Interview with drummer Johanne James

Johanne James discussed with us about the latest Kyrbgrinder album, “Cold War Technology“, released on October 11th via Kyrbgrinder Records and distributed by Code 7/Plastic Head. He was designated as the Best Drummer by the Classic Rock Society four times, in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

I would like to start with a short history of Kyrbgrinder. When did you start this project and who are your colleagues? What is Kyrbgrinder’s musical history?

Kyrbgrinder have been going for some nine years, with different line ups. The current guys are Tommy Caris (guitar) and Albi Flaibani (bass). The “Cold War Technology ” is our second album now, and we hope that it will make a few waves as it's had some good reviews. The first album, “Defiance” was a taster to see what we were capable of.

How would you define Kyrbgrinder’s music to someone who didn't get to hear it?

It's a mixture of all the styles of music that we like to play and listen to: funk, rock, metal, jazz and progressive.

What can you tell me about the new album? What is the story? What is new about it comparing with “Defiance“?

Well, seeing as it was a new line up, the sound changed, also we were using a different studio called Thin Ice and produced by Karl Groom, who produces all the Threshold and Dragonforce albums. So working with him was so easy as he knows so much. What we tried to get across was the passion we play with, as the songs have a little more thought behind them. “Defiance” was not meant to do what it did, but it took on a new existence when management came on board, as we were just going to sell it to our friends at gigs that they had some kind of memento.

This album is much better in every aspect, production, compositions, performance, the whole shabang! We are quite pleased with it, although in hind sight you can always say that something could have been better, but that was the best we could do at the time.

Who is doing the music? Is a group process or is more like an individual work?

I write all the lyrics and to be honest, a lot of the music. I don't wish to sound conceited, but I will go in with either a complete composition that we develop or sometimes as you well know they come out of a jam session. Tommy is great for that as he can just create riffs and melodies that we will use in the future.

How would you promote the new album? Are you going on tour or something?

We have dates booked for next year now, as we now have a distribution company called Code 7 who do physical distribution, and Plastichead who do digital distribution. We were looking on some streaming sights, and to our amazement there have been over 40.000 illegal downloads. Shame that can’t be translated into sales, but at 25.000 of the people may now know of Kyrbgrinder.

I know you are also involved in other projects….

Yes, as you know, Threshold and The Shadow Theory,

What can you tell me about The Shadow Theory? How is to work with them?

Well, I was asked by Devon Graves if I were free to record the album last June. They plan to do some touring next year. But, as yet I have not met any of the other members, so when we get together, I'm not sure, but the album does sound very good indeed. Some great songs on there.

Threshold also will be recording a new album in 2011, and as you may well know, we have some shows in March and April.

Good news for Threshold fans. What are your musical preferences? Do you have any favourite bands?

I like most things that please my ears, and may go through phases of one genre or another. You have seen my profile page on Facebook, there is a collection of all that I like. But mainly I will listen to classical. It has a soothing effect.

How is the UK progressive metal scene?

It's not as good as it could be as this country is very product orientated. If you want good music, then you have to go underground, because all you will get is X Factor.

Is there any special concert that you remember?

Chuck Brown and the Soul Sarchers in 1989 at the Town and Country club in Kentish Town, London.

And a concert when you were on stage, a special one?

Then that would be Scrap Iron Scientists 1995 Anti Facist Festival, in south east London.

When will we see you live in Romania?

When you invite us! I have no idea. If the album does well out there, and if there is a demand, then we will come. The objective is, to spread the name of Kyrbgrinder.

image - see following caption
Johanne James @ Zoetermeer, The Netherlands
Photo: Lars Baehren / StudioRock