Kevin Ridley

Kevin Ridley

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Kevin Ridley is a really hard working musician and has served the scene from almost all the positions; he is a producer, a lyricist, a composer, a guitarist, a singer etc He is clearly a very talented man and the one who took the bold decision to step into Martin Walkyier's shoes fronting SKYCLAD. Recently Kevin released a very good solo album and although it is not a genuine Metal album can be appreciated by thinking metalheads and folk lovers! METAL KAOZ conducted Kevin and sent him the following questions to get more info on his project so, read what he replied.


 

Hey Kevin welcome to METAL KAOZ and congrats on your debut solo album!
Thank you.

First of all how did you decide to release a solo album? Are all the songs new compositions or are there some that were already written but never used?
Well there was no ‘big plan’ to release a solo album but, as your question suggests, as a writer you always have songs or ideas floating about and when we finished recording "A Semblance Of Normality" I just kept on writing and ended up with a bunch of songs that didn’t really fit in with the plans for SKYCLAD and this prompted me to think about doing a solo album. So, most of the songs are new but there are a few covers and instrumentals that I had ideas for from before this period.

How long did it take you to write/record/produce the album? Did you face any difficulties along the process?
Writing the album happened surprising fast to be honest - which is probably why I wanted to do the project in the first place, because it was so fresh. But the recording of it took a lot longer partly because I needed to find the time and money to book session players and studios etc. Remember this was a ‘side project’ and I still had to tour with SKYCLAD and so on. One of the main difficulties I faced was changing recording formats from the home environment to the studio - this was very frustrating and added to the delay in getting all the songs mixed. In total this process, including doing all the artwork and contracts etc, took nearly six years, something I had not really bargained for.

I know that I made a mistake on identifying who is responsible for what guitar solo so, please enlighten us about those contributions.
Well all the people in SKYCLAD feature on the album, on different tracks chosen to showcase their talents (I hope). So while Arron plays drums on all the album tracks Graham Bean only plays bass on "Good Intentions", George only plays fiddle on "Still Lucid" and Steve contributes one solo for "Dance Till Tomorrow". Apart from SKYCLAD, there’s Dave Anderson on bass (he recorded a couple of albums with BLITZKRIEG), Andy May on Northumbrian pipes (he also played on "A Semblance Of Normality") and Sophy Ball and Tom Gregory-Smith on fiddle. So each song has a slightly different line-up and all this is explained in the sleeve notes. The rest of the playing is down to me and this was something I really enjoyed; particularly playing mandolin as well as guitar and doing vocals.

In the press release you say that with this album you wanted to explore further the Northern England references from the “Semblance To Normality” SKYCLAD album; so where can we track down these references in the album?
I have to say that I was conscious of not making the album too focussed on the North-East because it might not mean much to people from Europe or wherever. But songs Like "Angel of Harlow Green", "De Profundis", "Still Lucid After All These Beers" and "Dance Till Tomorrow" are all written about places in the North-East. I think you could Google a few lines and you would get a lot of information - for example about The Devil’s Causeway or the Angel Of The North.

Also, you say that this is an autobiographical album; although I would love to learn more about every track I have to ask you about the lyrics in "Good Intentions (A Young Man’s Tale)", "Still Lucid After All These Beers" and "(We All Get) Where We Want To Go".
Yes, all of the above tracks and the songs you mention are largely autobiographical, in that they tell about my experiences in the places. I think one of the big differences with this being a solo album is that I can be more of a ‘storyteller’ and sing about life and love and growing up in this place. So "Good Intentions (A Young Man's Tale)" is basically about a young man trying to make it (in my case as a musician), "Still Lucid After All These Beers" is interesting in that I didn’t write the words (they are from a poem by George Charlton, a North-East poet) and I think he does an excellent job of documenting a night out in ‘the Toon’ (town) - as we say here. "(We All Get) Where We Want To Go" is based on the idea behind a Waterboy’s song ("A Bang On The Ear") about a ‘string of lovers’ but I wanted to make my own ‘bittersweet’ version of it.

Can we consider the album as a ‘one time project’ or there is a steady line-up behind it?
I certainly hope it not a one-off project (I’ve already started working on the follow-up). For live work, the intention is for me to able to play solo (acoustic) gigs as well as playing with the full band and I would hope to include the players (though not SKYCLAD) but the line-up is liable to change - and that is part of the fun I think.

You have also released a video clip for the new album; why did you choose a mid/slow tempo song for this? What is the story of this clip and what was your involvement in it?
I think that I chose the song "Point Of Departure" for a couple of reasons: firstly, I’d like to think that it’s an ‘accessible’ track, especially in terms of radio play and I am keen for the album to reach as many people as possible and, secondly, this was one of the later songs recorded for the album and I’m very pleased with the way it turned out; in terms of production. For the video,  I was lucky enough to get Fernando J. Martinez (who did the video for SKYCALD’s "Words Upon The Street") to do a couple of video’s for me. I was in Madrid around Xmas and so we shot some footage then (that covered all my parts for the tracks) but he had some ideas about expanding the storyline for "Point Of Departure" and so I left him to it and I think he did a great job

METAL KAOZ is a Metal based webzine so do you think a review on your album is misplaced here? Expanding this question can you think what is the ‘target group’ for this release? Can this album appeal to the SKYCLAD fans?
I think the reason it is here is primarily because of my work with SKYCLAD but I also hope that a lot of SKYCLAD fans will also enjoy this album; so in that respect I don’t think it is misplaced here and I also think that people have very diverse tastes and might enjoy the odd ‘acoustic’ album along with their Metal. So I suppose the ‘target audience’ for this album is anyone who appreciates folk-rock or ‘unplugged’ or acoustic singer/songwriter types of album. So I am hoping it has a broad appeal and can cross over into the Folk world as well as sections as the Rock/Metal world.

Speaking of SKYCLAD what is the current situation in the band? When can we expect a new album?
Well we keep promising to start one but I think next year is a target date; once we get all the ‘twenty years of SKYCLAD’ out of the system.

So, what are your immediate plans since the album is already out for some days? Any live shows? If yes, what will the line-up be?
I think I covered this above but I’m planning a few solo gigs (around playing with SKYCLAD) and I am rehearsing with the band now (most of whom played on the album) with the view to doing some festivals or shows later in the year.

You have a nice logo with a heart in the centre; is there a special meaning for you in this design?
I have to say again that I have been fortunate in working with some very talented friends that I’ve met through SKYCLAD and Renato Faccini is another one. The ‘heart logo’ is completely his creation and it is a detail from the cover artwork he did for me. This was developed from discussions we had and I sent him some of the lyrics and demos so he could get a feel for the music. I think it’s the relationship between the human and the machine that is appealing here and the sense of an adventurer going on a journey.

And what about the colorful artwork; was it made for the album or is it something that you chose?
This particular design was indeed done for the album. Originally I had asked Renato if I could use one of his pieces from his website, which is very similar - a man in a flying machine etc. But he said that he would come up with a new version along the same lines; which he did and, again, I think he did a fantastic job. So much so that when we printed up the artwork I wanted to include it on a poster so that everyone can see it in all it’s glory.

Thanks Kevin for getting the time to answer my questions! Hope to get more music from you in the near future!
Thank you again for the interview and some interesting questions.