2008 is proving to be another highly successful year in the remarkable career of Joe Lynn Turner. Not only has he released what is actually his first ever live solo album Live In Germany (Frontiers Records), he has performed for the troops in the Middle East, and been busy touring.
In fact the former Rainbow and Deep Purple front man has been so busy that I was extremely grateful that he took some time out to answer some questions.
It's been quite a year for you. I have just reviewed the Live In Germany CD, recorded last year, and really enjoyed it. It was great to hear your voice in typically excellent form. Isn't that your first 'solo' live album? If it is it definitely plugs a gap!
Thank you for your kind words and yes, it is my first live solo disc. I have other live albums with other bands and projects.
I see that you perfomed with Big Noize for the troops in the Middle East. How did that come about and how did they enjoy it? (I'd like to say thanks for going out there too - what they are doing puts our day to day lives in the shade.)
My manager, Mark Wexler, and I started to look into this when our troops first went to Iraq. I had wanted to do a USO tour and they already had artists lined up, so we found a way to go via being booked by the Dept. of Defense here in the USA. It was a life changing experience. The soldiers were a very gracious, rock and roll audience and we were glad we could give them a break from their work in what is definitely a “hellhole.”
Our Troops are doing great things in Iraq, they are on a re-building mission and helping the Iraqi people. In fact, several Iraqi people jumped over a fence to attend one of our shows. It was surreal and exciting to communicate in the universal language of music.
Did you get any time with the troops themselves? Did they let you loose on any equipment?
Yes and yes! We flew in C130, C17, and C5 aircraft which was our main type of transport. Chinook helicopters, Apache, Blackhawk. We flew in the simulators and I guess I really have a knack to become a pilot because a lot of guys said I was a natural at flying and they do not say this to everyone. We got to ride in so many land vehicles. New humvees, Canons, I could go on and on.
Fantastic, sounds like a great experience. As you say, that is the power of music and for the guys to have such a major name come and visit must have meant a lot to them. Anyway how did Big Noize come about?
It all started in Nashville, Tennessee, a little more than 2 years ago. Some visionary entrepreneurs there wanted to get involved and we were brought down to film a DVD geared toward the corporate concert market (which is really huge in the USA).
How's the tour with them shaping up?
Well, we head to South America for several dates on December 2 and are there almost the whole month. So, the tour has not started yet. But, the dates we did in Iraq were amazing and life changing as I said.
The concert that was recorded in Germany contains many Rainbow moments and I think three solo tracks. Is it hard choosing from such an impressive back catalogue or do they tend to pick themselves?
It is EXTREMELY difficult. Everyone has different faves. We tried to do a good cross section of songs I hope will suffice everyone’s taste.
I loved your solo albums Second Hand Life and The Usual Suspects, are there any more in the pipeline?
Definitely. I have another Sunstorm disc I am working on later this month (October) and then will start on another solo CD.
Is there a particular album that you are proud of?
I am proud of them all for different reasons. They are like children. There is no way I can favor one or the other because they are all different. Like children that come from the same parents, though, they do have similarities as well.
This may sound naive but is it difficult to air new material for the first time live, not knowing the reaction etc?
Sure you’re always anxious how it will go over live. However in rehearsals if a song really sounds powerful and positive you almost have a 'sixth sense' that it will go over well. Some audiences like some things better than others. It depends on the country, city, lifestyle.
People will want me to ask about Sunstorm, which really went down well. How did it come about? Are there any more plans?
It came about through Frontiers Records. The guys there are real collectors and connoissers of the melodic rock genre and came across demos and other recordings of mine from the past. They wanted me to re-record these songs as well as have me do some other songs that really are more melodic and less metal. Some great writers were involved, like Jim Peterik, in the premier edition and he will come back for this sequel I am working on, as well as others. I am working on the next Sunstorm later this month, October, and am excited about the roster of songs.
Your voice sounds as great as ever, do you worry that one day it will start getting harder?
Thank you very much for your kind words. I really do not worry about what I cannot control. What I CAN CONTROL is maintaining my voice and healthy lifestyle and if I do that and throw in a lot of positive energy, I am confident I can keep going at this for many more years.