Ten

Ten are one of the best bands that appeared after the “classic” hard rock bands of the yesteryears had peaked and when they debuted they looked like they could be the new kings of melodic rock, combining inspired melodies, excellent songwriting and passionate performances in equal measure. They didn’t even seem to be slowed down much by the grunge phenomenon, maybe because they were not antagonizing it, as they were the stars of a scene and stage, comparatively much smaller in size to be given great media attention but in a few places, where the band actually thrived. But the band actually persevered and kept releasing albums and adding great songs to its catalog. “Albion” promises to be the first of two albums to be delivered in less than a year’s gap, reminding us, the albums of their early days when their eponymous debut and the “Name of the Rose” both took us by surprise and their singer and mainman Gary Hughes, gives us a few more details about it and the bands current plans...
Ten band pic

Hi, Gary thanks for doing this interview. Firstly introduce us the new members in Ten!
 
G: I always felt that there was room in Ten for another guitar player so as to enable us to play more of the layers of our studio sound live. I have to say that both Dann Rosingana and Steve Grocott are complementing each other perfectly. They are both very melodic and technical players and it is very interesting how the Ten sound has developed since their arrival. We now have the twin harmony leads that have always been missing and the band’s sound is more complete and full than ever.
 
 
Ten returns with a new album, in a new company and it promises to be the first part of two albums to come out in quick succession, how come? Too many ideas, to fit in a single album?
 
G: Well, if I am to be completely honest here, I found myself in a situation not unlike I found myself back in the early days and the beginning of Ten, where 24 songs became the “Ten” and “The Name of the Rose” albums. This time around we actually recorded 22 tracks. Unable to pick from them, we simply decided (as we did back then) to divide them into 2 separate releases.
 
 
You’ve signed up with Rocktopia records after being signed to Frontiers and resigning to them and giving it a go on your own with “In10sity”. What prompted you to sign with them and what are your expectations? Are they meeting them so far?
 
G: I have a great deal of professional respect for Serafino, Mario and the Team over at Frontiers. I had been with Frontiers Records for almost 20 years. However, like all good things at some point in life this too came to an end. I could no longer afford to make albums for the budgets I was being offered and so I had to look elsewhere for a fresh start for Ten. With Rocktopia I feel like just as I did back in the early days with Now And Then Records. I am afforded total creative control and the budget for Ten this time makes all things possible really. I think this is the reason I have been so productive this time around. Having said that I have to say that Frontiers is a great label. At the end of the day, our “Never Say Goodbye” album was Frontiers’ CD 001. But we had ceased to be a priority band for them and so the time had come to jump ship. Once again, Ten finds itself being the first ever release of yet another label and if they stick to their current ethos and mission statement I’m quite sure that Rocktopia Records will become a viable option for bands in Europe in the coming years.
 
 
Ten seem to have enjoyed a relative “rejuvenation” with live activities and a string of relatively strong and probably well received albums – at least from the press, but in the past the was a period where the band after a tremendous run and a rather meteoric rise, where you almost seemed on the brink of being able to make it to the next level – or at least – we as fans, perceived it that way, that didn’t seem to come too much. (At least outside Japan I guess!)
 
G: You’re right but I wouldn’t attribute the fact to lack of dedication or sheer hard work from the band’s part. Sometimes the planets just don’t line up and there’s nothing you can do about it. We did many tours of Europe in the early days in promotion of our records, we made promotional videos and have done various television appearances. Maybe if we’d been on a major label things would have been different? Perhaps if we could have gotten ourselves on a support slot with an international act that may have given us a bigger profile and exposed us to a much larger audience.
 
 
I need to ask as a follow up to the previous question – did it feel a bit surreal to be deified in like Japan and then to have almost zero success in other territories, finding it impossible to achieve a commercial breakthrough even when the sort of music you were playing would have been huge a few years earlier?! Did it annoy you?
 
G: Yeah we always said we were ten years too late. Had we been around as a band earlier who knows what heights we may have achieved? It was very frustrating at the time but you can’t really dwell on these things. All you can do is move on and try and write the best music that you possibly can. The amazing thing is that we’re still here, stronger than ever. Next year it will be 20 years since the band was formed and that’s a reward in itself, long may it continue.
 
 
Previously you had a history of using Louis Royo or Chris Achileos painting the covers, so now you’ve gone with a new artist, for an equally impressive cover artwork, was it just a decision because you wanted to have something that looked familiar, but not too similar or another reason – Ie unavailability that hindered you from working with either of them?
 
G: Gaetano who illustrated the cover on this album is an exceptionally talented individual and as you’ve very rightfully said Ten has a history of using artworks of great artists such as Chris Achilleos and Luis Royo. We chose Gaetano this time around because we feel that he brings a modern edge to what we’ve already established as the classic Ten album covers.  The cover of the album depicts Queen Boadicea routing the Romans in the name of Albion. I have to say that it is a very beautifully crafted piece in which there are many hidden Ten insignia. He is also one of the nicest guys to work with. Following this cover work, I think many bands will now want artwork designed by Gaetano. It is a truly stunning piece. I can imagine that in a few years his name will be up there alongside the masters – Royo, Achilleos and Vallejo.
 
 
This “next” album will it be “Albion part 2” or will it be called something completely different? Can you give us any details presently, if it is still planned to be released in January and all that?!
 
G: No it will be called something different, probably something along the lines of “Buccaneer” but nothing’s finalized yet. The second half of this particular batch of songs is equally as strong and promises to be a worthy follow up to “Albion”. In regards to the release itself, no, I believe the release will take place at some time in May, since I’m in the studio finalizing the recordings as we speak.
 
 
If so, this new “2015 Ten Project” must have been recorded as well, so was it done with everyone involved, including all the new members?
 
G: Yes it was done with all the current members involved. As I stated previously, the tracks of both albums were written simultaneously.
 
 
Three guitarists – Maiden, Leatherwolf, Skynyrd, Marcus and some more, in certain bands, it’s either a gimmick, or two guitars end up pretty much doing the same thing... I mean in Iron Maiden some alleged “singled out” channels of their “dancing” one, reveal him to be hardly playing very much... do you think, that with all these keyboards in your sound, three guitars might just be too much? Or should we expect a way more guitar oriented version of the band?
 
G: It’s a good question and like anything you don’t know until you try it. The situation came around because during the auditions I ended up not being able to choose between Dann and Steve. I really liked the different elements they were showcasing through their playing and I wanted to use both styles to make the two new records more dynamic. Plus, Ten’s music has always featured many layers and textures that when we played live we had to leave out. With three guitarists now we can do so much more on a live setting and especially harmony parts while at the same time we’re retaining a power rhythm section. It’s early days yet but judging by the way it went down at ‘FireFest’ things are working out great.
 
 
Do you think that “Albion” manages to recapture the classic sound of “Ten”? Reviews seem to be overwhelmingly positive, but when trying to select which song would go into this and which into the “2015” album was there a certain rule to follow? (ie the second one being a concept, certain tempos, or decisions based on which songs were written when, or did you just mixed and matched things?)
 
G: I would say that the music presented is just a return to the pure essences of Ten. In regards to the tracks themselves, there were no rules as to which songs we picked for each of the albums really. It just so happened that the tracks we selected for “Albion” fit well together as a complete piece of work. Like a canvas of sorts if you’d allow the term.
 
 
What do you think is Ten’s place in today’s scene and where do you see Ten, ten years from now?
 
G: I hope we’re still as relevant now as we’ve always been! Twenty years is a long time for any band to be around and when I started Ten I had no idea as to how long we’d be doing this. Sure we’ve had our ups and downs, as any band who’s been around for so long has really, but we’re very tenacious, pun intended, and it’s quite evident that we don’t give up easily. I have no intention of ending it any time soon so here’s to the next ten years!
 
 
At some point you had mentioned you might do a project similar to “Once and future...”. Is that still a plan, or has Ten been so much in focus that it’s eclipsing solo and other plans for the time being?
 
G: Yes, definitely, in fact I’ve already written most of it and we’re just looking for the right deal to go ahead and start the project. As last time, I’ll be using outside vocalists and musicians but the core of the recording will (as before) be done by the members of the band. I’m writing constantly, it’s what I do, so there’s never a shortage of songs or ideas for songs, not to mention of course that some of the stuff I come up with is not suitable for Ten but would fit quite perfectly on a different project. So no, there’s no chance that Ten could overshadow whatever else I have in mind. The problems are arising when you have to get the right deal and backing in order to carry it through.
 
 
With rampart piracy, streaming that pays nothing and general craziness going on in the world, how hard is it, to try to make a living out there as a musician, these days? What do you for see?
 
G: Indeed, each year it’s getting harder and harder to make a living in this business. As soon as the record is out (sometimes even before) it’s pirated and available for free and it’s so frustrating to see something that you’ve sweated blood and tears over being stolen before your eyes. I really don’t know what the answer is but the thing that seems to work quite well is offering a quality package. This time with “Albion”, and thanks to Rocktopia, we’ve released for the first time a double 12'' vinyl collector’s edition which is actually selling really well, so maybe that’s the format that needs to change to in order to make people want to buy a product. It’s definitely something very special and highly collectable.
 
Ten band pic
 
What is the thing you’re proudest of so far and have you regretted something?
 
G: On a personal level that would be my children! They’re my proudest achievement. Musically it would have to be the song “Valentine” off our “Babylon” album. For me this song has all the essential elements of a very emotional song. A melancholic melody, power and delicacy. It’s haunting. Good vocal lines, strong lyrics and brilliant guitar solos throughout.
 
 
What do you remember from your visit in Greece? Rumor has it you might be coming back! Is there truth in that?! What are your touring plans behind “Albion” and its successor?! Will you go into tour instantly, or wait until both “albums” are out? And since I just saw this – give us more info about your solo acoustic show in May (in Greece)…
 
G: The Greek show was a highlight for us since we’ve never played there before. It’s funny really but I had never realized how popular the “Spellbound” album was, as people were requesting songs like “Fear the Force” which wasn’t even in the set. It is now more than evident though that you guys like the heavier side of Ten!
 
At the moment I’m completing the final three songs for the album no.2 and once they’re complete we’ll start putting shows together for 2015. We’ve already got two shows booked for Athens in May. The acoustic show will be a great opportunity for me to play material I’ve never get the chance to do live, i.e. songs from my previous solo records, the three Bob Catley albums and the “Once and Future King” projects. I’ll also be playing one or two Ten tracks that haven’t be been played live for a while.

 
 
Time for our “weird questions!!! Gary Almighty – If you were God for a week what would you do?
 
G: I’d begin by bringing justice to the world and ending all conflict. It’s quite funny to think that humanity has never learned from its most bitter mistakes. Religion for example has always been a subject of conflict for centuries and this issue doesn’t seem to be able to get resolved any time soon either. So perhaps I would start by getting rid all of religion since that would mean a lot less trouble in the world. Funny to think though that if I had done that I would effectively be killing myself off. Haha perhaps I need to re-think that last part!
 
 
If you were not yourself, who would you chose to be and why (man, woman, historical or fictional character...)
 
G: I think being God is about as good as it gets, don’t you? Who wants to be a TV character or whatever when you’re running the whole show and can do anything you want?
 
 
Is there a character from a popular TV series that you watch that you feel – a connection to? If you were one character from a popular TV show – which one would you be?
 
G: No not really, I’m happy just being God for the moment haha…
 
 
Which one of the seven deadly sins – describes you the best?
 
G: A bit of everything in moderation I believe Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride, variety is the spice of life! Plus having gotten rid of religion when I was God there before, there would be no such thing as sin anyway so you can do what you want with impunity.
 
 
If your wife /gf sold all of your records to buy herself a very expensive ring – how would you get back at her?
 
G: I’m divorced so there’s no chance that would ever happen.
 
 
Salute the Grande Rock readership and all the Greek fans! Thx for talking to Grande Rock Gary.
 
G: Counting the days until we come over to Athens for the shows! We’re absolutely looking forward to it. The Greek fans are very precious to us and we thank you all for your continuing loyal support. We hope to see you all in May.