Exclusive interview for hellfest.fr: Rob Wrong (THE SKULL)
“If you have something that you desire to do, like play music you should always be able to do it because you have to do what makes you happy and don’t settle for less” – Rob Wrong – 07/05/2016
How the hell are you?
I’m doing pretty good. Back in Portland preparing for my next adventure… Me and my wife are going to do some traveling around France and Holland all around Hellfest, Hellfest will be the main thing of course.
What is it like to be at a level where you can fund something like that with your music?
I wouldn’t say I’m quite there but getting the airfare over there is worth a lot. It’s nice. It’s nice not having to save a ton of money to lose money on tour. I spent a lot of years doing that. It’s tough. If you really want it you have to keep plugging at it, I’m now at a point where it’s like a part time job, but not a well-paying one. I’m still thankful for it.
What made you want it that badly?
Well I just have to play music, it’s something I do. I’ve been doing it since a very young age. It’s an outlet, I get to share a part of my life that I can’t put into words. I think that’s very important to me.
Obviously this has been a very busy year for you… Do you want to tell us a little bit more about that?
I’m new to The Skull as of December when I got back from tour opening for Danzig with Witch Mountain. I met up with the bass player (Ron Holzner) of The Skull who was previously in Trouble. He asked me to be the guitar player of The Skull so I had to learn 16 songs and play a show with the guys, three of whom I had never met before. Then we recorded and got a single and an EP out on TeePee Records. January we played with Sleep, February we played a show with Witch Mountain and Yob which was pretty epic. At the end of February we went out for four weeks mostly around Germany, Hungary and Austria with the Skull. Came home for a couple weeks and then went back to Roadburn and Scandinavia.
What’s it been like hanging out with such a legendary band?
I guess I’m not as star struck about it as a lot of people I know. It’s pretty epic when I look over and I’m playing a Trouble cover with the guys from Trouble. I really like the camaraderie and connection between us in the band. I think that’s more important than anything. It’s really cool that I’m playing with some of my heroes, but I’ve known some of them for 15 years. They are just normal people like everybody else.
How did that relationship start?
We were on tour with Witch Mountain in 2001 and I met Ron there. Before cell phones were the norm we would call each other once in a while. We had been talking about playing music forever but it seemed like it would be nothing but talk. When it finally came about when Matt (Goldsborough – guitar) quit in April of last year it was kind of cool to actually get to jam with Ron. We really admire each other – it all kind of fell into place.
It’s not just surreal… I can’t even imagine what it would be like for someone with our background, I’m still fascinated with that even though I know you…
I think when people think of someone like me or especially Ron or Eric (Wagner – vocals) they have this preconceived idea that is built on watching or admiring them. I meet people all the time that think that I’m going to be a lot different than I am.
How do people think you are going to be?
I don’t know. It’s just weird. These people are just superfans of one of my bands. Other times they will just talk to me like a normal person. I don’t know what they are thinking. I can only imagine, if you were someone like huge how you could go anywhere.
I remember right after Kayla Dixon joined your other band, Witch Mountain, and we went to a festival and we got stopped for photos 5-6 times…
She’s done a lot of stuff too… She’s got lead roles in a lot of musicals and stuff.
So with regards to the Witch Mountain/The Skull tour… Have you ever had a chance to a double set on tour like that before?
I’ve only done it one time and that was back in ’94, and I played a festival with two different bands…
How do you prepare for that then?
Well I’ve spent the better part of the last couple decades playing 60 beats per minute. Joining The Skull made me be more on my toes as a player. Between the two bands I need to know something like 35-40 songs. With The Skull, we do 20, and with Witch Mountain, it’s something like 5-10. I just practice a lot more than I have in the past six years now. I’m learning again!
To what extent will that impact the new Witch Mountain?
I don’t know. Right now Kayla has been sending me stuff that I’m writing over and I’m sending her stuff. It’s already changing because she’s in the band, but I don’t see any kind of impact as far as what kind of influence it will have on our material. It’s going to happen to some degree, but it will still be me. I didn’t have to alter my style or anything when I joined The Skull. My setup and leads are similar to Witch Mountain.
What defines the Rob Wrong sound?
It’s more classic metal than it is modern metal, even though I think people consider The Skull a modern metal band. It’s really bluesy and classic and I think it carries over well from Witch Mountain to The Skull. All the dual lead stuff I had to do my homework on, but with everything else, they are cool with me injecting my own style. No one has said a thing so I must be doing something right!
Can you tell me about your previous Hellfest experience?
Two years ago… You were there. To me it was the greatest musical experience I had ever had in my life. It was a bunch of people who represent everything I stand for in life watching a collection of amazing bands. I’m excited about Psycho Las Vegas, but Hellfest to me is THE festival. The last time I went I saw Iron Maiden and Slayer back to back the minute I got there. Then I saw Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Unleashed, Monster Magnet, Acid King, SubRosa and of course Black Sabbath with Ozzy. Walking through there and seeing everybody is awesome. You walk between tents and here all different kinds of metal. I really liked the Ferris Wheel too! It’s beautiful!
Why can’t we get that in America?
Part of it is probably funding. Someone has to have a ton of money behind Hellfest, especially with all the people who work there. There has to be millions that go into it. There’s more art appreciation in Europe too, especially for this kind of music. Bands like Enslaved are getting Norwegian Grammies and bands like Halestorm are getting Grammies in America, oh and Ghost. I don’t know how you feel about them.
I love them – how do you stand on them?
I can appreciate them, but I’m not a big fan. If you’re into theater I guess it’s cool. I think the mix of theater and music is cool, but I’m the kind of guy who likes to close my eyes and listen to music. I think their stage act helps them more than their music is worth.
Any final words of wisdom?
If you have something that you desire to do, like play music you should always be able to do it because you have to do what makes you happy and don’t settle for less.
Interview: Matt Bacon.
05/08/2016 – phoner