INTERVIEW: Joe Lynn Turner

joelynnturnerWith a career that spans over 30 years, Joe Lynn Turner has continued to be one of rock’s most unique and hard-working vocalists.

Continuing to write and record new music, November 2014 saw the release of the debut single from the all-star band Rated-X. Throwing himself into anything and everything musical Turner recently took part in the Bulgarian X-Factor helping to mentor and perform with the eventual winner.

Still as excited and inspired as ever to tour and create music Turner will be returning to Northern Ireland to give a very special acoustic performance where fans can get up close and personal with the rock and roll legend. Gigging NI’s Aine Cronin-McCartney managed to catch up with the star before hits Northern Ireland in April.

Who were the artists, musicians or bands that ignited your love for music originally?

“Very early on, I was most impacted by R&B, soul, like Otis Redding. Jimi Hendrix was probably the most influential later on. Free and Paul Rodgers were also very inspiring. I will also never forget when I saw Grand Funk Railroad in New York City. I was in a local band at the time and when I saw Mark Farner at that show I knew right then that I wanted a career in music.”

You still tour extensively, what is it that still excites you about playing after all these years?

“I love playing live! The energy that comes from the audience is awesome. The exchange of  this energy is visceral and exciting…it’s a total rush! It never seems to get boring or commonplace. You never know what will happen and that’s thrilling!”

What do you think about the rock scene now; are there any bands in particular that you admire?

“Well…things have really changed in all directions and facets of the business, including bands, so I look for certain things in their music: authenticity, honesty, energy, message and ability. It’s hard to find bands with all that but I really like ‘Skin Trade’ and ‘Dynazty’ from Sweden. In fact I use the members of ‘Dynazty’ as my own band in most of Europe…killer players and great guys!”

You were asked to take part in the Bulgarian X Factor – what are your thoughts on the show and how surreal was it to be involved in Bulgaria?

“For me these shows have always been more of a popularity contest than a talent contest but some great singers come out of the situation and that’s a plus! I’m very familiar with Bulgaria. I have friends there and do many concerts and festivals all over the country so I am quite popular there but doing the ‘X Factor’ show was another experience I really enjoyed. Being with all the contestants past and present and feeling their hopes and dreams was amazing. All of them are such talented and dedicated singers.”

joelynnturner1Last November saw the release of the debut album from Rated X, how did you become involved in the project and how was it to work alongside such an amazing line up of artists?

“Serafino of Frontiers proposed the idea. He has a good understanding of what it takes to make great music. I always wanted a band I could call my own, as I was on the road touring so it took a bit of time to create the right situation but we prevailed in getting the right players in the right positions! Carmine, Tony and Karl are all great musicians and songwriters.”

Where did the name Rated X come from?

“When talking about our possible name we all had the same thoughts in that it should reflect our status and long careers in the music industry. We didn’t want to be known as some ‘animal’ name or anything like that. We were aware that a name like Rated X would lead to porn sites on the internet but its real rock and roll attitude! So we looked at our lives and said we are all X-members of bands…have X-wives… and have lived rock & roll X-rated lives! So… the name “Rated X” fits!”

You have recently been doing a lot of writing with musicians from various different genres has this helped inspire you to write differently/ more music that isn’t necessarily rock orientated?

“Yes and I have always prided myself in being an artist that is not afraid of diversity. I have sung on albums with a range of artists…Cher to Billy Joel. So, I have always sought out diverse experiences.”

You have plans to branch out with your songs and perhaps start writing for film releases what has encouraged you to start doing this and why now?

“It’s something that has always interested me and I have been working with some people who have experience in this area.”

Is there any particular moment of your career that stands out as a highlight for you?

“Well it’s probably when I played New York City with Rainbow. Because I grew up in New Jersey just outside of New York most of my friends and family were located there. So, to perform there, for the first time as the frontman for Rainbow, was a huge accomplishment. It really showed all of my friends and family members that I had made the right decision to pursue a career in music and proved to them I had finally ‘made it big.'”

There has been a significant rumour of a Rainbow reunion is there any truth to these rumours and is that something you would be interested in?

“There are always rumours but as of this moment, there are no plans for a Rainbow reunion. Of course, if Ritchie decided to do a Rainbow reunion I would be very interested mostly because I think the fans deserve it and want to see it happen, even if it was for only one show.”

For your fans here in NI what can they expect from your show?

“It will be good to be in Ireland again.  It’s been too long! The acoustic show is more of an evening of a relaxed atmosphere with songs and questions and answers from the audience…very intimate indeed. I have done this before and it works really well. I encourage singing along as well…you are famous for being great singers..one and all!”

It has been a while since you have been in Northern Ireland are you excited to return and what are you looking forward to the most?

“Yes it has been awhile. The beauty of the country, hospitality of the people and the warm and friendly spirit that they give is truly a gift….and the beer is great as well!”

Joe Lynn Turner will play the Voodoo in Belfast on 4th April 2015. Tickets are available here priced £17.50 plus fees.