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Articles Home » Interviews » Bonrud, Paul - 2004 Interview 02
Bonrud, Paul - 2004 Interview 02


Getting back to the present, I understand your material was originally shopped to a number of European labels.. Frontiers being the eventual winner. Did you shop it around locally in the US though? 'I didn't send my CD to a single US record company' confirms Paul. 'I really want to keep the US territory open for myself. Signing myself for Europe, Russia, and Asia was a big enough commitment. I wanted to remain independent in the US. I got several offers from European labels but Serafino at Frontiers won me over. He is very passionate about melodic rock and he and I are both huge Journey fans. That's actually where he got the name Frontiers Records from!'

From your viewpoint, is their a dividing line between how melodic hard rock/AOR is perceived in Europe/UK and North America. Some say the impetus has now moved to Europe. Would you agree? 'Definitely. Melodic rock is more popular in Europe right now but I really think a band like The Darkness are changing that a little bit. Say what you will about those guys but they are putting the fun back into rock and roll and are bringing arena rock back to the masses. I'm all for it. While I enjoy hearing songs about serious subject matter, sometimes I just wanna rock. That's when I crank up The Darkness' CD and have a little bit of fun. I actually didn't like them at first but disdain turned to laughter which eventually settled into having fun' and realizing in the process that they were witty songwriters with a sense of humor and entertaining musicianship. I'm not a big fan of theirs admittedly, but I will buy their next CD!'

We now move on to the album in question.. 'Bonrud'. And lo and behold there is a rock icon in among the album credits. Keith Olsen, a name familiar to all melodic rockers, with a CV as long as the Hurricane season is in Florida. Paul explains how he managed to drag him along for the ride. 'A mutual friend introduced us at a recording studio. I gave him some of my songs and he gave me some suggestions on how to improve them. About a year later when I was getting ready to mix, I called him to ask if he would be willing to mix a song for me. He said sure and he had so much fun he wanted to mix the rest of the CD! We really have become very good friends and he has become a terrific mentor. He really watched out for me too which I really appreciate. He's a great guy and I'm blessed to call him friend.'

Obviously a noted producer such as Keith can make a big difference to the final sound of a musical project. What subtle differences do you think he added to the Bonrud project, away from the original material you started out with? 'I produced most of the songs before I had met Keith, but once he was on board to mix the songs, he listened to them and gave me suggestions of things to change, re-record, or add. One big thing he had me change were the keyboards. He didn't like the original keyboard sounds and he also didn't like the parts. The main problem had to do with the keyboard voicings which were very tight (like thirds) and were also sitting right in the spectral range of many of the other parts. So, he taught me a bit about spectral arranging and I went back to the drawing board and used a keyboard sound that had very few overtones and larger intervals like tenths. Essentially, the keyboard parts were simplified and the sound was spread out to be more or less below or above the guitar parts, leaving the frequency spectrum in between for the guitars to shine.'

'Another thing he had me change quite often were the backing vocals. I was already stacking 24 tracks of backing vocals like Mutt Lange does with Def Leppard, but the real key is how you end the phrases' says Paul. 'They sound cooler if you kind of growl at the tail end of the backing vocals as you pull them down. It's all about having them sort of swell and then drop. He also made lots of arrangement decisions. For example, the first verse on the song 'Date With Destiny' had guitars chugging along just like on the second verse. However, he thought it would be cooler to pull them out on the first verse altogther, and just have the bass line thumping along with the drums so when the first pre-chorus hit, the guitars would slam in there and you would say 'Hello!' It really helped make the song build. Keith is very good at what he does and it's pretty hard to separate Keith the producer from Keith the mixer. He's absolutely brilliant and he added a ton to the final product. He told me he would like to produce the next CD from the very beginning. That will be incredible if we can make that happen!'

Paul now takes us though the songs on the album.

1. Leap Of Faith - I wrote all of the music and lyrics for this one with the exception of the two verses which Dave Hendricks wrote. The song is about believing in yourself and knowing that everything will work out in the end. The music for this song came together in an instant and the title also popped into my head the very moment I started playing the riffs. I love it when songs come together as easily as this one!

2. The Phoenix - This is a really cool song and I love the octave ID hook that I play periodically throughout the song. It really seems to stick inside your head once you've heard it. I wrote this song with my good friend Tim Compton from Mariah and Lynn Allen. I briefly worked with a German singer named Dieter Rehrl before I met Dave Hendricks and Dieter was also given a small bit of credit for the writing as well. However, the majority of this song was written by Tim and me. The song is loosely based on the X-Men comic book story 'The Dark Phoenix Saga'. I was a comic book collector as a kid and they were one of my favourites.

3. Desperate Heart - I wrote this song by myself and it is my favourite song on the CD. I wrote it about the desperation we feel when a cherished relationship has crumbled and we're left alone in the aftermath feeling nothing but utter despair. This is a very haunting and powerful song. Dave really did a nice job singing this one and I'm very pleased with how it all came together. This was the last song recorded for the CD.

4. I've Changed - This is another one that I wrote by myself and is probably my second favourite song on the CD. The song is about groveling back to your girlfriend after you've been an idiot and begging her to take you back 'because Baby I've changed!' I wasn't in the dog house when I wrote it but when I sang it for my girlfriend, she was grinning from ear to ear. I've gone through my own growing pains (which is the second line of the chorus!) so we can kind of relate. Actually, I suspect most people can relate very well to this song's theme. Rule number one of songwriting is that lovers beg' and that's what this song is all about!

5. Give Me A Chance - I wrote 85% of this one by myself though Dave Hendricks got a little bit of songwriting credit for some of the lyrics on the first verse and the first pre-chorus. Once again, I have returned to rule number one of songwriting since this song is all about begging that pretty girl to just give you a chance. When I was in ninth grade I made the mistake of falling in love with the prettiest girl in school who was already dating college guys. She broke my heart but left me with inspiration for this song. I think most of us can also relate to being rejected by that unobtainable person that won't give you the time of day. This song is actually really fun and is all written about pursuing that dream girl and the song fortunately ends before she breaks your heart. The song really has a fun groove to it and is another one of my favourite tracks.

6. Take Me Home - I co wrote this song with Dave Hendricks. I wrote all of the music and I wrote half of the lyrics while Dave pitched in on the other half of the lyrics. The funny thing about this song is that one day Dave and I were working on recording some songs and he told me 'We don't have any songs that feature me!' I was a little bit confused by this since I thought he was featured on every song as the lead vocalist. I asked him what he had in mind. This is what we came up with as a result. So I guess this song features Dave. LOL!!! The song is about longing to return to a time and place where in our innocence we believed the world was a nice place.

7. Date With Destiny - This is another song I wrote with Dieter Rehrl. I wrote all of the music and most of the lyrics including the title. However, Dieter wrote the chorus and had a hand in the vocal melodies. Dieter is a great guy and is easily the most energetic front man I have ever worked with. This song is about a bad girl named Destiny who leads a guy down the wrong path and gets him into a lot of trouble. This song just went to number 11 on the charts in Japan!!!

8. Once In A Lifetime - I wrote this song with Dave. I wrote all of the music and the chorus while he wrote the majority of the lyrics for the verses and pre-choruses. You know the old saying 'You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone?' That's what this song is about' realizing you had that one-in-a-million someone only after you've ruined the relationship and it's all over.

9. Live Your Dreams - This is another song I wrote with Dave. I wrote the music and came up with the title and Dave wrote the majority of the other lyrics. I especially like the second verse which goes 'Have you seen the Eiffel Tower or walked along China's Great Wall? Or seen Aurora Borealis' I dream someday we'll see them all'. The reference to 'Aurora Borealis' has always been my favourite and thought that was a great moment of inspiration from Dave. The song is about making the most of our time on Earth and making sure that we fulfill our dreams by living them every day.

10. Look Me In The Eyes - I wrote this song by myself. It's a rip-roaring rocker and Keith really liked my guitar work on this song in particular. It's a song about confronting your lover when you know she's been cheating on you. It was inspired by a rock star breakup story that Keith told me about.

11. Hollywood Movie Star - I wrote all of the music for this song very quickly and Dave wrote all of the lyrics. Once again, I really like his lyrics on the second verse which is very voyeuristic. The line 'They stare at you with the lights down dear, dolby in every corner...' is really cool' especially the last half. The song is about a girl who dreams of becoming a movie star and is about the struggles she goes through to realize her dream but it also hints at the way she is exploited by the business as well. Dave does a really nice job of singing this song and you can hear the love he has for the song in his vocal delivery.

In terms of his recording process, I asked Paul whether he was still part of the vintage school using traditional methods for recording, or is he embracing new compositional tools such as Pro-Tools, or Cubase even? 'Keith mixed the CD on an analog desk using outboard gear including tube preamps and compressors. However, I recorded the individual tracks digitally using 48 KHz 24 bit converters with a very full 116db of dynamic range' says Paul. 'Recording digitally gives you the advantage of being able to easily back up your songs and it also allows you to easily edit the songs by flying parts in and out. So, this CD is a blend of old and new technology. We wanted it to sound like an authentic rock record which is where the analog gear came into play but we also embraced the digital technology for its excellent sound quality and ease of use.'

Continued on into Interview Three (see below).

Related Articles:
Paul Bonrud - 2004 Interview 1
Paul Bonrud - 2004 Interview 2
Paul Bonrud - 2004 Interview 3
Bonrud - 2004 Bonrud

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