Wolfpakk - Mark Sweeney: „I feel more fancy-free than ever!“
Since he was 17, the charismatic Swiss singer Mark Sweeney has been on stage as front man. He was pretty successful with his band Crystal Ball, eg. a record deal with Nuclear Blast, touring with Pretty Maids, Dokken, Gotthard and Thunderstone. Last year Sweeney decided to leave the band and start a new project with Michael Voss: WOLFPAKK (review of the debut CD here ) The right time for STALKER to talk with Mark about his new „baby“.
Hey Mark, in a few days (August 26) the Wolfpakk debut CD will be officially released, so how do you feel right before that?
Very good, thanks for asking! Hopefully fans like it, we founded Wolfpakk for them!
How did you end up cooperating with Michael Voss and how did Wolfpakk emerge?
As my Solo CD was dismissed as “too soft”, I asked Michael if he felt like kicking those Hardrockers´ asses and produce a pure Hardrock/Metal-Album. Michael was into the project right away, and he suggested to invite guest musicians for spicing it up, and Wolfpakk was born. The name suggests that Micha and me are the pack leaders of those guest-wolves around us. The birth of this project, by the way, happened during a cool BBQ party in my garden.
There are many guests, e.g. the singers Paul Di’Anno, Jeff Scott Soto, Mark Fox and Tim Ripper Owens. Was that the plan right away, to have so many guests?
As mentioned, we wanted to ask some musicians to be part of Wolfpakk project. We had never expected to end up having more than 30 guests!
Why did you choose those singers? Are they favorites of yours you had wanted to work with for a long time, or how did it happen?
Yes and no, naturally you ought to have such contacts first, on the other hand it´s about people who left me speechless. But Micha simply knows everybody in the music scene and has such contacts! There were more dream candidates, but those did not have time or no interest in the project.
Isn´t it difficult for you as the singer to delegate your part to somebody else? Would you have enjoyed to sing everything yourself?
The irony – Vossi and me had already done all vocal parts, and also bass and guitar parts were finished. As more and more guest musicians turned up, we had to plan carefully what will be left for us. My biggest concern was that I will disappear behind all those superstars, but Vossi encouraged me saying that I don´t need to hide away. Moreover, it´s our project and therefore Sweeney is singing. One critic once wrote that Crystal Ball would be a great band – but that Sweeney-dude, can´t they get another singer? That guy forgot that I wrote at least 50% of all songs and had been one of the driving forces for 15 years. Some people even thought that Pell would be better without Pell! So how to comment on that?
How difficult is it during such a project to suit everybody involved into the album?
We did not intend to suit anybody except ourselves! Who wanted to do it, could do it – all the others dropped out. We had “too many” guests anyway. And everything worked nicely, because we live in 2011 and you can send songs via e-mail to the other end of the world, and within 2 days you receive the recording to be added to the final mix, and that was it.
What can we expect from Wolfpakk? Is it a mere studio project or could there be live-shows in the future, just like what happened with Avantasia?
I think Tobias Sammet didn´t consider live-shows right away, because it´s hardly possible with so many guests. But Avantasia sells well, therefore there is a demand by promoters, and Tobi definitely knows his math. If it works out financially, they also play live. In other words – we have to wait to find out if the album sells well and if there will be a demand for gigs.
Your first official video „Reptile’s Kiss“ is pretty hot – why did you choose this song, and who is responsible for the concept?
Simply – it was the only song where Micha and I are singing alone! All the other songs feature guests, and it would have been too expensive to have them come over. As I financed this video myself, there was no big budget for it. But it should simply be a teaser for the album and raise people´s curiosity. It turned out pretty professionally, thanks to video director Martin Müller, who did a fantastic job and also made the concept.
Well, knowing you a bit longer, one would not expect you to be this “ladies man” or cliché rock star character you are displaying in this video. Is it just show or do you have some Macho traits?
Cliché rock star?!?! Mhhh…. if that was the case, I would have been the one to whip the girl, right? Anyway, I think that in my private life I am just a regular guy, different to the person on stage or in front of the camera. That´s why they say: it’s showtime! You cannot really expect me to work in my garden wearing cowboy boots, or that I go shopping in my leather outfit? No, no, the private life is without make up and pretty boring, as I also enjoy doing nothing and chill in front of the TV screen.
And I also spotted a familiar face in the video, how come that guitarist Martin Rauber is part of it?
I still needed a long haired guitarist to stand in for this cliché rock star thing *laugh! No, I met Martin a long time ago, when he applied as guitarist for Crystal Ball. I also know his girlfriend, who has been supporting me for a long time (she gave me my first computer) and she is a good friend of mine. Moreover, Martin already played in the „Line of Fire“ video of my second solo album. A very nice and likeable guy, who is always kind and helpful.
Now a bit more about yourself – you left Crystal Ball last year. What was the reason? And do you regret this decision now that some time has passed?
I feel more fancy-free than ever! Towards the end it became a torture to be at rehearsals, not because of the guys, but simply because things were no longer the same after Tom and Dany had left. We have been together through thick and thin for 12 years, aspiring to the same goals, and we enjoyed it to make a fuzz in the scene
After I put again everything I had into studio, producer, production and label and even found sponsors for our 7th CD, the guys did not put in as much effort as I expected. Marcel thought we could not create 10 good songs within 6 months, and Scott pondered over taking on a good job. Therefore I made the tough decision to leave, explained it to the guys and we settled the legal part –calmly, without drama. I continue the legal company, and they can continue with the name Crystal Ball. Obviously they are looking for a singer now, but it´s going to be tough. Marcel told me that candidates can´t make the higher registers of „My Life“. Ha,ha… which irony, because I wrote this song (the lyrics) with Scott – it made me smile.
You have been part of this band for 15 years, what do you miss most?
That time we have been on the rise, when we toured like hell and even a magazine like Rock Hard could not avoid writing about us, he,he… We kicked the asses of many headliners! That was a cool time! Otherwise I am rather that kind of person who looks to the future and wants to get there one more time. What else to wish for than having this great project Wolfpakk with Michael Voss? Recently I received an e-mail from Jeff Scott Soto: Hey Bro, thanx for all! Hello!? I got gooseflesh reading it. Isn´t he a vocal god? Never thought that would happen, when I entered a rehearsal room for the first time – laugh. You see, I´m moving on, and even further up.
You haven´t received just good reviews for your solo CDs „Slow Food“ and „All In“ – how damaging is a bad feedback to something you put blood, sweat and tears in? Or aren´t you worried too much?
Well that´s not a big thing, and I even expected it as it was so different from Crystal Ball. But honestly, those 2 CDs turned out exactly how I wanted, Bormann and Voss produced 100% of what I wanted to have. That some won´t appreciate it, was clear to me and I was even surprised, that some metal mags wrote so positively about it. Almost 15‘000 sold records are more than I expected, ever! That´s OK.
Is there another solo album on the way or do you focus on Wolfpakk now ?
I don´t have to do that, if I want to make another solo CD, I just do it. I have no band or live activities, and I plan to have another single out from the second album before X-mas. Therefore in autumn something is going to happen. And I haven´t got any new songs yet, so it might take a while until I take on a third CD.
What ar ethe future plans for Wolfpakk, what can we expect after the release?
I hope to do another CD. If it´s working fine, I´d enjoy to spend some more weeks in Münster to write some more songs with Micha. If the whole thing fails, I might go fishing, to Canada, start driving Carts or climb the K2 – who knows!?
And finally: 2005 Crystall Ball toured with Thunderstone. Do you have a tour-anecdote for us?
Normally Thunderstone wanted to headline, but in Belgium we switched and we were headliners. When we came back from the gig, all sweaty, we faced even more heat in the tour bus! Those Finnish idiots had turned on the heating in the bus to turn it into Sauna! Just imagine, all you want after a gig is relaxing in the tour bus, maybe have some drinks – and you are faced with naked Finns who do Sauna!!! Later we noticed they had also mis-used our cameras and photographed each others private parts! And the more perverted stuff I don´t dare to mention here, as I don´t know who is going to read this
Thank you for the interview, and all the best.
I thank you, dear Sandy! Cheers to all Hardrockfans! Check out Wolfpakk, in the booklet you can find out who are all the musicians playing or singing!