Balance of Power is back! The 90’s heavy metal band has announced its current rebirth, a modern blend of classic rock, grunge and fantasy. It’s a really exciting reimagining of a band that released six albums up to 2005 with a powerful, melodic Rainbow feel. 

Current line-up:

Tony Ritchie: Bass and backing vocals

Hazel Jade Rogers: Vocals and piano

Adam Wardle: Guitar

Chris Young: Guitar

Lionel Hicks: Drums

The band has just released their single “Never Be Here Again,” the first in a run of three before their 2024 album “Fresh From the Abyss,” scheduled for release on April 19. 

Tony Ritchie says about the song:

“⁣It’s a song about living for the moment, being in the present, and remembering to appreciate the here and now rather than reminiscing or wishing your life away. While always trying to remember to stop and smell the roses, I thought it was time to write it down and commit the idea to paper. The idea for the lyrics came after the music for the verse and chorus were written. This is the first song of ours that we heard Hazel sing, and it blew us away. Some of the original demo vocals are still on there because we loved the energy and passion so much.

And we were really happy to talk to the band’s new vocalist, the truly wonderful Hazel Jade Rogers, who was a delight to talk to. We discussed album and single artwork, videos and recording the new album, among other things!

We spotted the artwork by Stuart Dilley (@dilleystuart on Instagram) for the new single on the band’s Instagram, and that is what pulled us into the interview to begin with! Art and music can mean different things to different people, but for us, it was very much like Cheshire Cat, Alice and Wonderland. There is a great quote when Alice appears at the crossing and the cat is there.

“Would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?

“That depends a great deal on where you want to get to,” said the cat.

“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat.

A spot of genius from Carroll, of course. But with the signpost pointing the way, we wondered in what direction Hazel and the band were taking us.

Hazel: I think the designer of the single art interpreted the idea of the song, which is never being in the same place exactly again. Also, life is one of those things where you constantly head off in different directions, and often you don’t plan it. I feel it was an honest interpretation of the song and what it was about. My input was just that I wanted it to be dark yet colourful. I’ve always loved the gothic art and look, but I dislike just solid black. So, we needed some colour in there, and that was what was really interpreted. It’s a big song, and we wanted something to catch our eye.

Of course, art and music are always in the eye of the beholder.

Hazel: Yes, and when the artwork was given to me, I thought it was cool. I could imagine it on the back of a T-shirt, and I loved it as a representation of the song.

And who is Hazel!? She is obviously coming into a band with an older history that has been sleeping for a while. So how did she join the guys, and what is her back story?

Hazel: I was originally in an Irish-based band called Elevation Falls. We went for about ten years until COVID hit and we realised we had gone as far as we could, and that was that. I then ended up joining a band in the UK, and I moved to the UK for a year. During that time, a friend called Toby Jepson from Wayward Sons and Little Angels was aware that I was sort of floating, in a band, but not in the position where it was taking over life. I was free, ‘ish.’ He knew Lionel and Tony from Balance of Power had created an album of work and wanted to record it. He knew how excited they were, but they didn’t have a singer. It was Toby Jepson who told them, ‘Why don’t you consider this girl? I know Hazel; she’s a great singer and floating now.’ So, it was a recommendation, and they sent me over a track, ‘Never Be Here Again,’ and they had very rough vocals that Tony the bass player sang. I had a listen, then reworked and interpreted it, and I recorded it in the small hovel I was living in at the time! I sent it back, and they loved it. I think they felt it was very different for them, but it sounded new, and in the song ‘Never Be Here Again,’ that has just been released, about 80% of the vocals on there were the same as the ones I did in my room in the kitchen! That’s because the vocals were too good not to be used in the final product. Then, after they had heard the song recorded, I headed into Veil Studios for about a week, and we recorded the album during that time. Toby Jepson was the sound engineer, and he worked with me on different ideas and recording the pieces. It was quite daunting, as I’d been in a band for ten years, which was great, but the huge break with COVID meant I hadn’t really sung in a while, and it was daunting being thrown back into the studio and recording. But I’m excited to hear it. The other aspect of being in the studio was that I was extremely ill at the end of it. I went to A and E with severe tonsillitis. So, there is a lot of love, sweat and tears in this album! I am one of those people; even if I’m ill, I want to do it well. But for those latter tracks, I was deathly ill, sitting there with the Manuka honey and lemon! 

 We all swear by the Manuka honey here!

Hazel: Trust me! It has saved my voice numerous times! But I was there, sitting on a stool, and nearly passing out. Yet I was singing through everything, including the next single we are releasing. I was so ill for it. Yet it came out so well, as I feel it added a bit of grit to the vocal! It worked out in the end. But, returning to the original point, I am here because of Tony Jepson, and he was a childhood friend with the Balance of Power guys. But it was a random thing that has worked out extremely well, and we are all driven to make this a success.

In a way, we feel here at the magazine that this is a clever move by the guys. It was 2003 when the last album came out, so that is two decades ago. This is a complete reinvention. By having a female vocalist, it makes an even greater break with the past as it stops all the comparison stuff with John K. It absolutely creates a fresh reboot.

Hazel: It is what we wanted. Lionel was the first person I had contact with in the band. He told me that he had always had this idea of maybe coming back and doing a drastic change, like putting a female vocalist in. Obviously, they needed someone who would retain the essence of Balance of Power in the vocal delivery and vocal range. I say that Balance of Power was powerful and uplifting. Lance King was, and still is, a fantastic vocalist. When I originally started working with them, I looked at the history and played the back catalogue. I find it interesting to listen to them as they were and then hear them now with me. You can hear the similarities in the way the songs are sung, and maybe the stage presence is similar, but there is a massive difference too. I think the huge majority are just happy Balance of Power is back, and they have a new modern take.

With many reservations, we feel that Balance of Power was always a melodic metal band, almost within that hair metal style that was so popular in the pre-grunge era. But now we have gone a little darker, perhaps grungier. But that is based on only a limited listen to the new single. Then again, if you are going to have a break of 20 years, there is no point coming back to do exactly what you did decades ago; you need to freshen things up, and that has been achieved, we think.

Hazel: The darker side is probably my fault! I have always been a very theatrical person; I grew up with musical theatre, and I have always been a big musical fan. I am into stage productions, and I feel that, image- and sound-wise, I wanted to bring theatrics to the new Balance of Power. I always loved the idea of bringing the Phantom of the Opera to our music! You come to put on a show and be the character that people see and appreciate. It breaks them away from the real world for a time. So, I feel I have brought theatrics to the table, fashion, and depth. In the song “Never Be Here Again,” the middle eight saw me using a falsetto voice while the rest was heavy, and that was me thinking that I would do a bit of Phantom of the Opera in this! When you have this strong vocal and then the more delicate operatic bit in the middle,. I wanted a dynamic in the new version of Balance of Power, and I wanted to tell a story. I think when the album is released, people will listen to it, hear the storytelling, and see the different sections. There are songs that hit you over the head, but there is also this beautiful ballad that transports you somewhere else. I wanted this for the new Balance of Power; it could be a complete stage show.

In the single, it opens with Hazel on the piano and there is this:

Hazel: War cry!  

Yes. And there is the piano, a black-and-white video, and a beautiful old house, all of which create a superb background for the single.

Hazel: It was filmed in Carlton Towers, Goole. It was such a stunning house. I think I came into this, and the guys already had an idea. Toby Jepson produced the songs and was the sound engineer. He was also the director of the music video, and he had a big part to play. He could hear when we were recording what I was trying to get across. When the music video was done, he knew the direction we wanted to go down and he had this word, ‘elegant.’ We have a couple of music videos, and he would say drama and elegance, and that is what I was trying to put over in the vocals. And there it is in the video.

This is the entertainment business, and musicians are entertainers! Clearly, this is a band that is not delivering a distinctive image that is all working through from the album art to the videos.

Hazel: I was always taught that you put on a show. You don’t just get on the stage looking like you’ve just gotten off the bus! Imagery is a big part of music, and with the videos and stage, that is a huge deal for me. With the videos, I was given charge of the physical imagery, so I dressed the guys and myself. We have three music videos coming out before the album release, and I was dressed by Claire Garvey, an amazing designer from Ireland. She has designed for Niall Rodgers, for example. She has some great names under her belt. With me, she has done these elaborate gothic-style outfits. I let her listen to the songs before they were released and told her she knew me; she knew what I liked clothing-wise, and she came up with these three distinctive outfits. You have only seen one so far, but she was able to embody what I wanted to project in the videos. I oversaw my make-up and hair, and I dressed the guys. In that first video, I was wearing greys and blacks, and I made sure the guys were in whites, greys and blacks. But the next music video has a green theme, so there is a bit of green in there, and the third one is red, so we all have a bit of burgundy in there. My go-to colours have always been black, green, and red, and I always move between them. And I got my way with the music videos, as I always enjoy the physical imagery of the videos. I wanted consistency throughout the band. Even though, technically, there were no shots of me with the band in that first video,. I remember Toby saying that he wanted Hazel in her shots and the band in another one. It was a bit different, but I wanted to show we connected to each other, and I went for the colour route, even if it was subtle. But imagery is so important for me. If you are going on stage to do a great song, why not give it a great image too? I know there are those who will say, ‘The song should shine through by itself, and it can, but why not make it a creation visually too?

We absolutely agree. The 12-year-old Mark became a Kiss fan after seeing the “Destroyer” album cover by Kiss before he even heard a note! And look at the Beatles, how they projected their image, or BB King; any of these bands present themselves visually.

Hazel: Imagery in so many ways is entwined with the music. Go back to the original question about the single art; we have the album art too, and we wanted it to embody the style and the songs we were doing. The idea behind the art runs through the videos. That first video has us in this huge house, and we thought the signpost could be outside the house waiting for us to figure out where we were going. All these things play into each other. That’s why, going forward, I wanted the images to represent the work we do. It is a show, a complete connection, a complete show.

When I write music or perform it, I like people to interpret it as they choose. I think with that single artwork, it is very open to interpretation. You can make the Alice in Wonderland connection, but when I saw it, I thought, ‘Haunted Mansion’—but that comes from my love of Disney. I love how we can be artistic in a visual sense as well as a musical one. You will be happy with the album art too; it’s creepy!

Finishing with the last question, do you have any live plans for 2024, and what are you listening to yourself now?

Hazel: We would like to hit the festival market. But we are more focused on getting material out there for people to connect with and identify with. There are a couple of things in the pot with some other names, but I’m saying nothing more on that right now! But there is more on the way! As for the music I’m listening to, I’m not one of those people who has six million tracks piled up on Spotify! But I do listen to albums, and recently I did listen to “Holy Fuck” by Demi Lovato. I do love all kinds of music, and the last album I listened to was maybe “Lean Into It” by Mr. Big.

And that ended a great interview! We finished off by briefly discussing how we are at a point in music where many of the older bands are retiring, but we are waiting for the new bands to come and take up that baton. Hazel agreed, feeling we were waiting for music to find its new metal lords. Quite possibly, Balance of Power fits that role, and we are certainly looking forward to the new album.

And we hope you liked the feature, dear reader! If you did, please check out the other pages of the magazine; we have many great features, merchandise pages, shops, editorials and even a poetry page. Content is free here, but we work hard for you and to support the magazine. Please show your appreciation on the support button below, on every page. A £3 donation towards what we do helps us improve what we offer all the time.

By Lorraine Foley


Mark C. Chambers


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