Among metal circles, Rob Rock is the name that bridged Geoff Tate and Bruce Dickinson throughout the 90's during his tenure in the neo-classical power metal institution Impelitteri. After a decade of solo efforts, Rob reunites with his longtime collaborator, guitar virtuoso Chris Impelitteri, for the year's most interesting comeback. Their new album, "Wicked Maiden," picks up where Rob left off with his former band, blending the complex with oodles of melody and Rob's own peerless pipes. The result is pure, unadulterated, heavy metal that will likely bust the listener's nuts. In this exclusive interview, Rob discusses what's been going on at the Impelliteri camp since its release.

MM: Congratulations on the awesome comeback album you and Chris have put together. It totally slays, in my opinion. Did the name of the album suddenly occur to you guys or was the song "Wicked Maiden" already written before you decided to name the record after it?

Rob Rock: Chris had a working title of "Good and Evil" before I started working on the album. After the song "Wicked Maiden" was finished, we thought it would be a much stronger title because the song itself is so strong.

This album is too strong to let fall through the cracks
MM: You just came back from Japan, right? Any memorable experiences during the shows you played? Did any fanatical Japanese sneak into your hotel room or follow you to the train station?

Rob Rock: There are always plenty of fans at the hotel entrances and the train stations but there are very respectful and kind. After our encore in Tokyo, the fans just would not go home, they just kept on chanting for more. That made us all feel great and after we played every song we possibly could, we finally took a final bow to disperse the crowd.

MM: Isn't your current label, Victor Records, Japanese? How did you close this deal? Who contacted whom?

Rob Rock: JVC/Victor Entertainment has been with us for a very long time, I think they came on board after Relativity released "Stand In Line."

MM: How did the rest of the current lineup come aboard for "Wicked Maiden"?

Rob Rock: Chris reassembled the classic line-up of the mid 90's when the band hit full stride. We all did the "Answer to the Master," "Screaming Symphony," and "Eye of the Hurricane" tours and CD's together.

MM: It's great to hear Chris' guitar playing again after a rather lengthy hiatus. The man obviously hasn't lost his touch. I do believe he easily out-shreds 90% of the so-called "shredders" in today's metal scene. Do you actually witness the kind of practice regimen he has? How intense is it?

Rob Rock: It's intense all right! I have to leave the room every chance I get! Hahaha!

MM: What I like about the new records is, yeah sure it's technical, but the songs also have an emotional dimension to them. I can hear it on "Last Of A Dying Breed," "The Vision," and "Garden of Eden." How did you find collaborating with Chris again after so many years of being apart?

Rob Rock: It was easy, like an old pair of shoes. Chris did all the music and I did all the vocal melodies and lyrics. He recorded in L.A. studios, and I recorded in a Florida studio. It was very natural for us to work this way because we've done it so much in the 90's that now it was fun to just let us both rip it and record our performances in our home environments. We are both mature songwriters and that helps immensely when everyone knows what they are doing.

MM: With your voice almost keeping up with Chris' jaw dropping guitar play, especially with the high notes on some songs, are you afraid you might bust a nut?

Rob Rock: Almost keeping up? Better check again! Hahahahaha! Actually I think we both are in our prime right now.... and the nuts are in great shape!

MM: Since you've worked inside studios for most of your life, did recording "Wicked Maiden" ever seem like another day in the office for Rob Rock?

Rob Rock: No. I approached different recordings with a fresh perspective and fresh vocal approach. Also, the Impellitteri band is very technical and perfectionist as we worked hard to make the best record ever.

MM: And the songs were all 100% new stuff written for the album or were some of them drawn from previously unrecorded material?

Rob Rock: It's all new stuff.

MM: Listening to the lyrics of "Weapons of Mass Distortion" you seem to be giving a piece of your mind about the culture wars going on in American media. Do you personally dislike how news reporting and coverage have become subject to partisan politics?

Rob Rock: Yes, I think it is disgusting, wrong, and un-American. It is so obvious that personal agendas are getting in the way of unbiased reporting. Power and corruption have stained the media machine.

MM: "Eyes of An Angel" is perhaps the only song on "Wicked Maiden" that's overtly romantic. The way it sounds also reminds me of the big hair bands from 20 years ago. The 1980's never ended for you guys, didn't it?

Rob Rock: The best era I think was the 80's and we give tribute to that sound with that song. But you'll never hear a vocal performance or a guitar performance that strong in the 80's, in my opinion.

MM: I also enjoyed "High-Scool Revolution" because it reminded me of my own shenanigans when I was still in school. It's got this rock n' roll attitude to it. Do you listen to a lot of rock n' roll from the 50s and 60s?

Rob Rock: No. We just thought that a cool Queen type riff with a Motley [Crue] attitude was fun to create. We don't believe in limiting ourselves to any special box, or sound, or vibe.

MM: I hear a lot of down tuned guitars and uncharacteristic menace on the song "Holy Man." Do you and Chris listen to the newer generation of bands who're popular today such as Lamb of God, Devildriver, or Trivium?

Rob Rock: I think there's a lot of new sounding influences all over the record because we like to play and we like to grow and we like to keep things interesting.

MM: How much touring is planned in support of "Wicked Maiden"? Any festival dates up ahead?

Rob Rock: As much as possible! We plan to do all we can to bring the live show to the whole world. We are currently in talks with major players who can make that happen.

MM: Once all the touring for "Wicked Maiden" is done, are there more Impellitterri albums down the tube?

Rob Rock: We are concentrating on live shows now. We know this album is too strong to let fall through the cracks so all eyes are focused on getting the album and live shows out there this year.

MM: How about the next Rob Rock albums? The world needs a follow up to 2007's "Garden of Chaos"!

Rob Rock: There is a brand new Rob Rock live DVD/CD out in Europe now and coming out in the USA in August. It is the latest concert we did in Atlanta last year at the ProgPowerUSA IX festival. I'll be promoting that DVD at the ProgPowerUSA X festival in September later this year.

MM: I guess this wraps it up Rob. Thank you for your time. Should every long time fan of Impellitteri buy two copies of "Wicked Maiden"?

Rob Rock: At least two! I think it is the best Impellitteri recording ever and probably the best production sound for an album I've heard in a long time.

--Miguel Blardony

Rob RockMiguel Blardony9/18/2009

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