JOSH & FRANK ANSWER TEN QUESTIONS OF DOOM
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.
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?
I feel that indoor concerts are always more raw and brutal...it
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 its
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
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?
Sometimes its 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.
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
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
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
FRANK: The new album hopefully will be out for the summer of 05
but generally; it will be finished when it is done.
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
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 dont 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.
What does VIRGIN STEELE mean to you? What is the philosophy behind
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
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