Virgin Steele



1. How did you enjoy the Summer Festivals? Are there any special memories of them you would like to share?

JOSH: The festivals were great this past summer. The one in Tradate, Italy was very special for me. I felt that it was one of the best concerts we have ever played. I always have fun on stage, but this time was extra special.

FRANK: I enjoyed both festivals. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Everyone involved with the festivals were very nice and hospitable to us and we appreciate that very much. All the Italian people we met along the way were warm, affectionate, fun, genuine, honest, and interesting and thankfully, V.S. fans. We in the band feel a special kinship with the people of Italy. It is not only in our families blood but, the Italian culture has had a major influence on all of us as New Yorkers where there has been a strong Italian community over hundreds of years. For me personally, it's a dream come true every time I go to this beautiful country. When I was a boy, I almost failed out of the seventh grade. Nothing in school could interest me. My parents were at a loss for what to do. In history class we started studying the Roman Empire. I became fascinated with this. It turned my life around and as a result I became an A student for the rest of my school years. The counselors in school actually had me coach other kids who were doing bad in school because they wanted me to share with them what it was that made me make such a drastic turn around. The secret was simple. My love for Italian history and culture. Bravo!!

2. How are open-air Festival concerts different from normal indoor venue shows?

JOSH: I feel that indoor concerts are always more raw and is always really hot on stage, the fans are crushing each other to get closer...its much more personal, or face to face. I always feel more free and loose when playing open-air. Maybe it’s because the whole “surrounded by nature” effect. Both have their advantages.

FRANK: Open-air concerts are much different than indoor venues. The open-air experience consists of many difficulties in hearing the band. Even with a proper sound check, it is always different because at night when you play the wind blows the sound all over the place. One minute everything sounds fine and then the next minute all you hear is the guitar, then no guitar, then no bass, then all bass, then no vocals, then nothing but vocals, and on and on it goes while you try to find a center where you can anchor your performance. It is a challenge that the band loves to take on. I like the fact that because there is usually a lot of bands on the bill you get a large audience, but sometimes it is hard for me to look out and see individual people's faces which I enjoy doing at a smaller indoor venues.

3. I heard that your set is now around 3 or more hours long. How do you manage to maintain the stamina to play so long?

JOSH: Sometimes it’s difficult to play for so long, and sometimes we can play for 10 hours more!! Our rehearsals are sometimes 4-5 hours long. Of course there is much more energy on stage, but it is probably one of the main reasons why we can play for so long. Like I said, sometimes I walk off the stage in extreme pain, and other times it is as easy as breathing.

FRANK: Our stamina comes from lots of alcohol. Just kidding. It's really the product of European coffee. Who knows? Sometimes I think of this band as a pack of wild dogs rampaging and charging through the night. When playing this type of music, which is so imbedded in our bones and in our soul, it gets to the point for each of us in the set where we stop playing the music and the music takes control and is in fact, playing us.

4. And how do you keep the attention of your audience for such a long time.

JOSH: There is a lot of time and thought that goes into preparing a monster set list so we can be sure that every person will be with us from the first note to the last. In addition, we always try to give our best performance for every person there.

FRANK: I believe the audience stays with us for three hours because of the wide-ranging scope of the music. It's like a roller coaster ride. It's an intense three hours. We never take the audience for granted and fight every second of those three hours for their attention. We want our fans to know how much we appreciate their support. Our fans that come and see us deserve everything we can give them. During our concerts we sacrifice our bodies, souls and spirits. We don't just play our arrangements like most bands in some kind of preconceived robotic trance. We spill our blood on stage every night. Our fans, many which are savvy concertgoers and musicians themselves, understand what we are doing and appreciate it. We are old fashion performers who believe that each performance might be your last and therefore you, should almost die giving it your all. (And believe me, I almost have a few times). Your legacy is in the balance with each passing bar.

5. What are the acoustic concerts like?

JOSH: I have only had the privilege of seeing the acoustic show a few times here in New York. All I can say is: Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, David DeFeis and Edward Pursino.

FRANK: I have never been to a public performance of the acoustic set. However, I have heard the arrangements and was startled at how well the music stood up with just guitar and vocals. It is a true credit to Dave and Eddie's writing that the music works so well even when stripped down. You get a real appreciation for the melodies when they are left on their own almost and they still are so moving. Bravo Dave and Ed!!

6. When can we expect the next album?

JOSH: As far as I know, we are aiming for release sometime in winter 2005.

FRANK: The new album hopefully will be out for the summer of 05 but generally; it will be finished when it is done.

7. What about a DVD or a live album? We would love a live album now!

JOSH: There are always many projects on hand, but a DVD and Live album are certainly in the plans for the future.

FRANK: A live album will probably be recorded on the next tour. Possibly the fall of 05.

8. What are the secrets to the success and longevity of VIRGIN STEELE?

JOSH: I think that the success and longevity can be attributed to several different things. For one, all of us are very strong willed people. We all stick to what we believe in and don’t let any negative outside forces influence us. Another thing you can say is that we are always trying to reach to the next level as musicians and as individuals. These are qualities come from within just as when you create music, it comes from the inside.

FRANK: The secret of Virgin Steele's success is that the band is really true to itself. I know this sounds like another Shakespearian cliché' but, it is not. The faggy hair bands have come and gone, the grunge scene is over, the kiddie punk bands are beginning to cannibalize themselves and yet the Steele keeps pounding out uncompromising heavy music with goals and ambitions more lofty and forever then the latest trendy bands on M.T.V. By the Gods!!! Another big factor is that we all get along well and enjoy playing music with one another. We all check our egos at the door. Many bands don't enjoy each other's personal or musical companionship and it's merely their business concerns which is the glue holding them together. With us in V.S. it's the absolute opposite.

9. What does VIRGIN STEELE mean to you? What is the philosophy behind it?

JOSH: Dave has said it before... Virgin Steele is a way of life. It certainly is a very important part of my life, and I feel honored and privileged to have earned my place in the past 4+ years.

FRANK: For me, V.S. means I'm finally home. It's the only place in this screwed up world that I can finally be the metal warrior I am and do what I was born to do. Whether on stage, in the rehearsal room or in the studio, I never feel as good or free as when I'm pounding the skins with my bothers in metal arms. Virgin Steele is more than a band; it's an extended family and a way of life.

10. If you had to live your life over again would you choose the same instrument to play, or another one?

JOSH: I think if I had the chance to go back, I would have played the violin in addition to playing guitar, bass guitar, and contrabass. That way I would feel very rounded in playing 4 instruments not just 3.

FRANK: I would not change my choice of instrument. However, I'm playing the piano these days and wish I started at an earlier age.

Photos by: Chiara, Billy Passanante, Michelle Francis and others ...