TPRS.com was fortunate enough to recently meet Pink Cream 69 bassist Dennis Ward and drummer Kosta Zafiriou, who as you may know, had supported vocalist DC Cooper (Silent Force, ex-Royal Hunt) on his first solo effort along with guitarist Alfred Koffler (also Pink Cream 69), Tore Ostby (Conception), and Gunter Werno (Vanden Plas).
The two had come to the United States to do some studio work with DC Cooper. Ward says they are making a pre-production of some song material that “can be used either on a solo record or elsewhere,” and fortunately for TPRS.com, they took time out of their busy recording schedule for a last-minute interview.
With a little help from producer Dirk Steffens (ACCEPT, Helloween), Alfred Koffler, Kosta Zafiriou, Dennis Ward, and Andi Deris formed Pink Cream 69 in Hamburg, Germany. The band had a few showcases with EMI, CBS (now Sony), and Warner Bros., and after several rejections, they signed with what was then CBS music and released their debut album, in 1989.
Bassist Dennis Ward says “Right upon release of the first record, we got a support tour with White Lion from that point on we were considered a professional band.”
After several other successful releases, the band parted ways with vocalist Andi Derris in 1994, when he joined the Germany metal band Helloween. David Readman from Great Britain stepped in to front the band, and as a result, they began to shift their writing in a new direction.
Ward says that the band began writing songs around their new singer, who they didn’t know that well. Having only heard his demos, they just started writing songs that they thought he would sound good singing and thus, their first and second albums with Readman turned out to be more on the “modern” side.
Ward explains, “They weren’t experimental because they were trying to be experimental, that’s just what they turned out to be.”
After reinventing their sound somewhat accidentally with the addition of their new vocalist, the band’s evolution continued with the explosive release of Electrified, which delivered a magnified offering of their melodic rock sound, taking them back to their roots. And now, with their latest release Sonic Dynamite (Massacre Records) the band has received even higher acclaim.
Ward says that sales have been going very well since the album’s release in February. “We’ve doubled our sales from our previous record. I don’t know what it is worldwide but Germany for example, we went from doing about 8,000 to 16, 000, so we’re really excited about that.”
Though the band had a worldwide deal with CBS (now Sony) from the beginning, the label really didn’t know how to market them. They have since signed on with a rock label out of Germany, which is called Massacre Records.
According to Ward, “The guy that owns it is an ex-futbol star (that’s soccer star) and he likes melodic hard rock/heavy metal music and he wanted to make a record company.” He went on to say that the band is very happy with the label, mainly because they take them seriously and he only has positive things to say about the label.
“They give us the promotion that we need…for us its a big, big difference to work with a real rock label.”
Distribution for their latest album, Sonic Dynamite, includes most of Europe, though they haven’t invaded the entire continent yet. Ward says, that though they do have a Russian audience the album has not been released there officially, “bootlegs for sure.” Right now, there is not enough demand to bring the band there to tour either, and the band has yet to meet up with anyone that they can trust to set up a tour there, since Ward says “promoters can’t be trusted in a lot of cases.”
Though their last album Electrified was released in the United States, they still haven’t arranged a deal in the states for Sonic Dynamite either. Ward explains that “times have changed.”
“Our music is not mainstream but the fact is there is a large buying audience in places like Europe, Germany specifically, Japan as well, and we simply aim for those countries because it is realistic to work there.”
He went on to say that the United States are still really far away, and though they do have US fans, “a small tour is a lot of trouble to arrange, and then we’d have to have a reason to tour, having a tour without a release is pretty pointless. We’d just end up losing money, because tours like that, you really don’t win anything.”
So, Ward says “until something happens – God know what that could be – that puts us in the position where we could really do that, we won’t. We’ll continue on as we are. But, then again, the Internet has really opened a lot of doors. We’ve got a lot of contacts and people are buying the records in imports. So, maybe something else could happen.”
When the band does tour they mostly do gigs in Europe and in Japan, headlining min-tours in four or five show jaunts. Ward explained that in places like Japan most clubs do not have more than one act, two acts are very uncommon and when there are two acts it’s a double headliner or double special guest, but in Europe they have done quite a few large support tours with the likes of Bruce Dickinson and White Lion among others, as well as double headlining tours like their recent run with labelmates AXXIS.
Unfortunately, Ward says that there aren’t a lot of festivals that Pink Cream 69 can play in at the moment, but they did recently perform at the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany.
And though Ward was personally disappointed by the two-stage setup, he says that it was a lot of fun and he met a lot of people that they knew.
“We had a really good show, that was definitely for sure… There was constantly music going on and I didn’t know what the hell to listen to (laughs) and that annoyed me very much. The only way you could really listen to one band was to go stand up right in front of the damn speaker and blow your head off. I didn’t like that at all. It was a good show, I always enjoy doing that kind of stuff, but I was disappointed about not being able to focus on one band.”
For more information about Pink Cream 69 visit their official Web site at www.pinkcream69.com.