jeudi 20 septembre 2018

John Stevenson interview : his Kill City Dragons days

I heard about John Stevenson because of Kill City Dragons. He was the second singer of the band during less than a year between '91 and '92. Later he moved to the USA and been the singer in the alternative rock band Rhinocerotic, a Milwaukee household name. Nowadays he's still creating music as a solo artist under the name The Scorpio Experiment, a one man electronic rock band, where he writes, records, and plays all the music himself. 
A 5-song E.P. will be released online and free of charge, sometime around October 2018. 

But today the man is talking about his days with the Dragons.

Prior to KCD you were in Dawn after Dark. How long have you been in this band ? 

A couple of years I believe ? I loved my time in D.A.D. and have made lifetime relationships with the guys , I love them to death, they emotionally supported my decision to join The Dragons and even turned up to some shows, which was great!! 

I don't think you ever recorded with them but only played live gigs. Am I correct ? 

Yeah, we played a whole bunch of shows all over the U.K…. fantastic time! ...way too much fun (lol). Nothing was released, but we did record some stuff, that unfortunately I lost at some point during all my travels ! It was very cool, riff heavy melodic rock, ala AC/DC / The Almighty. NO BALLADS ALLOWED!!! (lol)

Were you still in the band when you first met Steve von Saint and Danny Fury from Kill City Dragons ? 

Yeah, they had seen me play with them at The Limelight in London. 

Because your image didn't fit with their expectations you didn't get the job at first. Were you aware of that and how did you react ? 

I was very aware of the image, and what they were looking for, In fact an old band I sang for called The Hybrids played with them at a show in Doncaster. But I live Rock and Roll and was open to anything that would get me out playing shows and recording on a more constant and professional basis. 

But after searching through the US the perfect match, Danny and Steve came back at you with a re-looking plan, innit ? 

Yeah, I got a call from them. I was living with Richie and Dave from Dawn after Dark when I got the call and discussed the whole situation openly with them. They were very much in favour of me joining KCD as they believed in me and thought I had the chops to go all the way!! ...also present that evening was Ozzy and Jeff, from Gunfire Dance who were our next door neighbours and drinking partners in crime!! They all convinced me I'd be stupid not to join The Dragons

How long did it take for this new line-up to be ready to play gigs ? 

Hmmm…..not sure…not too long, we were all itching to get out and play live. 

Did you learn and perform on stage all the songs written before your arrival ? 

No not many, me and Steve bonded very quickly and we very much wanted to do all the new songs we were writing, although I did learn about 4-5 old songs right away so we could gap that bridge between the old and new songs. My voice didn’t quite suit the old Dragons material, and I've never liked singing someone else's lyrics….kinda like being in a covers band, if ya know what I mean!! 

Which ones were your favorites ? 

My favourite old song was “That Ain't no Lie” cause it was more straight ahead and punky, and of the new stuff I loved “Little Bitch” very much, an indication of the musical style we were heading in. 

As you said, you co-wrote new songs with Steve. Can you talk about these numbers ? 

Writing with Steve was the best…. probably the most instinctive partnership I’ve ever had musically… I truly believe if circumstances had been different we would've continued to get even better and become much more successful than before. We even talked about changing the name…..which I very much wanted……we were a completely different band from KCD by that point in time! 

Do you remember what was the regular setlist for the shows ? 

My memory is a little fuzzy about the shows… . ..thank you alcohol !!!! (lol)  But I do remember doing Fastest Way Down, Ain't No Lie, I Don't Want Anything From You (my least favourite song) and Devil Calling. I do remember we always opened the shows with a new song : The Madness Within.

How many live gigs did you perform with the band ? 

Phew…. not sure, around 20 or so??, Danny or Steve might know better ?

Do you know if live recordings bootlegs exist ? I never found any while there's at least 5 of the original line-up. 

Not that I’m aware of.. I would love it if Danny or Steve had any recordings we did tho.. .Would be great to put them out on your webpage and let everyone finally hear all the great stuff we did. 

It's always a difficult task to replace the singer in a band. How was the reaction of the audience

Yeah , it was a difficult task, that was always my pet peeve. They wanted me to be a Billy Pt 2. I wanted to be Johnny #1. (lol) But I think where we lost some fans, we gained more, who found the new Dragons a more fresh sounding band to listen to ! 

Did you feel comfortable to fill this role and did you feel any pressure ? 

NO I was never comfortable to fill someone else's shoes, and YES I did feel the pressure, I truly believe the reason the band ended was certain members lived in the past… forward thinking is something that’s just part of who I am as a person, musically speaking at least. The New Dragons (Hey that would've been a great name for KCD #2) would have been much more successful and well known if the ghost of the past remained in the past, so I’m very much to blame that I let it get to me and didn’t give it more time…  if only you could go back in time eh!? 

From the start KCD use to offer merchandising (T-shirts, badges...) . Was it still true at this point ? 

Not at that point.. . We were more concentrated on the music! 

Did you get magazines attention and exposure ? 

A little... mainly from Kerrang magazine..., we did get a nice live review of the Marquee show…..the writer saw the potential I think !? 

From the early days of the band, KCD were supposed to make it big but ultimately it never happened. How was the situation when you joined them ? 

I think in time, if we had stayed focused together The New Dragons would've been a fucking great touring, and more importantly recording rock and roll band……people were looking for more real and authentic sounding rock n roll, and we would've provided that, I truly believe it!! 

You've recorded a 3 songs demos with Mark Dearnley (Bang Tango, Gene loves Jezebel) whom recorded the first E.P. of the band. What are your recollection of these sessions and how picked you up these particular tracks ? 

I absolutely loved those recording sessions, best time ever! Steve and I particularly enjoyed the whole recording, mixing and production process, and were very much “hands on” with Mark Dearnley during the whole thing. Steve and I wrote both “Down In A Groove” and “Scene Of The Crime” almost immediately as soon as I joined, so these were the two we chose, a shame cause we wrote MUCH better songs later! 

One of the song "Scene of the crime" appears on a British bands only comp' entitled The Kingdom of Rock released in 1992. How come ? 

I have no idea!! (lLol) I don’t remember, sorry….. I would love a copy if anyone has one ! 

Music for Nations showed interest and wanted to sign the band but you call it quits. What happened ?

We just weren't ready… I remember at the time thinking I didn’t want my name associated with anything Kill City Dragons…, but now I believe with a little more time and name change we would’ve been mind blowing!!!! I also had a girlfriend whispering in my ear about how much better I'd be without them!! To this day I regret the decision to leave the band…..that was ALL ME! No one else… as I’ve previously said, with time we would’ve become much more successful than the old Dragons

Now, how do you feel about this period of your life and the time spent in the band ? 

Regrets with how it ended, but now I look back with great fondness. More importantly Me, Steve and Danny all keep in touch today, and I will always be their friend and brother!!! ....and I still feel we have unfinished business, so don't be too surprised if we get together at some point and make some great music again !!!???

Peace out, and keep Rockin' 



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