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Articles Home » Interviews » Brazen Abbot - 2003 Guilty As Sin: Interview with Nikolo Kotsev
Brazen Abbot - 2003 Guilty As Sin: Interview with Nikolo Kotsev

INTERVIEW: Kotsev, Nikolo (Jul 2003)
Nik talks about the new one 'Guilty As Sin'
How do you follow up a monumental feat such as 2001's 'Nostradamus' Rock Opera? Brazen Abbot's Nikolo Kotsev does just that, and he's taking the band out on the road too, in support of the new album 'Guilty As Sin'! Read on..

WRITTEN BY: Gdazegod

Two years the rock world was tantalized by the Nostradamus Rock Opera, released by Nikolo Kotsev and his party of merry players. Integrating classical, hard rock, electronic instruments, traditional orchestral arrangements, and narrative, it was an intriguing and thoroughly enjoyable romp through the passages of time, as it related to French prophet and mystic Michel Nostradmus.

Thankfully for Nik, he's had a few years to settle down after what can only be described as a logistical nightmare trying to get the thing off the ground in the first place. We've moved on two years hence, and things have been just as busy for the Aland Islands based muso. He's been involved with other artists albums and material, in particular one of the Bee Gees - Robin Gibb. He's also the model graduate student, becoming a Master Of Music Arts, and to round it out, he began work on the fourth Brazen Abbot album. You'll see this one out very very shortly. It's called 'Guilty As Sin', and has a release date of July 28th, courtesy of SPV/Steamhammer Records.

Writing for the new album was in stark contrast to the work undertaken with 'Nostradamus', but how on earth does one top that effort? A difficult assignment to get back into the Brazen Abbot groove, but Nikolo has had time to reflect on past achievements and move on. 'I know what you mean George. On the other hand, it's really easy, because the format of the Brazen Abbot is so different and obviously calls for a different approach. I just had to write in the good old B.A style. I tell you one thing that would be difficult, and that is writing for Nostradamus Part II!'.

'Guilty As Sin', if you've been up to date with all the comings and goings on the Brazen Abbot website, had been in the can for some time. The vocal responsibilities fell to the trio of guys who've worked with Nik in the past: namely Joe Lynn Turner, Goran Edman and Jorn Lande. The ex Europe rhythm section of John Leven, Mic Michaeli and Ian Haughland provide the backend, while Nik does the rest. There's been a few feelers out there among the press/media, with expectations at the customary 'high standard' level for yet another quality Brazen Abbot release. Encouraging yes, with just a few days to go, and Nik is in a good frame of mind prior to the upcoming event. 'The expectations are high, the record company is doing a good job and I am very happy with the album. I don't know if it is the best, that's ot for me to say, but it definitely is a very good Brazen Abbot album.' As for a positive response from media, well Nik can only hope that everyone likes it.

Stylistically, Brazen Abbot's prior releases have all been in a similar vein. Fans of bands such as Deep Purple, Rainbow and Talisman will find a happy home with Brazen Abbot. But it's been a good six years since the last studio release, 'Eye Of The Storm'. Obviously Nik has progessed remarkably since then, and despite the many similarities, there are obvious contrasts. I asked Nik what sort of things stand out as being 'unique' with 'Guilty As Sin'? 'The acoustic songs for starters' he says. 'They are very different. I wrote the lyrics for both of them and they came from true stories, feelings and people. It was very emotional for me. the other major difference was that the whole album was written to be played live. I guess that had an influence in the way I was thinking while I was writing for the album.'

Considering 'Nostradamus' carried a theme, it would come as no surprise to many that 'Guilty As Sin' does likewise. The connatation inferring some religious references, though as Nik explains, that may very well be coincidental, as events unfolded during the writing phase which impacted on the title. 'Yes, this is quite a personal issue. The lyrics for the song itself were written by Joe Lynn Turner after I had long conversation with him regarding a bunch of personal problems I had. Actually lyrically the whole album is almost a concept album reflecting my life during the writing it' he says.

The long standing association with the likes of Joe Lynn Turner, Goran Edman, Jorn Lande and the old Europe rhythm section is continued. Though the lineup is familar, Nikolo is still able to keep the new material relatively fresh. Unconsciously, there maybe an inclination to roll back the clock and listen to past material, in order to create new stuff. Without hesitation, Nik does exactly that. 'I almost always start writing a new album while listening to the old ones first' he says. 'Sometimes you forget what you've written, and there would be
no point to write it again and again. It is difficult to write a good rock song today, especially when there are so many songs out there already. However, it is not impossible. I try to avoid repeating myself, but sometimes it can be OK. The real danger is repeating someone else. Sometimes I don't even know what influenced a certain riff. It feels familliar, but I still can't quite place it. Did I write that? Did someone else write it? I even call friends of mine humming great riffs, asking if they can recognize it and where does it come from.'

Some of the interviews we've conducted in the last wee while have seen some horror stories trying to get their recorded material all the way to the safety of the mixing desk. In Nikolo's case, we asked whether the recordings for 'Guilty As Sin' went ahead as planned. 'Yeah mate, no problem. All done in three months. Fast and good. I suppose that's the benefit of working in my own studio.'

The album has been ready for sometime, though it gets a late July release. Nik explains why there was a delay. 'We believe 'I'll Be Free' will make a great radio single. That's why we delayed the album, so the radio sstations would get enough time to play it before the album release. Afterwards everyone thought the song would fit much better in the Autumn playlists. So as it turned out, delaying the album was quite a pointless exercise, so eventually the single will come out after the album. A bit confusing? Yes!'

In an earlier interview we undertook with Nik, we talked about 'Nostradamus' perhaps becoming a rock opera, and there was a suggestion that a Bulgarian production company would get involved, but apparently it is a struggle as with any large venture, to find the money for the production. 'It will be an ongoing quest, but I believe 'Nostradamus' will be on stage one day. When, not quite sure.' While we're on the subject of Rock Opera's, Gary Hughes (Ten) is putting one together called 'Once And Future King', and though as interesting as the concept may be, even contemporaries such as Nikolo are unaware of such ventures happening that are of a similar bent.

However there is good news for Bulgarian fans in particular. A series of shows is planned at the end of this month, where Nikolo will be road-testing Brazen Abbot with a band lineup. This also includes Joe Lynn Turner on vocals plus some cohorts that Nik has put together, namely Wayne Banks - bass, Lars Pollack - keyboards and Thomas Broman - drums. He is definitely looking forward to bringing Brazen Abbot down to his home country of Bulgaria, where a virtual onslaught of fans are bound to be in attendance.

Rehearsals have started this week just gone, the band assembling two weeks out beforehand. The Bulgarian tour will take in three shows: his hometown of Varna is first stop, a gig on the July 27th, followed by dates in Plovdiv on the 29th, and the capital Sofia on the 31st. As Nik mentioned earlier, the material on 'Guilty As Sin' is priemd and ready for playing live, so hopefully we'll see Brazen Abbot on the road and further afield, depending on everyone's schedules of course! 'Finally it seems like it will come true' Niks says enthusiatically. 'We are really looking forward to the shows, and it is a good chance to roadtest these songs.'

And beyond the Bulgarian tour, Nik is still heavily involved with Robin Gibb, he is currently working on some things with him. he will be touring and promoting 'Guilty As Sin', and in between, more work seems to be popping up, which is a testament to his growing reputation. he aslo stresses that we would like to get Brazen Abbot on the road this autumn. That is something we'd all like to see.

I asked Nik whether he'd seen an increase in popularity with some of the harder genres of rock music coming through, particularly out of his home-area of Scandanavia (melodic + prog metal), while the traditional melodic/AOR scene has fallen away? 'I am not so familiar with the new bands. I know there are many good ones out there. Popularity is a subjective thing though' he says. 'I have noticed an increase in popularity for Brazen Abbot, which I suppose was logical after the great reception we got for 'Nostradamus'. Many people subsequently found out about Brazen Abbot after they had heard 'Nostradamus'.'

As we do with most of our interview subjects, we ask Nikolo what sort of rig he is currently playing through at the moment. You can blame Rob Bendelow from Saracen for this apparent regular feature in our interviews, which is proving to be quite popular among the musicians out there. Nik gives us a run-down. 'I play GEM 77 Ibanez guitars. I am not picky about my live set-up, because I use my own preamp and effects. I have a Kitty Hawk Quattro. I also use a modified Marshall, but right now it is broken, so I probably will play an Engl Savage amp when touring. Nothing fancy, really ;-).

Thanks for the brief update Nik, and all the best with 'Guilty As Sin' and the upcoming Bulgarian dates. 'Thanks for your support as always George..' - Nik

Related Articles:
Brazen Abbot - 1995 Live And Learn
Brazen Abbot - 1996 Eye Of The Storm
Brazen Abbot - 2003 Interview with Nikolo Kotsev
Brazen Abbot - 2003 Guilty As Sin

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