Bonrud

It’s been quite a time since I actually enjoyed a rock album that blends hard rock, AOR and melodic rock music so wonderfully. Bonrud may have been away for 8 years or so… but they’re back stronger and more determined than ever. Paul Bonrud, guitarist, songwriter & producer, analytically told Grande Rock what has happened all these years and what the band is up to for the years to come…

Hey Paul… it’s great to see you getting back after all these years with such a terrific comeback album. We’ve chosen it as the best Album of September on Grande Rock!
 
P: Thanks so much Thanos! It’s great to be back and I’d like to thank everyone at Grande Rock for giving us the incredible honor of being called the “Best Album of September”. That truly means a lot to us!
 
 
Weren’t you afraid that being away for so many years would affect you in various fields and ways? Especially now that (e)shops are fraught with new releases every month. What was the reason for such a long hiatus?
 
P: I never expected to go this long between CD releases but life just got in the way. I got married, took a new job which required I move from Seattle to Minnesota, bought a house, and my wife required four major back operations that required very long recovery times. There was a two year period where I didn’t even touch my guitar. It felt great to get back to doing what I truly love and that’s making music. (i.n.: it’s great to have you back Paul… wish your wife the best)
 
 
Should we consider the new album as Bonrud’s second era for instance? There have been significant changes in many parts, as I can tell.
 
P: Yeah, I definitely think this is Bonrud Mach II. We’re back and stronger than ever!
 
 
First of all, how did you manage to dig out Rick “Four Octave” Forsgren? He’s such a great voice but so underrated as well as his band, Conditioned Response.
 
P: When I moved to Minnesota, I needed to find a new vocalist who had the chops to deliver the goods. I did a lot of networking and eventually I found five guys who had the potential and Rick was one of them. Rick was recommended to me by several key people in the local music scene like Lance King. I found a video on the internet of Rick singing live with Queensryche and he sang Geoff Tate right off the stage! I was very impressed. I contacted Rick and he liked my first CD so he came over to my house one Saturday morning and that’s where we met for the first time. We had quite a bit in common and immediately became friends. We recorded three demos to see what we sounded like together and it was immediately apparent that we sounded great together. He’s a great guy and I’m blessed to have him first and foremost as a friend but also as my singer and collaborator. (i.n.: Paul & Rick… hmmm that’s a superb duo dudes!)
 
 
Of course, with Rick on board the sound changed as well. Did you work together on some songs? Did you have in mind to move away from the classic AOR sound with your new album?
 
P: I probably wrote about 75% of the music and lyrics on the CD but there are some songs where I wrote all of the music and Rick wrote all of the lyrics like on “American Dream”, “Save Tomorrow”, and “Last Sunrise”. On the other songs where he has co-writing credit, it is usually because he helped tweak my lyrics. He’s a great writing partner. As far as the style goes, I just write what I feel and what comes to me. Some of it is still AOR and some of it is definitely harder edged with touches of a more modern rock sound. All of the music sounds like me. I definitely didn’t set out to write a melodic rock CD by the numbers. I think my new CD definitely has its own unique vibe which hopefully makes it sound more fresh than many of the project CDs that are churned into the melodic rock scene these days. My CD isn’t a product… it is my personal musical art. I just hope people enjoy listening to it. Fortunately, it’s been getting great reviews! (i.n.: how couldn’t it huh?!)
 
 
I must tell you that as soon as I played the first song from the album, “We Collide”… for a moment, I thought I was mistaken and had put another album on. I had to double check it to be sure. I believe that those changes not only renewed the band and the sound but also made it more interesting than in the past. What do you think?
 
P: Hahaha!!! Yeah, I can definitely see how that song may have thrown you for a loop! Contrast the opening track “We Collide” on the new CD with “Leap Of Faith” which opened my last CD! I love both of those songs but “We Collide” is easily one of the best songs I have ever written and yes, it is heavy, rocking, and shredding with intensity. That was actually the first song Rick and I demo’d but it was in a totally different arrangement. In fact, the final version is quite different from the first demo we did. Ironically, while it was the first song we ever demo’d, it was the last song finished for the CD. I love it. It is a very strong song to kick off a CD. I do agree that this CD and this line-up is far more interesting than the self-titled Bonrud CD that Frontiers and Marquee Avalon released a few years back. I’m really pleased that you feel the same.
 
 
Thus, where’s the title “Save Tomorrow” referring to? Our present seems so fragile at the moment… and tomorrow so uncertain…
 
P: “Save Tomorrow” is about not letting the past get you down. The future holds great promise for all of us as long as we do our best to make the most of it. It is also a song about forgiveness. You should never hold on to things that weigh down your spirit. We can all save our own tomorrows. (i.n.: that’s so true Paul…)
 
 
I fancy the cover artwork with the mighty cartoon sexy woman a lot. Whose idea was to go that way? Glad you got rid of that Journey-like bird and all the correlations it caused?
 
P: The cover art was my idea and it was beautifully drawn by Adriana Melo who draws for Marvel and DC Comics. I’m a comic book geek so the CD art was a great chance for me to work with one of my favorite artists. I also wanted the cover to be organic, fresh, and sexy. I’m really tired of all the cheap photoshop CD art I see coming from the same melodic rock labels. They all look the same to me. And yes, I definitely wanted to get away from anything that would visually tie me to the typical melodic rock and Journeyish CD artwork. I’m really pleased with the artwork and in fact the complete artwork package is really great. A lot of attention to detail went into the artwork for this CD. (i.n.: soon enough I’ll have it in my hands… to see for myself...)
 
 
Do give us a hint about each one of the songs…
 
P: “We Collide”: Forgiveness is a gift for both the person forgiving as well as the one being forgiven. Don’t wait to give the gift of forgiveness before it’s too late.
 
“Bullet in the Back”: This song is about finding inner strength to prevail when others are trying to maliciously bring you down.
 
“American Dream”: Rick’s lyrics were inspired by Lindsay Lohan and other young starlets who are more infamous than famous.
 
“Save Tomorrow”: Forgiving and letting go of past troubles can lead to a better tomorrow.
 
“Liquid Sun”: This song is a social commentary on what it feels like to be a social outsider while craving acceptance and true freedom. I wrote the music and the lyrics for the bridge for this song but the rest of the lyrics were written by my friend Clyde Hannah. Clyde’s lyrics are brilliant.
 
“I’d Do Anything”: This is a song for everyone who has been so madly in love with someone that they would do anything for that person. This is a really catchy song.
 
“Last Sunrise”: This song really rocks! I was writing the riff for this song while watching a program on the discovery channel about the sun. They made a comment that said that someday the sun would run out of energy and its light would be extinguished forever. It immediately hit me that there will come a day when the sun will rise for the very last time and just as the sun will have its own last sunrise here on Earth, each of us will one day have our own last sunrise.
 
“Torn Apart”: This is a very open and breezy melodic rock song about getting your heart broken but knowing that it will eventually lead you to find the one you are meant to be with forever.
 
“Blinded”: I wrote this entire song, music and lyrics, completely in twenty minutes. In less than an hour from initial conception, I had a solid demo recorded. This is the fastest I have ever written a complete song from start to finish.
 
“Dominoes”: This is a song about being in love with a girl and telling your best friend about your crush when your best friend also happens to be a girl but not knowing that she in turn has a crush on you. Most likely the girl you’re crushing on doesn’t even know you exist so we all fall down just like we’re dominoes…
 
“You’re the One”: This song is very much like a Reckless era Bryan Adams song. This song is about knowing when you’ve found the right person to spend your life with forever.
 
“End of Days”: I wrote this song for my wife and it is one of the best songs I have ever written. It’s about loving someone until the end of your days.
 
 
I’m sure Keith Olsen’s (Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Ozzy Osbourne, Sammy Hagar, etc.) help was valuable so as to achieve the sound you wanted to, right? Steve Hall (Alice in Chains, Madonna, Richard Marx) also played a vital role by doing the mastering too. How was it to work with two great producers such as them? Would the final result have been the same without their signature?
 
P: Both Keith and Steve are great to work with and made HUGE contributions to the quality of the CD. Keith is a fantastic producer and he pushed me to deliver my very best. The reason the final version of “We Collide” is so different from the first version Rick and I demo’d is because Keith completely rearranged the song. His arrangement was brilliant. I am so thankful for everything Keith has done for me. He’s taught me so much and he’s helped me grow immensely as an artist and he has shaped my new CD into something special. I couldn’t have gotten this far without him. I am extremely grateful.
 
 
Paul Higgins - the only guy form the old line-up - recorded the drums at the famed London Bridge Studio in Seattle… and you had three different keyboardist participating in the album: Richard Baker (Santana, Saga, Gary Wright), Eric Ragno (Graham Bonnet, Fergie Frederiksen, Jeff Scott Soto, Takara, etc.), and Dave Gross. I bet you did spend a lot of time taking care of every little detail in this album. Are you totally satisfied now that everything’s over?
 
P: Totally satisfied! The attention to detail for this CD was immense. Everyone worked hard and gave it their best. It really shows in the final results. Richard, Eric, and Dave all added great atmosphere to the tracks they played on.
 
 
You’re also in a new label now. What happened and you decided to cooperate with another label? Did they offer you the appropriate help-budget you needed so as to make this album?
 
P: Khalil at Escape Music was very passionate about signing me to his label once he heard the CD. I wrote and recorded the entire CD on my own without any help or interference from any labels. I financed it myself. It was very expensive to say the least when you see who was involved in the production! In regard to financial help from the label, the advance I got was a fraction of my production cost. You would be shocked if you really knew how much it cost to produce this CD versus what the labels offer in terms of an advance. There’s a reason many of the melodic rock CD’s released today have weak audio production and cheap artwork. I didn’t produce this CD to make money… I did it because I love making music and I am passionate about my art. (i.n.: Sadly enough, I know from the inside how labels treat their artists/bands and the “advances” they offer for each record… that’s why the quality is going down the gutter and everyone’s recording on their pc nowadays!)
 
 
I’ve written: “The band updated their sound for the better and made some important changes that will help them evolve and go on more dynamically in the future. Bonrud has worked a lot on the album, taking care of every little detail, in order to present the best possible outcome and so they did” in my review… Do you agree with that?
 
P: I agree completely with that! I slaved over this CD but it was a labor of love. Best of all, we had so much fun making the CD that we would really like to record a third Bonrud CD.
 
Bonrud cover artwork big

I think the next step is to become a “real” band and start touring as well. I’m sure you also think of that. Are there any plans for some live gigs as yet?
 
P: We definitely have plans for playing live. We’re focused on filming several music videos at the moment. There’s so much to do!!! (i.n.: Wow that’s so good to hear…)
 
 
You’ve given Rick a second chance so as to be more known like he deserves to be… and I think that this teamwork will bring great musical outcomes in the future to come. Can’t you tell so?
 
P: Absolutely! Rick is a great friend and a great vocalist. We have fun writing and recording together. We also have fun together outside of music. Making music with a great friend is very rewarding. We have a few new Bonrud songs in the works and we also have a few new ones already completed.
 
 
Are you willing to give some songs or probably the whole album to the fans for free in the near future as some other bands did… or you are not so much into this downloading notion?
 
P: Great question. I actually thought about doing that. With what I paid to produce the CD though, I’m already pretty much giving it away. It was very, very expensive to produce this CD because I spared no expense. I was striving for quality. I am not a business man because if I was, I never would have spent this much money producing the CD. (i.n.: I bet you wouldn’t have done it, if you were a business man… this CD is a quality product…)
 
 
How is the US when it comes to melodic rock/AOR or even hard rock music? I think Europe and probably Scandinavia has taken all the fame nowadays… right?
 
P: Without question. Rock is on life support here in the US and someone is wiggling the plug out of the electrical socket. Rock is very much alive though in Europe. I hope it catches on again in the US.
 
 
How hard is it for the young generation to learn that MP3s and files like that are not meant to be used for listening to & generally enjoying music? They were just a way to shrink some files down just to share them from pc to pc back in the day when we had no big internet speeds. Additionally, i-tunes & youtube have destroyed music all these years. How can these guys love vinyl and CDs again and stop gathering terras of MP3s they will never listen to?
 
P: The kids today don’t value music the same way we did when we were young and actually bought the records on the day they were released. The kids today are also missing out on the great quality recordings that could be listened to right off the 16 bit 44.1khz CD or better yet, off a vinyl record.
 
 
What do you think of the Internet as a means of promotion & distribution? Conversely, it is also a way for people to get music free & illegally. What’s the right way to control it so as not to lose time & money as a musician/band?
 
P: While the internet is great for worldwide promotion and instant distribution of music without having to have an expensive physical inventory, it is a huge problem with piracy. Back in 2004 when I was a nobody and a month before my first CD was being released in Japan, my debut CD was being shared out on all of those peer-to-peer networks. I couldn’t believe it! A little guy like me was getting downloaded and ripped-off too! I really don’t know how to fix the problem but I do think making CDs more affordable would help. That’s why I sell my CD directly from my website at: www.bonrud.com for $9.99 including shipping within the United States. I’m just trying to find my CDs happy homes with happy listeners. (i.n.: How can anyone resist to this fantastic album with such a low price?!)
 
 
How can we make people love and buy music in this time-period with all the financial problems and the easy way of getting it for free with just a few clicks? Some say that going back to vinyl is the answer… but there’s not only that. What else can the labels and the bands do?
 
P: People still love music but they don’t value it much. It has become a free commodity because you can instantly and illegally download any music ever produced. It’s hard for an artist to compete with “free”. The current economic and business model does not work. As I said, I spent way more producing my CD than I received in an advance. There is no way I’ll ever break even on the CD. That is not a sustainable business model because as much as I love making music because it is my art, I will eventually run out of money unless fans buy enough of my CDs. Artists and labels need to make their products more affordable but fans need to step up and actually purchase the music too. We all need to meet in the middle and compromise.
 
 
It’s time for the Weird Questions now!!! What are those things that you do not like in the music industry nowadays?
 
P: I hate the project CDs that certain labels churn out over and over again with each the same as the last. I hate the fact that too many people are stealing music that artists have worked hard to create. I hate the fact that labels aren’t willing and/or able to give reasonable advances to artists. In a nutshell, the artist is the first to get screwed and the last to get paid. (i.n.: I totally agree with that!)
 
 
Which is the record you wish you had written and why??
 
P: Journey’s “Escape” is a perfect album. The songs are fantastic as are the performances. It is also a nicely varied CD stylistically.
 
 
Which are the top 5 rock (classic rock, melodic rock, AOR & hard rock etc. are all in) albums of all time according to you and why?
 
P: Journey’s “Escape” for the reasons mentioned above, Boston’s self-titled debut because it was the first time rock really sounded fantastic (and it was essentially a home recording!), Van Halen’s first record because Eddie’s playing was ground breaking, Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” because it was brilliantly crafted with good cross-over appeal, and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” for that very same reason and then some!
 
 
You have the opportunity to sleep with the movie-celebrity of your choice. Who would it be?
 
P: Jessica Alba. Jessica, please call me! cheeky (i.n.: Jessica… can you also call me right after? I don’t mind! wink)
 
 
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
 
P: Boy… tough question. I suppose I’d really like to see the future to see how everything turns out. When I was ten years old, I would have expected I’d have a Millennium Falcon parked in my garage by now but that hasn’t happened yet. We have yet to live the Jetson’s dream! Having said that, there are some tragic events in the past that I would like to be able to go back and prevent but of course changing significant events would lead to massive changes in the reality of the present we are all experiencing. It would be nice to think we could make things better but perhaps things would simply have been messed up in other ways.
 
 
Supposing you could experience an adventure in an unreal-horror world of a fantasy writer (Poe, Lovecraft etc.)… which one would that be and why?
 
P: I don’t read much horror/fantasy but I really love those Ken Follett and Frederick Forsyth novels. Perhaps I’d like a WW II era adventure. I really do have an adventurous soul. Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite movie too.
 
 
If you were the opposite sex for one day, what would you look like and what would you do?
 
P: Hopefully I’d look hot! LOL!!! Wow… crazy question… I guess I’d wear what I wanted, do what I wanted, and just generally enjoy “my prerogative” since that is something women can allegedly do! J Can you imagine suddenly being a hot woman at a bar experiencing what it was like to have us guys descending like sharks in a feeding frenzy? I think that would be an eye opener. (i.n.: hahaha… Like a hot woman with a guy’s mind huh?!!)
 
 
Beautiful or ugly woman? For girlfriend or for wife?
 
P: Beautiful woman but she has to be beautiful on the inside as well. Having a beautiful heart is very important.
 
 
Are groupies a necessary evil for each and every rock/metal band?
 
P: Groupies are great when they are truly supportive of the music. When it comes to the recreational aspect of groupies though, sometimes they can be a little too scary and intense. I have encountered fans at shows that don’t understand healthy social boundaries.
 
 
What do you think of Charlie’s quote: Beers, Pizza, Hookers? Which one is the most tasteful of all?
 
P: I’ve only experienced two of those things and I routinely enjoy them both! I’ll leave it to you to determine which two I am referring to. laugh(i.n.: heheh…!!!)
 
 
 
Imagine that your wife/girlfriend is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react?!
 
P: Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!! surprise Fortunately, that would never happen because my wife is very conservative and is low maintenance. I’m pretty low maintenance myself but compared to her, I’m high maintenance. I do like treating my wife well and I like buying her nice things that she enjoys.
 
 
Thx very much for this wonderful interview Paul. Thx for the music as well. The last words of this interview belong to you… Take care!
 
P: Thank you so much for taking the time to review my CD and to interview me, Thanos. I greatly appreciate it! I’d also like to thank all the fans who have supported my music both past and present. Your support and positivity has meant the world to me. In closing, I hope you all help spread the word about the new Bonrud CD “Save Tomorrow”. Please steer people to my website at: www.bonrud.com and my facebook page at: www.facebook.com/bonrud.