The Spanish band Lords Of Black just released their third album Icons Of The New Days. Guitarist Tony Hernando fills us in on the new record, tour plans, his non-musical interests and other subjects.
Chad Bowar: How did bassist Dani Criado come to join the band?
Tony Hernando: We were about ready to enter the recording studio one year ago when our former bass player quit. We also had some big festival appearances approaching and a few important travels for playing in Japan and in USA, with all the paperwork that something like that means. So I personally had to take care of the bass recording as I did with previous records, so Dani the new guy could focus on learning different set lists with over 30-40 songs. But he took it well, he’s a hard working guy that gets along with us very nicely so everything is cool.
How did the songwriting process for Icons Of The New Days compare to your first two albums?
The dynamics are pretty much the same. We got together to discuss the demos we write ourselves first and we see if there are songs that need a new approach or need a co-writing. Then we proceed to demo those songs very professionally, sometimes even with all the final arrangements. We may fine tune lyrics and titles later during the recording process.
What led you to once again co-produce the album with Roland Grapow?
I’ve been working with Roland Grapow for many years now since I recorded one of my solo albums at his studio in Slovakia. We hit it off from the start and we work very nicely together, since there’s a true friendship with mutual respect and admiration. He really loves this band as I’ve been a huge fan of his way back from my teens. We’ve been working together ever since and I like his approach to the sound and mixing and his suggestions.
How has the band’s sound evolved/progressed from II?
I think we have a better overall sound and production now, since we obviously learned from previous experiences and we know each other much better now. We know how to get where we want to be just better.
The deluxe edition includes four cover songs, which are by well known bands, but not necessarily well known songs. How did you pick them?
We like to pick those less obvous, obscure songs from our favorite bands and albums. So just like we did choosing “Lady Of The Lake” from the iconic Rainbow album Long Live Rock’n’Roll, that one was lesser known, but truly one of the gems of that album. Also, as musicians, we like to please ourselves and push ourselves learning as much as we can from artists and songs that are more difficult to match, and at the same time, showing how wide our tastes are, so we can go from Anthrax to Journey or anything in between.
How did you approach recording them when it came to staying true to the original vs putting your own spin on it?
First, we’ll be recording those covers in their original key, then we like to pay respect not deviating very much from the original, but at the same time trying to make ourselves across and give our personality. It’s something you can make more distinct with vocals and guitars, but especially because of Ronnie’s range and timbre there will be certain songs or artists that will be more easy to sound close. However I once again insist in that we play those songs and make them ours and make them sound like us.
With Ronnie’s profile being higher now with his participation in Rainbow and other projects, does that change your expectations for Icons Of The New Days?
A question that would be more likely around our previous album release. I think at this point, with our third album now and a growing fan base, our expectations are more around our capacities and the strength on this album. The Rainbow relation has been truly great, no doubt it brought a huge attention to Ronnie and us, but nothing of what’s going on with us would have been possible if we as a band were not good enough.
How was the video shoot for “World Gone Mad?”
Like all video shoots, tiring! It’s all about go and stop and you really end up getting tired. But it was a different set and the director and the crew, who are Friends of ours, were really good and presented very nice ideas for us to make our performance a cool one.
What has been your most memorable Lords Of Black live show?
That’s a tough one, since I’ve loved every single one, but maybe playing at Loud Park Fest in Japan or one year later at a club in Osaka, Japan. Those were incredible for me. ProgPower USA as well!
What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
We have a few summer fests opening for Ozzy and Judas Priest and we’re working on the tour dates for the album tour this fall, but I can’t say very much about it now.
You played ProgPower USA last year. Any chance of a full North American tour?
Hopefully! ProgPower USA was definitely one of the highlights last year and hopefully the seed to try to go back and play at bigger scale. Let’s see. The USA is so huge that you may play every club for months or you’re maybe luck enough to get a good supporting slot on a big tour and get more fans converted in less time. We’ll see…
What’s the coolest site/attraction you’ve visited while on tour?
Normally touring schedules are really tough so you don’t really have much time for sightseeing or enjoy life city or you are so tired that you need all the time you can get to recover and get to play the next show in your best condition. Touring makes no room for mistakes or getting sick. Once a while you have some days off and we love to go and see places and new people. St Petersburg in Russia was amazing to see, for example, or once again Osaka Japan. I just love the place!
What are some of your non-musical hobbies and interests?
I love all things history, science, philosophy, movies. Also anything releted to nature and sports.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
I don’t get easily excited these days, I always end up playing my old time faves. I really miss old school bands with charismatic members, the old time classic vocalist-guitar hero tandem. Basically someone who really sings instead of screams and a guitarist that beyond being technically proficient has a musically emotive call to it. I do believe Lords Of Black are one of the few new bands to have that! But getting back to anything new that has grown on me, I love the new Steve Walsh album and also the last Black Country Communion album.
(interview published May 11, 2018)