In the UK, Impellitteri release their box set anthology “Wake the Beast” on September 30th. This look back at the bands history is a fans must buy and a great chance to find the blitzing guitar work of the legend that is Chris Impellitteri.
The Impellitteri catalogue has been made available globally for the first time ever:
Chris Impellitteri, a renowned guitarist who has performed all over the world, is highly known for his technical prowess as well as for being an exceptionally melodic and skilled songwriter.
The Impellitteri catalogue has been difficult to find for western fans despite being a full American metal band; many fans had to purchase expensive imported copies directly from Japan, where Chris has a sizable following. This has changed since Global Rock officially licensed the entire catalog between the years of 1987 and 2010. In honor of this milestone, Global Rock will release “Wake The Beast,” a three-CD collection that covers the Impellitteri saga from 1987 to 2010. Each song on this album was chosen by Chris himself as what he considers to be the best from roughly 12 different releases.
No matter who is singing, whether it’s Rob Rock, a fan favorite, or the famous Graham Bonnet, the energy never wanes. This is the first career-spanning compilation by Impellitteri to be distributed globally; it includes not only well-known album tracks but also uncommon Japan-released just B-sides, bonus tracks, and other music.
Rock the Joint Magazine was fortunate enough to get the chance to talk to vocalist Rob Rock about the album and his thoughts for the band retrospectively and looking ahead.
We wondered to start off where the band is now? Are Impellitteri looking for a new chapter, or are they now leaning on the back catalog alone?
Rob- We put out the anthology for the first time globally. Especially in the US, it has been hard to get over the years. With Global Records, we have a chance to release it all at once. We are currently writing a new album for Frontiers Records that will come out in the summer of 2023, and we are working on that. We are not in lookback mode, we are looking forward. This anthology is the first chance for one label to release it in every territory of the world for us. We got the opportunity, and it was a great time to put the package together and get it out to people.
We are happy with that, and we here at the magazine always feel new music is at the heart of a band. I noted with Rob how Gene Simmons has always stated that downloading music has killed off the desire to create for Kiss, and how there is no chance now to make money as you used to. I wondered if it was harder to make a living now as a working musician than it used to be.
Rob- I think it is harder for musicians now. Yes…when you have Spotify that pays you .0003 cents, you would have to sell a million streams to make a dollar. So the new internet stuff you can’t make money on. The diehard guys, we still believe in CDs and having something in your hand.
Here at the magazine, we are massive vinyl fans. Nothing like physically holding the record and hearing the needle go into the groove, with that sound of connection.
Rob- It’s an experience, yes. You have experience. Music is not a drive through restaurant where you buy the burger and just go. I dislike that. When I was young, I would lie back on my bed and put on the headphones and listen to an album from start to finish. You hear the album as the artist wanted.
We agree. The experience of listening to an album lets you hear the album tracks as the artist wanted you to hear them. With a download, the danger is that you take a track out of its position. We seem to have lost, to an extent, the listening skills of a whole album meal. We wondered whether the “Wake the Beast” album was put together with a specific listening experience in mind.
Rob- That was more in the hands of Chris and our new manager. We did a lot of searching on YouTube and the internet, looking at comments and posts to get the feel of what people like. We also play a lot of festivals in Europe and Japan, and we get a good sense in live performances that people want to hear. So we placed a lot of favourites there. We put a couple of instrumentals in there that people don’t often hear, and a couple of tracks from EPs that maybe would have been hard to find. It is a huge collection of stuff, based on fan feedback.
A favourite here at the magazine is the 1994 album “Answer to the Master” as it contains the classic tracks “Warrior” and “Fly Away,” but everybody has their own best tracks and it must be hard putting together something like this, as there will always be someone pointing out that a track has been left out.
Rob- “Screaming Symphony” is actually one of my favourites. That came after the one you noted. But we have been around a while and have a whole list of songs to choose from, so it was difficult to do. But in the end, it is a chance to get new fans. Before that, we were very focused on Japan, South Korea, and Europe. We played a lot of European festivals, but in the US, grunge had taken over in the 90s, and we lacked some opportunities. Since then it is all pop and metal seems to have gone a bit underground. With this album, we obviously look toward the fan base, but also hope to attract a new audience who can enjoy the music we put out.
Everything goes in waves. Grunge came along and killed off hair metal. But it’s strange how hair metal seems to disappear overnight. But look how bands like Queen adapted and rode out grunge. Music has cycles.
Rob- We were lucky. When grunge came along and stomped down on the hair metal hair, not that we ever were a hair metal band, by the way, we continued to do well in Japan. Japan has been very good to us over the years, and it has enabled us to keep making records. 30 Years of making records for JVC Victor in Japan, and we are still with that label in Japan. The Japanese people have given us so much support, we are forever grateful.
As an off beam question, we asked Rob if he went back to talk to himself aged 20 and had ten minutes, what would he tell himself? Would he change his world, or allow things to remain very much as they are today?
Rob- The young lad would still be rocking and rolling! I would have moved to LA earlier than I did. I was unaware in my early 20s, I was playing clubs in New England while LA was blowing off. When I finally went out there and Chris and I put out the Black EP, that was…I wish I had been there earlier.
LA is a musically happening scene, it seems vibrant now in the punk scene, we spoke to The Last Gang recently for the magazine.
Rob- I think there are cycles there too.
Rob is the lyricist for the band, we wondered about the songwriting process, what the dynamics in the songwriting are in the band.
Rob- Usually, when working with Chris, he sends me the music, the riff or whatever, a complete song bar for the vocals. I vibe off the song and the feeling. Sometimes he will have a title, but I will work with a title sometimes and form a song around it. I try to get the lyrics to match the song. I love melody and harmony. My loves are Queen, Styx, Boston, Kansas. These were the bands I grew up listening to. These are vocal bands, and we do have a big chorus . I was a drummer once, singing vocals from behind the drums. In New England there was a big night club circuit and in the early 80s I was drumming away and being a backing singer. But the band suggested I was a better singer and put me up front. It was a turning point.
Rob- Oh Don Brewer from Grand Funk Railroad, or Tommy Aldridge.
So check out this anthology, there is so much to explore. Rob recommends a new listener to the band to try out “Rat Race,” that is pulled from the “Screaming Symphony” record, or “Victim of the System” from the EP. There is so much different material on this album. If you want a musical treat then dive in!
By Benny (The Ball) Benson
& Mark C Chambers