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Jack Of All Trades: A Chat with VOODOO SIX Mastermind Tony Newton

By Shelly Harris, Chicago Contributor
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 @ 1:55 PM

"In the early days, I was getting more compliments about the production than the songs."

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Sonisphere photos by Marcia Pefley After spending the morning and early afternoon of July 5 at Sonisphere UK 2014 – and witnessing several back-to-back acts on various stages through rain or shine (TESSERACT on the open Apollo Stage; THE RAVEN AGE on the tented Satellite Stage; VOODOO SIX on the huge tented Bohemia Stage; The WINERY DOGS on the open Saturn Stage; SEBASTIAN BACH, also on the Bohemia Stage) – I eventually sat down with bassist Tony Newton of VOODOO SIX to discuss the bands progress from four years prior at the same Sonisphere festival.

It should be noted that Newton, originally a native of the East End of London, may have been one of the busiest guys at the festival this day, since he wears many caps in the music biz. Even so, he once again found time for a quick talk in between his live set with VOODOO SIX (he is the band’s founder, bassist, producer and co-songwriter) and his work later in the day at the sound desk for headliner IRON MAIDEN.

Sound engineer and producer, Tony often works in such capacities not only for IRON MAIDEN, but also THE RAVEN AGE, BRITISH LION and others - at least that is when he is not recording and orchestrating his own band, the aforementioned VOODOO SIX, purveyors of smoking hot, sharply hewn, grooving, gritty, consummate British hard-driven rock. (VOODOO SIX, which includes Luke Purdie, vocals; Matt Pierce, guitar; Chris Jones, guitar; and Joe Lazarus, drums; were also the highly compatible openers on the WINERY DOGS club tour which immediately followed Sonisphere.)

Clearly, though, Newton’s deepest passion remains with V6, which released Songs To Invade Countries To last year (while on tour with IRON MAIDEN), and which has a new album in the works with even more extensive touring ambitions in the upcoming year. So, while escaping the afternoon rain in the friendly and raucous Sonisphere guest tent, we touch on all these things:

KNAC.COM: What’s in the works for VOODOO SIX right now?

NEWTON: We’re writing new songs at the moment, and obviously the festival today, and we’re planning some new European dates for October, so we’re going back to Europe again.

KNAC.COM: And the last time you were here, Luke (vocalist) was pretty new in the band.

NEWTON: Well, Luke had just joined, yeah, exactly.

KNAC.COM: I could see at the show today now that is really gelling. The band is full of swagger and confidence.

NEWTON: Yeah, we’ve done a lot of shows since then. And, what you’ve got to remember is that Luke [Purdie} has always been a singer, but he played guitar as well, so he had something to hide behind. But, with us, it wasn’t when he was singing that there was a problem; it was when he wasn’t singing. He didn’t know what to do with himself. But he got over that and he’s comfortable now.

KNAC.COM: He’s worked it all out.

NEWTON: Well, we obviously did the tour last year [opening for IRON MAIDEN in Europe] and Steve [Harris] watched every show, and he’d come up to Luke and give him advice. And, finally – Luke was afraid to let go of the mic stand, he wouldn’t take the mic off – and then one night he just totally got it, and Steve came up to him and said, “Yeah, that’s it, you gotta do that!” And it really gave Luke a lot of confidence, having Steve to help him.

KNAC.COM: And that’s another thing that not everyone might know – that VOODOO SIX opened up for MAIDEN on the tour last summer.

NEWTON: Yeah, it was three months, and we did some really great places. We played in Istanbul in Turkey and a lot of Eastern European like Czech Republic and Lithuania, Slovenia.

KNAC.COM: Did you notice your fan base getting bigger?

NEWTON: Yeah, absolutely. The thing is, we hadn’t ever really been out to Europe. We’d just done the odd show, here and there, so that was a massive boost for us. So last year was amazing, just seeing on the likes of Facebook the amount of European fans we have now, and people asking us to go back to places like Poland and Germany. It’s amazing, really.

KNAC.COM: And you might possibly be doing that, right?

NEWTON: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got dates in Holland, Belgium and Germany booked at the moment, and we’re looking to do Poland and couple of other places as well.

KNAC.COM: After that it’s open and developing?

NEWTON: Yeah, after that it is probably recording.

KNAC.COM: And that album that would be coming out, would it be all new material?

NEWTON: All new.

KNAC.COM: Is it already done?

NEWTON: No, we’ve got about five or six songs at the moment. The current album was released last May, so that’s over a year ago. On the MAIDEN tour, that was what we were promoting. It’s never actually been released in America, so there is still an option to release it there.

KNAC.COM: So, if you finally do get over to the U.S. soon, that could be released there.

NEWTON: Exactly, by the time we do any dates in the U.S., we will probably have two albums ready by then, the new one and the current one.

KNAC.COM: Will you be doing all the production again?

NEWTON: Yeah, and we just need another five songs and we’ll be ready to go.

KNAC.COM: And I know you just did some kind of sound job for IRON MAIDEN recently. Can you tell me what that was all about?

NEWTON: There was a live TV broadcast, and I did the mix for the festival, which was the Rock Am Ring in Germany. It was just a live mix, I went out in a broadcast truck and did the live TV, which was really nerve-wracking.

KNAC.COM: Had you ever done that before?

NEWTON: I’d actually done live sound, but not to TV, no. I don’t know how many people watched it online and on Telly, obviously.

KNAC.COM: Clearly, they trusted in you.

NEWTON: Ah, but I was so nervous! I couldn’t eat all day.

KNAC.COM: You wanted to make sure you didn’t goof anything up?

NEWTON: Yeah, exactly. And it was a lot to deal with. I had to do a lot of preparation, obviously. It was on equipment I wasn’t really familiar with, so I had to quickly become familiar with that in the number of days leading up. But, everyone was pleased with it, so that was good.

KNAC.COM: Are you still doing sound and production-related things for other artists?

NEWTON: Yea, I do. I just did MAIDEN again, for an MTV special. I mixed seven live songs.

KNAC.COM: You do a little bit of it all.

NEWTON: Well, the only reason I got into sound is because I was never with the albums I made meself [with other bands like DEEDS]. So, I had to start to learn how to do it to make myself happy with the recording. And that was the first days of VOODOO SIX, really. In the early days, I was getting more compliments about the production than the songs. It’s difficult to do it all yourself, and I would like to bring an engineer in, but, at the moment, it’s obviously down to finances as well.

KNAC.COM: So, do you want to hold on to any further information about the next album? No title or anything?

NEWTON: No, not at the moment. We’ll see what songs jump out. It might be a song title or word.

KNAC.COM: But it will probably correspond with a tour?

NEWTON: Yes, yes, definitely. Hopefully in the U.S. too.

KNAC.COM: The U.S. would like that kind of “invasion”!

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