Interview w/ Autograph members Simon Daniels, Marc Wieland and Jimi Bell + video for new single

Date: August 23, 2022
Interviewer: Christopher Carroll
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography
Social Media: Autograph (Instagram), Autograph (Facebook), Simon Daniels (Facebook), Marc Wieland (Facebook), Jimi Bell (Facebook)

I got to see Autograph three times in the last month or so starting with their show in York, Pennsylvania, then their performance at the Masquerade event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and most recently at Monsters On The Mountain in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They always sound great and I love these guys so, when I found out they were releasing their first single and video from their upcoming album on Friday, August 26th, I wanted to talk to them about it. This album is the first to feature Jimi Bell on guitar and is, sadly, the last recording from, founding member, Randy Rand.

Immediately after Randy’s passing, former Autograph guitarist, Steve Lynch, jumped on his social media account to take digs at the band that he’d just recently endorsed. He even implied Autograph would be ending but he was wrong. Autograph had already finished a new album that they were excited about and the remaining band members made it clear that they were going to continue on, just as Randy would have wanted them to. You see, Randy had commented to many, how he was much happier in this, current, incarnation of Autograph than he had ever been. Every time I saw him, he was full of live and excitement for playing with these guys.

I asked the guys about this and about their new music.  This is what they had to say…

Sleaze Roxx: Autograph has a new record coming out! This is the last recording from founding member, Randy Rand. Last time we talked about this, you said there were no plans for another record. What changed? What brought this about?

Simon Daniels: At that time, we were thinking about just releasing singles, but in the meantime, Frontiers Records sent us an offer to make a full-length album. [It was] a great opportunity to show the extent of the creativity of this line-up. We are very proud of the outcome.

Sleaze Roxx: Simon, you are coming up on your 10th year anniversary as lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of Autograph. Tell us how this came about. 

Simon Daniels: I was personally invited to join what was proposed to be a new version of Autograph in 2013 by the original drummer Keni Richards, bass player Randy Rand and guitarist Steve Lynch. They were all on cloud nine with the reunion. Steve Plunkett was asked first and declined it, giving us his blessing.

Sleaze Roxx: Marc — you’ve been in the band over eight years, now, yourself. You’ve been recording and mixing all of Autograph’s new music over the last eight years. How is this album different from the other stuff you guys did?

Marc Wieland: Well, it doesn’t differ too much from the last single we released in 2020 called “Souls On Fire” with the same line-up. Big riffs, big hooks, big harmonies and big drums!

Autograph‘s “Souls On Fire” single:

Sleaze Roxx: And, Jimi, you are coming up on your third year anniversary as lead guitarist with Autograph after Steve [Lynch] quit the band. What has this been like for you?

Jimi Bell: Steve and I have been friends for a while. We met in the 80’s and reconnected again about six years ago. That’s when I met the other guys and we all became good friends. When I read in mid-July of 2019 [that] Steve left the band to pursue his new project, I jumped on the opportunity. The transition into the band was seamless. At the audition, we locked in after the very first song. We knew it was meant to be as the sound and energy were phenomenal! The vocal harmonies were off the charts. The last three years in Autograph have been incredible and I have experienced some of the greatest moments in all my years as a performer. Randy and I shared an exceptional bond. The brotherhood / friendship carried over on and off the stage. I had such a blast with him, and we had so much fun performing together that even the fans had comments about our stage presence and antics. I can still see him walking over to me on the big stage smiling and grinning. I love and miss him dearly.

Sleaze Roxx: Randy’s wife, Regina, has said that he shared with her that he was happier in the current incarnation of the band than he had been in the past. Did you notice this or did he mention anything about how he felt making this album with you guys?

Simon Daniels: Randy became my best friend in the last nine years of my life. He absolutely loved the album and his signature bass lines are in there loud and clear. His passion for the songs are heartfelt and he couldn’t wait for the release. Yes, he stated he was happier than ever in the current line-up.

Autograph‘s “Get Off Your Ass” video:

Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of that, there are a few naysayers out there who say Autograph is now, simply, a tribute band. With two albums of original music you helped create, now, under your belt, how do you feel about this comment?

Simon Daniels: I disregard this comment completely. After touring nationally and internationally for the first 2 1/2 years, we‘ve released an independent EP in 2016 that went to the Top 10 charts on iTunes and stayed for three weeks. In 2017, EMP Records released a full-length album that reached #21 on the Billboard charts in the hard rock sales category and #3 singles on the Top 10 of the Rock Radio media base charts. We have a new full-length album with 12 new original songs coming out by Frontiers Records in November and the first video, which is dedicated to the legacy of Randy Rand, being released on Friday, August 26th. We’ve been together now longer than the first line-up of the band.

Sleaze Roxx: What tracks on the new album stand out for you and why?

Simon Daniels: They are all very significant to me. I’ll give you the titles.

1. This Ain’t the Place I Wanna Be
2. Your Slave Tonight
3. Everything
4. Gotta Getcha
5. Take Me Higher
6. Run for your Life
7. Beautiful Disaster
8. Love is a Double Edge Sword
9. Heart of Stone
10. Feels So Good
11. Flying High
12. To be Together
13. Mind of Fear(bonus track for Japan)

Sleaze Roxx: Jimi, tell me what the recording process was like for the new Autograph album.  

Jimi Bell: The four of us all contributed to the writing process in our own ways. Simon and I have been creating and writing songs for as long as we have been musicians. We immediately sensed where the band’s potential was and already had ideas for new music. I had a special connection with Randy. I remember sending him over a couple of musical ideas for and let’s say, he was immediately blown away. Simon brought in his “A” game and contributed a few songs he had already written and then collaborated with me on the others. With Marc’s expert production contributions and finishing touches, we had something we were all very proud of. Randy’s thunderous bass can be heard all over this album. The collaboration was a fun process for us. Included are the signature melodies, big choruses, anthems and riffs. Randy was like a kid in a candy store… He couldn’t wait for the release. We dedicate this album ‘Beyond’ to Randy. May his legacy and music reach the fans near and afar and live forever. We know all will love it!

Sleaze Roxx: The first single and video are being released Friday. Tell me about that.

Simon Daniels: The song is called “This Ain’t The Place I Wanna Be” and it’s a very moving video directed by Paul Gervasi. [It’s] a tribute to Randy Rand. The song is about searching for guidance when being in a place / circumstance you don’t want to be.

Sleaze Roxx: What are the plans for Autograph’s future?

Simon Daniels: Playing killer shows, bringing new music and the classics to old and new fans.

Marc Wieland: Carrying on Randy Rand’s legacy, playing music and spreading the love of rock n’ roll!  The spirit of our beloved brother Randy Rand lives on forever.

Simon Daniels: We appreciate everyone’s support in this journey and we love you to pieces “ You are us, we are you” always…always.

Autograph‘s “This Ain’t The Place I Wanna Be” video: