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Articles Home » Interviews » Pride - 2003 Interview with Ivan Gunn
Pride - 2003 Interview with Ivan Gunn

INTERVIEW: Pride (Jul 2003)
George talks with Ivan Gunn about 'Signs Of Purity'
Is the melodic rock band Pride, England's new 'pride and joy' of melodic rock? G-DAZE Editor Gdazegod finds out from Ivan Gunn..

WRITTEN BY: Gdazegod

For keyboardist Ivan Gunn, he can literally swear by the very name of his band, in terms of effort, attitude, and kinship among its personnel. The six-piece English melodic rock band Pride can also lay claim to the prized crown of England's best melodic rock band of the new millennium. For a guy who absolutely raves about his keyboard idol Gregg Giuffria, thankfully we are not going to see some sort of Angel resurrection, bedecked with flowing white robes and all sorts of ungodly theater gimmicks!

No, Ivan appears to have found his niche with Pride, particularly after all the hassles he experienced with his previous outfit Balance Of Power. His new band have settled into a groove, and the relationship is a harmonious one, all the more remarkable considering they've been together as the same six-piece since starting out in 1999/2000. Despite the fact that they've been together for all that time, and have already released an acclaimed album (2001's 'Far From The Edge'), the future potential it seems, is unbridled. What more can this band do to improve upon their accrued worth?

Well, we are about to find out. Pride releases their second album 'Signs Of Purity' this month. Again, the album is released in Europe via Point Music, and all signs point to further consolidation of the band's reputation out there in melodic rock land. In between times, Pride have also landed a significant deal with EMI-Toshiba, which will ensure that 'Signs Of Purity' gets the 'Full Monty' treatment over there in the Asian market.

For those who are just learning all about Pride, we'll fill in some gaps for you. The personnel are as follows: Matt Mitchell - vocals; Chris Green and Adrian Johnson - guitars; Simon Farmery - bass, Rik Eade - drums, and of course Ivan Gunn on the ivories. The members have played in other local South East England based bands, with Gunn having the most success with Balance Of Power, themselves formed from the ashes of mid nineties UK outfit Vandamne.

When Gunn departed Balance Of Power at the end of 1998, two things happened. Firstly, that band took a heavier direction, while secondly, Ivan was a much happier chappy, free from the burden heaped upon him. He admits that there were other circumstances apart from the heavier direction that resulted in his departure: 'It was one of many reasons' confirms Ivan, 'the other was that the music had to be melodic. However, the main reason for leaving was to restore my faith in people after having many a bad experience with Balance Of Power.'

Despite that, Ivan says all is not lost. 'I miss working with Pete (Southern) and Lance (King), and I'm certain that I'll work with them both again. Just watch this space.'

In recent times, the UK has not had a lot to write home about regarding its stock of decent hard rock bands. In fact, you'd have to go all the way back to 1996 and the debut Ten album to witness anything of absolute quality coming out of England. Until Pride turned up to play that is. Ivan is taken aback at the comparison, as Gary Hughes is a guy that he admires greatly. To him, even being talked about in the same breath as Ten is an honor. 'Yeah Gary Hughes is so talented, and it is nice to hear praise like that though. So thank you!'

Judging from Ivan's bio it seems he's always had a preference for the AOR side of the boulevard. The combination of players involved now, and the direction of the band culminating in a musical style that many say 'has done its dash', dispels any notion that classic rock (for want of a better phrase) has died. It may be unfashionable, but hey, how many 'classic rock' radio stations are out there blaring Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, BTO, Pink Floyd and Aerosmith tunes day in and day out? I'd suggest to the reader: thousands. So that suggests to me that the market is not dead, and with Pride's blend of hard edged sound with a classic rock flavour, they'd be a prime contender for a market like that.

With all the variety of music out there, it has impacted on Ivan in different ways. Considering GLORY DAZE also deals with a variety of genres in the hard rock field, it seems we are match made in Melodic Rock Nirvana (an oxymoron I know!). 'I like drama in music' says Ivan. 'Something that moves you. I listen to a heap of stuff. For instance I love Richard Marx, Kamelot, as well as Dishwalla and Hammerfall! For me the main ingredient is emotion.

That's the key.' The band has been cobbled together from an assortment of musical associations throughout South East England. Many of these associations have been successful, but really only at a local level. Despite the semi-professional arrangement, Ivan was only too glad to plough all of his available time into the band. 'I am very excited about the growing potential of Pride, considering it's so tough out there.' For him to make that call, obviously he has a perception that this combination is pretty special.' It's a brotherhood. I mean the
songs are all Mitchell, Gunn and Green collaborations, and for me the combination is magic.'

For those that have heard the 2001 debut 'Far From The Edge', it is a captivating amalgam of many bands, with Harem Scarem and Tyketto being but two of them. The reaction to the album was overwhelmingly good. Ivan says the reaction was 'scary' to say the least. 'It was beyond our wildest dreams' he adds.

With the new album 'Signs of Purity' now upon us, I asked Ivan what sort of changes and/or improvements he thinks have occurred between 'Far From The Edge' and this new one. 'We decided not to change the style of writing at all, we've just added more dynamics, and more power. I think we got that balance right this time.'

With two guitarists, Pride has the ability to contrast their sound, the electric and at times acoustic mix giving the band that little edge, and more room for a layered sound. Ivan zeroes in on that 'dynamics' yet again. 'Yeah it does make for a lot more dynamics. We're able to contrast between clean sounds, dirty sounds, acoustic sounds, it could very well develop into something truly scary', he says Enthusiastically.

And what about that album title? Does the album title have any significance as a theme to the overall content? 'Yes it does. It relates to our eternal search for purity. Whether it is with our lovers, our friends, the human race etc. We are all born pure, some lose it more than others as we grow.'

Peter 'Pee Wee' Coleman has been a busy chap of late, working with the likes of Nexx and Burns Blue. And now Pride. The guys in the band are naturally very happy with the final mix of the album. 'Pete is awesome, he's laid back, but determined at the same time. He's also open to suggestion but he also has a vision as to how the whole thing should come together. He rocks!' says Ivan.

Ivan also says that we can still look forward to the same sort of quality as heard on 'Far From The Edge'. 'More I think, just trust me on this one!' And as for being an English band on a foreign label, what gives. Why not a British label? 'What choice is there? Really!!!?' he says.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Pride has recently scored a significant deal with the Japanese label Toshiba-EMI. Ivan says that he does so much work in Japan anyway, that it was a natural progression to hook up with such a large and active label in that territory. Nonetheless, he is also very proud to have secured such a deal. I can tell you that large quantities of liquid refreshment were consumed when that 'big fish' was hooked!

With the deal comes a ready-made market for Pride to make some headway into. I would suggest though that Pride have already made a big dent on the back of 'Far From The Edge', and that 'Signs Of Purity' will consolidate an already strong position for them. So, just how big are they in the Japanese market? Ivan tells us what he knows. 'We are growing. We've just received a 90 rating in Burrrn!! Magazine. There was also a 3-page article. We've gotten radio airplay, we're on playlists all over the place. So far it's going great, but let's wait and see how it pans out overall. Even Japan is a tough market to crack for this style of music right now.'

And what about a trip to Japan to back up promotion of the record, and of course those all to controversial 'bonus tracks'? 'Well a trip to Japan would be great, if only for the women and food, and as for bonus tracks, no, there are none. It wouldn't be fair on everyone else.'

For those that didn't know, Ivan has his own record label - Anthem Records. Though he's involved with Pride, the label actually focuses on musical activity away from the band. 'Anthem is still here and going. It's mainly concentrating on production and development of artists that I love. I have a few things going on at the moment. I'm sure you guys are gonna love it!'

Pride took the opportunity of showcasing some of the new material at the recent Gods gig. Ivan said the band did well there, and stacked up OK against the other participants over the weekend. He was quite excited to see some of his other faves in attendance too. 'Yeah, Royal Hunt and Talisman played. What more can I say!'

With the album now out both in Europe and Japn (Asia), promotional activity will primarily revolve around radio, and a smattering of live shows during the summer. 'Plus lots of finger crossing!' says Ivan.

Of course we can't finish our interview with Ivan until he's declared 'all' regarding his keyboard rig. Particularly for Korg buffs like myself, who just know that Ivan absolutely loves playing Korg gear. Ivan gives us a breakdown of his current setup. 'OK, I play a Korg M1, Roland JV2080, Korg X5DR (mainly for one specific sound - x-strings!), plus Steinway pianos. Actually, I'll use anything I can get my hands on that sounds good!' he says.

I'm pretty certain that 'Signs Of Purity' will feature prominently during 2003. Congratulations on putting out another quality album Ivan! 'Thanks guys, you are helping to keep the melodic scene alive. We respect the work you do, and thank you so much for all your help and support. We salute you, and all the other media guys out there, plus of course all the fans. Rock is coming home!'

Oh, and with the new season soon to kick off, Ivan has one more comment to share with us: 'Come on Chelsea!'


Related Articles
Pride (UK) - 2001 Far From The Edge
Pride (UK) - 2003 Interview with Ivan Gunn
Pride (UK) - 2003 Signs Of Purity

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