas canciones me llevan de vuelta al sentimiento y la nostalgia de mis primeros días en la banda y mis primeras giras con ellos. Otros que vienen a la mente son All For One, Keeper of the Flame, Troika, Spirit of the Sea, Minstrel Hall, Gilded Cage, Dancer and The Moon, The Last Leaf, I Still Remember, Now and Then, y Writing on the Wall (Versión 2017). Algunas de estas son canciones que me encanta interpretar en concierto, y otras que desearía que hiciéramos jajaja. Con respecto a las composiciones de rock de Ritchie, Highway Star es una de mis favoritas. Fue el primer solo de guitarra que aprendí cuando comencé a tocar la guitarra (también creé un arreglo para tocar con los dedos el solo de órgano de Jon Lord en la guitarra). También me gusta mucho Burn, Stormbringer, The Gypsy, Hard Lovin 'Man, Speed King y Soldier of Fortune también. Desde Rainbow, Kill The King, Temple of the King, Catch the Rainbow, Tarot Woman, Rainbow Eyes, Man on the Silver Mountain, Long Live Rock and Roll, Death Alley Driver y Stone Cold son mis mejores opciones. Se tuvieron muchos buenos momentos con esas canciones.
¿ Como definirías a Ritchie Blackmore , como persona y músico?
Como persona, es increíblemente inteligente, conocedor, experimentado y un buen amigo. Como músico, su brillantez, innovación e influencia lo colocan en una categoría propia. Realmente único en su clase. Nuestro moderno Bach. Ha sido y sigue siendo un privilegio trabajar con uno de los últimos grandes maestros de la guitarra.
¿ Como ves de fuerza a Ritchie Blackmore , para seguir tocando algunos años mas?
Cada nuevo día es un regalo y estoy convencido de que continuará todo el tiempo que quiera.
¿ En 2008, te vi tocando en la ciudad alemana de (Karlsruhe) con Blackmore’s Night, como valoras todo este tiempo en la banda?
Ha sido una experiencia que cambió la vida y un placer y un privilegio ser miembro de Blackmore's Night durante los últimos doce años. Esta experiencia ha dejado un impacto positivo en mi desarrollo como músico y como persona. Estoy por siempre agradecido por ello.
¿Cuentanos como, y de donde surgio el nombre de Earl Grey of Chimay?
El nombre Earl Grey of Chimay se decidió en mi primer encuentro con Candice y Ritchie. Hacia el final de la reunión, dijeron que necesitaba encontrar un nombre artístico medieval. Como broma, combiné mi té favorito con mi cerveza favorita y dije "Earl Grey of Chimay" y estuvieron de acuerdo.
Pues esto es todo Mike, agradecerte de nuevo tu atención y amabilidad y desearte que te mantengas a salvo y con mucha salud.
Muchas gracias Fernando. Espero que usted y su familia y el personal de la revista Hush permanezcan seguros y con buena salud. Con ganas de recaudar algunos cuando todo esto termine, la próxima ronda es para mí. Saludos y cervezas para ti.
Check out The Vandraren Stories - a new fantasy series of stories from the wonderful mind of author Michelle Mittag. The stories are a chronicle of adventures of three characters - Tamina, Arwan, and Sadwyn. On her website www.vandraren-stories.com/en, she has descriptions of each character and states the following about Arwan:
When Tamina first gets to know Alex, he looks just like a perfectly ordinary musician: he seems to be approximately thirty-five years old, has sandy hair and brown eyes. But this is just an optical illusion and ‘Alex’ only a nickname. In truth, the bassist of Tamina’s most favorite medieval folk band is called Arwan ap Rhys ap Arawn Llewellyn (Arwan Llewellyn for short) and he is way older, than thirty-five. He normally looks quite different, too: Arwan has jet-black, approximately chin-long hair. His eye color varies, depending on the situation. He is descended from a Welsh wizarding family and a skilled wizard himself. Being an immortal Vandraren, who looks like being aged twenty-two for about a century straight, Arwan is pretty experienced, though he mostly doesn’t show off with that. He speaks German, French, Russian and several other languages fluently and has studied some ancient languages as well. Apart from that, he holds three doctor’s degrees. He is mostly to be found at his cousin’s house in Cardiff, Wales. Arwan is able to hear other people’s thoughts and he is gifted with the talent of healing injuries. Moreover, he can turn into a raven. He wears a remarkable leather wristband around his right wrist.
Yours Truly is truly humbled and excited for Michelle as she has ambitions to have her work published and printed. (I want the first copy...autographed too!) For now, the stories are periodically updated through her website https://www.vandraren-stories.com/en in both German and English. You can also connect with Michelle and the Vandraren Stories on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thevandrarenstories
As we are on the cusp of a new year and a new decade, I'm proud to reveal a new redesign of www.earlgreyofchimay.com. Previously on earlgreyofchimay.com, I had dedicated three years of research learning Actionscript and programming a fully interactive Flash version of the website featuring animated Earl Grey's running all over a forest scene. By the time I was finished programming and writing code for this website, it was announced that Flash would not be compatible with the latest mobile devices and pretty much rendered the website and my three years of research obsolete and unusable unless it was being viewed on a desktop computer!
Fast forward to today and I'm happy to reveal this slightly less interactive, mobile-friendly version of my infamous website. Those that are on a desktop computer can still access the classic animated forest version of the website. CLICK HERE to experience the classic Flash version along with a list of tricks and direct links to some of the crazy games and "easter eggs" I programmed into it!
For now, this website will be pretty static, updating on occasion to promote the latest tour dates and happenings concerning Blackmore's Night and also reveal new ambitious undertakings of Yours Truly. For the most up-do-date information, connect with me on Facebook!
Cheers and beers to you and hope to see you all soon! --THE EARL
• Multi-instrumentalist and long-time touring rhythm guitarist / bassist of Blackmore’s Night (2008-Present).
• Instruments Played: Guitar, Bass, Classical Guitar, Mandolin, Mandola, Balalaika, Medieval Bagpipes, Hümmelchen, Recorder (Tenor, Alto, Soprano, Sopranino, Garklein), Rauschpfeife, Gemshorn
• Four octave vocal range
• Current song repertoire: 2,146 songs
• Performed in twenty-four countries over the course of twenty-one years
• "One of my favourite parlour tricks is to sing and play "Stairway To Heaven" (and other songs) on acoustic guitar behind my head in its entirety."
• Previous Bands: Stentorian (1995-1996), Whiskey Alley (1996-1998), Lost Souls Society (1997-1999), Scraggly Jane (1998), Fathom (2002-2005), Jessie Blaze Snider's Blazed (2005)
• Performed Single Date Engagments With: Ashford and Simpson, Joan Osbourne, The Gypsy Kings, Bettye LaVette
• Producer and Creator of "Spin Cycle" - a series of notoriously inane video news parody shorts for National Lampoon (2005-2008)
• Composed the Score and Performed Off-Broadway for Judith Shakespeare's production of Richard 3 (2004)
• Worked as a background actor in a number of films and television shows. Was one of the strongmen assigned to catch Jack Black for his stage dive at the end of the film "School of Rock".
• Check out The Earl's IMDB page: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2200053/
• Holds a Master's Degree in Education and a Bachelor's Degree in Business
• Worked four years as an instructor in a school-to-work transition program for young adults with special needs.
• Conversational in Italian, German, Czech, with basic comprehension in Spanish and Russian.
• Can type 104 words per minute
• Assistant Program Director and on-air host for a heavy metal college radio program for WCWP from 1996-1998 and worked as a local concert promoter
• Started in comedy at 17 years old by sneaking into comedy clubs to interrupt, harass, and criticize the professional comedians on stage while dressed up in a "Barney the Purple Dinosaur" costume
• Unusually adept in winning at the doll machine
• Undefeated playing Mortal Kombat since 1992.
• Favourite Movies: For Y'ur Height Only (1981), Dolemite (1975), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Conan the Barbarian (1982), Soup To Nuts (1930), Master of the Flying Guillotine (1975), Mystery of Chessboxing (1979), Freaks (1931), Kung Fu Vs. Yoga (1979)
• Favourite Music: Blackmore's Night, Baroque / Classical, Medieval, Gypsy, Rock / Metal, Spike Jones and the City Slickers, anything different and unique
• Favourite Comedians: Rodney Dangerfield, Rudy Ray Moore, Three Stooges, Marx Brothers
• Favourite Hellraisers: Oliver Reed, Rasputin
Ritchie Blackmore has a long history of playing with and recruiting some of the best musicians in the business and his bass players have been no exception. From Roger Glover and Glenn Hughes with Deep Purple to Jimmy Bain, Bob Daisley and Glover (again) in Rainbow, his bassists imbue Blackmore’s songs with solid grooves while tastefully complementing his guitar work with a deft sense of harmonically rich counterpoint.
Blackmore’s Night has been Blackmore’s vehicle, along with vocalist Candice Night, for the past 20 years and features the axe master’s take on traditional medieval and renaissance fare. The band has included a succession of equally talented musicians in the bass chair, including Mick Cervino and Bob Curiano. Since 2008, Mike Clemente, aka Earl Grey of Chimay, has held the post. Bass Player caught up with Clemente in New York, hot on the heels of the band’s latest release, a 20-year retrospective titled, To The Moon And Back: 20 Years And Beyond.
What is your musical background / upbringing?
As a teenager, I listened to and absorbed all the essentials that any burgeoning rocker would be drawn to: Deep Purple, Rainbow, Led Zeppelin, Scorpions. I used to sign up to all the CD clubs with the “buy one, get ten free” promotions using fake names to rapidly and economically build my music library with whatever money I could scrounge up. After filling my collection with all the definitive rock albums, I started getting weird and branching out to other genres. If it wasn’t mainstream or common, I was immediately fascinated and drawn to it. Macedonian Gypsy music, Renaissance music, Bulgarian folk music. I collected whatever I could get my hands on.
Did you ever take lessons, formally?
I took private lessons studying bass, guitar, and eventually classical guitar. I’ve always struggled with sight-reading notation, so I’ve compensated by memorizing everything. At one time, I even had the entire Bach Lute Suite IV memorized. While in college I was obsessed and practiced around 8-12 hours each day.
What were you doing before joining Blackmore’s Night in 2008?
I got my start playing bass in a local New York blues band called Whiskey Alley and a local rock band called Lost Souls Society. At nineteen, I dropped out of college to tour the Midwest and Northeast playing bass for a great Staten Island-based rock band called Scraggly Jane. The band notoriously broke up six months later and I went to work in a factory before returning to school. I also played guitar and sported a sword and kilt in a Celtic rock band called Fathom, and briefly played bass for Blazed featuring Dee Snider’s son Jesse Blaze. In 2006, I took a two-year hiatus from performing in bands to write and produce inane comedy videos for National Lampoon. I got the call to join Blackmore’s Night in 2008.
Who are some of your influences?
Ritchie Blackmore was and still is a considerable influence on my playing. I remember reading an interview of his in one of the guitar magazines sometime in the mid 1990’s where he states that if one wants to understand music and play well, they should learn Bach. So, at my next private lesson, I went to my teacher and demanded that he teach me Bach on my beginner Yamaha electric guitar. He protested, saying that Bach could only be taught on a nylon string guitar, but I was a rebellious teenager and adamant and insisted on breaking the rules. So, he taught me Bourrée on electric guitar and that I was my introduction to learning classical music. Through learning Bach and watching Ritchie play, I’ve developed a better comprehension of counterpoint. Ritchie’s a master of counterpoint. It is such an extension of his acoustic playing. Being exposed to that has really helped me develop as a bassist and as an overall musician. Ritchie’s also a monster of a bass player.
Any “traditional” bass influences?
John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin was another big influence. He provided such a stable balance and foundation that merged the bombastic drumming of John Bonham with the eccentrics of Jimmy Page, and he executed it in such a classy, tasteful manner. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I also like the unadulterated energy and command of bassists like Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, John Gallagher of Raven and Joey DeMaio of Manowar. I am also heavily influenced and drawn to the absolute lunacy and brilliance of Spike Jones and the City Slickers.
How did you come to join Blackmore’s Night?
We were introduced by a mutual friend, film producer J. Andrew Colletti. At my first dinner meeting with Candice and Ritchie, we were at a quiet Italian restaurant and the first thing Ritchie asked me was why I picked this restaurant to meet—they actually chose the restaurant. Without hesitation, I replied, “This particular restaurant is perfect, because they have those old-fashioned toilets that you can tape a gun behind.” He paused, gave me a look and started laughing. From then on, the meeting was relaxed and fun—listening to incredible stories, watching Ritchie perform some magic tricks and playing music. We all clicked and discovered we shared similar interests, senses of humor and life experiences. I still pinch myself when I realize I’m approaching my tenth year as a member of this band. It has been and continues to be an incredible, surreal experience.
As a bassist, did you have to educate yourself in the style of renaissance music?
I’m a life-learner; always constantly learning. My classical background was a tremendous help, but I’ve learned so much about Medieval and Renaissance music being a member of Blackmore’s Night. Ritchie’s a walking encyclopedia on the subject. He continues to study this music, scouring the world looking for groups that continue to preserve these melodies. In the last year or so, I have attempted to learn how to play Medieval-styled bagpipes by studying techniques and melodies from friends I’ve made overseas. I’ve recently purchased a beautiful custom set built by my friend Petr Skalicky in Czech Republic who has taught me a lot about the instrument. My girlfriend Linda from the Medieval rock band Tempus is also from Czech Republic, and she has given me crash course lessons on playing the Recorder and Rauschpfeifes which has really helped me with technique and finding notes on the bagpipes.
Are there any examples of your playing on To The Moon and Back that you are particularly proud of or exemplify your playing style and if so, why?
To The Moon and Back is an exciting milestone for Blackmore’s Night, celebrating twenty years as a band. “The Circle” (Secret Voyage, SPV, 2008) is one of my favorite songs not only because I think it’s an excellent song, but for me it has a nostalgia attached to it. I still get the chills listening to it, for it brings back the feelings and energy of when I first joined the band. When we play it live, it is an opportunity for me to play a variety of styles on the bass. Early on, it’s played pretty straight forward. As it builds, Ritchie rips into that wicked instrumental part that I play a little heavier on. The instrumental part ends with me doubling him right before he goes into his solo. The end culminates in a tight groove, where I borrow from Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” and play a chromatic bass run that ties into the percussion. It’s a very powerful song and every tour I try mercifully to suggest it back into the setlist.
I also really like playing some of the new versions of the older classics. “Writing On The Wall” (Shadow of the Moon, Edel, 1997) has always been one of my favorites and I always envisioned a heavier rock version of the original. I was very pleased to see Candice and Ritchie come up with the same idea on this release.
“Ghost of John” (To The Moon) is another interesting song with a very haunting melody. Producer Pat Regan and I also tried tracking Hümmelchen bagpipes to it, but the tuning didn’t really work so the track was scrapped. Great to see Candice and Ritchie’s daughter Autumn singing on it too.
What's it like working with Ritchie Blackmore?
I’d hate to ruin his reputation of “being difficult,” because I’ve found that it has been and continues to be an absolute pleasure and privilege working with him, Candice, and the rest of my bandmates. He’s taught me so much about music, life, pondering the unknown, and even how to play soccer.
He could also be incredibly nefarious when it comes to practical jokes. On one of my first tours, he was leaving all his garbage at my hotel room door so when I would open my door, it would all fall in. I let it go for about a day. Then one morning, I open my door and an egg dropped at my foot. I said to myself I have to get him back and get him good or this will continue. I also knew that at a hotel like we were staying, he does not like to be bothered or have any staff knock at the door. So, I made a terrible sign and hung it on his door when no one was around. I forgot the specifics of how I worded the sign, but it was enough to really instigate and agitate the hotel staff. Later that evening, we were supposed to rehearse but Candice and Ritchie turned up late because the hotel manager and staff were all knocking at their door yelling at them for the terrible sign on the door. I ended up having to apologize to the hotel manager, but I never found any garbage on my door ever again. We have sort of an unspoken truce, and have teamed up on several occasions since to do some mischievous things to certain individuals. Overall, it’s been a humbling, incredible experience working with him, and I’m forever grateful for it.
Do you play with pick, finger style or both and why would you be inclined to use one over the other?
I mostly play fingerstyle because it allows me to do much more intricate, faster, and accurate picking patterns on the bass. Most times, I approach my bass playing from a classical standpoint. There’s a Russian Gypsy-style piece that I arranged of for the bass that really utilizes fingerpicking on the right hand. There’s a video floating around on YouTube of me playing it live in concert in St. Petersburg, Russia a few years ago. I’d like to do a proper recording of it sometime.
There are also times I will use a pick; either when requested by Ritchie, or most particularly when recording. Ritchie has taught me that using a pick on the bass for recording produces a deeper, balanced tone, which is ideal for our recordings.
When tracking bass do you have a configuration preference (i.e., direct? miked amp? both?) and if so, why?
I like to go direct. With the technology that’s out there, it’s very easy and practical to get a good bass sound going direct through a good preamp. At home, I get a nice bass recording tone with my Ampeg B1 rackmount. If I was recording onto tape, then I would probably mic up everything through a cranked tube amp to capture as much space and saturation on a nice old reel-to-reel machine.
What are you currently up to? Touring or recording with Blackmore’s Night? If not, what do you do on breaks from BN?
With Blackmore’s Night, we just completed a successful 2017 Summer Europe Tour. This fall, we will be performing select dates throughout the Northeast US. When I’m not on the road with Blackmore’s Night, I teach and assist for a school-to-work transitional program for young adults with special needs. I also toy with the idea of putting together my own side project band, but I’d like to develop a sound or style that hasn’t been done or heard before. It’s an arduous task, and perhaps one day I will find it, whether by using a unique combination of instruments, or trying to invent a new kind of instrument to accomplish this.
HEAR HIM ON
To The Moon And Back: 20 Years And Beyond, Blackmore’s Night (Minstrel Hall Music, 2017)
Basses Fender Victor Bailey Signature Bass, Fender Longhorn Jazz Bass, Custom Barbarian Bass (maker unknown), Fylde Custom Doubleneck Acoustic Guitar / Bass (Ritchie Blackmore’s Doubleneck)
Pickups Lindy Fralin Split Jazz
Amps Ampeg SVT-4PRO, Ampeg SVT-3PRO, Ampeg B1, Hartke Kickback 15
Speaker Cabs Ampeg SVT-410HLF
Strings D’Addario EXL230 .055 - .110, D’Addario EXL160 .050 - .105 (for acoustic bass)
Picks Dunlop Tortex Heavy 1.35mm
Effects Award Session JD-10 Direct Recording PreAmp, Award Session GG-10 ElectroAcoustic PreAmp, Award Session AP-10 Acoustic PreAmp
Photo Credit: Paul Glass
This page is dedicated to the classic Flash version of earlgreyofchimay.com. Yours Truly spent the better part of three years researching and studying Actionscript, writing code and programming animations to make the ultimate interactive website. By the time it was complete, most mobile devices weren't Flash compatible and my new website was instantly obsolete. However, those using a desktop computer can experience this really unique website and play the games I have hidden in it. Because there is so much hidden in the website, the following is a list of direct links and instructions how you can unlock content!
A List of all the Hidden Content:
How to access the hidden Flash Games:
• EARL GREY VS. MR HAN MAHJONG (click the ninjastar on tree, then click Earl's fight stance twice) or CLICK HERE for direct link
• CHIMAY-MAN (click the Chimay bottle, then quickly click the Earl Grey popup) or CLICK HERE for direct link
• BEER INVADERS (click the right tree branch, then quickly click the Earl Grey popup) or CLICK HERE for direct link
• ABSINTHE SAFARI (click the top Earl Grey popup, then quickly click the Earl Grey Tabalooga popup on bottom) or CLICK HERE for direct link
• ESCAPE THE KELLY FAMILY! (click the sky to change to night, then click the spider) or CLICK HERE for direct link
• EARL GREY'S SOLITAIRE (click the forest once, type the word SNOW on your keyboard to activate snow scene, then click the snowman) or CLICK HERE for direct link
• EARL GREY'S PAINT BY NUMBERS (click the left Earl Grey paintbrush popup, then quickly click the statue drop) or CLICK HERE for direct link
How to activate certain events:
• MORTAL KOMBAT TRIBUTE (click the ninjastar on tree, then click the blue ninja that appears twice to Finish Him!!)
• Try experimenting by clicking on random things on the screen. Almost everything has a function!
How to play "Rock" songs to activate certain events:
There are six rocks (one is a tree stump) along the path going left to right. Each one produces a tone when you click on it. Play the stones in a particular order and different things happen. The following numbers represent the stones (and treestump) going from left to right, with "0" for the first stone on the left and "5" for the furthest stone to the right. This code was incredibly difficult to write, and took the longest to figure out and troubleshoot, eight months if I remember correctly! (If it doesn't work the first time, click the forest to reset, and try again.)
• 0 2 3 0 2 4 3 - Play "Smoke on the Water" and it activates a tribute to the 1990's Eaters virus where the cursor eats the screen wherever you move it. (You can get out of it by pressing the space bar or reloading the screen, don't worry it's totally harmless!)
• 5 0 2 3 4 3 - Play "Aqualung" and a little tribute to Jethro Tull appears briefly
• 3 2 1 0 1 3 3 5 5 3 - Play "Sie Liebt Den DJ" and it activates a Michael Wendler animation
• 0 1 3 5 0 1 - Play "The Genius Quiz Show Theme" and it takes you to a YouTube video of the fake gameshow I made for New York cable access in 2003
• 0 0 0 4 3 2 - Play "Ace of Spades" and it takes you to a gallery of vintage pin-up girl playing cards
• 5 5 5 3 2 1 0 0 - Play "The Circle" and it takes you to a YouTube video of Blackmore's Night performing at Fernsehgarten
Typing certain words to activate certain events:
Click the forest scene to reset, then type in any of the following words to activate an event:
•SNOW - Turns the forest scene into a snow scene. Click the sky to change the snow scene to night and it will start to snow!
• EATERS - Instantly activates the tribute to the 1990's Eaters Virus. It's a harmless program that makes the mouse eat the screen, can be disabled by pressing the space bar or reloading the page. Rumor has it The Earl and his friends used to make their computer teachers in school crazy with this simple program.
• XILPADRINO - Takes you to the 2004 original website Flash animated loading page of pre-Earl Grey Mike "The Godfather" Clemente
Secret Photo Galleries:
• Click the sky to change to night, then click the shining star to activate a gallery of beautiful night pictures I took on the road
• Click the left tree branch, then click the Earl Grey popup, then click the Earl Grey dropping on the floor to be taken to the infamous "Around The World with the Earl" gallery on Facebook
• Click the left Earl Grey Paintbrush popup twice to be taken to a Facebook gallery of infamous hotel artwork by The Earl
• Click the sky to night, then quickly click the ghost to activate a gallery of eerie ghost pictures taken by the Earl
• Click the Earl Grey left tree popup #3 to activate an Earl Grey Photo Illusion image
Before "planking" became a vocabulary word and certainly long before people were taking pictures of themselves laying on the ground to "protest the selfie", Yours Truly has been taking and perfecting these pictures for quite sometime.
So what's the reason? Are they "dead" pictures? Or merely a touring musician passed out all over the place? As an artist full of an incredulous amount of mystery, I will let the audience decide for themselves.
I have taken over two hundred of these pictures in twenty-four countries all over the world and under some of the strangest circumstances. From the first one taken in Red Square in Moscow, to Stonehenge in England, to the top of the Sears Towner in Chicago, ancient Greek ruins, even to the very last New York Mets baseball game at Shea Stadium in Flushing. There are hardly any stones left unturned in my quest of lunacy and photographic ridiculousness.