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December 7, 2006

Into The Black :: Richie Kotzen

Interview

By The Atomic Chaser and The Rocker

AAMAfter having survived the "Thanksgiving Holiday", the Rocker and I caught up with musician Richie Kotzen who just got back a month earlier performing in Japan opening for The Rolling Stones, and a very successful tour in Europe. Richie Kotzen, for those that don’t know him. Richie first began playing piano at the age of five. Later, at the age of seven and inspired by a Kiss poster, Richie took up playing guitar. By seventeen, Richie had already traveled back and forth across the United States performing in excess of five hundred gigs, opening for acts such as the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Greg Allman and the Smithereens. Richie released his first self-titled record on Shrapnel Records, which graced the cover of several publications including Guitar World magazine.

While many might know Richie from his past gigs with Poison and Mr. Big, to really hear and feel what Richie Kotzen's true music prowess is all about one only needs to listen to his solo albums. There you will find the true genius of this gifted musician. His solo material covers all musical genres, ranging from Rock to Soul and Fusion. Following the Mr. Big farewell Tour of Japan, Richie hooked up with the European record label Frontiers Records who picked him up for a multi-album deal. He released “Change” in 2003 and in 2004 with the successful follow-up “Get Up”. In 2006, the multi-talented Richie Kotzen returns with his latest release, INTO THE BLACK. A album that he produced, arranged and wrote. Richie Kotzen has created one of his most powerful recordings to date.

AAM: We have to ask, what was it like opening for the Rolling Stones!

Richie Kotzen: That was so surreal! I had a blast! One of the most memorable moments was when the group picture was taken after the show. There I was standing side by side with Ron Woods. What I found out later was, during my set Ron was on side of the stage watching me perform, "Shapes Of Things". So at the picture taking, Ron grabbed me by the throat and said, 'You are Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck in the same body!'. You can imagine just how high I was after that!

AAM: By opening for The Rolling Stones, that gave you more exposure to those who may not have known about you, right?

RK: It blew me away. I've been getting e-mails from people who've told me that they flew all the way from the States to go see me in Japan. How cool is that? Opening up for The Rolling Stones was definitely one of the biggest highlights in my life!

AAM: Okay let’s talk about your new album, 'Into The Black'. It has a very raw bluesy stripped down vibe to it. Was this the direction you wanted go with and the overall sound of the album?

RK: I wanted to make a record that I was thoroughly happy with. I feel like I have with this record. I'll put it this way, I would not have released it if I was not happy and I am very happy with how it turned out.

AAM: Let's talk about the song; "You Can't Save Me". The lyrics are very straight to the point.

RK: "You Can't Save Me", was one of the first songs I wrote for the album. Yes, the lyrics are straight to the point and that is the message I wanted to get across. I love that song.

AAM: It seems that the album comes full circle. Starting out very dark with, "You Can't Save Me" then finding redemption at the end with, "My Angel"

RK: It does have a feel of having a storyline, but I hadn't planned it turning out that way. I just wanted to write songs good songs. In my opinion, 'Into The Black', is the best album I've written and recorded to date.

AAM: What about touring? Local area/overseas, are there plans?

RK: Aside from performing in Japan, I also did some shows in Europe. They were acoustic shows that really went over well. I'll have to wait and see what happens next year. Frontier Records might put something together for me to tour in Europe. As far as here in Los Angeles, there will definitely be shows scheduled. I am really looking forward to it.

AAM: Aside from your solo material. Are there plans for any side projects, etc? FORTY DEUCE or Avalon with Richie Zito.

RK: I am pretty sure I will be doing other projects. As far as there being another Forty Deuce record, that was a one-time thing. I didn't realize how much of an effect that record made until after it was released. People are always asking about that album. I am just happy for all the positive response it got. Bombchild is the band that plays with me on that record and they are a great group of guys, I love those guys! Right now though, I want to stay focused on my own material.

AAM would like to congratulate Richie Kotzen on his new release, INTO THE BLACK, and thank him for taking the time to talk to us! We’ll be looking forward to catching one of your shows here in the LA area soon.

For more info: www.richiekotzen.com

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