Reforming their classic line-up of Michael Voss on guitar and vocals, Juergen Breforth on guitars, Roland Bergmann on bass and Axel Kruse on drums, German Hard Rock act Mad Max have turned back the clock with their excellent new release Another Night Of Passion. That new album title is no accident either, making a direct link to the band's most celebrated release Night Of Passion, which saw the light of day some 25 years ago. Mad Max have also chosen to reignite their classic, unmistakable sound, resulting in an album that sounds as familiar as it does fresh and as vibrant as it does authentic. Sea of Tranquility's Steven Reid spoke with the ever busy Michael Voss to find out why Mad Max have looked backwards to set out their future...
SoT: Hi there Michael and thanks for taking the time to answer some questions.
SoT: OK, let's dive straight into the new Mad Max album Another Night Of Passion, which sees the classic line-up of yourself, Juergen Breforth, Roland Bergmann and Axel Kruse back together again. What made you guys revive the classic version of Mad Max a full 25 years from your last album together?
To be very honest, this decision was an easy one! We knew from tons of mails we've received from our fans that they wanted the original line-up of the band back. So we asked the missing link, our original drummer Axel Kruse, to be part of the gang again. I guess he too felt that it was the right time to rejoin his old buddies...and here we are!
SoT: The album title Another Night Of Passion, is a clear link to this line-up's last album together, Night Of Passion. What was the thinking behind making such an obvious reference to the past?
When we started writing songs for the new album we had a clear vision, we wanted a true follow-up album to our legendary Night Of Passion album. We felt that even the title of the album should make this as clear as possible for all the old fans.
SoT: Back in 1986 you chose to release the Sweet cover, "Fox On The Run" as a single from the Night Of Passion album. On your Another Night... you've chosen to include "Fever Of Love", which is another cover from the same band. Was this another way of cementing the link between these two albums?
Absolutely! But this time we took a song from The Sweet that is not so popular. Hit singles like "Ballroom Blitz" or "Hellraiser" have been covered much too often. This is the "Glam Rock" link between the two albums! [laughs]
SoT: Do you think that there might be a worry that some people, without giving the new album a chance, will see this release as relying on the past to make an impact, or maybe even as a bit of nostalgia?
Not at all! All the songs on Another Night Of Passion are brand new and fresh! It's a real 2012 album when it comes to production and sound quality. We wanted to give the fans something really new but with the classic vibe. This was the vision we had in mind.
SoT: So did the four of you get together to write songs for the new album, or did you all work individually before bringing the songs to the group?
As always in the Mad Max history I came up with most of the musical ideas and Juergen contributed with his lyrics together with his American writing partner Jason Smith from Kansas. The song "Fallen From Grace" I was lucky enough to write together with our hero Don Dokken, it turned out to be a killer track!
SoT: So, how easy was it to recapture a similar vibe and groove to that which the band had before, and did you write songs with the intentions of sounding like they could have been on a follow up to Night Of Passion?
The classic Mad Max sound comes naturally, it's a very special vibe that you can only get with the original members and nothing that has to be planned. I guess this is exactly what the fans love generally about their favourite bands playing in the original line-up and to be honest, there are not many of those 80's style Hard Rock bands around with all their original members.
SoT: Was it strange to have the four of you back together in the studio after all this time, or did it feel like the years had never passed at all?
No no...not at all. Mad Max always was and always will be a family band. We never lost contact with our drummer Axel and Roland, Juergen and myself kept Mad Max alive over the past years anyway.
SoT: The results on Another Night Of Passion really are excellent. You must be very pleased with how the album has turned out?
Thanks so much for your kind words Steven. The reviews we've received so far are awesome. It makes us proud that fans and journalists share our vision of Mad Max 2012! We still have a lot to say and we know how to put on a great entertaining Rock show on stage.
SoT: With how busy you all are, how hard has it been to make the time to focus on Mad Max?
With a fantastic worldwide operating record company like SPV now behind Mad Max, the band is our top priority at the moment!
SoT: That brings me to my next question Michael. I believe that some 27 years ago Mad Max came very close to teaming up with SPV/Steamhammer. Does it feel like all the pieces of the jigsaw are coming together now that you are working with them on this release?
You definitely nailed it! These days you need a global-player record company like SPV to bring the music to the fans. They have such a great roster of bands like UFO, Axel Rudi Pell, Magnum, Lita Ford and Fastway just to name a few. We are honoured to be part of that roster. Now we have the chance that our new album will be available worldwide and that gives us the opportunity to play worldwide as well, and Mad Max has always primarily been a live band.
SoT: Going back to the Night Of Passion album, it looked like Mad Max were set to make the big break through into the US market at that time, however things didn't work out that way. Looking back, why did things not go according to plan?
Oh man, this was one of those stories. A few big US labels wanted to sign us as a kind of German version of the multi platinum sellers Dokken. Our former record company Roadrunner wanted to sell a whole package of bands to the US labels but they were only interested in Mad Max. The result was that Roadrunner cancelled the whole deal. Game over! What made that even worse was that Ozzy Osbourne's producer Max Norman already had the tapes of Night Of Passion to remix the album for the American market! Shit happens!
SoT: Did that failure to really get a shot at the US bring about the break-up of the band at the time?
To be honest Steven – Yes! I was frustrated and disappointed and left the band more or less over night to start working on my own band Casanova.
SoT: When Mad Max first reformed in 2000, was there any attempt to bring the classic line-up back together at that stage?
Not really – the 2000 effort was more a collection of songs, and far from a real Mad Max album. During the preliminary stages of this album I worked on a Rock album with German lyrics with my partner in crime Juergen Breforth. The songs were really cool and we ended up using them with English lyrics for what became the Mad Max album Never Say Never.
SoT: So how do you view the Never Say Never, Night Of White Rock and White Sands albums now?
Night Of White Rock and White Sands will be in our hearts forever – this may sound a little pathetic but it's the truth. For Night Of White Rock we got killer reviews and the song "Hope To See You" has become a classic, especially in the "unplugged" version we performed on German TV. Juergen and I wrote the songs for White Sands on the island of Mallorca and had a fantastic time, almost magical.
SoT: For these albums you had been featuring Christian based lyrical themes in your music, is this something that the band will revisit again in the future?
Mad Max with the Christian based lyrical themes is not the Mad Max of the Night Of Passion era. It would be too confusing for the fans if we mixed those eras together. With the new album you get the true follow-up to Night Of Passion – what you see is what you get.
SoT: You have already lined up some tour dates across Europe with Axel Rudi Pell during April and March, how much are the four of you looking forward to getting back on stage together?
This will be a killer tour package. Most of the shows are sold out already or moved to bigger venues! Things are already looking quite good for there to be a second part of this tour in fall 2012.
SoT: That's great news. Will you be playing any headline shows and are there plans to maybe try and get in a few dates in America this time?
In these hard economic times everything depends on the sales figures – so first priority will be touring as "Special Guests" like we are with our good friend Axel Rudi Pell or playing festivals to present our new album to as many people as possible. We're trying to get a spot for Rocklahoma 2012 since one of the tracks we wrote for on Another Night Of Passion [titled "Rocklahoma"] is a festival anthem for that festival and hopefully we can convince the American promoters to use this particular song for the festival website.
SoT: Talking of playing live, there's a limited edition of Another Night Of Passion that comes with a second CD titled Live In Berlin. When was that set recorded?
The "Live Bootleg" was recorded in Berlin in Germany in 2009 on our tour with German guitar legend Axel Rudi Pell. We first started selling this bootleg exclusively at our live shows. But our new record company SPV thought it would be a great idea and value for money for the fans to include this in a limited edition of the new album. The live bootleg is really raw with no overdubs at all and showcases songs from a couple of different Mad Max albums.
SoT: Unfortunately the review version of the album I received didn't have the live disc Michael, but I can't wait to hear it as well. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks to all our American fans for supporting Mad Max over all those years! For all the latest news about Mad Max please check out www.madmaxofficial.de
(Click here to read our reviews of Another Night Of Passion)