John Diva

John Diva & The Rockets Of Love

It might be the next step, but there is more to the John Diva & The Rockets Of Love than your average Glam Metal band, especially since there aren't that many out there as the in the past. Being fairly eclectic this time around with the soundtrack to your escape, "The Big Easy", the experience sees a band taking it down a notch in order to come up with the best possible atmosphere under the banner of Rock music. Steinmetal reconvened with John Diva to talk about the what not of the album.
April 9, 2023
John Diva & The Rockets Of Love's John Diva: ""The Big Easy" is a summer album
Hi John, it is once again a pleasure to have you for this conversation about the latest of what is up with The Rockets Of Love, and yourself of course, how have you been?

I'm more than fine. So much is happening right now. We get great reviews for the new album and we are finally on tour again. The Band and the Fans can finally reunite. We have been waiting for this a long time. This spring and summer belong to John Diva.

Last time we had a good talk about your sophomore album, "American Amadeus", which was released at a period of time that humanity wished that didn't happen. Through that crazy time that we all had, did you have a chance to support the sophomore in any way?

We did all we could at that time, but it was tough. Live-Stream Rock and Roll lacks the blood, the sweat, the tears – it's not the same. American Amadeus received raving reviews as well and we shot awesome videos, but the final step was missing: a real tour. But the sophomore of course is part of the BIG EASY TOUR as well, we play material from all the three albums.

After rocking it with Amadeus, which was an amazing ode, and nod, to the 80s, it seems that you are up for a good and relaxing pleasantry with the follow-up album, "The Big Easy". Is this the picture of smooth sailing for you, a kind of toning it down a notch?

AMADEUS stretched out to several styles in Rock – some songs were heading in the direction of Metal, others reached back to the Seventies. "The Big Easy" is a summer album, it's the soundtrack to the way down to the beach – or if you want to burn down the avenue. The message though is positive, we have songs of hope and yearning, that have a certain depth to it (well, for a Glam Band at least. It's an album, that we wrote in dark times. Back then all we were hoping for was to finally be able to live out our dreams and wishes again – or just to have a drink with your friends at your favorite bar, just like the rest of the world. I guess, that's why everybody can relate to these songs so well – it's an album that came out of the depths of our souls.

In your view, what does "The Big Easy" title mean to you? How does it express the album properly as you see it? What is the big easy life in your view?

It was a wish and a vision, in the middle of the pandemic. It was almost like a prayer for better times. A reminder, that besides all the bad, there is a lot of great things to do in this world. And to finally try to relax, even if it's just for the length of a song, to lean back, nod your head, enjoy, agree and feel the vibe of a great rocking band – John Diva is the acoustic equivalent to a day out in the Californian sun. that's the BIG EASY.

Last time we talked, we had a little discussion about "American Amadeus" being a form of escapism. Well, I believe that this time around, you took it even further, not just due to the title but also due to the general feel of the record. What is your take on that?

Music can take you to places, it makes you dream, it connects you with a scene – I love melancholic songs and I have written some myself, but generally I'm an optimist, who looks into the future rather than backwards – again: when we wrote THE BIG EASY, we wanted to escape. Everything was closed down, we couldn't even go out for a drink. So, THE BIG EASY is pure escapism. But the difference is: now we can make it real. THE BIG EASY is out, the band is on tour. We escaped and now arrived in a better place. And everybody can be a part of this dream. Tune in, drop out, come to see a show!

I have to always mention reality, even if it seems that in this case it is farfetched. How does "The Big Easy" sit well with what we call our ordinary, daily lives?

The beauty of creativity is, that you can create something out of thin air. You have to work hard, but it's very possible, that in the end everything you dream of and wish for will become real. At the beginning it's just a couple of words, some chords – and it becomes a song. We started writing THE BIG EASY 14 months ago. Now it's here and it's streaming around the world, in the radios, live, in the magazines, on stage. Isn't it astonishing? I think, it is.

There is a saying in the dossier that I liked, but also was a little confused about, and that is the "carefree 80s". Were the 80s such carefree as it is described? If that is the case, how does "The Big Easy" emphasize that?

In the rear view everything seems to be carefree. The 80ies probably just have the best marketing of all decades. Everybody loves the eighties, but of course a lot of shit was going down back then that we can relate to now: the cold war is back, and people look for distraction.

Is there a lyrical relation between the songs on the album, or perhaps other elements that bind the tracks together?

Even though it's a good vibrations Rock Album, most of the lyrics are meaningful to me. Of course, I still love to play around with words, rhymes and allusions and quotes. At the same time songs like "Believe", "The Big Easy" and "Boys don't play with dolls" have a deeper meaning to them. I would consider THE BIG EASY our most conceptual album so far.

Other than being so American on the artwork, what can you tell about the elements that create it? Who created the artwork and do these symbolize the so-called big easy life?

Snake created the artwork. It all started with a picture of his pool and then we started messing around. It's not quite St.Pepper's, but the idea was to add element after element in order to create a slightly surreal scenery, that still has a lot to do with me and the Rockets. And well, what can I say: hell, yeah, floating in your pool with a bottle of Champagne between your legs – this sounds pretty BIG EASY to me.

Music wise, after walking the Hair Metal road, it sounded to me that "The Big Easy", is actually a soothing experience not just lyrically but also the pattern of the music that is more friendly, easier to handle so to speak. Was it a natural form of evolution for you gradually taking on an AORish flavor in the written music?

Besides growing older and making different (and cutting) experiences within the last years, we really grew as a band. It's not just Marcus Kullmann Jr.'s influence, but of course his drumming makes quite a difference. We love the decade of 80ies Glam Metal, but of course there is more on our personal list – if we drift a bit more towards classic Hard Rock and AOR, that's fine with me. Basically, the song writing told us, which way to go – and how to produce it. Everything seemed a bit straighter, we left away the Confetti here and there. And of course, I have a bit more to sing about besides Girls Girls and Girls.

Your guitarist Snake Rocket stated that you guys wanted "The Big Easy" to sound like Cherry Cola. For those of the readers that were either kids at the time, or weren't even born, can you explain this saying? Does it mean that the record is here to last for long?

Well, you have to ask him. Cherry Coke is actually awful, but back then everybody loved it (well, at least as a kid). I would rather consider THE BIG EASY to be a pretty colourful long drink, that features quite heavy liquor at the bottom. You will have a hell of a good time!

What can you tell about the drive, the motivation, the inspirations that led to the songs of "The Big Easy"?

It was JJ's idea – he came up with the title and thru that, helped us to find a concept for the album. THE BIG EASY, that sounded good and it still does. The verses tell you, where we come from – and the Chorus opens (without a bridge) straight and direct into the cure for all the nonsense we have been through…. Welcome to the big easy. Great opener!

The songwriting on "The Big Easy '' made you diverse, contemplating on the mixture of a stream of AOR with a little crunch of hardness in small doses. What can you tell about the songwriting process?

JJ, Snake and I are songwriters and we joined forces like we did on all albums so far. But this time we were hard on us. From about 30 songs and ideas we cooked it down to 11. There were great songs, but they didn't make it, because they didn't fit the concept. We wanted to reduce it to the max – the rest, I guess, was the magic that happens in between.

It took you a period of six months to complete "The Big Easy", including the songwriting sessions, needless to say actually rehearsing the album prior to recording it. What can you tell about the challenges that stood before you as the album was in the making?

The challenge was not to break apart. Everything was horrible, especially for musicians (and it still is not good again). We had to confront us with the sorrowful questions, if there ever will be a tour again – or simply a show like we used to play before 2020. There was so much hope and defeat in the last three years for everybody in the business. Everything was at stake. This is why this album and it's success mean so much to us.

Talking about AOR and a softer form of Hard Rock, what can you tell in regards to what makes "The Big Easy" a special kind of album?

I think we managed to stay very much John Diva, keep our spirits high, and do everything with great passion and a big smile. At the same time, we seem to be moving on, there is songs on the album, that show a different and yet unknown side of the Rockets. This might be the special thing: pleasing your old fans and finding new one's at the same time. We are very much in touch with ourselves at the moment, I think, people can hear this.

The first song that I was drawn to was the uplifting, positive thinker, "Believe". Being hooky wouldn't do justice to the song, there is more to it. With its simple lyrics, it can motivate those that need to be considered more than they are, the feeling of being important and strong. What can you tell about the song and its creation?

You put in good words already. I was looking for simple slogans that transport the real things that I was feeling and trying to express. I'm not afraid to be caught in a Cliché, because we know who we are. I wanted to write an anthem that makes you feel strong and that. Everybody can relate to. A song, that lifts you up, no matter what.

"Back In The Days", as it was stated pretty well on the dossier, is a room service for every 80s Hard Rock admirer, as if it was a relic all along. What can you tell about the nature of the song?

I hope we are talking about a room service in a five-star Hotel. Again, I tried to tell a story that sounds like all of us might have experienced it. The first love, the rebellion at home, a car, a teenage love. I wanted to find strong pictures and see, if a created memory – like this story in BACK OF THE DAYS – can become a common memory. This is thrilling and I really was working these words until the ultimate fit.

The title track, "The Big Easy" is one of the album's punchy tunes, even though it is smooth between the cracks. What is your appreciation of this song?

It's a classical JJ approach. A creamy, but strong grooving Riff, there always is a bit of Van Halen to his tunes – another custom made JJ move is the beautiful bridge that features an unexpected key change.

Looking at your schedule for 2023, what are the plans for the and in order to support the new album properly?

We tour our asses off.

John, it was great to have you for this talk. The experience of "The Big Easy" paints a pretty good picture of what was in the past but with a look to the future. All the best to you and the guys,

Thanks Lior, catch up with Album Number four at the latest.

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