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INTERVIEW  WITH 

JOHNNY ICON

of ACE OF HEARTS


I decided Iíd write about a character who is immortal

Johnny Icon is back to music with Ace Of Hearts (a project with members from Secret Sphere and Odd Dimension) and speaks to our Salvo Russo about the situation in which talented bands have to express themselves nowadays, about how Ace Of Hearts was born and about the situation of the band. Johnny Icon also unveils  personal tastes. inspiration sources for the lyrics of the album Monster, the Finnish Goth scene and, of course, his voice are other themes treated in the interview. From labels to myspace, the story of Ace Of Heart is the story of artists who really love music.


" related links on GryphonMetal
Ace of Hearts -MONSTER

1) Johnny...Welcome back!!! My first question is, What happened in these long 7 years? A lot of fans were waiting for your come back in the musical scene after that masterpiece with Icon and black roses...


Hi dude. These have been some weird years for me. I left Icon as things werenít working at all at the time. It was the right band but with the wrong people. We had way too many problems. Back then I was facing the choice of whether to keep pushing for Icon to succeed and not earn any money for the years to come or to go out there and get a job and move on with my life. I chose the latter. I moved to London after I graduated and got a job here where I have lived in the past 4 years. Initially I wanted to work on a solo album but I felt that I lacked the drive to just do it all on my own and eventually I got contacted by the guys from Ace and decided to give it a go.


2) Ace of Hearts lineup is made by 2 ex..and 1 actual member of a great italian power prog band "Secret Sphere"...they're known for their romantic way to play power metal...How did you get in touch with the new members of the band?

I was contacted on myspace. Actually I did get several invites but kept turning them down until Andrea sent me some demos and I thought they were pretty cool. I recorded the vocals for the song ďMonsterĒ, sent it over and then we decided to go for the full album.


3 How did you create the songs? Who's the main composer?

The main songwriters are Antonio and Gianmaria. They write the songs and then I try and fit my vocals/lyrics on them. This albumís songs had all been written by the time I joined. In the future I might be more involved in the songwriting process but to be quite honest it canít get much better than having Antonio and Gianmaria writing songs! They are awesome songwriters.


4) Didnít you ever play during these years? Have you ever written songs for a possible future project that now is real?

I stopped playing live altogether. I suppose I am way too shy for constantly being on stage. I did keep writing songs. I have tones of songs ready to go and I am currently working on Iconís album (which is close to completion, Loose Cannon, which is a classic American style rock band and Digital Ghost, a pop project where I donít sing but write and produce most songs. I think 2012 will be a great year for me personally with Aceís album out, Iconís album and getting out there to play live with Loose Cannon.


5) The new album is a masterpiece...9 songs in which nothing is left it up to fate..what is the main inspiration of this album?

I think the guys wanted to do some sort of love metal band and that was the reason why they invited me in the first place. I guess I was very keen to experiment different ranges of my voice and do something different from what I had done previously so the result is a bit rougher around the edges, perhaps closer to Sentenced. I know that Antonio is heavily influenced by Nightwish, he does love his keyboards. Itís a bit hard to point out the exact inspiration for this record in terms of influences as great part of this album was written without me actually being there.


6) Let's talk about the songs...The music is fantastic...never predictable, full of depth...but now I want to ask about the lyrics...Sometimes those are an important aspect that can't be forgotten...

I decided Iíd write about a character who is immortal and feels he has nothing more to experience as he has been alive for centuries. Each song is an episode, a card played as if gambling is the only thing that can make him feel like he can actually lose. It is quite difficult to explain the whole thing and I donít want to spoil it for you but there are loads of clues in the lyrics.


7) I notice a brilliant production, amazing arrangements in according to modern rock but always near to classic lovemetal style...is there someone in particular who took care of it?

Yes it was our drummer Fede. He is a producer and has worked with many bands in the past. He is very good at getting the best out of ambiences and that works really well with this music style.


8) The capabilities of the band...as it happened in your previous project Icon and Black Roses is to find awesome melodies, there's an incredible mood in each song...it makes you stand out comparing to a lot of bands...In my opinion a lot of artists are satisfied of mediocre works and sometimes they are not able to realize that nowadays it's not easy to become famous...now you're ready to spread your wings...is there a chance to get an important label in order to carry on this project for future releases?

Believe it or not we did contact a lot of labels and we were turned down by every single one of them. I always told the guys that we were better off doing it ourselves. This way we do get some money from our sales, which is then re-invested in promotion and more material such as shirts, flyers and eventually the next album. Unless we get a ridiculously good offer from a label, we are unlikely to sign any record deals at this stage.


9) Which are in your opinion the most interesting rock bands? Finland goth scene has lost a lot of good bands during these last years...do you think that this kind of rock could come back again like 10 years ago?

No, not really. I mean things move on and it is hard to go back in time and do the exact same type of stuff as what was going on back then. I suppose many of those bands never made it big with the exception of HIM. I have a feeling that these bands are struggling more and more to release material as record sales are as low as it gets and the main labels/music channels are a lot more interested in the big American acts. I think many had to make a choice between living at the very limit of poverty or to get regular jobs and release stuff as and when possible.
To be quite honest I donít really listen to that sort of stuff anymore. I listen a lot to a new band called Beta Wolf and a couple of heavy metal acts like Nocturnal Rites and Bloodbound. I have been listening a lot to Adeleís latest record 21 too. I tend to listen to odd songs rather than whole albums. Most bands only have a couple of good songs per record, I find that really disappointing. I remember getting Draconian Times by Paradise Lost and loving every single song in it, those were the days!



10) Johnny..let's talk about concerts...have you planned to prepare a live session with the band?

As we donít have a label we depend on the money we make to set things up like that. It really depends on how much attention we can get from different countries and if we feel we have a good audience somewhere we will try and book a gig there. At the moment it is too early to say where and when that is going to happen.


11) Give us three adjectives to describe the new album...and one reason to buy it...

Well Iíd say, melodic, catchy and loud! If you want us to record a second you can help by buying the first! Actually that is quite an interesting question. For us to be able to record music we actually spend a lot of money in the making, if we donít get the return, it doesnít mean that we wonít record the second, but it does mean it will take a lot longer!


Johnny thank you and see u soon!!!!

interview  by Salvo Russo 

Salvo Russo is editor for gryphonmetal.ch since 2001.

He is based in Italy, reachable at this e-mail address nightofdreams@hotmail.it.  More in Team

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