BONFIRE's Ronnie Parkes: "We are not trying to reinvent our style of music; we are just trying to do what kind of music that we still do. Just make it a little more fresh, a little more new and that's why it still works."

It takes a lot to be a Rock N' Roll hero, the road is tough […]
May 9, 2020
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It takes a lot to be a Rock N' Roll hero, the road is tough and not many of them can handle it. But fortunately, that is not the case for Bonfire. The masters of Rock are with their fists full of fire and Mr. Ronnie Parkes had a chat with us and taught us some knowledge as being a Rock N' Roll Survivor.

Hi Ronnie, it is an honor to have you here Metal Temple online magazine. How is everything?

Ronnie: Well, everything is okay under the circumstances, but I am happy to be talking to you.

I am happy that you found some time in your schedule. I am reading and listening to the news daily and unfortunately it seems that there are a lot of Covid19 cases confirmed in US. How it affected the music scene in your area, New Jersey?

Ronnie: Oh, everything is closed, you know? There's no concerts, no theaters, no movies, you have to basically stay in your house and you are only allowed to go to the supermarket or if you have a special job like a doctor or something like that or some kind of important job, you know? You can do your job, but otherwise you have to stay at home. They closed all business and its also like that in Europe too. I talk a lot to the guys in the band and they have the same situation. Everything is closed, all over. I have talked today to some people in Canada, doing some other interviews and its also the same up there. All over the world man, people are in their houses and they cannot go out.

That sucks and there are a lot of bands that doesn't have any kind of merchandise to sell and I wonder how they are going to keep their activities during that time.

Ronnie: It is very difficult and a lot of concerts were cancelled. I mean, right now I would be on tour. (laugh)

Yes! You just released the album! (laughs). I hope things will get back to what we think its normal.

Ronnie: I hope so too.

Well, let's talk about your early days as a musician. How did you get yourself into music and what influenced you back then and what influence you now?

Ronnie: Ah, I started playing music at five years old and I am fifty-three years old now. I was very influenced by Kiss actually. Being close to NYC, I was aware of Kiss in the 1970's so I got into Kiss at young age and it really made me want start playing music. Of course, I was always into Black Sabbath and AC/DC, all different kinds of music like that you know? Nowadays I listen to everything. I like when something is really good and that inspires me like "what a great sound", something new, something fresh. That inspires me.

It does not matter if it's not Rock or Metal, its all about if its good music or not, right ya?

Ronnie: Yes if its sounds good even jazz or classical music and R&B as well. I like every music.

I have read that you first started playing piano and guitar, is that correct?

Ronnie: Yes, I started playing piano at 5 years old and then I switched to the guitar. I wanted to play guitar but my hands were small at five years old and I couldn't grab the whole neck of the guitar, so they made me started at the piano first (laughs).

Cool! The same thing happened to me. I started with the piano at 5 years old, my hands were too small to grab the guitar as well (laughs). Well, what motivated you to pick up the bass?

Ronnie: Well, I actually played guitar for many years, until I was about maybe 30 or 40 years old. My brother was doing a Bon Jovi tribute band in New Jersey and they were looking for a bass player, so he asked me if I wanted to try play bass and I said: yeah, how hard can that be? I am a guitar player. But all the guitar players think that the bass is easy (laughs) what its not.

Its not?

Ronnie: No! (laughs). So that's how I started to get into bass and then I just played in more band, did more things and I never went back to guitar. I never stopped playing guitar, I still do, but bass is my main instrument now.

What do you recommend for the guitar players that want to switch to bass. People usually think that is easy because it has only four or five strings in most cases.

Ronnie: Yes, its not that easy because its really a different thing. Specially if you sing and play guitar, when you go play the bass and sing its different (laughs) you kind have to start all over. It got a different feel to it and you have to really try to play a bass like a bass, not like a guitar playing playing a bass. Its not so much about soloing, its more about sitting in the right pocket with drums. When the drums do a feel, you do a feel, you know? Different things like that. You have to do the drums and the guitar, not just the guitar part.

Its much harder than the guitar (laughs).

Ronnie: Its not harder than the guitar, I think its underappreciated. People are not like "wow the bassist is so great". They don't really realize, but if it missing they would. If you are a bass player, the worst thing you can do is stop playing. Everybody looks at you like "what happened? What is wrong?" (laughs).

There are any bass player that influenced you since you picked the bass?

Ronnie: As I started to pick up the bass and started to learn different things, I read an interview with John Entwistle from The Who and he mentioned that when he started playing bass, the electric bass, wasn't really existing. That whole thing was just kind of new. So that kinda told me that there are no rules, they just invented this thing and I can figure out myself and do my own style.

What is your currently set for concerts and what did you use to record Fistful of Fire?

Ronnie: Well actually Fistful of Fire we recorded in a recording studio in Ingolstadt, Germany and I'm not sure of all the stuffs that he's using there. It might be Logic, it can re-amp things and do a lot of stuffs. He has a lot of great equipment, so he makes the recording much better. That is where we recorded and did everything, from Temple of Lies, Bite the Bullet and also Fistful of Fire.

What do you use when you are on tour?

Ronnie: I am endorsed by Lane amplification from UK and I use ESHB from Germany, they are not so known, and their biggest endorser was Peter Steele from Type O Negative. They are nice basses.

Bonfire has a huge career with 48 years of existence, and you joined the band in 2015, since then you have been working as a song writer and lyricist. You really became a very important part of the role. How was the process of joining a band from Germany and what were the difficulties to adapt to a different country and environment as well?

Ronnie: Oh, it was not a really of cultural shock to me, because I was used to how everything works here and its not so different in Europe. There are some differences, but I travelled a lot in my life, I have been in so many places and now I've played all over the world, so it was a little bit of cultural shock but not so much. A lot of people in Germany speaks English so it was easy to communicate, and I work on my German, so I can also speak some German and I can understand a lot of German. So, it's good, it was easy. I was not sure of what to expect but I am very pleased with everything and I'm very happy about it.

Oh cool! How have they invited you to join the band?

Ronnie: I was in a couple of bands in USA and I was also playing with David Reece and he had sang one album for Accept and I did so much stuff for him with his solo record, that he says "the next phone call I get from somebody for me to work, I'm going to bring you with me" and the next call he got was from Germany, it was Hans Ziller that called, he went over and brought me with him. We started playing with EZ Living which was Hans solo band and then the next year Bonfire split up and we became the members in Bonfire.

Well, Fistful of Fire was released a couple of days ago on April 3[sup]rd[/sup] and unfortunately during this global crisis that we are all living in. How the writing process happened since you live in New Jersey and the rest of the guys are in Germany?

Ronnie: Actually, all the albums that we have done was written when I was in Germany. Bite the Bullet, Temple of Lies and Fistful of Fire, I was in Germany at the time for recording the album. Sometimes when I go to Germany I'm there for two or three months, so we have plenty of time when we start working on the album, the way that we normally do is like "so we are doing a new album, if anybody has any songs they can submit the songs, we'll check them out and will pick some songs" and then we start working on them, we demo them up, I write all the lyrics while Hans are working on the melodies and I put the lyrics on it and I give it to Alexx and he sings it. It works pretty cool, it works good.

Usually you start writing the lyrics first, melodies or music? How it works?

Ronnie: Well, we write the music first and then we write the melody and then I put the lyrics to the melody. I have read that a lot of people have done that, even The Beatles. I read somewhere that Paul McCartney said that Let It Be first name was Ham and Eggs. (singing the chorus from Let It Be in a very epic way with Ham and Eggs) (laughs). So, you get the melody and then you put the lyrics, because if you write the lyrics first then you have to make the melody fit the lyrics. Its better do the other way, because you still have to make the lyrics fit the melody, so.

I believe that the Ham and Eggs formula really works (all laughs) because it's the fuckin' Paul McCartney.

Ronnie: Yeah, he is got to be right. He wrote a couple of great songs (laughs).

It is a small band called The Beatles (all laughs). Well, why was Rock N' Roll Survivor chosen as the first single from the album?

Ronnie: We wrote the whole album and we was not sure about which song to pick up as first single. We thought that Rock N' Roll Survivor was a really good song, but we had come with an idea for a video for that song of the boxing. Basically, that is how the single is release now, you make a video. We had the idea for the video, and this would be perfect. We have a friend that owns a boxing studio and she is the person in the video and also a professional and three-time World Champion Kickboxer. She said that we could come to her place, make the video there and we asked to be in the video, and she said yes. Tina is really a great person and she is also in a band. They are going to be on tour with us if September happens. If we are all still alive (laughs).

What is her band?

Ronnie: Oh, its Tina Schüssler band.

I really enjoyed the videoclip and it was really energetic, the chorus is pretty good, guitars and you just feel like going wild and screaming "Rock N' Roll", you know?

Ronnie: (laughs) we are not trying to reinvent our style of music; we are just trying to do what kind of music that we still do. Just make it a little more fresh, a little more new and that's why it still works. If we try to do something too much out of a sudden and say like "lets sound like Sepultura" that would be like: this isn't Bonfire, what the hell is this? So, we really try to keep to the music that we are and it comes out easily, all natural, it really works so.

I listened to the album that you sent to me.

Ronnie: Oh, did you enjoy the album?

Yes! I really enjoyed it. Its modern, heavy, different, but still Bonfire. I showed it on Spotify to a friend of mine and we both agreed that you should totally come to Brazil.

Ronnie: I would love to come to Brazil!

Have you ever been here?

Ronnie: No, I have been to places like Mexico, Central America, but I have never been to South America.

Well, there are plenty of bands doing streaming on YouTube and other platforms, what are your thoughts on that?

Ronnie: Its kinda cool, but anybody can do that. So, you get all different kinds of quality, music and performances. Some are really great and some maybe never would have the chance to be exposed. That is excellent, but some is not so great. I don't have anything against it, but it's not the way I really want to see a band, you know?

Yesterday I was having a meeting with a few people and some of them said that maybe it is the future, pay for a band but don't go to their gig, instead you catch them on your streaming platform. But its not very Metal, right?

Ronnie: Yes, its not very Metal. I do not think that it will ever come to that. I think that there will be always live shows, as long people can come, and this eventually will be over. I don't know when it started to come to South America, but it reached here in the USA probably about February or March and everybody is being in their houses all the time, so they are expecting that by June, July, August or September things could be almost back to normal.

And after that you will just get back to the road, right?

Ronnie: Yes, we just keep going man. Once they open the door, that's it, we are out! (laughs).

I am pretty sure that almost all the gigs are going to be sold-out because people are willing to go to a concert. Everybody is insane.

Ronnie: Yeah, I have been thinking the same thing! I hope that true. People have been locked in their houses, so when they get the chance to go back outside, everybody will want to go out. Hopefully is like that.

Are you guys preparing something to remain active until this pandemic is over? Doing live interviews, gigs and stuffs?

Ronnie: Yes, I have been doing a lot of interviews, pretty much everyday now. Because this is the only thing that we can do. We are just waiting for them to say that we can go back to work. The longer that will last, maybe we will come with some more ideas and to more things, but right now we just kinda hope that it ends tomorrow (laughs).

What are your plans after everything is back to normal? Are you guys going to tour all around the globe?

Ronnie: Yeah, we had a bunch of shows and I would be on tour right now. It was supposed to start on April 2[sup]nd[/sup] and go till 29[sup]th[/sup] and then I would come back to USA and then I was moving to Ireland, then I was suppose to go back to Germany then we were supposed to go back on tour for the rest of the year actually.


Ronnie: Yeah, they asked me to move because living in the USA flying back and fourth started to become a little of hassle and I have to stay there for a while, its expensive and there's a long flight. They wanted me to move to Germany, but my wife is from Ireland, she has family there, Irish citizenship, we are married, and we just tried to move to Ireland. The band said that's goods, so hopefully that is my future.

Well, I hope that everything works fine, because its hard to play in a band from another continent (laughs).

Ronnie: (laughs) it is really, and I have been doing that for six years now and its really a lot of time away from home.

I think that its better even for touring, right?

Ronnie: Yes, absolutely and it will be easier to do things. Because if something comes up at the last minute and I'm in the USA and they are in Germany, its hard to do something really fast. Like if somebody calls asking us to play tomorrow! no we cannot, it's kind of impossible. But if we were all in Germany or at least in Europe we can do something like that, you know? Its better for me to be over there. A lot easier on me too.

Well Ronnie, we are at our last question and I would like to thank you for your time. Would you like to say something to your fans?

Ronnie: Yes, check out the new Bonfire album Fistful of Fire on AFM Records. We would love to see you on tour, everybody please stay safe, stay home and this will be over soon, and we'll see you at the show.

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