Voodoo Vegas are a band from Bournemouth that I first saw back in January 2010 when they played in Belfast. At that stage they’d just released a live CD. In March 2013, they finally released their debut studio album entitled “The Rise of Jimmy Silver” and they make a long overdue return to Northern Ireland on 6th July for a headline gig in the Pavilion in Belfast. Ahead of that gig, we asked the band to answer a few questions.
Voodoo Vegas is Lawrence Case on vocals, Nick Brown and Meryl Hamilton on guitars, Ash Moulton on bass and Matt Jolly on drums.
NI ROCKS – Thanks for taking some time to answer a few questions for Rock Radio NI. As you’re playing the Pavilion in Belfast on 6th July it seemed like a good time for a quick chat.
The band have been around for 6 or 7 years but it would seem that 2013 is building up to be a great year for Voodoo Vegas; with the release of the debut album, being voted “Best New British Band” on the Classic Rock Magazine poll, a new management deal and a summer tour with Fozzy and Breed 77. How did you feel about winning the Classic Rock vote? It must seem strange winning a “New Band” award when you’ve been working hard for seven years.
LAW – It’s not strange at all to me, to a lot of people we are a new band. Since we started we never really released any recorded material, all we had was our live album. We concentrated on playing as many shows as possible and honing our live skills. Now “The Rise Of Jimmy Silver” is out more people are finding out about us, so to them we are a new band.
To win the poll was amazing, since I started the band I always wanted to get the band into Classic Rock Magazine. Classic Rock is the holly grail of rock magazines to anyone in a band, for the first time ever we’ve been getting some good coverage in the magazine this year. We’ve been on 2 cover mount cd’s and we have been mentioned in the magazine a few times. To win this poll is the icing on the cake, all we need now is some editorial in the magazine about us winning the poll and that would be the cherry on top.
NI ROCKS – What would you personally identify as the high point of the last seven years?
LAW - We’ve had lots of highlights, (first gigs abroad, playing in Italy, our first tour with Fozzy) but I would say the Pledge Music campaign we ran to record the album, we hit 100% of our target in 24 hours. I remember when we started the campaign I was worried we wouldn’t hit our target, so to hit it in 24 hours and then go onto 344% of our target has to be a highlight of the bands history for me, to know that many people had faith and wanted to hear a full studio album from us was amazing, and it lead to us recording and working with Pedro, recording our album at Rockfield was a dream.
NI ROCKS – The new album “The Rise of Jimmy Silver” was released in March and has been getting some great reviews. Tell us a little about the recording of the album and who was involved with it. I believe it was recorded in the famous Rockfield Studios?
ASH - Yeah the idea of recording at Rockfield came from our Producer Pedro Ferreira. He had done work there previously with the likes of the Tokyo Dragons and he said it would be good for us.
Pedro was the Producer for the Darkness' first album 'Permission To Land'. We contacted him as we'd all heard his work and loved it.
Pre-production is where it started, Pedro came down and worked with us for a week to develop the songs to album standard. A process which initially could be hard as parts and elements of the music you have written and loved are chopped, changed and even discarded. I remember joining a session half way through and thinking... what have you done??? But when you strip away your ego and actually listen to what's happening you realise its pure gold.
The best way I can think to describe it would be like taking a classic car and rebuilding it. Initially it’s a nice car and its made well but once you've cleaned up the engine, replaced and cleaned up some of the old parts and polished the trims and chrome you have the finished masterpiece.
We had an honorary member of the band for a short time in Stephen Green. He wrote and played the awesome keys on the album.
When the songs were ready we hit the studio. We were very lucky to get the opportunity to work there, the venue itself being famous for hosting bands such as Queen, Motorhead, Hawkind, you name it!.
The equipment there is immense, the desk is probably bigger than my car!
We could not have done it without the help of money raised by our pledge campaign and we will be forever grateful to those who pledged as we could literally not have done it without them.
The studio began with some serious prep, Pedro undertaking the process of setting up all of the mic's for the drums (seemed like millions) and getting my bass amp mic'd and ready to go. There was even a drum mic in the corridor.
We started by recording the drums and bass. Pedro would play the relevant click track through the talk back for us in the studio. Only Matt was allowed this in his mix as Pedro wanted to keep the performance aspect of the guitars/bass apparent. The guys would play and Law would sing whilst me and Matt took takes for the different songs.
The process was fairly straight forward. We would play a certain number of takes until we had the best ones to use.
There was only one particular song that took 19 takes. This being the only time I lost my rag, put down my bass and went for a brief walk, it was getting slightly tedious.
It was great fun recording. I basically just got to play my bass loud, all day. Doesn't really get much better than that.
The environment was very professional and driven. We were all there to do a job and we had to get it done to the best of our ability.
Once me and Matt were done recording, Meryl and Nick recorded the guitars. There was a selection of near on ten guitars and something similar in guitar amps. This was necessary to cultivate which sounds and combinations of amp and guitar sounded the best for each part of the songs.
The amps were running so loud that Nick and Meryl had to sit in the control room whilst recording, if they had been in the room with the speakers it would probably have torn their heads off. Loud ain’t the word. It had to be done to get the best tones from the guitars.
After that Steve recorded piano, used by Freddie Mercury nonetheless, and Hammond using a Leslie amp.
I think when it came to vocals Law pretty much sang as hard and emotionally as he could. Warming up for hours and eating pineapples to ensure the best performance possible. Staying away from anything that might affect his voice, booze, nice food etc. It was pretty intense on that front as I don't think he could really relax until after his vox were done. One of the cool things about Rockfield were the echo chambers. Basically an incredibly reverberant room that gives natural delay and reverb to a sound.
We had some help on backing vocals from none other than Stevie Van Lange which really added something to the songs on the album. She worked with Lawrence prior to the album as well which to his own admission really took his vocals to the next level.
All in all it was an awesome experience that professionally jumped our band to a new level. The experience of recording in such a precise and driven manner was exciting. Rockfield itself was amazing, the studio and equipment but also the accommodation was like something from a holiday channel.
Something I definitely look forward to doing again.
NI ROCKS – Some of the tracks on the new album were included on the Live CD that you released a few years ago. How many tracks were written specifically for the album and what would the typical Voodoo Vegas song writing process be?
ASH – Only 'What I Pay' was specifically written for the album. The other songs are a culmination of seven years writing and gigging. We have written tens of songs more than what we keep in our current set but we just didn't think they cut the mark.
The songs on the album have all had some serious renovation, under Pedro's instruction, and in places are quite different to how they used to be.
The usual writing process will come from a guitar riff, bass line or vocal melody that someone writes and then we develop it together. We all write our own parts but chop and change the parts as a band.
The songs can start as one idea and then completely transform into something else, often completely dropping the original idea.
The songs we keep tend to be those that work straight off the cuff. Sometimes you can work and work on a song and It never really amounts to much, it may have good ideas but as a whole isn't really good enough. The Ferry Song for example started as a jam that just flowed naturally and developed well, I think it was written in half an hour.
Really we tend to write as a band but most importantly the music has to work for the vocals. They are the part that people listen to the most and sing along to. You can have the best riff, coolest drum beat or wicked bass line but if it doesn't work with the vocals there's no point.
NI ROCKS - Your gig in Belfast on 6th July won’t be the first time that you’ve played in N Ireland. I recall seeing you play in The Empire in January 2010 and buying your live CD at that time. Have you played here on other occasions and what have been your memories of playing here?
MERYL –Hi yes we’ve played at the Belfast Empire twice in the past. Both times were brilliant, I found the Irish audience to be so responsive and pumped up, in fact they were one of the most pumped up audiences I have ever played in front of which is a great thing as me and the guys in VV really feed off the crowd, so the more rocking the audience gets the more rocking we get, making it a brilliant show. I can’t wait for us to come back in July for the first time in 3 years, its going to be great I just hope they remember us.
NI ROCKS – For anyone who hasn’t seem you perform, how would you describe a Voodoo Vegas live gig?
Matt – A Voodoo Vegas gig is an upbeat party for the masses, the crowd get to rock out with the band and the more fun they have the more fun we have. I challenge anyone to come see us live and not get involved, you will be drenched in sweat by the end of it.
NI ROCKS – You’re supporting Fozzy on tour this summer along with Breed 77. What other plans do the band have for 2013?
LAW - We have got shows all over the UK as well as some continental festivals. We’ve got our first ever shows in Germany, Holland and Switzerland coming up. We’re looking forward to the Fozzy tour, the tour is mostly based in the North of England with 1 date in Scotland, people have been asking us for ages to play there so its going to be good. We are playing as much as we can at the moment, we’ve gotta spread the word as much as we can about the album.
NI ROCKS – Festival appearances and support slots are obviously key to getting the band heard by a wider audience. Over the years have you noticed it getting harder to get these slots or is it a case of the longer you’re out there gaining a reputation, the easier it gets?
MERYL –I haven't noticed it getting harder really, I think the more you play and the longer you've been going the easier it gets because you get to know the people behind the scenes who run these things, and once you establish getting to know these people the more they can help you again in future for other tour/festival supports. Although I’d say where we live in Bournemouth I have seen a lot of live music venues close down, which is a great shame so I guess that would affect the bands who like to stick locally.
NI ROCKS – How much of an emphasis do you put on social media such as Facebook and Twitter?
LAW – I put a lot of emphasis on it, without the social networks our pledge campaign wouldn’t of been so successful, social networks are a great way to connect with and make new fans.
I certainly put more emphasis on it than the other guys, I’m always moaning at them to do more on the social networks.
NI ROCKS – You’ve recently signed deals with “Ring of Honor Wrestling” and Orange Amplifiers. How did the wrestling deal come about?
LAW – We had a deal in place with R.O.H for one of our older songs, so once the album was finished I thought I would send it over to them to see if they would be interested in using some tracks, luckily for us they wanted to use 9 of the tracks, it should be some great exposure for the band and for the album, wrestling fans are really passionate about all things wrestling so having our music on R.O.H can only be a good thing.
NI ROCKS – Had you been using Orange amps prior to the deal or has that involved a move away from Marshall? What do you see as the strength of the Orange amps?
NICK –The first time I used Orange was in the studio when we were recording the album. It belonged to Pedro. I did also use my Marshall for a few things but mostly it was the Orange which was a rocker 30 and an old 70s amp called a WEM that is great for recording. After I used Orange on the album I got in contact with Orange to see if they could do me some kind of deal which they could.
The coolest thing about the Orange sponsorship was I got to try out every amp they do to see which one I wanted to get. In the end I when for an AD30 which runs in Class A and uses 4 el84 not el34 like the rocker 30 and most Marshall Amps. I love the way it sounds, it’s so clear and punchy but that does mean you have to have all your chops right up to scratch but it totally rocks, if you like that classic rock sound.
NI ROCKS – Meryl, you teach guitar when you’re not playing in the band. Do you find that girls want to take lessons with you because they respect the fact that you’re out there performing in what is still a very male dominated world? Or do you get a mix of all sorts?
MERYL - I get a real mix of all sorts. It’s funny because the kids at school sometimes think I'm a big famous rock star when they see me on youtube and things. I really love my job, not only because its music but I really love being a positive influence to young minds. I have had women approach me before especially because I'm a girl and I have had men approach me for lessons especially because I am in an active touring rock band. I have had a few females tell me that I influenced them to learn the guitar after seeing me play at our shows, this makes me feel great, it gives me a massive buzz to know I've motivated someone to learn the guitar.
NI ROCKS – We spoke recently with Doug Aldrich who used to teach guitar a lot and he said that sometimes you’d get these kids coming to class and he’d be thinking “wow, what can I teach this kid?” How much of a buzz do you get out of teaching?
MERYL - I get a massive buzz, I feel like I have found my purpose as its a real passion of mine. Someone once said to me “I hate my job, I work in banking, if I won the lottery I'd leave”, however I then thought if I won the lottery I'd actually still do my job, that's the difference. It’s great when one of my students has their first gig or passes a guitar exam, its very rewarding. I fell into it by accident, I first picked up the guitar when I was 23 and I've been teaching for 6 years now and haven't looked back once.
NI ROCKS – A few quick fire questions to finish off. Five artists we’d find on your iPod if we hit shuffle?
ASH – Megadeth, Black Stone Cherry, Black Country Communion, Kiss and Skid Row
NI ROCKS – First gig you went to and first album you bought?
MATT – First gig I went to was Blur, I was 15 so I don’t remember much of it, Reading festival followed a few months later, that was an experience. First album was Skunk Anansie - Paranoid and Sunburnt, to this day I still rate it in my top 20 albums.
NI ROCKS – Band from any era that you would have loved to have been a member of?
NICK - The big one for me would be Led Zeppelin because they had a go at everything and did it really well most of the time.
NI ROCKS – Favourite album from the past 12 months (other than “The Rise of Jimmy Silver”)?
LAW - Aftermath Of The Lowdown – Richie Sambora, better than any Bon Jovi album in the last 13 years. I saw Richie play a solo show back in October, it was a small intimate show, fantastic to see him let loose as the frontman. If he doesn’t go back to Bon Jovi and continues his solo stuff for a while longer I will be happy.
NI ROCKS – Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I hope you’ve continuing success with the new album and hopefully we’ll see you in Belfast in a few weeks.
LAW - Thanks for your time dude, looking forward to seeing you at The Pavilion.
Find out more about Voodoo Vegas at
Voodoo Vegas tour dates, including the gigs with Fozzy can be found here: