Interview with Dutch Multi-instrumentalist Ron Coolen
By Mick Michaels
COSMICK VIEW: Hello, Ron! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.
Ron Coolen: Yeah, thank YOU for your interest in my music and for the opportunity to speak to your readers about my album RISE!
CV: Did having such a collection of well-known and talented guest artists contribute to the album's recording bring the overall creative output and final production to a level beyond your initial expectations?
RC: Oh yeah, definitely! When I started this whole project I could never imagine it would end up with such a great lineup of well respected, high level musicians. I am actually a fan of most of them, so it feels great to have my heroes on my own album. In hindsight, I didn't really have a clear direction when I started this whole thing, but gradually, by adding more and more guests, and finishing more and more songs, it got much clearer. The level of the songs raised exponentially, as most of the guests had significant input to the quality of the songs and the arrangements…that actually lifted all of them to another level.
CV: Besides having an all-star cast of musicians appear on "Rise," what do you think specifically separates this album from other albums you have released in the past? What do you feel is its special edge in relation to other current albums?
RC: Actually this is my first album I ever recorded. 3 years ago I wrote my first song ever. So RISE is my best album ever, Haha….
CV: Ron, is there one particular track and guest appearance on “Rise” that stands out for you, and if so which, who and why?
RC: Every guest and every contribution is very dear to me, and with each guest there is a special story of how we met and worked on the songs. But if I must mention one, then I’d say Keith St. John. He sings on 6 songs, and did an extremely amazing job. Keith was also very involved in the writing and mixing process. He was very dedicated and committed to the project. It was really cool to work very closely together on such a physical distance. Keith from Los Angeles, myself from the Netherlands.
CV: Will fans get a chance to see anyone from the album accompany you on some live dates to support the album?
RC: My ultimate dream would be to play the whole album live with all 12 guests, but that is likely to become a logistic and financial nightmare. Keith St. John and I have discussed the option of doing some live touring together. It all depends on the level of interest, and with the current virus shit going on, and the implications it has for the music and entertainment industry, it is hard to predict how this will work out. But playing live is the ultimate thing for me!
CV: During “Rise’s” recording, did you see the material change as other artists were brought in to work on it? How much creative input did they have with the final production?
RC: Yeah, for sure. The guest musicians “responded” to each other’s parts when recording their specific tracks, which happened at different moments in time. A good example is “White Summer”. The initial basic recording of the music I made was totally different compared to the final outcome. Initially, it was very keyboard oriented and even had big horns sections in it. Then Stephan Forte recorded his guitar solos and gave the song an oriental twist. That made me want to change the music. I made the song more guitar oriented…brought down the keys and kick out the horns. Then Keith St. John’s vocals further emphasized the oriental/Led Zeppelin kind of flavor. This type of thing happened to most of the tracks.
CV: Has this experience changed the way you look at and approach songwriting? Is having future guest artists something you will consider doing again?
RC: Since I never wrote and recorded an album before, this is my way of songwriting. I have played in bands all my life and at some point I got fed up with the “democracy” in bands, which made me want to have all responsibility for a musical project. I like it that way, so I decided I will work on album #2 for sure, and with this responsibility thing, the only option is to work with guests. And it works out pretty well, right?
CV:"Rise" definitely has a throwback sound, very reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, was this intentionally by design? And do you feel that having such a recognizable and favorable sound and style for a band lends itself to better overall listener reception?
RC: No that sound was not by design. All songs reflect my musical influences of the last 40 years…they kind of reflect my musical DNA. To be honest, Led Zeppelin was not even part of my musical heritage. As a kid I never listened to Led Zeppelin. It was only until 10 years ago, that I learned to appreciate their music. So yes, they are part of my influences after all, but I think the “real” Led Zeppelin vibe on RISE is more due to Keith St. John’s singing, he has a very Classic Rock voice, so he is to blame… Hahaha.
CV: Ron, do you feel there is a need for Rock music today to recapture some of its former glory?
RC: That is an interesting question and I guess people from different generations will answer in a different way to this question. Actually I think Rock is bigger than ever, with more fans & followers, more bands and more music than there ever was. For me personally, Rock had more “glory” when I was younger, when my musical reference was still limited, and when bands were kind of “untouchable” and unique. But times change and things evolve…the music industry especially has changed a lot. Social media channels give us a real-time view into musicians’ lives. To me that is not glory, it makes it all less unique. But you know, I am from an older generation and it not realistic to expect it to change back again. And it should not. It’s OK.
CV: Many critics would contest that music just doesn't have the same substance as it once did; that it has become too manufactured, thus, losing its feel, even its soul. Would you agree? Has something been lost in the majority of the modern day rendition of music?
RC: This critic comes probably from old farts like myself. In my opinion, it is a generation and technology thing. Modern times and technology have changed the way we make music and how we approach it. My generation was used to spending hours, days, weeks in the rehearsal room. Playing music together as a band brings the real soul into music.
Nowadays we all have home studios and record full albums without any rehearsal at all. We buy guitar tones online and learn licks from YouTube tutorials. Thousands of albums are released every week…many of them sound the same, so yeah that is quite manufactured. But there is also a good side to this, it gives huge opportunities to people who would not have had any chance to record an album or write their own songs in the old days. So to me, it is just evolution, and as long as people are busy working on music, they are doing good!
CV: Ron, in addition to the new album's top-notch musician line up and incredibly alluring throw back sound qualities, the song "Too Late to Surrender" deals specifically with the horrific incident that took place at Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas in 2017. Can you tell us a little more about the song and what compelled you to write about the incident?
RC: Well, first of all I think this is about cultural differences. Similar to the way US people wonder about the complete (assumed) anarchy of sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll in Holland…and over here we wonder how the hell it is possible that so many people in the USA carry guns. The minute we see a mass shooting in the news, we all conclude it was caused by the easy access that so many people have to arms and guns.
When I heard about the bloodbath caused by Stephen Paddock on the Strip in Vegas back in 2017, I just felt I had to write a song about this total madness. Just think of the fact this guy carried 23 automatic weapons into the Mandalay Bay Hotel, without being noticed by anyone. Then he starts shooting from the 32nd floor, killing 58 people and wounding 900. Just incredible insanity! We read about it in the news…we wonder why, and the next day we carry on with our lives and something else happens somewhere. The world is back to business as usual but the victims of this shooting have to deal with it for the rest of their lives. So the song is especially meant to pay tribute to the victims and their families. They should never be forgotten!
RC: Haha…yeah, I have been to Vegas a few times, and I must say it was always a big pleasure! Most of the time I was just flabbergasted about how many people waste their valuable money, staring at slot machines with that hollow look in their eyes. I felt sorry for them to be honest.
After I finished writing the music for the song, it was Keith St. John who felt he needed to write some hot, steamy lyrics, and named the song ‘Sin City’. Keith does have a connection to Vegas…he has played there many times, so he will have more experience with all the local temptations…haha! Most songs on my album deal with social themes like politics, climate, technology and religions, so it is refreshing to have an old school song about sex and beautiful women on the album! Thinking of it, I look forward to coming back to Vegas….
"Sin City" will be released in the near future as the next single of the album and you can expect some beautiful cover artwork!
CV: Would you consider doing more albums in this fashion...bringing in a host of guest artists to work with?
RC: Yes, that is definitely the plan. I have started writing new songs for the next release, and as things look right now…that will be in the same concept of bringing in guests for vocals and guitar solos.
CV: What's next for you?
RC: I have many plans for this year. I will keep on doing lots of promotion for RISE, there is a lot of interest from all over the world. The plan is to release 3 singles throughout the year, each of them highlighting a special topic, and I will use those single releases to raise awareness for the specific topic the song is about. So you can start guessing which 3 songs will be released as a single….
As mentioned, I have started writing new songs and I will continue doing so…song by song…. And when this world is back to normal after this virus shit show, there’s still the plan to do some live touring. So, too many plans and too little time ;-)
CV: Thank you again Ron for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
RC: Thank you so much again for the opportunity to present RISE to your readers. I can recommend your readers to go to my website for my full story, and in case they want to buy the album…CD or as download. And all fans can get in touch with me through email...I love to be in touch with my fans and to understand what they think of my music. I will always answer every message! You all take care & stay safe!
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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word. Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.