Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Ladies Rock On A Snowy Evening In Toronto


A while back, fellow Canadian Decibel Geek Rich (The Meister) informed me that Doro and Sister Sin were heading to Toronto in February and suggested I join him. I was kind of on the fence with this one, Doro (and Warlock) was one of those bands that back in the day kind of got lost in the shuffle for me. Not that I didn't like her music, in fact I remember back in 1987 when I first saw the All We Are video it was fantastic. I suppose it was just a matter of so many bands and having scarce resources (ie. CASH) that Doro kind of flew below my radar all these years.

Well as I pondered joining my friend for the show, a couple things transpired. One, Rich did a fine job at selling me on the idea. Informing me how much I would enjoy Sister Sin and how Doro was a metal legend and I should really reconsider. The next thing that happened was the addition of local band Diemonds to the bill and the deal was sealed, I was in. Diemonds are a killer live band and the thought of three female fronted rock bands seemed to make for an interesting evening.

So at 8:10 Priya Panda and the boys of Diemonds hit the stage and proceeded to tear things up. High energy rock n roll, these young guns play like it is 1987 and it makes me smile knowing that this type of music is alive and well in the hands of the young. Playing a set comprised of songs from the fabulous BAD PACK CD the band seems to get a little better every time I catch them on stage. Guitarists C.C. Diemond and Daniel DeKay trade off leads and even take a moment to "shotgun" a couple of cold ones on stage. This group always comes to party and the crowd seemed to be with them right from the get go.

Rich and I  managed to get right up front and after the Diemonds warm up and a couple of cold beverages I was ready to rock. After all the hype from Rich, I was ready to experience Sister Sin. Liv and the band came out guns a blazing. This was metal at it's finest, loud crunchy guitars, pounding bass and just enough melody. Liv is a ball of energy on stage and her vocal prowess is nothing short of outstanding. Not many singers would attempt to cover UDO but Liv and the boys pulled out a cover of 24/7 that quite frankly, I think I enjoyed more than the original. Fight Song, End of the Line and The Chosen Few? were highlights from a super tight, super entertaining band. I urge the Decibel Geeks to check out Sister Sin, Rich was right on with this pick and the CD I picked up is now a personal favourite.

The houselights went out and Doro's band took their positions. From our vantage point I could see Doro side stage looking none the worse for wear, she was decked out in leather and studs and seemed ready to roll. Without delay the band kicked in to I Rule The Ruins and Doro sounded great. As the set progressed with great song after great song, I couldn't help but think to myself how glad I was that Rich persuaded me out on this wintery evening.

Doro's band are absolutely killer, tight as a drum and these guys rocked every inch of the stage. Watching Doro, it becomes apparent how much she loves to perform and has a genuine appreciation for her fans. Constantly shaking hands with the audience and passing the microphone letting them sing along with her. She seems so happy to be up there and that energy seeps into the crowd, in a way she reminds me of the late Ronnie James Dio in that she is so truly dedicated to her music and to metal.

So dedicated that on this night she silently battled the flu, during solos and breaks we could see her blowing her nose, coughing and trying to clear her congestion. That said, her performance did not suffer at all, her voice sounded strong as she rocked through Burning the Witches, Fight for Rock, Metal Racer and my favourite Earthshaker Rock.

Doro got a small break to rest when drummer Johnny Dee took the spotlight for a brief drum solo that included a surprise and very cool section of KISS's I Love it Loud which got the audience involved. After that the band was back at it and the metal just kept coming. Hero, Doro's beautiful tribute to Mr. Dio gave me goosebumps and the band closed out the show with the aforementioned All We Are.

With the crowd still wanting more, Doro was back for not one but three more tunes to nail it home. East Meets West, Hellbound and then the moody, slowed down Judas Priest classic Breaking the Law. It was a perfect finish to a perfect night of metal. On a snowy night in Toronto, it was the "Ladies" that came to rock!

*****Before the show we had the chance to sit down and chat with Liv "Sin" Jagrell*****

Decibel Geek: So Liv, thanks for meeting with us today.  Have you heard of the opening band Diemonds before tonight?

Liv "Sin" Jagrell: Actually yes, one of the guys I'm talking with on Facebook, so I have to go down and say hi to them later.

DBG: It's a perfect fit to have them on the bill for tonight.  Three female fronted bands I think it's going to be great.

Liv:  Absolutely. I think so too actually, so I have to say hi to them later on.

DBG:  So how's the tour been going so far?

Liv:  It's been good, really good for us.....

DBG:  Did you tour with Doro in Europe as well or just here in North America?

Liv:  Just here and this is like the......

*****One of the Decibel Geeks enters with a Tim Hortons coffee for Liv!*****

Liv:  Thank you so much!  (laughing) Ohh it's a big one, it's gonna last the whole night! (laughing)  Thank you so much, appreciate it, really.

DBG:  Do you know Tim Hortons?

Liv:  I tried once because we played....we played in Toronto before

DBG:  I remember from our email interview a while ago that you said you were sick that night.

Liv:  Small, small place and I was sooo fucking sick, so I can't remember the set, I can't remember....everything is blurry, so I only remember that we stopped at Tim Hortons and they're like this is the good coffee here or something like that.

DBG:  It's a big thing for Canadians, everybody loves Tim Hortons.  In the US they don't really have Tim Hortons.
Liv:  I remember it was pretty good compared to the American coffees (laughs).  The American coffee sucks (whispers).

DBG:  So does their beer! (laughing)

Liv:  Yes it does!  Is there better beers here?

DBG:  Oh yeah, much stronger.  But you're only here for the one night?  This is your only show in Canada?

Liv:  Yeah, yeah.

*****As Doro had use of the proper green room, we were conducting our chat on the upper balcony and the sound check begins here and is quite loud.*****

Liv:  Sit down (referring to one of the Decibel Geeks who was still standing after the coffee delivery).  We don't know how long they gonna like (makes guitar sounds and laughing)

DBG:  Have you done your sound check already?

Liv:  We don't sound check (laughing).

DBG:  You don't sound check (surprised)?  You just get up and go for it?

Liv:  Yeah, I mean we are the support band, so...

DBG:  Yeah, but there's a lot of people here to see you as well, like us for example.

Liv:  We are very used to not sound checking (talking over volume of guitar check).  I mean we would be happy to sound check of course, but we are very used to not sound checking.

DBG:  And everything works okay?  You don't usually have a problem?

Liv:  Just make sure the sound guy knows how it's working.

DBG:  Is it your own sound guy?  Did you bring your own people or is it just someone from the club?

Liv:  That's from the club here, but we are sharing Doro's guy, but he's not with us here.  I think there could be.....he didn't have a passport or something.  He's in Buffalo now, waiting for us.

DBG:  Where do you play tomorrow?

Liv:  Uhhh...Rochester (struggles to pronounce).

DBG:  On the road from one city to the next, you don't get to see anything in the city even! Especially not in this weather!  (a bad snow storm was brewing outside that night)

Liv:  I know and in this weather I don't want to go out any ways, so.  But it's too bad when you're in New York.....This is like...we have played four times in New York and all I've seen is a block!

DBG:  Wow! You might as well say that you've never been there then.

Liv:  Exactly, that's right.

DBG:  It always sounds so glamorous, you get to tour around and play in a band and be in a different city every night but, you don't get to experience the city.

*****Breaking The Law sound check starts up and one of the Decibel Geeks admires the bass guitar lying in the open case on a table.*****

DBG:  (in answer to Liv's questioning look) I pretend to play bass.

Liv:  (laughing)  You pretend to play bass?

DBG:  I play bass but I'm not very good, that's why I say pretend (laughing).

Liv:  Are you just doing an interview with me or with Doro as well?

DBG:  We were hoping to meet with Doro as well, but there's kind of a loose agreement that we would meet her at 7 o'clock, but nothing has been confirmed, so......maybe we will, maybe we won't.

Liv:  And I mean, she's sick so I don't know.  She's at the hotel right now.  She's been sick the whole so far, since the boat.

DBG:  Really?  I wanted to ask her how she enjoyed the cruise (70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise).

Liv:  I think they had a good one on the cruise, but then she got sick after that.  Our guitarist is sick, so.....

DBG:  Was he on the cruise as well?

Liv:  No, but it just spread around.  That's the worst part when someone starts to get sick........(drowned out by sound check).  So have you interviewed Diemonds?

DBG:  Sort of, we've talked to them a few times, done concert reviews and are Facebook friends.

Liv:  Are they popular here?

DBG:  In Toronto, very much so.  I just saw them two weeks ago and am excited to see them again, they put on a great show.

*****The sound check of Raise Your Fist starts up and drowns us out for a few minutes*****

Liv:  We are friends with the Blackguard, they're Canadian, but they're from Montreal.  It's like kind of .....(drowned out by sound check)....type music.

DBG:  How did you meet them?

Liv:  On tour.  We have the same label.  You went through Victory for this too, right?  Does it work good?  It seems like it works good when like there's interview stuff with Victory.

DBG:  Jessica seems very organised, yes.

Liv:  Yeah, she's very nice, always trying to book some things for us.

DBG:  They promote very well.  We are always getting promotional emails and things from them.  Jessica was very accommodating when we tried to set this up.  She even gave me her phone number to text her if there was any problems like they wouldn't let us in or something, you never know.  It's a big thing to organise and maybe the guy at the door doesn't know that we have an appointment. I'm surprised that there's not more interviewers here to see you.

Liv:  I might have one more, I have to check, I'm not sure (laughing).  Apparently it was 4:30 I think, so then maybe I missed that one.  The best thing I guess, like interviewers when you're here is like to just ask someone like you did and they can be like ok, she's in there that's why I think that if I had something that girl was not here or that guy is not here.

DBG:  Could be delayed in all this bad weather.

Liv:  Exactly.  But we have had like a lot of people not showing up for interviews, so...(laughs).

DBG:  That sucks, that's rude.  You make the time to go and do the interview to try and promote yourself and hopefully this is a way to get exposure for the band and then they don't show up.

Liv:  Exactly, so I'm just gonna see if you guys were the only one or not (checks cell phone messages).  Seems we are waiting still so....(for sound check).

DBG:  No rush.  We're here for the show.  We're not leaving until the show is over so.....(laughing).

Liv:  (scrolling through phone)  Okay, so we are in Toronto and I this (****) or the Decibel Geek?

DBG:  Decibel Geek, that's us!

Liv:  Ohhhh, then I had one at 4:30 (laughs). The thing is, we have a US phone, but it doesn't work here so, he can't even try to call me!  I hope that guy, like asked someone and they could just tell "hey, they are up here".  Maybe I should just go.....just run down and see 'cause they still sounding.......

DBG:  No problem at all, like we said we're not in a rush.

Liv:  No and me neither, I mean we're playing at 9 so.....

*****Liv heads downstairs to check at the door if anyone has been looking for her.  She returns after several minutes and the sound check has finished, so we start the "official" interview.*****

DBG:  So, how's the tour been so far?

Liv:  Yeah, it's been good.  I mean like we played four shows, this is the fifth, one day off, but it's been really good so far.  We had some....I mean there are always like troubles everywhere, but not around the shows it's been really good, but then like (makes "ugh" noise) the stuff around with the travelling and stuff (we did notice that the Sister Sin tour bus had a big yellow parking ticket on the front window earlier) and I mean with Doro being sick and Jimmy being sick and stuff like that.  The shows have been really good.

DBG:  So, you're about halfway through the tour or you have a lot more to go?

Liv:  No, we have 14 dates more or 15 dates more.

DBG:  And then after that you're headlining some of your own shows?

Liv:  Yes, we do.

DBG:  And then what's up for Sister Sin after that?

Liv:  After that we flying directly to London and we are gonna do Hammerfest.  Which is the Metal Hammer festival.

DBG:  The magazine?

Liv:  The magazine Metal Hammer (nodding), they have a festival, so and then we have some shows in the UK around that.  Then we going back home and right now it seems like we playing Scandinavia like weekend shows every weekend in Scandinavia and some in Germany and France.

DBG:  How's the American crowd been reacting so far?

Liv:  Very good.

DBG:  Do you find that a lot of them know your music?

Liv:  Very much.  This time around it' can really feel and see that there's so many more fans coming out and we gain so much more new fans also because it's a very good fit with Doro.  All the other US tours we've done it's been not that perfect fit with the music, I mean we played with Otep and Ill Nino and I mean those bands.......
DBG:  Have you toured with Doro before?

Liv:  We haven't toured with her, but we've played shows with her before.

DBG:  I know that you sang with her on Celebrate for her 25th anniversary, I just watched the DVD the other day.

Liv:  Exactly (laughing).  I was at the wrong side of the stage, so I went late 'cause I was like standing there and then like wait everybody's up on stage and I ask someone and they are like you are at the wrong side you can't go up this way and then I had to go running, that was fun.

DBG:  What was the feeling like for that?  For celebrating her 25th anniversary with her?

Liv:  That was great!  I mean there was a lot of people and there was a big party and that was huge so I'm very happy to be a part of that.

DBG:  So, what got you started in music?

Liv:  Actually, I always liked music.  My dad played guitar when I was little and stuff like that, but I think it was when I was fourteen I found Nirvana and then I found Hole and Courtney Love and I thought that she was the coolest girl ever in the world 'cause she was like (whispers "fuck you" while giving the finger).

DBG:  Yeah, she had attitude.

Liv:  She had attitude and I was like I wanna do that too and she played the guitar and she was just so awesome.  So....uuuummmm...maybe she wasn't probably not the best role model (laughing) for a teenage girl, I mean with drugs and stuff, but I mean I didn't care about that I wanna do like her attitude and the music part.  So I started to play guitar and back then and I formed a band.  I actually forced my two best girlfriends to start a band with me and they didn't at all want to do that.

DBG:  Did they play music even?

Liv:  No, no, no, I forced them and we sounded so crappy and no-one could play and they didn't want to play either, but we actually had that band for three years or something.

DBG:  How did Sister Sin come to be then?  How did you meet the guys and form the band?

Liv:  I moved to Gothenburg and I lived for one year in Gothenburg in like 2002 and I didn't have a band back then, so I put in an ad, this....uuuuhhhh during that time you put an ad in the paper not on the internet so....I put an ad in the paper, like a musicians paper and someone like answer me and it was not our guitarist now it was earlier guitarist, former guitarist and he told me "Hey I want you to audition for my band, but, just so you know, I'm the only one who wants a female 'cause the other guys want a male"  and they wanted a whole like Motley Crue Vince Neil type of guy, that kind so he's like "but I convince them that you can try out one female, but just so you know they don't want a girl."  But I tried out and I think we did like Live Wire or something to just try it out and then they hire me on the spot!  So I kicked all the other guys ass (laughing).  So it was pretty fun and back then it was only Dave, the drummer, in the band with another bass player and another guitarist.  Jimmy joined in 2004 I think, so we kind of say that 2004 is when we real started as Sister Sin 'cause Jimmy got in the band and we start to develop the music that we wanted to play. We were so much more like sleazy, cheesy, greasy before that like (makes "ugh" noise), I don't like that music.

DBG:  And now you have a different bass player from the original?

Liv:  Yeah, exactly.  We have bad luck with bass players so we actually been through three bass players.  So they all kind of just jumped off the band, or like they quit, just before tours (laughs), stuff like that.  But this guy is...actually we're happy that they did because this one suits the band.

DBG:  He fits well with the band and everyone gets along?

Liv:  Yeah, and musically also, so now we like, before it was like the three of us a core and the bass player was kind of over there, but now we are like four of us the core so that's much better.

DBG:  So what about your throat surgery, what was it, lymph nodes?

Liv:  No it was not that bad.  I had it like 2007 and for one year I could not sing.  From 2007 to 2008 we did not have any shows at all and I was heavy medicated......(ugh)...I don't know the name of it here, but it was eight medications every day.  It was like fifteen to twenty pills every day for several months and I had to be quiet and I couldn't work and stuff like that.  That's because I had those very small nodules on my chords.  It was almost like I needed the surgery back then, but I did rehab very good so I didn't need the surgery, because if you do surgery with those kind of things they are so hard so you have to cut into the vocal chords and then it's such a long rehabilitation from that, so I was happy that they didn't have to do that and it works pretty OK, but I keep it on a pretty good level for almost five years but then we start to play more and more and more and it just went like this the last six months of last year.

DBG:  So they came back then?

Liv:  No, it was like, I think they never really disappeared, but both my vocal chords was swollen like this (makes bowing in hand motions), so it was buckled.  So when I was singing sometimes there was no sound at all, so it was not the small things but it was swollen, so they just cut off the swolleness...can you say that?

DBG:  Sure you can say that, I'm not sure it's correct, but we get the picture.

Liv:  So that's an easier surgery because you don't take away the vocal chords you just take away that one that was pointing out so then it's just two months of recovery so that's much better (laughing).

DBG:  So everything is good now, good as new?

Liv:  And everything feels very good.

DBG:  Is there a chance that it could happen again?

Liv:  Absolutely, because that's from overdoing it.  It's nothing like wrong techniques, I got that figured out.  When you got the nodules that's because of the wrong techniques, but I mean I been through vocal coaches and all this kinds of logopedists(?) you have that kind of word, maybe not, but they help you with the speech, both with singing and the speech.

DBG:  Like a linguist we might say.

Liv:  Exactly, so I been through that all these years so my technique is good now but the other thing is that then it's like overdoing it, doing it too much and no recovery in between and like too many interviews, too many shows......

DBG:  Uh oh (both laughing), too many interviews, uh oh (laughing).

Liv:  (laughing) No, it's fine but when my vocal chords already was damaged then you do the singing and then I work at the gym during the weeks and then you have interviews at nights and it was too much and no recovery, so I have to just like......take better care.  But I have a better starting point now than before.

DBG:  So you're a personal trainer as well in Sweden?  So how do your clients take it when you're gone for so long on a tour?

Liv:  Actually right now because we are playing so much I don't have so many clients.  I have like two that have been sticking with me for years so they know that I go away and they kind of think it's funny to have....

DBG:  A rock star as their trainer.....

Liv:  Yeah, exactly, they're like "oh yeah go on tour".

DBG:  I just recently joined a gym and haven't got a personal trainer, so I might as well you want to do any personal training while you're here, help me out, put me on a routine? (laughing)

Liv:  (laughing) If I would have time I would!  No but that's like the thing, it's hard to keep up a normal day job when you play so much so I do as much as I can and try to do online stuff and stuff like that just easier to keep connected if you can do it on line with people.

DBG:  Do you notice a big difference in the audiences between Europe and here?

Liv:  Yeah I do, but with Doro the audiences are pretty's not that big with this audience, but on the other audience, we've been like with Il Nino and all those kind of more hardcore bands and Otep and it's a huge difference between Europe and here, but not like true heavy metal fans.

DBG:  What's it like playing a big festival in Europe verses playing a small club here?  Which do you prefer?

Liv:  Well, I love festivals.  I have to say festivals because I's not that I don't like small clubs, I do like to come close to the audience, but I want to have space when I'm on stage and you will understand why, because I am run around like hell and when it's small stages and I feel like I can't move and I'm squeezed in....aaahhh, uncomfortable, so the bigger the better for me, but that's just because I like to run around.

DBG:  So about the new album, Now & Forever, I see that Hearts of Cold, the new video is at 175,000 views in two weeks!

Liv:  Yeah, that's huge!  It's the best we've ever done.

DBG:  And End of the Line before that is also at over 250,000 views!  Who developed the concept for the videos, is that something that the band came up with or is it something that the record company said this how we're going to do it?

Liv:  Actually, End of the Line was our idea, but the Hearts of Cold was the.....Victory have their own video guy, who makes videos for them and stuff like that and he's really good.  The Hearts of Cold was his idea, so since it was his idea they flew me over to Chicago to record it that's why it's only me because we couldn't take the band.  They were supposed to play band shots in Sweden to shoot band shots in Sweden, but the time was just running away.

DBG:  Great video though.  I like the Bonnie & Clyde concept.

Liv:  Exactly, it suits very much, I mean the lyrics fits so good to the video so you can't do another video of it.  This is the prefect video for that song

DBG:  And Fight Song has been used as a theme song for a sports network.  Did they ask you if they could do that or is it just through the record company?

Liv:  No, that's through Victory too, but I mean that's good promotion for us.  And it's a good song for a sport thing (laughs).

DBG:  Actually, I'm hoping we're going to hear that song tonight!

Liv:  You gonna hear Fight Song

DBG:  How did you guys get hooked up with Victory Records?

Liv:  That's a funny story actually!  That was Dave, the drummer, he was checking the TV at home and it was like MTV.  MTV top twenty or something like that and he noticed that, maybe not the first place, but the second or third place was not like a pop act or a hip hop act, it was a metal core band or something like that.  He was like "how can a metal core band be on the top five of US chart?  That must be a really good label."  So he checked it out and sent a link to Victory the same day and Tony Bramma from Victory, he answered us in one hour!  And he's like "Hey guys, I want to sign you."  And we just sent the link, like check us out and he did so that was you don't think that that will ever happen like that.

DBG:  The right place at the right time.  Sounds like they're a very organised company and they seem to support their bands quite well.  Well, I think we've covered almost everything that I haven't already asked you in our email interview from a while ago.

Liv:  Well that's good then.

DBG:  I know, what happens if I say "monkey-balls" to your mechandise guy?  Does that still work?

Liv:  (laughing) No, because now we share with Doro so she doesn't know that.  I think it was for one of the shows or two of the shows, we gave something away, I can't really remember (laughing).

DBG:  How did it come about that you chose to have a fan say monkey-balls to get something free?

Liv:  That's my boys.  They imagination sometimes is....I don't know where they get it from.  So if you say that to her, you probably gonna get slapped in the face (laughing)!

DBG:  Well, I certainly appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today.  Is there anything else that you'd like to let our readers know?  Anything you want to talk about?

Liv:  I feel like I've been like blah, blah, blah, so I think we've covered it all.  I just hope that you guys will enjoy the show.  I don't know if we play Hearts of Cold today or 24/7, we have to choose between those two, so it's a hard choice.

DBG:  Really, that is a hard choice.  I would think that you'd automatically play Hearts of Cold as it's the new video?

Liv:  Depends on the audience sometimes.

DBG:  What about Hostile/Violent?

Liv:  No, actually we never like to play that song live.  But we only play forty minutes so we have to adjust to the time.  And we have to play End of the Line and Fight Song and some of the songs from True Sound of the Underground of course and On Parole.  So we have like limited of choosing the other songs, so like.....and sometimes we can see on the audience if it's gonna be Hearts of Cold or 24/7.

DBG:  Just judge how they're feeling?  They're both great songs.  Has UDO heard your version of 24/7?

Liv:  Oh yeah.  We toured with UDO last year and he was so funny because he come up to us after the first show we did, he come up like "Why aren't you playing 24/7?" (mock yelling and waving finger).  And we're like "But that's your song, we didn't know if you...." and he's like "You are playing it from now on!"  So we played it every night and on some of the shows Igor, the guitarist and Philly (?), the bass player they joined us on stage, but never UDO.

DBG:  There's a question.  Are you and Doro gonna sing anything on stage together?  Maybe Motorhead's Rock and Roll?

Liv:  I hope, but not now since she's been sick, you don't want to force her to do something, but maybe I hope later in the tour she wants to do it.

DBG:  That would be great and perfect since you've already done Rock & Roll together and also Celebrate.

Liv:  She does not play Celebrate.

DBG:  I find that strange, but with such a huge catalogue it must be hard to choose.

Liv:  Otherwise absolutely, I would do that!

DBG:  Well, thank you again for talking with us.

*****Sound check starts up again as we take a couple of photos with Liv and shake hands.*****


Wallygator & The Meister

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