Can you briefly tell us what happened before you formed POWERS COURT? (MEAN STREAK, CRUCIBLE and EQUINOX!)
Danie: “The first band I was in was called MEAN STREAK, which was a five piece and I just sang. We did covers like JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, SAXON, etc., that fell apart because I wanted to do 'originals' and the guys in that band couldn't hack it. CRUCIBLE was next and it was my first three piece band. It was myself, a female bassist and the drummer I ended up staying with (BLZBob) for some time, who I formed EQUINOX with, which was also a three piece band. Monty York was on bass. I was doing a recording with EQUINOX and the drummer and bassist got into WWIII and the bassist quit and wanted his tracks removed. I complied because he was a really good friend and that's how I met Steve Murray, the studio engineer gave me his phone number. Steve and I were together as EQUINOX for awhile and our first demo that we did was with Gunnar Swenson on drums. When we got ready to record our first CD we decided we needed to change the band name because we came across several bands named EQUINOX. So Steve came up with POWERS COURT for a name which is a take off of my last name and a castle in Ireland of the same name. We all figured nobody else would have that name, so we went for it.”
Who were your main musical influences back then?
Danie: “Main musical influences at that time were, MERCYFUL FATE, KING DIAMOND, SLAYER, EARLY METALLICA, EARLY MEGADETH, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, BLACK SABBATH, OZZY.”
Your debut CD was called "Powers Court". How was the reaction of the press on that album and how many copies were sold of it?
Danie: “We got great reviews on the debut. We sold around 1,800 of the debut internationally initially. There have been more sales of the debut since “Nine Kinds Of Hell” has come out, so I'm not sure what the exact figure is now. We understand at that time that was a decent amount given the fact that it was self financed and self promoted.”
The most remarkable thing about your music is definitely your voice. That someone reaches a range of four and a half octaves with his/her voice is not very common. How did you find out that you could do this with your voice and did you get any singing lessons at all?
Danie: “How did I find out? I dunno, we just tested it against a keyboard one day and bam we figured out I could hit 4.5 octaves. I was always able to go from pretty low to high from the time I was a kid, I really didn't think that much about it. We just really decided to go all out with it on “Nine Kinds Of Hell”. I sang choir for several years, mostly funerals and some operatic type singing, madrigal, etc. I sang and practiced a lot on my own with recordings also.”
In your guitar playing I hear back the love for Randy Rhoads (late QUIET, RIOT/OZZY OSBOURNE guitar player). You are a great fan of this sadly missed guitar player. But maybe you can tell us a bit more where you get your musical influences from?
Danie: “Yes, I'm a great fan of Randy's. I think, he was a genius virtuoso. His ability to play ripping classical riffs without being stuck in that boring rut and sounding too 'by the book' fascinates me still. My guitar influences are Randy Rhoads, Dave Murray (IRON MAIDEN), Glenn Tipton (JUDAS PRIEST), Jon Schaffer (ICED EARTH), SLAYER, YNGWIE, Andy Laroque (KING DIAMOND), Dave Mustaine (MEGADETH) and hard rock guitarists like JIMMY PAGE, JEFF BECK, etc.”
Who is in POWERS COURT right now, and are you still in contact with some of your former band members? What happened to them and why did they actually leave the band?
Danie: “Myself, Steve Murray on bass and Mike Evans on drums is the current line up. I'm still in contact with all the former members actually, we run into 'em from time to time when we're club hoppin'. Why did they leave? When you start to take music more seriously and there becomes more 'business' to contend with a lot of players can't handle it. Ninety percent of musicians think it's all drinking, drugs and getting laid and the rest just falls out of the air and into place. That's of course a ridiculous high school fantasy and unfortunately some people aren't mature enough to realize this shit takes a lot of work and dedication. When the going gets tough, the weak run for the hills. So happy trails to 'em, if they can't hack it.”
How would you describe the music of POWERS COURT?
Danie: “We describe it as ‘Dark Power Metal’, others term it U.S. Power Metal to differentiate it from the European power metal, that's out there at the moment. It has far more in common with NEVERMORE and ICED EARTH than BLIND GUARDIAN and HAMMERFALL.”
Who writes the lyrics for the band, and where are they about? Are they fiction, or do you write about things that you've experienced yourself?
Danie: “I write the lyrics. Some of them are fiction, most of them are about experiences I've had, some of them are about experiences I had that are 'cloaked' in the guise of fiction.”
How did you get in contact with Dragonheart Music, who released your second album "Nine Kinds Of Hell"?
Danie: “Dragonheart Records got in touch with us. Our label executive saw some reviews about us in several European zines, visited our web site, emailed us and requested we send him our first CD. He was impressed and signed us soon after. We were also approached by Sentinel Steel (USA) and Underground Symphony (Italy) both fine power metal labels also. After seeing and hearing the releases put out by Dragonheart we were very psyched. There were a variety of styles signed and each band had it's own uniqueness. We felt that we fit the best with the Dragonhart line-up. They allow us total artistic freedom and that was something that really concerned us prior to signing with anyone.”
Five years later you finally released this second, and most recent album "Nine Kinds Of Hell". Why did it take you so long to release this new album and what did you do in the meantime?
Danie: “We realize there's a five year gap there, but something that people sometimes don't understand is that when you are an independent band, meaning 'you're not signed to a 'label', it's extremely difficult to come up with a CD per year or even one every other year. It takes a lot of money to put out a good quality CD. We're not independently wealthy and we don't live with and sponge off mommy and daddy. We have always wanted to release CDs of quality vs. just slapping together some crappy recording with shoddy artwork just to say we'd released a CD per year like a lot of bands do. We ran out of funds during the making of “Nine Kinds Of Hell” and then miraculously the labels came courting. Because we were not interested in getting signed at all at that time, too many restrictions. Dragonheart came to our aid so that we were able to complete the project. Several things happened during the making of this CD, personnel changes, contract negotiations, day jobs from hell interfering, etc., etc., And in reality if you look at bands like ICED EARTH, they're releasing something 'new' more like every three years. In between times there are re-masters, re-releases, box sets, etc.etc.. I mean, if you have a bigger label backing you, they can supply the fans with something each year making it appear as though they are getting something 'new'every year. When you're an independent band paying for everything yourself and promoting it yourself it's just financially impossible to keep up with bands that are on labels. What did we do during that time? We were playing in the States, writing, keeping day jobs and trying to figure out how to pay the rent and all the bills and still come up with the money we needed to pay for the recording. That doesn't sound very glamorous I know, but that's how it was."
Does the title "Nine Kinds Of Hell" have a deeper meaning or does the title reflect on the nine songs on the album?
Danie: “ “Nine Kinds Of Hell” means each song is a different kind of hellish experience.”
How were the reactions on this second album?
Danie: “About 70% in favor of about 30% it went completely over their heads ‘cos they were the types that want everything cookie cutter/paint-by-numbers commercial power metal. These are journalists we're talking here, not metal fans. We've gotten all favorable responses from metal fans, who considered us a 'breath of fresh air' after all the 'sounds just like someone else' bands out there.”
I can recall a not so positive review you got in the German Rock Hard, and you even wrote an angry letter to the guy who reviewed the CD. Is it hard for you to receive bad critics?
Danie: “An 'angry' letter? Jeez, I thought I was being incredibly diplomatic! They printed it word for word so it couldn't have been that bad, could it? All I did was point out how the guy had stated that I was male, which I'm not...that we were a five piece band...we're a three piece, which if a person knows anything about music at all they will know that's vastly different...especially live. I'm working a hell of a lot harder than someone who is just a singer. I asked them politely, if they would be so kind as to print a "whoops we were mistaken" blurb in there. That was all I asked for and they graciously complied by printing my entire letter so we could set the record straight and we really appreciated that. Thanks to Boris for that, he's a real gentleman who obviously is dedicated to his craft. Angry for me would have consisted of, "Hey, tell your boy to get his head out of his ass, maybe he would be able to read the bio better and I'm sure he'd be able to hear a fuckin' lot better." I just didn't feel the need for knockin' on the guy that hard. He just needed to pay more attention and I wanted other bands spared the same treatment in the future. If a guy can't get simple facts straight, how can a band and the fans expect a fair review? I wasn't as angry about it as frustrated that he didn't bother to read the bio and just didn't pay much attention period, I mean come on, how many males can hit soprano notes like that? It's physically impossible...and then we had similar reviewers that were obviously fuckin' lazy that just stole the Rock Hard review and also didn't read or listen because they just changed a few words around! That angered me. What are the odds that more than one journalist thought we had a male singer and we were a five piece band? I even confronted one journalist that did this and he admitted he copied it! Translation, read Rock Hard, copy their reviews, don't listen for yourself. Great reporting there huh? And since when did doing reviews on metal turn into an activity much like cheating on a book report for class because you're too lazy to read the book? I find this really disturbing as both a fan of metal and a musician. I've noticed this with other bands reviews as well! I mean these losers are in the minority as far as journalists go, but if we're to expect such godlike perfection from our musicians, isn't it only fair to expect the same of the journalists who are reporting on that same music? There is an obligation to fans to report things responsibly in my opinion. Slapping something on, not paying attention, not reading, not having the integrity to listen intelligently (or for yourself for that matter) does not make good journalism and hurts metal in general in my opinion. Metal has become just as clone oriented as every other commercial genre out there and bad reporting isn't going to do anything to help any of us break out of that. These guys just strike me as people who have a huge stack of CDs to review and a deadline to meet and bands like us just piss them off because they actually have to think for a change, they can't just listen for two seconds and say, "Hmmm okay, HAMMERFALL meets TRISTANIA....next CD..." I mean if you don't like what we do, fine you know? Have the fucking intelligence to at least be able to give a mature, educated opinion that comes after really listening to something. If a journalist is worth his or her weight in salt a musician can learn something from their criticism and grow as an artist. If the guy's an idiot what can you do with that? What can the fans learn from that? Nothing...it's not fair to musicians or their fans. There's no way to please everyone, you just have to do what you do and stand behind it. If someone doesn't 'get it', oh well. As the famous saying goes,"Opinions are like assholes and everybody has one." You can't let someone's opinion dictate what you do artistically, if you do that you lose who you are and then what's the point? There are too many clone bands out there now and we don't intend to be another one.”
Do you also play live a lot and what does a POWERS COURT live gig look like? Do you use any show elements for instance or play any covers?
Danie: “Mostly frantic speed and anger peppered with some mellower acoustic parts and surprises like distorted mandolin sometimes played with a violin bow. We have a tendency to play much faster than the recordings live. There's just something about that whole live-vibe that pumps up the energy levels. We don't do covers. We feel like we've more than paid our dues playing covers. Although, we might do a tribute type thing as bonus track sometime in the near future. But live, right now no, we don't do covers.”
How come you never played over here in Europe?
Danie: “Nine Kinds Of Hell” came out right as the September 11th attacks hit here in the states, at that time most definitely a tour was out of the question for all bands from the U.S. And our label is a small independent label. If you notice nobody on the Dragonheart label has had a label sponsored 'major' tour. If you live in Europe, you have access to several festivals to play and several venues. Unfortunately, we're don't live in Europe. Sadly we're not rich, we can't afford to foot the bill to get us and our equipment over to Europe for a full fledged tour without financial help. I don't know any bands that can. That's the cold, harsh truth...”
Were you ever asked to come over, by the way?
Danie: “Yes, of course! Over and over...I have a list of people's phone numbers and addresses that have offered to let us stay with them if we ever get to Europe! It's not like we're not wanted...I've had several emails and phone calls asking us to play different festivals, etc.”
What's your favorite POWERS COURT song and why?
Danie: “Godz, that's a hard one to answer. The first one that comes to mind is “Conquistador”. I started putzing around with the beginning riffs on that, when I first started playing guitar at around age eleven or twelve. It disturbed me and I kept putting it away. There's a lot of emotion in that song and I had a psychic try to tell me that that was a past life experience of mine and that explains the disturbing visions that accompanied it and my trying to bury the pain that seems to crop up when I wrote it and play it. So I don't know if that's my absolute favorite, but it's the one I'm the closest to for some reason.”
Are you already writing new material for a new album, and what can the fans expect from it?
Danie: “Yes. The songs will have more consistency, because it's more of a traditional concept. The CD is a concept album based on an original story penned by myself about an evil land owner who dabbles in the occult to obtain his desires and consequently struggles with a murderous obsession. That's all I want to give away at the moment. I have about five songs written so far for it. Most of this was written on a 7-string guitar as opposed to the six string I used on the last two CDs, so it will sound much heavier and more foreboding. It will still have some of the vocal acrobatics. It will probably be more mid range than soprano this time...not real sure on all that yet, the vocals come last in the process. So far the songs are faster and more aggressive on the whole also.”
What are your future plans with POWERS COURT?
Danie: “Take it as far as we wanna go.”
Did you set a goal for this band?
Danie: “We don't set major goals per se. We have two more albums on Dragonheart and after that we'll see what happens you know?”
Have you got any other hobbies, next to music?
Danie: “Golf, tennis, rune casting, tarot reading, gemstone magick, etc.”
Is it more difficult for you, as a woman, to prove yourself in the music scene?
Danie: “No. Jesus Christ I have a 4.5 octave voice, play leads, rhythm, mandolin and keyboards. How many males or people period can do that many things? A lot of the time at once, and do it all that well? What's to prove? I'm just doing this music because I enjoy it and I'm good at it. I don't have anything to prove and most certainly not to other people. If people get into what we're doing, great...if not there are plenty of other bands for them to listen to.”
How important is the internet for a band like POWERS COURT? Is it an essential tool nowadays or is it just a handy tool to get in touch with the different people?
Danie: “We got our record contract because of being accessible via the internet.”
The last words are for you.
Danie: “Come and visit us on our web site at: http://www.powers-court.com. Bios, pictures, news, sound clips, you name it! And thanks so much for your support! Stay heavy and keep your rock hard!”
Note: POWERS COURT's third CD entitled "The Red Mist Of Endenmore" is completed. The band is currently working with label artist Giovana Corsini and label graphic artists to complete layout, design and paintings for the CD.
Further information regarding the album's tentative release date is currently unknown, but will be posted as soon as Dragonheart Records informs us.
Contact POWERS COURT at:
P.O. Box 465,
East Alton, IL 62024,