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Pretty Maids: Believe in yourself!

In May 2010 the Danish Band Pretty Maids released their 12 record. The Band has been existing for almost 30 years and still grows and surprises with new stuff on every record. High time to talk with the Singer Ronnie Atkins about the past years and the ones to come. Face to face with one of the singers that had influenced me, I’m quite nervous, also because many people swirl around us at the Backstage of Z7. But Mr. Atkins keeps calm and tells me with a deep appealing voice what it needs to hold on in the hard Music-Business of today.

How is the Tour going so far?
Ronnie Very good. Very,very good. I mean, I think it’s been a very good year because we have done a lot of Festivals this summer that we weren’t actually supposed to. You know, the album had very good reviews, so we gave a lot of gigs, where we actually not where supposed to until next summer.
And this tour has been going well, as well! It seems that people really like the new stuff, the new material, it’s surprisingly very good. Cause we play songs like “Little Drops of heaven” “I.N.V.U”, you know those are getting really strong reactions. So that’s nice, I mean we are on the road, we got a real good band now. There is a great spirit in the band, everybody is having a good time on the bus and it’s good to be on the road again. The only bad thing is the fucking air-condition that fucks up your voice!

Oh yeah I can understand that!
Ronnie It gives you really cold.

But you are doing well, now?
Ronnie Yes, until now it has been ok.

It’s been awhile since you have been here at Z7, how is it to be back?
Ronnie It’s brillant. I love always being here, I mean everybody is so nice, fantastic food and great hospitality. I have been here so many times. I mean Z7 is actually one of these venues where everybody is looking forward to come too. Because everything is very organized here and checked and everybody is very nice.

So you really like it here? It’s very familiar.
Ronnie I love it here. Familiar and Barbara she is a great cook. That is nice!

The Songs are mainly written by you and Ken Hammer, where do you get the inspiration for new songs and the lyrics?
Ronnie Em…Actually we sometimes write parts separately, then we get together and throw some ideas at each other, that’s the way we’ve been doing that always. On this album actually, lot of the stuff was written during the rehearsals with the guys in winter. So it was written in something like, over 3 or 4 weekends, like 16 days and that’s very unusual for us working that way. And it was really fresh and we went directly into the studio in January and did the album. Inspiration wise, I don’t know, I mean it’s just being a songwriter I don’t know where it comes from.

Ok, you take it from your personal life or is it more fiction or stuff that happens to other people?
Ronnie When we are talking lyrically then is that always the final thing I do right before we go to the studio and sometimes I finish them in the box. It depends I like to write about something that is personal, or if I have a good story like “Cielo Drive” which is about the Manson thing, which I was sucked into at that time and “Pandemonium” is about the IMS Meeting in Copenhagen, so it’s about the environment and everything. I don’t wanna make a political statement or anything, I’m not Bob Dylan, you know, just write about something that concerns us all. Whatever I read in the headlines of the papers. Usually it’s a lot of shit.

If you look back on the past years you are doing music are there things you regret and that you would change if you could?
Ronnie The record contracts. We have done probably every stupid mistake you could do. Well, I mean I was 17 years old when I signed the first deal. During the years, I mean in the 80s we really sold a lot of records, we really got fucked up. Cause we signed a deal when we where really young we didn’t really think much about money, you know. I guess we should be a little wiser today, well I mean these days you don’t sell that much CDs as you used to do, it is really though. That’s probably one of the things I would change. Otherwise, no I wouldn’t change anything. I might not be extremely rich like that but I’m rich in experiences.

What advice would you give those young acts for their careers? What are the traps they should avoid?
Ronnie I say the same thing as all the people said to me, back when I was young. Get a good lawyer. (laughs) I mean it’s a cliché to say that but it is the true. Also write what you believe in, work hard. You have to work hard when you wanna go out there and be one of the best. It takes a lot of rehearsals, we used to rehears 5-6 times a week in younger days, we actually did that for many years.

Ronnie Yeah, but these days we never rehearse. You gotta believe in what you do, you know. And work hard for it and don’t say:”No, I won’t be able to do it!” Cause everything is possible. You have to believe in yourself. And be confident.

That’s a good advise! You and Ken are working together since 1982, were there times you were sick and tired of each other and just wanted to quit?
Ronnie (laughs) We still are! A lot of times, you know in the old days especially we had to sort our egos out, because we both have some big egos, not that we (shows his fist)

I mean we are different as persons and literally we went to fighting sometimes back then but the last 15 years it goes well. Of course we have some arguments and stuff but we are not like (shows fist again) we grown up. And we still have the same goals, actually we are having a really good time. We are not hanging out, when we are off the road, we are not hanging out socially a lot together but we still speak on the phone almost everyday. He lives in another part of the country than I do. But we got a really good relationship with each other and we have the same sense of humor, that’s the key factor.

What are you doing to smooth things over when you are angry on each other?
Ronnie Well, we can argue about a lot of things, it can be about the song idea, or set list or what ever. Of course we are two different individuals with two different opinions.

Have you ever thought about to stop going on with Pretty Maids and just have a “normal” life?
Ronnie Yeah! I have quite a few times. Yeah in 2002 I was actually fed up after the Planet Panic tour and I didn’t really got to say I wanna have a break. Then we started playing some festivals and I realized “Guy, you can’t get away from it!” It’s just such a big part of your life. But I never thought about doing anything else. I mean I wouldn’t start a new Hard Rock Band or anything because I couldn’t match this anyway.

You are in Music-Biz since the early 80’s what would you say has in meantime changed positively, what negatively?
Ronnie Changed? I mean the 80’s where great. There was the major focus on Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. It was like a mainstream thing. They played on MTV and everything. Basically what I can say is that today it is a lot tougher. And I think sometimes Rock’n’Roll is much to serious these days, of course there are still Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Bands and Fans that still are there but I would like to get a lot more of younger generation into Hard Rock, but still the old ones are showing up and that’s good but I think it was a lot more fun and colors and big hair all that shit, you know! (laughs) It was just a party!

What is the best memory you have from these years in the Rock scene?
Ronnie Don’t know there isn’t any particularly. I always say that I have some years that are my favorite years one was 1987 all around Future World it was a great year playing at Monsters of Rock Festival in front of 65’000 people, that’s one of the things I always remember. I got it on video, that’s cool. 1992 when we the first time came to Japan, we were fucking treated like The Beatles, we didn’t really know what to expect but I was blown away. A lot of good things, there are a lot of good memories. But also lot of bad memories too. Mostly good! (laughs)

Kenn Jackson left the Band after 9 years, what was the reason for that and who is the new member on board?
Ronnie He didn’t leave the band, he was fired! And that was not a overnight decision. We talked about it for a long time, cause he didn’t give a shit about it! I like him very much as a person and it was really hard to fire him, but you got to care about what you do and take it seriously. And I think everybody that knows Ken, knows that he doesn’t do.
And the new one is Hal Patino, he played in King Diamond for 20 years. We known him from the old days, since the 80’s we all used to go to the same venues.

Do you have some final words for the STALKER readers?
Ronnie Well, I just hope people like the new Album, come to the concerts and hope to see many people at the concerts next year as well.

So you are planning a tour for next year?
Ronnie Actually we are planning a part two. Maybe in the Spring something. Eastern European Countries and maybe America. Let’s see what happens. And hopefully lot of Festivals next year!

Thank you very much for the interview and all the best!
Ronnie Thank you!

Author: Sandy Mahrer, photos: Pretty Maids
Date: 2011-01-16

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