Since you left Europe in 1992 you have fronted your own band, Kee Marcello Band. Who are the other members today?
– Playing the bass is my long time colleague Ken Sandin (Alien, Joe Lynn Turner, etc) who’s been in the band from 2003, and drummer Darby Todd (The Darkness, Hot Leg, Gary Moore, etc). On the last UK tour he was replaced by Tim Brown (Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, Don Airey, etc). We’ve also had the pleasure to bring some great keyboard players on tour, namely P-O Nilsson (Joe Lynn Turner, Bobby Kimball, Steve Augeri, etc). But I’ve made temporary deviations with other lineups of KMB. For instance in 2009 as a power trio with Marco Mendoza (Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Dead Daisies) and Mike Terrana (Rage, Gamma Ray, Axel Rudi Pell). Drummers Snowy Shaw (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate) and Michael Ehre (Primal Fear, Gamma Ray) have also been in the band.
Describe the intentions with your band.
– Live we’re performing songs from my solo career – I’ve recorded five solo albums so far – in combination with material from my albums with the bands Europe and Easy Action. But trying to describe the musical direction I guess what KMB is really about is heavily riff based melodic rock with prog influences.
What else is going on in your career today?
– I’m running a show called ”Rock The Night”, which is basically KMB with guest performers. It’s sort of a spin-off from from the Swedish production of the Broadway show ”Rock Of Ages”, in which I played a leading role. They actually wrote me into the script, so that I was acting and saying my lines on stage as the character ”Kee Marcello”.
You also have a name as a producer. Which artist or band would you most like to produce?
– I think Alter Bridge would be a fun band to produce. Or why not Ghost?
Your sound is based on a Les Paul through a Marshall amp. What else do you use on stage?
– In the pedal board I use a Dunlop 95Q Cry Baby wah and a Digitech Freqout. In the FX loop I use a MXR chorus (for clean sounds) and a Boss DD3 digital delay. I’m very sparse with effects. From time to time I get fed up with it and just plug straight into the amp.
What are the most important ingredients, in your opinion, when it comes to create a good guitar sound?
– I’m a firm believer that 99.99 % is in the fingers. The rest is a matter of taste as regards to what kind of distortion/gain/EQ you wanna use.
I guess you have two Gibson Les Pauls, customised with the True Temperament Fretting System, by Anders Thidell at the TT custom shop. What made you do these modifications?
– Well, the True Temperament System is a no-brainer, really. Who the hell wants to play a guitar that’s out of tune? I know that comment is perceived as a provocation by a lot of all the annoying traditionalists out there, and I like messing with them as often as I can. :-) But, let’s face it – it’s a fact. At the Frankfurt Fair in the late 00’s was the first time Anders put a Gibson Les Paul with TT in my hands, and I was totally blown away. Since I’m also a keyboard player I immediately recognized the joy of playing an instrument which is always in tune. I think the awesome Alan Holdsworth (RIP) pretty much nailed it with his comment after using TT for the first time: ”I can know play chords I never dared to in the past”.
What is your guitar setup in the studio, and how does your TT guitars work there?
– I mainly use my two Les Pauls, identically set up with TT and Lundgren’s fantastic ’Heaven 57’ pickups. It works amazingly. Needless to say, no tuning issues.
I know that the late (and great!) Ollie Halsall (Patto, Boxer, Kevin Ayers etc) – a real unsung hero – is one of your all time favorite guitar players. Can you explain his greatness?
– Both Ollie and Alan Holdsworth, whom I also like a lot, were in Jon Hiseman’s post Colosseum band Tempest. Alan played on their first record and Ollie on their second. The greatness with Ollie, and what’s been inspiring me since I first heard his playing, is that he is firmly based in rock’n’roll, but occasionally (often surprisingly) takes off into total John Coltrane land. While Alan mainly was a fusion player, Ollie was a rocker with an unbelievable ability to suddenly burst into mind-wobbling bebop runs.
Plans ahead? Albums, touring, other projects?
– I’m currently working on new Easy Action material, we’ll see where that goes. I can’t reveal anything at this stage. I’m also working on a new solo album, and a KMB Tour is scheduled for the south of EU in March. Ulf Zackrisson ©
Photo: Barbara Caserta