OLIVIER DEL VALLE INTERVIEW:
June 23, 2008
France isn’t exactly considered a hotbed for hard rock bands, but Shannon (www.shannon-rock.com) is trying to change all that. The band has recently released their critically acclaimed album World Of Desire and is now hoping that their music will hit the right chord with fans of hard rock. Vocalist Olivier Del Valle recently caught up with Sleaze Roxx and talked about the band’s new album and how it all has come together.
Sleaze Roxx: First of all, congratulations on your great new album Angel In Disguise, I really like it. How well is it being received in your home country (France) and elsewhere in the world?
Olivier Del Valle: Thank you so much. I am happy to see that you like our new album. The reviews are quite good and the album has received a really warm welcome. It is quite positive and important for us. The reviews are not the whole thing even though they are important. Finally, the public decides. So we hope we get the same enthusiasm from all the fans of our kind of music as from the media!
It’s hard for a French hard rock band to be distributed worldwide. It’s an honour for us to have good reviews and this first good feedback from the fans everywhere too since the CD was release on March, 28.
Sleaze Roxx: Describe Shannon’s music. Where do you get your influences/inspiration from?
Olivier Del Valle: Our music is melodic and heavy. I’d say that Shannon has multiple influences. If the US wave undeniably influenced us (Dokken, Firehouse, Van Halen, Bon Jovi), bands like Gotthard, Pink Cream 69, Fair Warning or Bonfire played a role. But whether they are US or Europeans, they must be melodic for us. Then, a big difference comes from the production. European bands have kept a heavier sound, in direct line with the NWOBHM legacy.
Sleaze Roxx: How easy do you find it to write songs? Is it something the whole band is involved in or does one person write lyrics, one the music, etc?
Olivier Del Valle: It depends on the day you do it! Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s easy…
For the writing and composition of the tracks we started as always from the beginning. Patrice, Thierry and I work together. We build the tracks; riffs, vocal melodies and rhythm line. Then we record this with a sample rhythm section and submit it to Nico and Benji for them to bring their own touch. Arrangements are done all together. This method suits everyone and works pretty well.
For the lyrics, generally, I do write them but there is no fixed rule, everyone can bring his own ideas.
Sleaze Roxx: How have sales for Angel In Disguise been so far?
Olivier Del Valle: It’s a bit early to say how many CDs we’ve sold, but the first feedback is quite good…
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you decide to use similar artwork for the new CD as that found on World Of Desire?
Olivier Del Valle: In fact World Of Desire was only a demo we sent to labels to find a deal in the beginning. Some webzines had it and wrote reviews about it too, and called it EP, but the 5 tracks were not in their final version even though we wanted to put them on the forthcoming album. Our fans asked to have it after that and we decided to sell the demo on our myspace page. It was a real surprise because the 5 demo tracks CD was bought in high level quantity. The cover of the World Of Desire CD was made to be the cover of our new album, but was seen everywhere with 5 tracks. So as we love this cover a lot and we decided to modify it a bit to be able to use it for the forthcoming album. That’s all…
Sleaze Roxx: You had several guest musicians help you out on your new CD. How did they become involved and what were they like to work with?
Olivier Del Valle: Our manager is the owner of the HardRock80.com Webzine too. He’s in touch with a lot of musicians and talked to some of them about the band and made them discover our music. As they appreciated our tracks, and because our relations were good after that, we offered them to participate on the album. No direction was given, they only did what they felt like. In the end, the result is really good. These guys are professionals and know immediately how the songs had to ring.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your favorite songs on Angel In Disguise, and why?
Olivier Del Valle: It is quite difficult for me as “Angel In Disguise” is a whole, and tracks on it cannot be dissociated. For each and everyone, we did our best and gave the same energy and care.
Without talking about a favourite one, I’d say that the track that best represents Shannon today is “Do You Know?”, as it is filled with energy and power, it is also highly melodic as we love.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you get involved with Artist Service/MusicBuyMail, and what have they been like to work with?
Olivier Del Valle: We sent a demo to Oliver Hausler in 2007 and he loved our songs. He asked and recommended us to work more on the production. We were in touch all the 2007 year and talked with Sebastian Elder (ex-MTM) at the end of the year and “Angel In Disguise” found a deal. We had other proposals but the Artist Service/MusicBuyMail deal fits us better. Furthermore, by signing with them we had insurance that they had a habit of working with this kind of product and that our promotion would be really good.
Sleaze Roxx: Tell me about the French music scene. What genre of music is popular there and is there much demand for melodic rock?
Olivier Del Valle: As you may know, France is not a country were rock is dominant. So you can imagine the difficulties met by hard rock bands. Though, there is a real audience for this kind of music. It is mainly due to media. Hard rock is not supported, it is even ignored by major media. But there are still few magazines and lot of webzines that defend our kind of music. Lightseekers and Manigance or Snake Eye, for example, are really good French hard rock bands and play good music. There’s not a lot of French bands signed by a Major/Label. In France, I think, nobody believes hard rock can live. If you look back you will see that 10 years ago and more, a lot of big bands played in France (Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard…), now for new hard rock tours, it seems that France is not on their road…
It is clear that our future is first abroad, even if it is not to neglect our home country. R’N’B, Hip Hop and Techno are everywhere here, but it’s really not the kind of music I listen to.
Sleaze Roxx: It still seems to me that the world is largely full of hip-hop fans and the like, so is it difficult for a band like Shannon and the type of music you play, to get noticed or do you think music tastes in general are changing to be more rock orientated?
Olivier Del Valle: As I said, in France, Hip Hop is at the top for the moment. But like every “fashion music”, I think that it will pass. It is not easy everyday for bands like Shannon to make its own place in the French musical landscape. And then, in France, the fact to sing in English is an additional difficulty. But, now, I have the feeling that things are evolving slowly and that the public is turning again to bands that rock. It will be time for the French people to open the door to rock and hard rock music just like other countries did.
Sleaze Roxx: Are there any newer bands that you and the guys from Shannon like?
Olivier Del Valle: All the members in Shannon like Gotthard. Their compositions and their live performances are excellent. I like Crashdiet and Work Of Art too.
Sleaze Roxx: I know you have a bio on your myspace but for those who haven’t read it, tell us how the band got together.
Olivier Del Valle: Shannon formed in the beginning of 1998 by Patrice Louis (guitar) and Thierry Dagnicourt (keyboards) and played hard rock covers (Bon Jovi, Van Halen, etc). I joined the band the same year. Shannon released its debut and eponymous album in November 2003 on the Anvilcorp. label and was distributed by Wagram with Claude Thill (bass, ex-Der Kaiser) and Maxence Pilo (drums, ex-Heavenly). From the release of the album, the band went on the road and shared the stage with renowned artists such as Axxis, Pink Cream 69 and Jeff Scott Soto in Paris.
In the middle of 2005, Shannon saw its first line-up changes with the departure of Claude Thill and Maxence Pilo, immediately replaced by, respectively, Nicolas Fixy (bass) and Benjamin Bergerolle (drums), both formerly with French Epic-Progressive band Tai Phong. Strongly encouraged with the success of our self-titled album, not only in France, but largely abroad, the band took the path to the studio to record a follow-up, even more motivated than ever. Since that period, the line up is unchanged.
Sleaze Roxx: How did you come up with your band name? Is there any meaning behind it?
Olivier Del Valle: There is no specific reason for the band’s name. Simply, when we decided to chose a name, we wanted something simple, easy to memorize and not aggressive. Pat, our guitar player, proposed this name and we liked it! We did not want to be in the traditional patterns. Then, I believe that Shannon fits our music!
Sleaze Roxx: Being a musician is hard work. Do you have any regrets for choosing to get into music?
Olivier Del Valle: No, we feel no regrets, because music brings us so much contentment. If we had no music, our life would seem very empty to us.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have enough success to be able to do what you love, being in a band and performing fulltime or do you have day time jobs as well?
Olivier Del Valle: For the time being, music still does not allow us to live without having a job outside. Even though we know that living as a band only is very very difficult nowadays, we hope to be able one day to make this happen. But it’s another story…
Sleaze Roxx: What’s life on the road like? Any rock n roll debauchery stories you can share?
Olivier Del Valle: You are going to be disappointed, because Shannon is a comparatively wise group. Once taken out from stage, the members of Shannon are rather quiet. We are not part of these bands which make headlines thanks to their reckless adventures. On the other hand we like to live it up as soon as the opportunity comes, but it always stays in reasonable proportions.
Sleaze Roxx: When you aren’t playing music what do you do in your spare time?
Olivier Del Valle: As soon as I can, I like to spend some time with family. Music really takes quite a lot of time and asks our fellows to make sacrifices. Therefore, that’s true, that as soon as it is possible I like to stay with my family and to dedicate to them a little of my free time. It’s pretty good for me to be able to recharge batteries in peace.
Sleaze Roxx: Obviously Shannon all get along well. But I’ve always wondered if band members spend any time together socially as friends outside of being in a band.
Olivier Del Valle: Before being a band, Shannon is first of all a band of buddies. The human aspect is indeed as important for us as musicians’ talents of the members of the band. Personally, I would find it very difficult to play music with guys whom I do not appreciate. My vision of music does not limit itself to the history of business.
Sleaze Roxx: On a more personal note, do you guys have wives/partners/children and if so, how do you all deal with being in the music scene?
Olivier Del Valle: In the band we all are married and some of us have children. It’s a bit far from the hard rock musician symbol. In fact, I think that we are normal guys. Of course, to reconcile family and music is not simple every day, and our fellows have to make some concessions. In any case, if they took from us away music, we would quickly become very unbearable.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you think you will try and crack the American market?
Olivier Del Valle: I do not know of what our future is made of. The fact that a band works or does not work in that market is linked with very few things. The USA has good bands and to make a place over there is not simple. If we have this opportunity, we shall grab the chance. For the time being we will concentrate our energy to be worked as seriously as possible to climb up steps, little by little.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s coming up for Shannon in the future? Any tours lined up?
Olivier Del Valle: For the time being, we are very occupied by the promotion of this new album. We spend a lot of time answering interviews and participating in radio programs. But we are not inactive from a musical point of view because we are working on the installation of a new set including tracks from “Angel in Disguise”. We hope we shall shortly tour to introduce these new tracks to the audience on stage. Some shows are already programmed in France and we definitely hope to have opportunity to play out of our borders soon. It will depend on the success of “Angel In Disguise”.
Thanks to Shannon and Tania