An Interview with Legendary Frontman
Graham Bonnet and his Bassist, Beth-Ami Heavenstone
that took place at Studio City, California on January 30th, 2015.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan
Glenn: How did the new band come to be?
Beth-Ami: Graham and I met about two years ago. We were just friends. He had contacted me via Linked-In and he said he was always looking for new music. So I thought, ‘Oh maybe he is producing now’ and I didn’t really know much about his back catalogue or his work. I sent him links to the two bands I was playing in and we had back and forth exchanges.
I said, “It’s really difficult for me as a single mum with an autistic son to have time to do music”. He said, “Oh I have a son with autism too”. Well that was it, that really cemented us. It was very interesting getting to know him and we talked on the phone a lot. He had been living about half an hour north of here. I went up to meet him for a coffee one day and our friendship sort of just blossomed. I liked him immediately. I thought he was funny and sweet.
About six months later I said, “Do you want to sit in with my band, we are playing at the Whisky and do a couple of songs with us. He said, “Okay sure – Great”. So we did ‘Oh Darlin’ (by The Beatles) and ‘No Matter What’ by Badfinger. After we got off stage that night he said, “Oh my god, that was so much fun – I wanna be in a band with you.” I was like, ‘Okay’ and about a week later he called me and said, “I quit my band – I quit Alcatraz”. I said, “Are you kidding me?”. He said, “No, I don’t wanna keep playing the same old sh*t. I loved playing with you. It was really fun. I love your passion for music and you just have such an amazing happiness when you play. I wanna be in a band with you”. I said, “Alright fine”.
So we started getting to work and in that band my guitar player was Conrad. I love him to death. He is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. A focused, great player. It was just a natural progression to bring him in. Subsequently we had several drummers and are actually still looking again. We just can’t find the right fit. Whether it’s musically or personality, we are just having a real hard time with it. But Conrad, Graham and I are definitely family.
Graham: That was basically it and when we started to get together, she had such a passion for music which was really kind of cool because I sometimes get a little bit lazy and she really wants to do something that’s worthwhile for all of us. When we went to Europe and played the UK I was sh*t scared that we were going to get the ‘woooh’ the snails and ‘let’s hear some more screaming stuff’, which we do. We do the Alcatraz, some Rainbow stuff but we’ll be adding some Michael Schenker songs.
But I really want to put across the new material because it’s still rock ‘n’ roll but it’s not the familiar how people like to sing along karaoke time. I though the new songs would probably go down like a cup of cold vomit but fortunately we were surprised because after the shows we did this signing thing and chat. People were going, ‘What’s those new songs? What’s that one that goes dung did a?”. I was like, “Oh yes, this is what it’s about”, and it was great. The tour was good. We were in Spain – we played Spain, Holland and then the UK and everything went really, really well much to my happiness because it was a scary moment. To leave my own band, I fired myself from Alcatraz – it must be just over a year and a half ago.
The thing I wanted to do as it’s been 30 years of the same old song and it’s time to change. We have to do the obvious ones but it’s time for something new. So that’s what we are doing right now. We are getting down to writing new songs. That’s what I was doing when you came in – scribbling down notes for new songs. That’s a song about Chuck Berry. It’s called ‘The Legend Of The Man Who Tuned Chuck Berry’s Guitar’ which is a long title. It’s not a country song but it’s a true story about this guy who works for Chuck Berry in London. Hopefully you’ll hear the song eventually.
But that’s what I’m doing right now. I am just trying to think how the story went when I heard it reported to me by one of my friends on the road. What happened was, the guy went in, he was one of these guitar techs for Chuck Berry who was working in London at the Hammersmith Odeon. He was working there and he went into the theatre which was completely empty and Chuck’s guitar was on the stage.
So he went up and he actually got the tuner out, put new strings on – perfect – absolutely perfect. Chuck Berry comes back in later in the day and he picks up the guitar and says, “What the f*ck has happened to my guitar?”. He says, “Hold on. Hey come here. What did you do?”. He said, “Well Mr. Berry I put new strings on for you so it sounds really clean for you, it sounds perfect. I put it through a tuner. It’s dead on and in perfect concert pitch”. He said, “No” and Chuck Berry gets hold of his guitar by the neck, slams it down on the heel, then picks it up again, plays the chord and says, “That’s Chuck Berry”. People say he’s hard to work with because he wants his money up front. No sh*t – doesn’t everybody because you can get ripped off.
Beth-Ami: I get it.
Graham: We’re going through that now.
Beth-Ami: I watched it happen to him and I’m tough. He (Graham) was on a tour and I was meant to meet him in Sweden and three days before I was leaving, he’s said, “Yeah the rest of the tour got cancelled”. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me”. He said, “I’m gonna come home tomorrow”. I said, “Well you can but I’m still going, I’m going to England”, and I ended up convincing him to stay. You can’t do that anymore. You have to get 50% up front because there’s no guarantee and that’s not cool.
Graham: I’m non-confrontational and I went with the flow and I’ve been ripped off so many times. This was just diabolical in the middle of a tour. We had another 13 or 14 gigs to go and it was a bunch of different singers on this tour in Sweden. Guys from Toto & Chicago and we’re all doing our hits and suddenly one morning the guitar player of the band says, “It’s over”, “What’s over? What do you mean?”, “It’s done”, “Oh” and we are owed quite a lot of money by these people who just cancelled the tour right in the middle – thousands of dollars! I mean, 12 more gigs – that’s a lot of Moolah. We didn’t get paid for the ones before. This world to me now is new world. Beth-Ami has really got it together business-wise and she’s a real inspiration to me. She’s just a hell of a bright spark. She’s got the right attitude whereas sometimes I’ll be lazy and say, “Oh no, to hell with that, I don’t want to talk to these people”.
Glenn: Regarding the tour, which dates did you enjoy the most?
Beth-Ami: Glasgow was frikkin’ awesome. The people were so receptive. They were so energetic and we just played really well together. By far that was my favourite. Sheffield was great. Liverpool was really good. Birmingham was a little bit lacklustre because we were exhausted. It was the fifth day, straight driving like eight hours.
I think my dog farted. Oh my god, I am sorry. (We laugh)
Graham: It’s really not us. It is the dog. We blame it on the dog.
Beth-Ami: Oh my God.
Graham: Yes the dog has farted. It’s a good one too.
Beth-Ami: Anyway, all the British gigs were great. I had the worst gig of my life in Madrid but there was a language barrier and the sound man, I don’t know what he was thinking. He was very sweet but I couldn’t even portend. Dude I can’t hear the guy, I can’t even hear the drums. It was just like this woo-woom noise. So I was just sh*t that night – I was terrible. Barcelona was good. I don’t have touring experience so it was trial by fire for me. I had a blast though. I had so much fun. It was a dream come true. I get to play with a legend and I work with him every day. It was hoot. Holland was good.
Graham: They are all good. It’s just that everybody complains about the sound on stage like a bad workman complaining about his tools. It’s true. I couldn’t hear me, I couldn’t hear her and when you can’t hear the drums - that’s a bit worrying.
Beth-Ami: That was strange. I was like, ‘I can’t hear’. I didn’t know where I was in the song. I could not hear but I learned from that and I’m glad it happened. It’ll never happen again but I know these songs. I will just play. Don’t worry about it – just play. You know the material – Do it! It was rough.
Graham: You have to go by muscle memory if you can. If it’s possible, that’s how you do it. You go to a sound-check which is always a waste of time. You might as well take a sh*t somewhere instead of going because it always sounds different when you go back. When you do sound-check you hear the house. You hear the front-of-house and so it’s all, “Oh that sounds great”, because you’ve got your monitors down here or whatever and then you hear front of house because there is nobody there.
As soon as people get in you don’t hear front of house, you hear this which is always crap. That’s why I used to wear the in-ears. I am thinking about wearing them again. I quit using them because I like old-school – I like to feel it and not just hear little bits of it.
Glenn: You like it in front of you?
Graham: Yeah. I like to feel the power of the drums which like Beth-Ami said, we couldn’t hear the drums and our drummer was so frikkin’ loud. I mean really, really loud.
Beth-Ami: He was awesome.
Graham: Yeah. But it was a good tour - a surprisingly good tour because we were all nervous because of, ‘Are they going to accept me with this new band – new look?’ A girl in the band, younger guys and yeah – we did okay. I’m looking forward to the next part because we know what to expect and I think it’s going to be a lot better because we are getting new tunes together and all that kind of thing as well.
Glenn: How was the Sheffield show in particular?
Beth-Ami: Sheffield was great. Sheffield was really good. That was the first one that afterwards I was going, “Right On, that was good” and the crowd was very receptive. I enjoyed it, what did you think?
Glenn: It sounded really, really great from where I was.
Beth-Ami: Well that’s the thing. We never get to hear what you hear. What you hear I am assuming is better but just energy-wise it felt really good.
Graham: It’s awful for singers especially because you are going, ‘Am I in tune?, Is this coming through?’, because when you’ve got nothing here in the microphone you are going, ‘What the hell?!’.
Glenn: And you’re pushing your voice out there?
Graham: Yeah. You can’t hear anything so you have to really push and of course you are croaky and it’s damaging for singers. We got through and we enjoyed the whole tour I think overall. The tour was great and I’m very pleased. We all are.
Glenn (to Beth-Ami): What got you into bass and how long have you been playing and what other bands did you used to play in?
Beth-Ami: I started playing because I had a boyfriend and when he moved out he left a bass. That’s why I play right handed. I am actually left handed. But I play righty because that’s what I had. I’ve been playing about 25 years.
I was in the same band up until we started playing together. It was an all-girl band called ‘Hardly Dangerous’ which became not quite all-girl when we had Conrad in the band. The singer is Tomi Rae Brown, the Widow of James Brown. We started out as a melodic hard rock band. We were good friends with Guns ‘N’ Roses. All these bands of that era hung out together so our sound was modelled that way but when she married James we started to get a little funky. I loved that band.
It was great but it was like for Graham, playing the same songs over and over and over again. We were constantly doing reunion shows because I stopped playing for a long time. I got married, I had kids and I was a mum but I always felt like, ‘Did I leave the stove on? There’s something missing’, and it was music. After James Brown, Tomi called me and said, “Can we please put the band back together?”, I said, “Okay sure”. My Ex-Husband who I was still married to at the time was really supportive. He’s really supportive now. He loves Graham and he watches the kids so I can go on tour – it’s awesome.
Glenn (to Graham): I noticed recently, you’ve got your first album, your unreleased album from 1975 now I-Tunes.
Graham: Yes. It was a tape that went missing. We couldn’t find the masters of this thing. I recorded it when I was with DJM in London. DJM shut down – it’s gone now and Dick James, it was his company, he died and his son took over but now the company is completely gone.
I was looking for the masters so I got in touch with some people about four years ago. They said, “ Well there’s nothing left, they threw everything out, it all went to the garbage.” All these artists – a bunch of people you will have never even heard of. But all this stuff was thrown away along with mine I suppose.
So I got in touch with my old Producer, a guy called Kaplan Kaye. I said to him, “Do you know whatever happened to the masters, the reel to reels?”, he said, “Nope – they’ve all gone Graham. Everything from that company has disappeared. Nobody knows about any of it” and he said, “I might have a copy on cassette”.
He found a cassette and he played it and he said, “Do you know what, it doesn’t sound too bad”. So what we did was take the cassette, had it re-done – all the midi’s put in there etc etc and it came out sounding pretty good. I said, “This wouldn’t be bad to actually re-release because it sounds okay.”
It’s an album I did completely on my own. I played a couple of instruments on there – guitar, bass whatever and a little bit of synthesiser as well. Well I didn’t know how to play but I had a go. But it was fun to do. I didn’t play drums, I can’t play drums. But all the songs were all my own and it was my baby. When it disappeared I was like, “Oh sh*t, what a shame”. So that’s what it is. It’s me as a solo artist. I’d have been about 25 or 26 years old.
It was my first attempt at a solo album because at that time it was all singer-songwriters such as Harry Nilsson, there was Elton John who was in the same company – of course he became very big and Paul McCartney just put out his solo album and it was a time when the singer-songwriters were doing their thing and I wanted to be like Paul McCartney and do every track with a different kind of genre of music., A bit of jazz, a bit of this, a bit of that, you know whatever, not just hard rock or rock ‘n’ roll or pop – a bit of every kind of music and that’s kind of what it is.
So I hope people listen to it and like it. I’ve had a few nice little comments about it.
Glenn: Will you be releasing on CD or will it be just on I-Tunes?
Graham: I’d like to put it out on CD so we can flog it at the gigs. Also on vinyl. I think on vinyl it will be cool because it’s from that era – the package and the book inside. We used to go (take a deep sniff), ahhh the book smells great. The whole thing with the pictures in it from that time if I can find them but I’m sure I have some. So that would be a good idea to sell it. It would help because being of that era and the songs are very much in that time.
I’m very proud of it and it sounds pretty cool. Maybe the ultra – the people who listen it to and find all the technical mistakes or to the sound or whatever, they may go, “Well it needs a bit more of this or a bit more of that”, but I think it sounds okay. I hope people will listen to it and appreciate it for what it is.
Glenn: So apart from the obvious songs, what songs really grab the attention of yourself that you enjoyed playing again?
Graham (to Beth-Ami): What do you think?
Beth-Ami: Well the Rainbow songs… ‘Night Games’ people lost their mind over and ‘Only One Woman’. This is all new to me. I somehow missed Rainbow when Rainbow came out. So when we first hooked up and started working together, I started listening together I just went, “Oh my god, this stuff’s amazing”.
Then it was really challenging, not only because I think Roger’s an amazing bass player (Roger Glover - Rainbow/Deep Purple) and he’s a lot notier than you can really tell. Even though he produced it, he’s very far back in the mix…
Graham: He’s very subtle.
Beth-Ami: Yeah very subtle. But I found scratch tracks that have no vocals on because his voice distracts me – it’s so amazing, how do you not listen to it?
Graham: I’m glad you agree – hahaha.
Beth-Ami: So I’m learning the material and I can’t read music so I had to learn by ear and those tracks were such a great help to me. The only one that people didn’t seem that receptive to was The Beatles cover. We did it because the band was so new.
Glenn: It was good though. I enjoyed it.
Beth-Ami: I love it. When the two of us play it together it sounds great.
Graham: But for some reason, when we had the band play with us… we rehearsed it just the two of us acoustically it sounded great but as soon as you put drums in, what happened? Somehow the feel went because it’s one of those things when if you don’t hear the vocal properly it messes it up. It’s not really in my key, it’s a sort of Beatles key which is a very lower range for me. It’s not really like a belter so to speak and when you have the drums on there you tend to over-sing. So it loses its appeal. I like to hold back on that song and do it the way John and Paul did it. So it loses the feel and I don’t know why? Together it sounds f*ck*ng great doesn’t it.
Graham: It’s fun isn’t it?
Beth-Ami: Yeah. I thought when we played it in Liverpool they’d be like, “Yeah!” but anyway…
Graham: That was the audience that kind of went like, “Nah!” You remember The Beatles, you know, The Cavern Club? Are we in Liverpool? Where the bloody hell are we?
Glenn: I guess it’s because people are shoving it down their throats all the time?
Graham: I think that’s it.
Glenn: What has the age range been like at shows since even young kids are finding out about you?
Graham: We found that the people that we meet from the audience, the age group is actually…
Beth-Ami: Just the spectrum…
Graham: It’s ridiculous.
Beth-Ami: People tell their children about it and the kids are like super excited. (To Graham) I was with you in March when that one girl, I think her dad brought her and she was just like ga-ga. This young girl – it was so cool. Wasn’t it?
Graham: I know. I’ve signed an autograph for an eight year old. I said, “I could be your Great Grandfather”. It was in Sweden or Finland. I said, “How did you know about this music?”, and her dad said to her, because she didn’t understand me, he translated and she said, “My Daddy” and that was it. (We laugh). Awe sweetheart, I picked her up and gave her a kiss and I said, “Here you are”, and signed a little thing.
Beth-Ami: Because he has to kiss the ladies. It doesn’t matter how old they are.
Graham: I always kiss them yes but I just hug the guys.
Glenn: I noticed myself at the Sheffield show how well the new material fitted in.
Graham: Yeah. One of those songs, ‘Always Be There’ – one of the songs that is written about the 60’s and The Beatles – the first verse is about them. How they changed the world with the Cuban boots and the hair and everything – everybody suddenly starts to look different. The song is about all the things we used to remember – the mods and the rockers etc through to the folk era. We always thought it would be there. I always thought that The Beatles would never die. George Harrison doesn’t die, John doesn’t die.
Glenn: They are always there. (I point to my head and heart).
Graham: Yeah. But you thought physically they would always be there and the times we had as mods and rockers. We thought we changed the world with our spiky hair and being so different wearing scooters with mirrors and the rockers had their chains and their Norton’s – you never thought that time would end but every generation has that time you think would never end – you think you’re always different but you’re not. The fact that back in the 1920’s – they were a new breed and the mods were and the rockers were. It was just – how could this end? But it did for all of us. For my Mum and Dad, for everybody’s Grandma and Grandad. There was that little time when you were special – the end. It’s youth. It’s being a young person.
Glenn: It’s a cycle isn’t it?
Graham: Yeah, yeah.
Glenn: The older brigade always look down on the younger brigade and some don’t. It’s crazy stuff.
Beth-Ami: He’s constantly creating music and my daughter cracked me up saying, “Mum does he ever stop?”, and the answer’s “No he doesn’t.” He’s a jukebox and god forbid if you say something with a song cue. There’s at least ten songs being written at a time and they’re all great.
Graham: Are they?
Beth-Ami: Yeah. You know I’m your biggest fan.
Graham: Yes I’m your biggest fan. I’m my own biggest fan (jokes). No I think what we’re making up right now. I call it making up songs, not writing because I don’t actually write. I always think writing is dots and symbols but I think what I’m making up is pretty good and I ask for inspiration from the guys but they always say, “No – whatever you say, do it”.
I’ll say to Beth-Ami, “What do you think to this line? Does this line describe what I am trying to say?”. Well one line I’ve used in an old song, ‘The Witchwood” is ‘Bible Black’. “Does that give you an image of me being really, really black, you know, a dark night – it’s so dark, it’s bible black. Things like that.
Beth-Ami: I love his lyrics. They are so evocative. I can really see what he is trying to put across which is nice. I don’t have very much to offer apart from some arrangement ideas here or there. He’s all on his own. He does it. It’s all so good. I love it.
Graham: Yeah. She arranged one of the songs we played on the tour in England. It was, “You should do this here”, and that was ‘The Mirror Lies’. We call it ‘Cinnamon Toast’ for some reason. She said, “We should do it like this, you put the frame or the format of the thing together – the way it should be structured”. It was absolutely right. It made it dynamic. Sometimes I keep going and going and going and I never know where to stop like a lot of guitar players do. I mean, I play guitar but I don’t play that much on stage. Guitar payers – their songs can go on for a day and a half. “I think we should cut that bit out. I think it goes on a bit long there kid, we’re gonna be here for a bloody week!”. So it’s great to have here around because she inspires me – she really does.
Glenn: You come from Britain but what do you miss from Britain when you’re over here?
Graham: Jacket potatoes (he jokes in a wacky accent). Well what I miss isn’t there anymore. I miss the 1960’s in London. But that’s gone. It’s not the same anymore. The 1960’s in London was absolutely incredible. I enjoyed that. There’s nothing I miss about England so much. Maybe my family. I miss my family. I see them for a little time and I came back here but there’s nothing I can say at the moment that I miss about the country. When I left the country the music scene was horrible. It was not very Rock ‘N’ Roll and all very twee and insipid stuff.
Luckily that’s when I got the job with Rainbow. Oh I can leave this country and I moved to New York. It’s hard to say what I miss about the country. I don’t. I’m glad I came over here when I did. I first came over in 1970 something and moved out here eventually in 1979. But when I came here back in the early 70’s, about 1972, it was such a drag to fly back into Heathrow and see all those grey slayer roofs. It’s that ‘Eurrgh, I’m back’ and the misery set in. Instant depression and so hard to live in England. The cost of living – it was f*ck*ng awful.
I lived in Maida Vale which is kind of an expensive area and before that I lived in West 1 and it was impossible to live there. You need to be a frikkin’ millionaire. To come here and be able to go to a store and buy appliances for instance for like a quarter of the price that you’d pay for something like that in England – a fridge or something. It sounds stupid I know but it was like a quarter of the price. A fridge in England would be like how many thousands of pounds. I mean, they are expensive, I know.
So I do miss the people. I love being around the people. All those accents that I miss. All the northern accents – it’s nice to spot the accent once in a while. Beth-Ami is always, saying, “What is the Lincolnshire accent?”, and I say, “I don’t remember” because I’ve lost my accent completely I think. So we have to listen to my family to… she gets it now.
Glenn: At the gig in Sheffield, you mentioned ‘The Witchwood’ and I remember you went out to visit your Brother.
Glenn: I guess that was nice for you?
Graham: Yes it was. My brother, I was supposed to see him a little while ago and he died. He had Alzheimers and it was really hard. We went back. I said I was going to see him in November. We were going to take the guitars to the nursing home he was in. I said, “Tony, when I come back we’ll sing some Everly Brothers songs and a bit of Elvis aye?” And you know, bless him (and sheds a tear for him).
Glenn: I’m sorry for bringing that up.
Graham: Oh it’s alright man, it’s alright. He’s still with me. I talk to him every day and I’ve just written a song for him.
Beth-Ami: It’s a beautiful song for him. I love it.
Graham: We’re going to record that. He was guy that was my guide as a little boy and held my hand all the way through my little life. But it’s alright man. I lost my Dad to the same condition. The same awful condition. It’s evil to see someone you love just suddenly…
Glenn: Yeah. It happened to my Grandad. You mentioned your son is autistic. Well my other writer in the UK, Dave Attrill is too. He has Asberger.
Graham: Does he?
Graham: Wow. Cool my Son is too.
Beth-Ami: He wrote an amazing song about our boys too.
Graham: I did yeah.
Beth-Ami: It’s so beautiful. It makes me cry when I hear it. It’s not a death sentence when you find out your child is autistic. You just have to make plans that things are going to be different. It’s not a bad thing – it’s just different. That’s why I wanted to meet him and hear about his boy because his kid’s an adult and I subsequently will have an autistic adult.
He’s wonderful and he’s sweet and he actually reminds me of my Son – just in the future. But I love hearing about autistic adults especially when they are successful because you have so many fears when you have a kid anyway. But then when you have one that’s got something different you just wonder how he is going to be received. Sao far, so good – he’s a champion. He’s my little hero – he’s amazing.
Graham: Those guys with this condition, there’s a little genius in there and you don’t know. You’ve got to find out where that genius lies like Beth-Ami said about her son.
Beth-Ami: I heard they have a special talent. I think his is just making me love him. He’s just so frikkin’ cute.
Glenn: In your set as well when you do the acoustic songs, it broke the show up and what I liked about it was it gave me something extra to get some great shots of, of you on acoustic guitar.
Graham: Well now it’s going to be electric guitar. I’ll probably chuck the acoustic. But maybe for a couple of songs but I’ll be using a solid guitar. The trouble with the acoustic is that they feed back. That’s just one of the problems with the damn thing. It’s a technical thing. You get that damn hum. You can never get it to sound like a real acoustic. Once you get that in it is kind of weird but it works okay.
I played that when Don Airey and I had a band together a few years ago. I would use the acoustic on stage and it was okay. It depends on the night again. If the sound on stage is crap, you get all that feedback and you’re screwed. I think the best way form me to go is get a solid guitar. I hope to get a Telecaster. I’d like a Telecaster because you can get a nice sort of acoustically sound from a Telecaster as well as that really hard crang sort of rock ‘n’ roll sound. So that’s what will be happening won’t it Beth-Ami.
Beth-Ami: Yes because I hear about it constantly.
Glenn: Have you got any ideas for the title of the forthcoming album when it’s ready?
Graham: I don’t know.
Beth-Ami: I’ve never even thought of that.
Glenn: And cover-wise?
Graham: I don’t know yet. We have a long way to go before we actually get around and finish an album which means eight or nine tracks. It will be a song that will stick out from the rest, so to speak – that always happens.
At the moment I couldn’t say. Hopefully a variety of music instead of it being all one thing but there will be some hard rock on the album. There has to be because that’s my following, so we have to do that – we all have that in our history but I’d like to do something that is a bit more adventurous.
In fact, I have got a new song by Russ Ballard, it’s called ‘My Kingdom Come’. I hate the title but I love the song. It’s a long song and it’s got all different sections in it. Parts of it are like Queen and the rest is like Argent, a little bit of Rainbow and it’s 4 different sections. It’s really interesting.
I was just speaking to him about two weeks ago because I lost the files for it. He went looking in his studio for it. I hadn’t talked to him for years so it was very nice to talk to him again. Now Russ has got an album coming out.
When he sends you a demo you go, “How the hell can I improve on that?” because he makes such great demos doesn’t he?
Beth-Ami: Yeah he’s awesome. Superb.
Graham: You’ve heard his ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ haven’t you? – the original version.
Glenn: I’ve not heard that. I’ll have to check that out.
Graham: His voice is so much different. You wouldn’t even know it was him. It’s so little and very vibrato’ish because of course when he sings now it’s more bluesy. His voice is much stronger now and it’s more convincing than it was back then. The harmonies were there when he came to the chorus. He’s perfect with harmonies. His songs are fantastic. I’ve recorded seven or eight of his songs on albums I’ve done in the past – easy.
Glenn: I thought it was great that Rainbow brought out the ‘Down To Earth’ album that had the last song on it called ‘Lost In Hollywood’ and now you’re living in Hollywood.
Graham: I know. It’s great.
Glenn: I must ask, it’s the cheesiest, daftest question but how many times have you got lost in Hollywood? (Everyone laughs)
Graham: I don’t know. I got lost on my bike. Does that count as Hollywood? I don’t know.
Beth-Ami: He doesn’t have the greatest sense of direction. He went round three times thinking, ‘Where Am I?’
Graham: I was gone for three hours. I went out on my bicycle because I like cycling – that’s my deal. I hadn’t ridden for about a year and I got it over here. I went out and I was gone for about 3 ½ hours and I hadn’t travelled very far and I was going, “Where the hell am I?”. I was trying to find (my way). ‘The suns here, the sun was behind me when I came out’. I just got completely lost. I go by landmarks and for the hell of me I couldn’t find any landmarks that I recognised because there aren’t any tall buildings in this area.
OZZFestAMY: They pull them down as fast as they build and they change things around so radically around here that you can't go off landmarks anymore.
Graham: But that's how I normally would do it but okay.
OZZFestAmy: That's what I did in the country too. They say "That tree..." or "That car...".
Graham: Like the pubs in England. (We laugh). I was on tour with Rainbow and we were in Newcastle which is a foreign country as far as I am concerned – a foreign language and a foreign country. Our Tour Manager stopped and he said, “ I need a p*ss and I can’t find the gig”. So I asked this guy out here and he was a guy, probably a bit older than I am – he was probably about in his 70’s or 80’s. I said, “Scuse me, do know where (whatever it is gig is in Newcastle)?” He said, “Waye Aye Man, Ya Gang Doon Heeya…”, and his actual instructions were, “You go down here and the gig is a mile before the church. So what you have to do is go to the church, turn around and come back a mile”.
It was like the daftest bloody directions you could ever hear. Our Tour Manager was actually from Newcastle and he said, “What the f*ck did he say?” (We all laugh). “You’re asking me? You Geordie F*ck*r”. (We laugh). Old Colin Coldhard – Oh man! It’s just the directions were just ridiculous. So we had to find the f*ck*ng church and come back. Oh it was such a magic moment that day – it certainly was. It was a great gig that night but anyway…
Glenn: So what shows have you got coming up in the future?
Beth-Ami: Graham is playing with an orchestra in Russia and the Czech Republic. For us, I don’t know if anything is going to happen before a tour of Japan in June playing with the Michael Schenker Group which should be really wild. Then from there, there is potential in Sweden but we don’t know for sure about that and there’s also New Zealand and Australia after the Summer. There’s lots of stuff in the works but nothing’s solid other than Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Graham: Yeah it is.
Beth-Ami: I’d love to come back to the UK.
Glenn: I am surprised you haven’t got a surprise Download Festival slot or playing Hard Rock Hell in Wales or something like that.
Beth-Ami: I would love to do that. I want to play festivals. Those make me happy.
Glenn: The amount of people that would come and see you would be incredible. As soon as I found out that you were playing at the O2 in Sheffield I was so looking forward to it as I’ve wanted to see you live in over 20 years.
Graham: Well there’s a lot of stuff out there. We had no-one managing us as such but now we have someone that is looking after our rears. He is doing all the crappy work which we didn’t want to do and don’t want to do.
Beth-Ami: He’s a God-send. He’s amazing and he knows Graham’s catalogue backwards and forwards – better than Graham knows it. He’s singer himself, he’s really smart, he came on the road with us in the UK. He and his friend, Andy Travers who is also a friend of ours travelled with us. They were so helpful. Oh God, we couldn’t have done it without them.
I would meet them for breakfast in the morning and I was listening to this guy talk and think, ‘God he has such amazing ideas, I wish we could get him to help us out’. He made the suggestion and we’re like, “Yes!”. It’s perfect and we love him – Giles Lavery. He’s from New Zealand originally and living in Germany now. He is a gift from God – love that guy.
Graham: So he’s looking after a bunch of stuff. We have Spain I think. Obviously we’d like to go back to the UK and do that. That’s one I’m looking forward to doing again to see my family etc and my old friends back there. So we’d like to do another tour like we just did – the UK thing and go up to Scotland.
Beth-Ami: It went too fast.
Glenn: Five dates altogether.
Graham: Yes it wasn’t a lot. It seemed long though didn’t it? Probably because we were in Spain. We had a week off in Spain just over. It was like, “Ooh crap, what are gonna do for 10 days?”
Beth-Ami: We wanted to spend it in the UK but it’s just as we said earlier it was a fortune. It was too expensive. It was cheaper just to stay put in Spain and just pick up the tour again from there which was frustrating.
Glenn: So many people have been writing autobiographies in the last few years, can you see yourself doing one Graham?
Graham: There is a book being written right now about my life-story but I’ve got to die before it ends (he jokes). That’s being done with a load of old picture. It’s quite good. It takes it from when I was a little kid – a seven year old kid singing on stage until now. That’s supposed to be out by next month or the month after.
Glenn: Awesome. I’ll look out for that.
Graham: Yeah me too. I want to see who I am. (We laugh)
Glenn: Yeah and see what gets put in and what doesn’t get put in.
Graham: Well he (the writer) shows me the pages and said, “What do you want me to take out so far”, and I’ve said, “So far nothing”. Just a couple of comments by the guys in Rainbow. The comments they made were just after I quit the band because I left Rainbow. I wasn’t fired – I quit and came back home here. They were not very happy about it. So there was a little bit of that going on – Roger and Ritchie’s quotes.
It was at a time of bitterness and they didn’t expect me to leave. Don was going to leave the band and (there was) all kinds of sh*t after Cozy Powell left so it wasn’t the same.
Glenn: You’ve worked with so many people over the years. Who would you say have been the most influential people you have worked with or seen and why those people and how did they influence you?
Graham: I would say probably Ritchie Blackmore because he brought me into a new world of something I would never be in which is either Hard Rock sort of semi-classical world of heart and metal or whatever it is you want to call it now. I know I was never into that kind of music and when I went for the audition for the band he was adamant I should be in the damn band. I just said, “I don’t fit, I’ve got short hair and I don’t look like the other guys”. He just said, “Stick with us. Roger can you work with Graham? We’ll get this album done”.
He definitely was someone who made me see another side of my voice that I thought I never had. It was very interesting and it was something I never dreamed of doing. I was never into that kind of music. My dad I remember saying to me, “You look like a bunch of yobbos”, when he saw the picture if the band. I said, “Well they asked me to join”, he said, “Really?”, he said, “But they’ve all got long hair and all this kind of crap and they are wearing all the spandex or whatever the hell”. I said, “Yeah” and then when Lou, my Dad came to see us play at Donington he said, “I never knew. It was just incredible. The work that goes into those songs”.
That band was the best band I’ve ever known. I’d never known anything like that. I was overwhelmed by the band. I knew if I had a bad night, they’d have a good night and I still sound good. It was bad. The confidence was there every night I walked out. It was like a party every night. It was fantastic because these guys were so bloody good. There were no bad nights really.
Glenn: You worked with one of my best friends back in the day.
Graham: Who’s that?
Glenn: He’s a drummer when you played with Chris Impelleteri called Stet Howland.
Graham: Oh Stet. Yeah. I saw Stet probably about seven years ago. He’s always around. Well we did one album together – that was about it. Let me see, what happened with that?
Glenn: Didn’t Stet play on the road with you?
Graham: Oh yes he went to Japan with us. It was a very short little family meeting with that band. I only did a couple of albums with Chris and one later on. Stet – Yes I used to hang out with him a bit.
Glenn: Do you have great any stories you can tell?
Graham: When we stayed at Chris’s house I remember that Stet didn’t flush and he left some incredibly large turds in the toilet. (We laugh) Slimy and green. I remember going into the bathroom and going, “What the f*ck! Who left this?”, because the toilet was kind of overflowing almost. It was serpentine this animal in there - and it was him. He must have been very proud of this. Everybody saw it. It’s very artistic. How could he leave that?
I just remember that because we were staying with Chris and everybody went into look and see. Some even throw up. I don’t know if any pictures were taken from memory. There would be now. You can imagine it can’t you? It was a long time ago. But I’ve never worked with Stet since that.
Glenn: What’s the key to looking after your voice?
Graham: The dogs farted again! I inhale a lot of dog fart.
Glenn: You take him on tour with you?
Graham: Yeah. I don’t. I don’t look after my voice at all. That’s one of my problems. I don’t look after it at all. I never really do warm ups or rehearse that much with my real voice. Well I did do recently before we went out to England. I though, ‘I better sing properly’ because when I rehearse I always sing with the little voice – just head voice instead of the whole body voice which is more painful. But you have to do because without using your whole body for the things we do, I don’t get the right tone in my voice – it doesn’t sound like me.
So it’s always full-on or nothing. Pretty much. I sometimes have to think, ‘Oh I’ll do head voice for just a little bit and use the microphone more which I got down to a real tight technique when I was in Rainbow. I knew how to get in close. But because I’m not playing every night of every month like we did with Rainbow I have to warm up again. We all do. If you’ve not done anything for a while you lose it. I’m terrible. I just don’t bother about it and just hope for the best when we get out there.
Glenn: It seems to work.
Graham: It seems to work. Beth-Ami says to me, “Sing out” when we are just rehearsing in the house. “You’ve got to sing out a bit more now”.
Beth-Ami: I have noticed you’ve been doing it a lot lately.
Graham: Yeah I do sing once in a while. In Rainbow when we rehearsed before we went out on tour I would just sing a little bit of the song just to cue line for each verse – the opening line and Ritchie would say, “Don’t sing the whole thing, you don’t have to”, “Oh okay”, “And just go into the chorus”. So he said, “Save it. That’s the way we always rehearsed with Ronnie. We did the first line of the verse then the chorus bit, then the middle bit – whatever. Don’t waste your voice on rehearsal”. But now I think I have to because I’m not on the road seven days a week.
Glenn: Yes because you need to exercise it because it’s a muscle.
Graham: Yeah. Like anything.
Glenn: Which songs would you say, either brand new songs or songs that you have not sung for a while were the toughest to perform and why?
Graham: Well they all are. They are all up there and they are all full-on big voiced. They are not little man voice. They are all hard. One of the hardest ones is a thing called ‘Danger Zone’. It’s impossible to breath. There’s no gaps in it. It’s alright when you’re when in the studio – you can always stop.
Another one is called ‘Hirashima Mo Amour’ – there’s some very high notes in that but we do it live. I had done it live with Alcatraz before I left them. We did that every night but we made it into a medley. There were two songs – we did that one as the last all the way through and had another one before it. But the one before it, it gave me a chance to get ready for the higher notes in the second song in Hiroshima. But they are all hard.
When I did a lot of the recording it was really close upon the microphone using head voice. But my head voice is very loud. It’s not like Frankie Valli or something. It’s a louder voice. It takes a bit of practice to get back into that again.
You’ve gotta pump and use your lungs and stomach muscles but there is a trick. You can use head voice. My head voice is very loud as I said but most of the time it’s from here (points to his stomach) – the diaphragm and I don’t practise enough.
Glenn: The new album – when do you consider you will be recording it and where?
Beth-Ami: We want to start right away. There’s a piece of equipment we want to get hold of before we do. We are going to do a bulk of it here. Drums – we are going to have to go to a studio. It’s all up in the air.
We just went to NAMM and we have interest from a record company. They said, “Oh, if you need to record we’ve got facilities for you”, so that starts to be really enticing. The piece of equipment we need for live stuff too so we’re going to get that regardless. I am hoping we are going start in the next couple of weeks. So we’ll see what happens.
Glenn: Are you going to produce it yourselves or are you going to bring a name in to do it?
Beth-Ami: Again that label said, “And we have Producers on staff if you want to do something like that”. It’s exciting.
Glenn: So what is happening with the name of the band at the moment?
Graham: Well we changed the Bonnet bit because that just sounds like a hat. So now we’ve got the Graham Crackers and Blue Bonnet Margerine! (he jokes). We put ‘The Graham Bonnet Band’. I don’t want to be called ‘Bonnet’ or have my name in at all but…
Beth-Ami: He has such strong brand that it would be stupid not to use it.
Glenn: So because it is now ‘The Graham Bonnet Band’, does that mean you are going to be doing most of the lead singing? Can you see Beth-Ami and you doing a duet on the album.
Graham: Yes – Possibly.
Beth-Ami: When we’ve recorded and he is pushing me to sing – and I hate my voice. He says, “Do it, do it”, and I just apologise to Conrad, “If I sound like sh*t, I’m so sorry”, but he says, “Trust me”, and when I hear the final product I’m like, “Ooh that doesn’t sound bad – ooh that’s me?”.
Graham: Yeah, it can be done.
Beth-Ami: More than anyone I’ve encountered in music – he believes in me and I love him for it. He pushes me but he knows what he’s doing and I trust him. So I do it when I’m told.
Glenn: What songs of Graham’s do you get the most pleasure of playing on Bass?
Beth-Ami: That’s a pretty good question. I like ‘Love’s No Friend’ – I love that sort of bluesy thing. I like ‘Mirror Lies’. I love the way he writes and I feel like all his songs sort of take you on a little bit of a journey and that one I feel like I’m riding the rails when I’m playing that one and I’m listening to it. I love that. I love ‘em all – I do. All the Rainbow stuff is fun. I had to learn ‘Bad Girl’ while we were on that tour. I literally had to learn it during the tour and it is so frikkin’ notey but I did it.
Graham: She’s got a great ear for bass notes. Somehow I don’t hear notes – partly because I’m deaf but she hears things very subtle. We were saying about Roger Glover – he has some really subtle parts in the Rainbow thing. It sounds very simple when you first listen to it but when you listen really closely he’s doing all these little things – little ad-lib things you don’t really notice.
Beth-Ami: He’s really under-rated. I like the way he plays a lot. He’s great but when people talk about Bass players – I don’t want to name names because I don’t want to disparage anybody but they talk of people that are, as Graham would say, really widdly, widdly and I don’t think that’s what that instrument is for in the first place. The bass heroes – the traditional bass heroes are not necessarily mine.
Graham: Bass has the gel that brings all the other instruments together. It has the bottom of course because it’s the bass but it gels everything together and if you are a lead guitar player playing bass it’s always lost.
Beth-Ami: I hate guitar-playing bass. I hate it. I’m not going to name any names but I’m sure you can kinda guess who I am talking about. My little motto in life is, ‘Just because you can doesn’t mean you should’. It’s not what that instrument was intended for. I think you feel the whole feeling of the song if somebody is all over it on the notes. I don’t like it.
Glenn: Do you know what I think is great about you Graham, you’ve kept the same image. Everyone knows your look and everything else. You got so much grief with all the ‘he’s got short hair…’ but you’ve always kept that look.
Graham: Well yeah because that’s me. I’ve been the short haired boy since 1970 whatever and just because I happened to join this band, I didn’t want to change. I thought I didn’t fit anyway. I thought, ‘I’m not right for this band, I don’t look like them’, and that was one of the problems that Ritchie had at first with me was like the short hair thing and the whole story. But you look at bands now and everybody’s got short hair or shaved head or whatever. It doesn’t matter anymore. Hair shouldn’t matter.
Glenn: It’s the voice.
Graham: Yes basically it’s the voice. Not what clothes you wear. People look like they’ve just walked off the street now. You don’t have to dress up in a silly suit like I do once in a while. You can just be yourself – t-shirt and jeans. “Hey, don’t you sound”, who cares? But it is a visual thing, I understand. You’ve got to be a bit showbiz but that was what I was doing. I was trying to be a little bit different from the rest of the band – Yes! – So I wear the white sports coat and the pink carnation or whatever else because I was different. We were all different.
Don had his own image with his valor or whatever, Ritchie had his own image with his spandex suit and Roger with his hat. Whatever it may be and Cozy just looked cool. Cozy was the cool one – yeah. It was a big of a drag sometimes being told about it like, “Can’t you grow your hair a bit?”. I just refused to change. So if you don’t want me as I am, I won’t stay. I won’t change ever. It’s too late now.
Glenn: Yeah, there’s no point. Everyone knows who you are.
Graham: I’m clean shaven and all the rest of it. I’ve always liked the 1950’s music and the 1950’s look – Motorbikes and all that kind of thing.
OZZFestAmy: You can start doing the trendy beard grow thing. Hahahaha.
Beth-Ami: You had one yesterday.
Graham: Oh yeah, I had one yesterday. That was like that look. I had all my suits made in England by the guy whom used to make suits for Bobby Darin. I had some once made out the cloth that he ordered. This guy made me this suit in London and showed me all these pictures and played me some recordings of Bobby Darin singing in his shop. I was like, “Bloody Hell – this is amazing!” I’ve always been into that look – the 50’s thing. I had all my shirts made in the way they were made at one point. Dead on – identical to all the clothes that are made in the 50’s. But of course, later on I didn’t really care that much. I just let it go a little.
Glenn: Does it seem weird to you when you are walking around in mall or somewhere like that and you hear your music being played or when you see yourself on television or do you just get used to it? Or like “It’s him” from various people out in public.
Graham: Well that never happens now. It might have done years ago although maybe once in a while. People don’t really know who I am. It’s kind of nice.
Beth-Ami: As soon as he puts his glasses on, everybody knows who he is.
Graham: Way back when it did happen. It was cool. Of course I enjoyed it. Oh yeah. Look at me! I couldn’t go anywhere without people recognise me at one point. Like all of us – especially in Japan – we couldn’t even walk out in the damn street. It was incredible. Absolutely. I was blown away by the whole damn thing. Down in England and here too. When we first played here it was amazing.
At the venues people would be holding up drawings of you. “What the f*ck?”, because I had never been on a tour before. It was all new to me and I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was a magical time which will probably never happen again now. But what an experience I had and I’m very grateful to people like Ritch’ who said, “We want you in the band – short hair or not!”. So I will always be thankful to him – always and to the Gibb Brothers for giving me a career in the beginning – 1968, the very first thing.
Glenn: Talking of careers, you’ve been a Singer/Frontman all your life. If you weren’t doing that, where do you think the path would have led you?
Graham: I always wanted to be a reporter and write for a newspaper or something like that or be an artist. I was always into painting and that kind of thing. But I mainly wanted to write – write books or something like that. When I was at school I used to write these stories that would be read out in school assembly in the morning if I wrote something on paper – a story about whatever.
The Headmaster would say, “I’ve got a story to read you today by Graham Bonnet” and then start to read this to you. It would probably only be about four pages but the Headmaster would come out… the Headmaster hated me by the way – it’s wrong. But this is one thing – he thought I was something special and he’d read my stories to the school. It was like, “Ooh”. Then another day he’d be whipping my hand and say, “Don’t bring that guitar to school again!”. This is absolutely true. He whipped me really hard until the veins stuck on left hand and said, “Now try and play the guitar boy”. I was told over it would never get me anywhere and he was absolutely right.
But it was very cruel back then. They used the cane – a bamboo thing. It bloody hurt. But this was one thing I thought, ‘This guy that hates me is reading out my composition to the school’, and he was impressed by me. It was a weird feeling that this guy striking me one day was next day reading out to the school going, “What do you think of that?”, and I’d be all blushing and ‘Ooh akay’. That’s what I try to do with tunes now is put a story into the song and not some kind of fictional dungeons and dragons stuff – whips and chains and the Heavy Metal…
Glenn: Going back to the previous singer (Ronnie James Dio) of that band (Rainbow).
Graham: Yeah. That’s what I’m sounding. I didn’t think I’d fit in the band at all. I thought, ‘That’s not me at all’.
Glenn (to Beth Ami): How would you describe your bass playing?
Beith-Ami: Like I said, I don’t have a big ego so I don’t think highly of myself. I’m just amazed that I can even do it and I am playing right handed and I’m not. So I am just amazed at what I do and manage to nail something, “Oh I did it” (in complete surprise), “Oh goody, I actually sounded good”. I can’t say they’ve influence me but I can tell you my favourites are. Not in any particular order I love James Jamerson, John Paul Jones, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix – because he played on all the records, Jack Bruce.
I can’t say, “I sound like…”, I don’t but I love the way they sound. If I could choose to sound like any, they would be (the ones I’d choose) with that spectrum in there. I think I’m a hack. He has more faith in me than I do. I'm like, “God are you sure you want to do this?”, and he says, “Yeah, you’re good – You sound good”. Even Conrad will give me prop sometimes too. If the guys believe in me I guess I should too. It’s hard as a woman – you get beat down and I get so tired of it.
Graham: She doesn’t realise what she’s got.
Beth-Ami: I have a good sense of rhythm. I never knew I could play an instrument and I didn’t think I had that ability. Graham makes me feel good and he makes me feel like I can do anything. When we first started playing together I said, “They’re gonna hate me – I’m a girl. Just the virtue of me being female, I’m going to get slammed”. I actually did get slammed a little bit in some of the reviews in Spain but it just makes my resolve that much stronger. There’s like a little invisible ‘F*ck You’ going on. But most of the people were kind, I was received well in every gig that we played. People were really sweet to me. I do my job – except in Madrid (laughs).
Graham: She wasn’t that bad. I mean, I didn’t hear anything going on at all.
Beth-Ami: It’s a learning curve. That will never happen again because I won ’t panic.
Graham: She does all the right things. If I hear a line, she’ll say, “What do you hear?” and I will say something. She corrects me on some of the things. Well as I said, she hears things I don’t hear sometimes. If I’ve got a line in my head, a bass line or whatever or a guitar line, I’ll tell Conrad and same with Beth-Ami. But once she’s got it, it’s there, it locks in. She remembers every bloody thing that I don’t. Like the other day we were rehearsing and I’m like. “I can’t remember how this goes”, and two seconds later she’s off. She’s got a better memory. I don’t remember any words. She remembers all my words. I don’t remember them. She has a great memory. So she’ll never f*ck up. I never heard her f*ck up in Madrid at all. But she says she did so I guess she did.
Beth-Ami: I don’t do it for anybody but me. It’s like anything in life. I have a tendency to polarize people. You either like me or you don’t. I can’t worry about it. I can only be myself. So I play because it makes me feel good. Being able to play with him is an absolute dream come true. I hope people will like it but if they don’t I really can’t help it, I can just be myself.
Glenn (To Graham): Who has influenced you over the years and who still influences you as a singer?
Graham: It’s all the people that are probably dead now. There’s a girl called Helen Shapiro in England. She was a 15 year old schoolgirl and we had a very similar timbre or tone to our voice. When I was a kid my Mum and Dad used to say, “You sound like her”, because she sounded like a boy – a very sort of tenor voice. I loved her voice the way it sounded then later on I liked Frankie Lyman who had the high voice. So it’s a bit of a mixture of that and then I like Mario Lanza. He’s got the great opera voice but he was always kind of poo-pood because of the movies.
He couldn’t be in movies because that was commercial and that’s not a real opera singer is it? No. But he had a great tone and you knew it was him. Most opera singers sound like everybody else. Every country singer is like that. Country singers all sound the frikkin’ same. The same with Heavy Rock singers – they all sound the frikkin’ same – a lot of them. You know, the wah, hah (puts on a high voice).
Glenn: They always seem to sound like Robert Plant or Rob Halford or…
Graham: Yes, Yes. But Mario Lanza had a great voice. You knew it was him – he was so dramatic. He put real feeling into it. I think most opera singers, they sing to say, “Look out – there’s no beat my voice!”. That happens with Heavy Rock. The personality goes out of the voice. But not every Hard Rock singer is like that but I try to do that when I’m singing. But it was always people like him, this guy called David Whitfield I used to like in England back in the 1950’s.
But then it was Little Richard – a bit of everyone - Buddy Holly subtlety. I liked the way he sung. He under-sung everything. I loved him, I still do. I love listening to his music. It has nothing to do with what I do. Later it was John and Paul as well – The Beatles. The honesty in their voices.
Glenn: What would you say is missing more from music of today? Would you say it’s generic and such like? If you could change things, how would you change it?
Graham: I’d like everybody to go back to playing real in the studio – looking at each other, be a band in the studio. Like as you know, everything we do is by e-mail. That’s why we work from home – it’s all Pro-tools. You e-mail your part in and you never see the rest of the band until you are on stage. But that feeling of actually being in the studio together has gone. Like camaraderie – it’s great to have that feeling. But it doesn’t happen anymore because everybody else has got other stuff to do. Nobody is in the same band forever. The personnel is always changing.
Glenn: You don’t get to know each other properly do you?
Graham: No you don’t. With me it’s always been drummers. It’s always been the ones that have disappeared. We are the mainstay of this band – there’s me, Conrad and Beth-Ami. But the other guy we are not sure about yet. Maybe that person will come along who wants to be part of the song-writing. I hope.
OZZFestAmy: Once you’ve got the bass and percussion and they’re connecting and it’s all going down like it’s supposed to, you’ll know.
Beth-Ami: It’s dicey because we’ve played with different styles of people of people – sort of punk rock’ish, some kind of jazzy. Justin was definitely hard rock and hit great but we need to find that person that’s going to feel like a family member. The three of us feel like a family and we want a person who’s gong to be a member of the family, who’s going to give 100% like we do and really be part of that team and feel the love that we feel for each other. We want the fourth person to be that and he’s out there – we’ll find him or her.
OZZFestAmy: Yeah. It could even be a girl.
Beth-Ami: Yeah that would be great.
Graham: Even – yeah why not? There was a point where I was going to work with a girl guitar player a few years ago. It didn’t happen but it could have happened within this band. Conrad came along and he impressed me very much. Him being a friend of Beth-Ami’s was like a natural choice. But I’ve always thought about working with girl guitar players. They are out there now. There are so many f*ck*ng good guitar players who are women and why not?
Glenn: If they can play good it doesn’t matter does it?
Graham: No. A lot of my guitar playing guy friends poo-poo women that are guitarists and I don’t get it.
Beth-Ami: It’s a very male orientated industry in every way.
OZZFestAmy: It is.
Beth-Ami: Every aspect of it.
Graham: Yeah and who’d have thought that a lot of bass playing on a lot of records we have all listened to, Motown stuff – Carol Kay. She did all those records. Nobody knew she was a white woman. They thought it was some black guy for some reason. But she’s a Grandma and she’s one of the greatest players ever. Incredible woman.
Glenn: What would you say you are most proud of so far?
Graham: Well I think this. We are in the baby stage but I think this is going to be something that I know we all will be very proud of. This is something that’s just been born. It’s something I think we’ve got to work on but if we cut this the way I see it going I think it’s going to be something that’s pretty good. What do you think Beth-Ami?
Beth-Ami: I’m so lucky. I get to play with my best friend. I get to spend time with my best buddy in the whole world and play with incredible musicians and play for thousands of people. It is a dream come true. It’s the best.
Glenn: I’m looking forward to how it goes down in Japan. I mean, it’s been a while since you played it back then and I think they are going to be ecstatic now to have you back.
Beth-Ami: Yeah especially playing with Michael Schenker. They have to be careful because I actually speak Japanese. The band has infinite possibilities. This could go anywhere.
Glenn: Well on behalf of myself and OZZFestAmy, I would just like to thank you so, so much for inviting us and giving us such a great interview. We so much appreciate it for the magazine.
Graham: Oh thank you.
Beth-Ami: You have nice humour too. (We all laugh). This was fun.
Graham: We tried.
OZZFestAmy (To Graham): Yeah you could have been a comedian have you not have been…
Graham: Really? All musicians are comedians and you have to have a sense of humour because you don’t know when you are going to be down the sh*tter* you know?
Glenn: And you need your Spinal Tap moment about all the drummers as well. (We all laugh). No gardening accidents or no-one simultaneously combusting on stage?
Beth-Ami: That was funny because I actually made that reference because we were just having trouble finding that. But we’ve had so much interest. People are coming out of the woodwork contacting me going, “I hear you are looking for a drummer”. We are going to hold some auditions. I know he is out there or she. It’ll be like the final piece of the puzzle that locks in and from there we just take off.
Graham: We want someone who is going to help invent new music. That’s what we need – another musician who will say, “What about doing this?”. Not someone who can just have a bang through ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’.
OZZFestAmy: Keeping in time and it tempo.
Beth-Ami: Well all the drummers we have played with have been great drummers but not necessarily the appropriate one for the band. They’ve all been great.
Beth-Ami: We just need that family member and we’ll know when we have that.
OZZFestAmy: I think so too.
Glenn: Right thank you so, so much for your time. It's been an amazing evening spent talking with you.
Graham: You’re welcome. You are very welcome.
Feel free to check out the following sites relating to Graham Bonnet / The Graham Bonnet Band:
A Big thankyou to OZZFestAmy for the two photographs taken of me with Graham Bonnet, Beth-Ami Heavenstone & her awesome Dog who stole the show on a couple of occasions!
Other photographs have been supplied and used by kind permission of Graham Bonnet & Beth-Ami Heavenstone or taken by Glenn Milligan while the band was In-Concert at O2 Academy 2, Sheffield on December, 2nd, 2015.