2008. december 29., hétfő

Kim Nielsen - Phantom Blue

If somebody doesn't familiar with the metal scene of the late '80s, then here is a good stuff for him or her: Phantom Blue. Their debut record is considered these days classic, although in my opinion, they didn't get that acknowledge, that they would have deserved. In the previous interview original guitarist Nicole Couch shared her opinion to us, while now bassist Kim Nielsen tell her points of view about things that happened with her...

Kim, Phantom Blue recorded a demo tape before your arrival, do you still remember how did you get in the picture exactly being a member of Phantom Blue? Were you the first choice of the band?
I was given the demo by John Alderete. He recommended that I audition for the band and told Michelle and Nicole about me. They hired me for the band right away, based on my audition. I don’t know if they auditioned anyone else before me. All I know is they told me they wanted me in the band at the end of my audition.
You learnt from bass player John Alderate (Racer-X), does it mean, that he was one of your influences?
He was an influence at the time of the first album. But, not so much now. He is a great bass player, but that’s not my style anymore.
By the way, how did you pick up playing bass and what were your influences to become musician?
I have been playing various musical instruments since the age of 4 years old. When I was 12, I bought a guitar and taught myself to play. But, I found that I was more interested in the bass lines of songs rather than the guitar parts, so I bought a bass a few months later. I joined my first band at 13 as a bass player.
What about your musical background before you being involved in Phantom Blue?
I have played with various local L.A. bands for many years before Phantom Blue. I started playing bass in 1976 so I have been in so many bands I can’t remember their names. I was sometimes in 3-4 bands at a time.
Were you aware of, that guitarists Michelle Meldrum and Nicole Couch met when the pair had taken lessons from Paul Gilbert and both guitarists and drummer Linda McDonald (took lessons from Scott Travis (Racer-X, Judas Priest), and vocalist Gigi Hangach formed Phantom Blue in 1987 with a different bass player?
Yes. I don’t know about Gigi forming Phantom Blue in 1987. That doesn’t sound correct. She was in a band with Janie Lane from Warrant, before Phantom Blue, when she lived in Cleveland, Ohio. Michelle and Nicole came up with the name Phantom Blue and they told me they were the founders of the band. Debra Armstrong was in the band before they chose me, I believe from January – June 1988. They told me she had only been in the band for about 6 months. I was under the impression that Phantom Blue didn’t come into existence until January 1988.
Being based in Los Angeles, what were your views on the L.A metal scene? Were you into small, underground bands or rather into known, established, popular ones, such as Dokken, Ratt, Mötley Crüe, Cinderella etc.?
At the time, I was more into the commercially successful bands.
Although you didn't play on the demo, do you think, that it did a great buzz around the band and it succeeded in doing a name for Phantom Blue?
I don’t know if the demo really did anything for the band as far as generating a “buzz”. I had never heard of them before John Alderete told me about them. The only thing I do know is that it was the demo that got Mike Varney’s (Shrapnel Records) attention and he wanted to sign the band off of that demo.
Phantom Blue played their first show in Troubadour in Los Angeles on June 2, 1988, were you an opening act or a headliner one? What do you recall that particular gig?
I don’t know. I wasn’t in the band yet. Debra Armstrong did that show, I assume. I would think, knowing how the music business works with new bands, that they were an opening act, since they hadn’t been together long enough to have a big enough following to fill the club. I didn’t join the band until September 30th, 1988.
After signing to Shrapnel, Phantom Blue were put into the studio with Marty Friedman, who was in Cacophony at the time and you started recording your first album, were you prepared to enter the studio to record the material?
Yes. All the songs had already been written and demoed.
Were all of the songs written when you entered the studio? Did you have a big hand into the songwriting at all?
Yes, all the songs were already written when I joined the band. So, I didn’t really contribute to any of the songwriting much except for maybe one song that wasn’t on the album.
Did you have a decent budget to record the album?
I don’t remember what the budget was, but knowing that small labels don’t have much money, my guess is that, no, we didn’t have a very good budget. But, the label made it work.
Did the label trust you considering the whole material? Did they ask you to hear some pre-production tape or an advance recording?
They already had the demo so they knew what they were going to be recording. We only made some arrangement changes, but overall the songs stayed the same.
What about the recording sessions?
I am not sure what you are asking here. Standard procedure in those days when labels still did artist development (which they don’t do now), was that we did pre-production to go over the songs and see if any changes to the arrangements needed to be made. When those changes were worked out, then we proceeded to go into the studio to record them.
The album, entitled „Phantom Blue", has some of your greatest songs, like: „Going Mad”, „Why Call It Love” (from which you did a videoclip), „Frantic Zone” and „Out Of Control”, correct?
Well, they are great songs for the time. I personally like the second album best. The first album is more technical in some respects, but that is because that was where we were at musically, at the time, and it was more fashionable at the time to play more technically based music. It was the late 80’s and the attitude then was “more is better”. Things changed drastically in the 90’s and then it became more about good songs and playing within the boundaries of the songs, rather than writing songs around technical riffs.
You've done the metal world a great service: you've shown us lads that women can rock like any man, but I think, that you were far away from Vixen or Girlschool, you were much better and talented and the record sounded more powerful, than the Vixen or Girlschool ones, what do you think about it?
Thanks for the compliment. I don’t think much about it. I just do what I do, and am who I am. I think the other girls in the band are pretty much the same. We just do what we love. Vixen and Girlschool are different bands musically. The only thing we have in common is that we are all women. To be honest, I don’t know much about either one of them. I have met some members of both bands and they are very nice people. Vixen was basically a Pop band with big hair, and they filled a niche at the time and it worked for them. Girlschool, from what little I know about them are just a straight ahead classic Metal band, I think? I have never really listened to them. I know they play with Motorhead on occasion. Lemmy loves them. They seem to be well respected. Phantom Blue came along and filled a different niche at the time that needed to be filled. It wasn’t a conscious decision, just something that happened at the right time. We were just being ourselves.
The forming of Vixen, Girlschool or Phantom Blue was the triumph of the equal rights of females/women, right?
It helped in the Metal world. Metal was a very “macho” sort of musical “club”. But, not many women had proven themselves as being serious musicians at the time. We wanted to change that. Things have changed since then, and women are welcomed in to the Metal world more. I have gotten letters from teens wanting to play guitar, both female and male and have heard some new female bands say we influenced them.
Do you think, that it is/was always odd having female bands on the map of the metal music? Or do you consider it rather unique?
I don’t think it’s odd. At the time it was kind of unique. Not, as much now.
Did Girlschool open the door for the female bands?
I have no idea. They weren’t that big of a band here in the U.S. so I don’t know enough about them to make that judgement.
How do you view, that you’re a rare breed: a band comprised of women that have incredible guitar aptitude and brilliant harmonies, and you're tougher than many all-male bands?
Like I said before. I don’t think about it much. It’s cool that people might think that. But, I just do what I do. To be honest, I have played with more male bands than female bands. I have only been in two female bands including Phantom Blue (and the other band had ex-Phantom Blue members in it). But, Phantom Blue were different because they are just musicians, and it didn’t matter that they were women. Their mindset was just different than the average female band that I have dealt with. It was always music first. When John Alderete first came to me and told me that a female band was looking for a bass player, I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to be in a band with a bunch of women. The industry never took them seriously. And, to be honest dealing with a bunch of women can be a nightmare. But, he tried to convince me that they were different, and he was right, so I agreed to audition for them and joined the band.
When Marty Friedman of Megadeth's involved, then we know we're on to a good thing, aren't we?
Marty is a great player and a super nice guy. He does quality work, and so he is always an asset to whatever project he is involved with.
By the way, were you familiar with Marty's music what he did in Cacophony and then in Megadeth?
I didn’t know who Marty was before he produced our first album. It wasn’t until then that I had heard his work. I knew him when he joined Megadeth.
Would you say, that without Marty’s help would have been the record commercial sounding?
No, without Marty’s help it would have been less commercial sounding. Marty made it more commercially accessible. But, we needed it to be a bit more commercial to be accessible to more people. Otherwise the record would have been one that no one had ever heard of.
Is it a very competent and impressive record in your opinion?
Yes, the girls are all very good at what they do (or should I say, Michelle was very good at what she did). But, we matured as songwriters by the second album. This is often the case with new, what the industry calls ”baby bands”. They get better as they get more experience, and it shows in their recordings.
The solos, the riffs are all great, such as Gigi's performance, great guitar solos throughout, with powerful, full-ranged vocals and not the typical female metal style (a la Vixen), the rhythm section does an incredible job too, how do you view it after 19 years after its release?
It was a good record for the time. I look back on some of the things from the 80’s and laugh, because there was a bit of the “cheese” factor going on with the big hair and Pop hooks in songs because that was what was fashionable at the time. But, that is just me. I don’t look back to the past much and don’t listen to that much 80’s music anymore. I tend to look to the present and future and embrace change and the new music that is happening. The only old bands I still listen to, are the bands that are still touring and are more timeless. But, technically it is a good album, and it suited the time. It was fun to play. I am still proud of it.
„Going Mad” being the first song is a great, smashing opener, full of energy and momentum throughout, with an almost Maiden-like spiral instrumental in the beginning, „Last Shot” and „Frantic Zone” are also excellent pieces, „Why Call it Love” is a brilliantly bitter song, a ballad, but in the vein of „In My Darkest Hour”, do you agree with it?
I don’t know if I agree that “Why Call It Love” is like “In My Darkest Hour”. They are two completely different types of songs. “Why Call It Love” is more of a power pop ballad, more commercial, where as “In My Darkest Hour” is a lot heavier. Going Mad was always one of our favorites and it represented us well, musically. Overall it was a good album for us.
All in all, you did a phenomenal record without any low points and it can be considered a classic, right?
I suppose that can be decided by the listener. I hope that someone would consider it a classic, but it’s not really for me to say. It would be a nice compliment if people liked it enough to consider it a classic.
Do you think, that the sound is a mix between Warlock and Dokken?
I am not really sure. I don’t hear that when I listen to it. But, then again I have been involved in the making of that record so I have a completely different point of view than the average listener and my opinion is probably biased. I haven’t listened to Warlock in so long I can’t remember what they sound like so it’s hard to make a comparison. Dokken on the other hand, I am not sure I hear any similarities. To me it just sounds like us, and the Racer X influence, and Steve Fontano’s Def Leppard influence on “Why Call It Love”. We all liked different bands so there were a lot of different influences.
Assisting in production duties were Steve Fontano and Peter Marrino (Le Mans), were you happy with their work?
Overall, I think we were. Most of us didn’t work with Peter Marrino directly. He mostly produced the vocals and worked with Gigi. The rest of us spent more time working with Steve Fontano and Marty Friedman.
You released the „Why call it love" single as well featuring the title track and „Fought it out", what kind of purposes did this material serve?
That is a question better answered by the record label, but all I can tell you is that all record labels will release a single track for marketing and promotion purposes. That has been standard procedure since the record business was started in the 1950’s. It’s used as a way to introduce the public to the band without them having to spend the money on the entire album, which most people won’t do if they are not familiar with the album to begin with. Most people don’t want to pay a lot of money for something they are taking a risk on.
The band would eventually make it over to Europe later in 1989, was it your first experience in Europe? How did the whole tour go?
As far as I know, it was everyone’s first time there. The tour was great. We were very well received.
Were there also US dates in support of the record? Can you tell us more about them?
We never toured the U.S. Geffen and Shrapnel never had any intentions of having us tour over there, which we found out later. The only shows we did in the U.S. were in Los Angeles where we all lived at the time.
Then you got signed to Geffen Records, why and what went wrong with Shrapnel? Didn't you get enough support and promotion or…?
Nothing went wrong with Shrapnel. It was common at the time to get bought out by a bigger company. Shrapnel is a small independent label with very limited financial resources. There was only so much they could do for us. Signing with Geffen was our chance to go further in the music business and get the record out to more people and to tour Europe. Also, Shrapnel made more money off of us by selling our contract to Geffen. We were licensed to Roadrunner in Europe and they were the ones who really promoted us and got our career going. If it wasn’t for Roadrunner, no one would have heard of us.
Was it a confused time for you? Did these things stop the band's activities?
Not at all. It was a really good thing and we were excited about it.
About two years later Nicole Couch was replaced by guitarist Karen Kreutzer, why did she decide to leave the band?
I don’t really know the “official” reason for it, but I think she was just tired of all the stress and dealing with the music business and probably wanted to get on with her life and do something different. It was never an easy life being in a signed band. A lot of musicians think that once you get signed by a record label your life gets easy, and they will do all the work for you. It is just the opposite. It is exactly like running any other business and requires long hours of work and just gets tougher and you have more and more responsibilities. A lot of musicians I meet have no mind for business and don’t want to put the work in. The funny thing is I have met a lot of really famous musicians who have been in the music business far longer than I have and they know very little about how it works. I am fortunate that I have always been interested in the business, and also have worked on the business side as well as the creative side.
How did Karen get in the picture and what can you tell us about her musical past?
Karen was a friend of Marty Freidman. We met her through him. She was a student of his. Other than that I know very little about what she did before she got into the band. Michelle was the one who dealt with her the most at first. It was through Marty’s referral that we decided to audition her.
Was Nicole's departure a bloodletting for you? I mean, was it hard to find the suitable member who replaced her perfectly, since Nicole was a former member?
It was tough and sad. But, as with everything in life you just get on with it. We didn’t replace her right away. We played with just one guitarist for a long time. We did some shows with just Michelle. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to do the second album that we decided to get another guitar player.
Phantom Blue were signed by A&R supremo Tom Zutaut and work soon commenced on demos handled by Don Dokken, how did Don end up becoming the producer of the demos? Was he suggested by the label or…?
Our friend, Byron Hontas, who was head of publicity at Capitol records, knew Don and had mentioned us to him. But, Don was reluctant to get involved with any new bands at the time. I met Don at a local music store that was next door to our rehearsal studio. I convinced him to come to our rehearsal and listen to us. I didn’t think he would show up because he really wasn’t interested. But, he walked in to our rehearsal the next day, loved us, and decided he wanted to get involved in managing us for a short time until we could get a deal with a bigger label. At that time we were still signed to Shrapnel. During that time, about 3 months, we recorded demos in Don’s studio. Don then later, took our demos to Tom Zutaut at Geffen and Tom became interested. We did a “showcase” gig at the Roxy in Hollywood and invited several other labels. At one point we were negotiating with both Geffen and Hollywood Records at the same time as they were in a bidding war over us. But, we decided to go with Geffen since they were an established label with a track record and had more well known artists in the same genre as us. Hollywood Records was a brand new label with no track record for signing artists and promoting their careers, other than the head of the label was a famous entertainment attorney, and they were funded by Disney.
He was/is an influential and talented musician, isn't he? Did/Do you like the classic Dokken releases? Were all of you familiar with Dokken's materials?
Don is great. I was a Dokken fan at the time so it was very exciting to have him work with us. One of the benefits of working with him was that I got to spend hours in the studio watching him work on his solo record. We also met Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown, as well as all the others Don worked with at the time. We rehearsed for a few years in Don’s rehearsal studio before recording our second album.
Didn’t he try to push you into a more melodical and commercial direction? Did you follow the musical path of the first record?
Don never did anything to try and change our music. All he did was produce the recordings and help us work on some of our backing vocals. If there were any changes made they were minor arrangement changes, but I don’t remember anything major taking place. The songs pretty much remained the same.
How many demos did you record at this point? Did Karen take part in the composing of the new tracks?
During those 4 years we were signed to Geffen and still waiting to do the second album I think we recorded about 3 demos with various producers. We did an 8 track demo with Don in his studio, another one with Wyn Davis, Don’s producer, and another live recording in the studio with Mike Klink. Karen was involved in some songwriting later on, closer to the time of recording the second album. We had roughly 15 songs that we had chosen to record for the second record.
In 1993 was released the „My Misery" EP, what about this material as a whole? What about it?
It was another single released by Roadrunner, with some bonus tracks that we didn’t have room to put on the album. My Misery was already on the album, but Strange Blue Mercy, and Mutha never made it on the album.
When did you enter the studio exactly to record your second record „Built to perform"? How did the recording sessions go with album?
I don’t remember the exact date but it was around January 1993. I think we went into pre-production at that point and then went into the studio a couple weeks later.
With grunge being the flavor of the month , „Built to Perform" was lost among the Nirvana's and Soundgarden's of the day, what are your views on it?
Our record should have come out a few years earlier than it did. But, bands like Alice in Chains were actually bands we liked and influenced our songwriting a little. I know Michelle was also listening to Black Sabbath at the time too. We weren’t really into the “grunge” scene as a whole, but we did like certain bands. There is a lot of the grunge influence on that record but it comes more from Black Sabbath than from the new bands at the time I think. Now, I like certain bands from that era, like Foo Fighters, and Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, etc. They are just Rock bands like everyone else, that were re-packaged and marketed to be something new. Nothing is ever really new in the music business. Stuff evolves and changes slightly musically but the foundation is still the same. It’s still the same old stuff re-packaged, and the musicians wear different clothes (but usually the same clothes from 20 or 30 years before. I see bands wearing stuff I wore over 20 years ago and I have to laugh). It’s still just Rock n’ Roll.
Do you agree with, that the main problem with this album is it came out too late? Was the four years too much that passed between the two records?
Yeah, it took too long to get out. It probably would have done better if it came out a few years earlier. When you are trying to sell an album you have to be ahead of the game to get it out on time.
If the record would have been out earlier, Phantom Blue would have made a bigger impact on the music world, correct?
I don’t know. That all depends on how much marketing and promotion Geffen would have been prepared to put into it. It doesn’t appear they were prepared to do much. They had way too many bands on their hands and a lot of them including us, just fell through the cracks. If it wasn’t for Roadrunner we wouldn’t have sold any albums.
It's just a damned shame that the timing was off…
Yeah, well what can I say…. that’s the music biz for ya. It is what it is. You gotta just deal with it.
What do you think about, that there is not one filler track on this album and from start to finish this album rocks with the best metal bands of all time?
Thanks for the compliment. We have Max Norman to thank for that. He was involved in helping us choose the songs for the album. He knew what he was doing. And, we knew that when we decided to work with him. At the time he had done 43 classic Rock, Pop, and Metal albums that were all big sellers.
All tracks are strong, but the best songs are probably „A Little Evil", „Love Ya' To Pieces", „Better off Dead", and „My Misery", do you agree with it?
I think it’s a matter of personal opinion. My favorites are Time To Run, Nothing Good, Strange Blue Mercy, and a few others. I like all the songs on the album. But, the ballad is my least favorite. I am not a fan of ballads.
Guests included guitarists John Norum and Marty Friedman, whose idea was to invite them? Did they willingly accept the invitation?
They were friends of ours so it made sense to have them do guest solos for fun. They also contributed to backing vocals. Yes, as far as I know, they were glad to do it.
Did he do some solos or…?
They both did solos, but I don’t remember which ones without looking them up. I wasn’t present at the recording of those solos.
Was already John Norum Michelle's husband?
No. Michelle and John were dating. They were together a few years before they got married, I believe in 1995. They met at Don Dokken’s studio in 1990.
What about the Thin Lizzy cover „Bad reputation"? Who came up with the cover at all?
That was Michelle’s idea being a huge Thin Lizzy fan. She even had a guitar with the Black Rose album cover painted on it. She later met John Sykes as well, and I think Scott Gorham. I wish she was still here so she could meet them again. My husband is now their manager. She would be really excited about that.
„Time to run" was filmed as well, what do you recall the shoots?
Yeah, I think it was filmed in Oct. 1993, if I remember correctly. It was like most video shoots… many, many hours of just standing around doing nothing and waiting. It was filmed in a huge soundstage in Burbank, California. Our clothing designer was also one of the bellydancers.
Did it succeed in catching the feeling, the mood of the first record? Did it succeed in reaching or keeping the level of the first record?
I am assuming you are referring to the second record? It wasn’t meant to be like the first record. It was meant to be something different. Why do the same thing twice? The whole point of putting out another album is to do something different and new. Otherwise, people can just keep listening to the first album over and over again. I think the second record was better than the first. We matured as musicians and songwriters, and it suited our personality more. It was heavier in a lot of ways. If we would have made a third album back then, it probably would have been even heavier.
Eventually the second album was to emerge with a Max Norman production credit but its release was delayed for what seemed to the band to be an interminable length of time, what did happen exactly?
Yeah, we spent 4 years writing and rehearsing and waiting for Geffen to get us in the studio. Unfortunately, our A&R guy was having a lot of personal family problems that delayed things. It was difficult to get things moving. Also, I think that maybe Geffen decided they weren’t going to spend the money they had promised to spend. They were signing a lot of bands at the time and some of them they weren’t paying much attention to. I heard other bands complaining about the same things we were going through. So, I know we weren’t the only ones.
Is it correct, that fearing the project may be shelved altogether the band were forced into legal action to get a release?
We had threaten them with legal action for breach of contract to get them to move and invest the money that they had agreed to. We never had to go to court or into litigation. They finally gave us the rest of the money we needed to get in the studio and start recording.
Did at this point get Phantom Blue more promotion?
No, not really. Roadrunner was promoting us all along. They were really into us and pushed us. Geffen never did anything to my knowledge. The people working at the label that we dealt with were really into us, but the guys at the top making the decisions were never interested in investing any money or doing anything with us. From what I was told, this is a standard procedure for Geffen. They sign a lot of bands but don’t necessarily do anything with them. They sign a lot of artists and only actually invest in a few of them. I don’t know if they have changed the way they do things now, or not.
You land a major U.S. tour opening for someone like Van Halen or Bon Jovi and this would have made more people aware of the bands existence, did the tour help you getting more fans?
I don’t know where you heard this LOL! This never happened. We were never offered any U.S. tour. Geffen had no intentions of investing in tour support for us to tour the U.S. or anywhere else. Only Roadrunner actually invested tour support for us to tour Europe, and at one time they were talking about Japan. But, Japan never happened.
Phantom Blue did another European tour in 1994, how was it compared to the first one?
It was even more successful than the first one. We played bigger places and headlined. We did a lot of press, TV, and Radio just like the first tour, but even more. We had a crazy press schedule. We were on Radio 1 in the U.K., MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball, and tons of other stuff. By the second tour we knew what to expect so we paced ourselves and didn’t burn ourselves out as much. We did way too much partying the first time around and paid for it when we got home.
Why did you after this tour leave the band? Were you satisfied with Phantom Blues's status at this point by the way?
I left because I was tired of not getting along with them. We used to fight about stupid stuff all the time and it was stressful most of the time. After having a long, long talk with our agent, who is very well respected in the music business, I decided that although things looked good on the surface, everything was not what it seemed, and there was really no future for the band at that time business wise. The industry was going into a slump and Hard Rock and Metal bands were not getting as much work. It was getting hard for us to make enough money to finance our tours and records. I had gotten everything out of it I could business wise, so I decided it was time to move on. I couldn’t afford to invest anymore money in the band and not get anything back.
You were replaced by Rana Ross, did the band find the best replacement in Rana's person instead of you? Did you follow the band's career after you quit them at all?
I was not familiar with Rana Ross at the time. I still don’t really know much about her and it wasn’t until recently that I saw a video of her playing with them. She was a good player. I think she was a good replacement. I never followed their progress after I left. But, occasionally one of their albums would come across my path, so I was aware of what they were doing, but I didn’t seek them out. I was still working in the music business so I would hear stuff through other people.
During 1996 Michelle Meldrum was working up material with Vixen drummer Roxy Petrucci and following your split from the group you began assembling a band with erstwhile Armored Saint man Jeff Duncan (later with Mick Sweda from The Bullet Boys), what can you tell us about it? How did Jeff come in the picture exactly?
Jeff Duncan called me and said he was looking for a bass player for a new project he wanted to put together. It was going to be a sort of industrial sounding band similar to Nine Inch Nails, and Helmet, and that kind of stuff. I met with him a few times and jammed with him at his house. But, he had some personal stuff going on and the band never happened. As for Mick Sweda, I played with him for a while. It was cool. He’s a great guitarist. He was in an experimenting stage and was looking for a certain sound. He’s sort of a restless guy musically it seems. He decided he wanted a fretless bass player, so I stopped playing with him. I think he ended up moving up north after that. I also jammed with Andy Susemihl from Udo Dirkschneider’s band, and played for a short time with Jake Dynnis. But, at that time I had already been engaged to get married and had made plans to move to the U.K. so I wasn’t able to continue with either of them.
As for Armored Saint, do you like this awesome, but underrated band? Unfortunately they didn't got that acknowledge, that they would have deserved…
They are a good band, but to be honest I don’t listen to them. I have seen them live once and on TV, but that is about all.
Your project failed to get off the ground and you moved to Britain and married Adam Parsons, the former drummer of British Glam outfit Belladonna with (and now artist manager for Asia, Krokus, Bubble, Starwood, Soul Bender, and many others), what made you to move to Britain? What went wrong with that aforementioned project?
Adam and I met through the drummer in Lizzy Borden, Joey Scott. Joey is a very close friend of mine and he had been trying to get us together, so he introduced us at the Foundations Forum conference in L.A. in 1992. We were friends for a few years before we decided to get together. We got engaged in January of 1995. He doesn’t manage any of those bands anymore. After Soul Bender he was working with Queensryche for a couple years. But, he now co-manages Motorhead who he has been working with for many years now, and he manages Thin Lizzy. As I explained in the previous section, things just never worked out with these people and bands for various reasons. Musicians are very restless so often things just don’t pan out. It is a common scenario. It is more often the case than not.
You also joined a revamped line-up of Nottingham based Metallers Wraith appearing on their 1996 album „Schizophrenia", then the following year you were collaborating with former Persian Risk/Ghost and present day Krokus frontman Carl Sentance, you played in a band together for a short time, what are your comments about it?
I joined Wraith in 1996 after moving to the UK. They were in the process of recording the Schizophrenia album, so I came in and finished the bass tracks for them. They were signed to a small label with no money that really didn’t care about them. The album was done on a ridiculously cheap budget and there was no promotion at all done by the label. Unfortunately, soon after the drummer left. We tried to replace him but just couldn’t find anyone suitable. So we disbanded. That was a really bad time in the music business for any Hard Rock or Metal bands. I was also working on the tour production side of the music business and other bands were having similar problems.
As for working with Carl, it was a similar situation. We played together for a short time. We had a plan to get a really cool band together that we could get out there and work, but couldn’t find musicians who were qualified and could be bothered to show up for rehearsals instead of drinking in the pub. It was a shame because I really like Carl, and he is a great singer. I would have liked to have done something really cool with him.
Moreover, you later played in an AC/DC tribute band with Tina Wood, Dyna Shirasaki, and Stephanie Leigh of No Shame, what were your goal with this outfit? Were you aware of the existence of The Iron Maidens including Linda Mc.Donald?
Yes, I was in Whole Lotta Rosies, who changed their name to Thundherstruck later on. They were a cool band, and a great bunch of people to work with. The goal with that band was purely to make money. As for the iron Maidens, yes I was aware of them. They rehearsed next door to us.
You did some session work for Asia in 2004, correct? Can you tell us more about it?
Yes, I was the only guest musician on the Silent Nation album. A nice complement considering they usually have a lot of guest musicians on their albums, and a pretty impressive list of players. I grew up listening to Asia when they first came out. I became friends with John Payne and Geoff Downes and used to spend a lot of time in the studio hanging out listening to them write songs. I had mentioned to Adam one day that I would love to play on the album, but was just joking around. Later on John called me and said “So, when are you coming to play on the album”. I was shocked because I didn’t actually think it would happen. After all, these guys only hire the best in the business. It was definitely a highlight of my career. On my 40th birthday John and Geoff gave me a book and in it they wrote “welcome to the Asia family tree”. I thought that was very nice.
As for Phantom Blue's line up during the years, were two hard hit on the band, Rana passed away on 3rd May 2003 due to liver failure, she was just 34 years old, while Michelle died on 21st May 2008, she was 39 years old…
It’s always a shame when talented players pass away. I didn’t know Rana but I heard about her death when it happened. Michelle on the other hand, I was there for that whole thing. Michelle and I had reconnected over the years and were becoming better friends. We also were discussing a Phantom Blue reunion before she died. When I heard she was in a coma I was shocked. I raced down to the hospital to see her after her surgery but she was in ICU and they wouldn’t let me in. She died the next day. But, it was probably better that I didn’t see her in that condition and I can remember her the way I am used to seeing her instead. I went to her memorial service with her friends and family. It was sad but also comforting at the same time. It made me realize just how special she really was and how many people she blessed in her life.
Did you like her band Meldrum by the way?
I like Meldrum. They are a great band. They are continuing without her with the blessing of her parents. I saw them for the first time at the 2007 NAMM show in Anaheim and they were amazing. They put on a really good show. My husband co-manages Motorhead and Meldrum often toured with them. So, that is how I re-connected with Michelle and kept up on her band.
Are you still in touch with Nicole, Gigi and Linda these days? Are they still playing metal or did they get out of the scene and stopped playing metal?
Yes, I don’t talk to them too often but we have been in touch about business stuff and reforming the band for Michelle’s benefit show. Nicole is a music teacher, I don’t know what Gigi is doing these days because I don’t talk to her that much, and of course Linda is one of the busiest drummers I know. She plays with her own bands and everyone else’s too, on the L.A. music scene. She travels a lot and has played gigs in places like Afganistan and Iraq.
How would you sum up Phantom Blue's career? Would you something change on it?
It was fun while it lasted despite all the headaches we faced in our career trying to get things going and dealing with the obstacles in the music business. The only thing I would change is I would be a lot nicer and not argue so much with them. We get along a lot better these days! Hopefully, we are not just older but also wiser. We did have a lot of fun times together. I hope there will be more to come in the future.
Was Phantom Blue accepted by other bands? I mean, was it a kind of advantage that you were a female band or rather a disadvantage and you had to work hard for the success?
Yes, and no. At that time female bands were not taken seriously. Up to that point none had really proven themselves as musicians on the technical aspect. So, the guys were always skeptical about whether or not we could really play. The public received us well, but behind the scenes, the guys in other bands that we would do shows with would stand and watch us at soundcheck, and they wouldn’t talk to us until after they heard us play.
Did you have a bigger name than Vixen or Girlschool?
Most definitely not. Both of those bands had more commercial success than us. We were always more of an underground band.
Were you popular back in the day (I didn't think about being mainstream) or did you rather remain on a cult, underground status?
I would probably say underground.
Are there any chance to re-release your classic debut record? Did some songs remain that were written by the classic line up (Gigi, Michelle, Nicole, you and Linda), but weren't used for the Phantom Blue records?
That I don’t know. It doesn’t look likely at this point. Right now I don’t even know who owns the masters to the records we did anymore. They were sold to Universal Music at one point, but now, I don’t know who has them. I don’t think Roadrunner has any plans to re-release anything.
The best and the worst memories with the band?
We had a lot of great times, so there are just too many to list. All the shows we did, tours and the crazy tings we did on those tours. I have loads of photos of stuff we did together. There were a lot of times we didn’t get along and we argued over stupid things, but I don’t care about any of that stuff anymore.
Kim, thanks a lot for time and patience, anything to add what I forgot to mention?
Thanks for having me. I can’t think of anything else.

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