Ring of Fire is a band that I discovered while listening to Planet X, because listening to “Universe” (2000) or “Moonbabies” (2002) I saw that Tony MacAlpine and Virgil Donati were associated with Ring of Fire. So, I went into their first and second albums, where Mark Boals was attached on vocals, and I found an interesting hybrid between progressive power metal and some neoclassical doses in between. It may not have been a musical burst at the time, but within those two albums the music was striking, in addition to seeing another compositional side of Tony and Virgil, whom I always listened to more experienced in progressive rock and metal. So, just 20 years after the first time I heard it, there is his fifth studio album called “Gravity”. That's why Metallerium interviewed Mark Boals about the release of his latest album.
Para leer la entrevista en español: Entrevista a Ring of Fire
Metallerium: Welcome to Metallerium website Mr. Mark Boals. Thanks a lot for your time. We really appreciate it and congratulations on the new album “Gravity”! First of all, how have you been during these crazy times?
Ring of Fire: Hello! It has been a crazy couple of years! I have been doing my best to survive like everyone else, spending lots of time at home and working in my studio writing and recording various stuff…
Metallerium: You released “Gravity” on November 11th. When did you begin to compose new music for this album? Why did it take 8 years to have new music from Ring of Fire?
Ring of Fire: Vitalij and I started working on new songs last fall, and Aldo joined in writing with me soon after. The reason for taking 8 years away?
I guess it’s mostly because our last album was not received well, I think primarily because of bad timing and also, because we were not happy with the production.
Metallerium: What can we expect in terms of sound and lyrics in this new album “Gravity” compared to the previous record “Battle of Leningrad” (2014)?
Ring of Fire: This one is a totally different animal, firstly, it’s not a concept album, each song stands on its own. Also, with a new member (Aldo) co-writing with me, we ended up with some new flavors in the sound but keeping the style of ROF intact.
Metallerium: Which was the most difficult song to record in this album? or Which was your favorite song to work with?
Ring of Fire: Well, the songs I co-wrote with Vitalij were challenging, especially The Beginning and Storm of the Pawns, because of the classical stylings in terms of timing and range…
I have a lot of favorites on this album, but if I had to pick one, I guess it would be Storm of The Pawns….
Metallerium: You have been busy working with Shining Black too. How do you separate the ideas that you use between Shining Black and Ring of Fire?
Ring of Fire: That’s easy because the styles are so different with each band…ROF is Neo-classic power metal, and SB is melodic hard rock… I love both bands…
Metallerium: This is the fifth studio album by Ring of Fire. Did the way you compose and record an album change much compared to your early years with this band?
Ring of Fire: Yes, of course, 22 years ago the technology was different, recording budgets were Much larger, so we could go into big studios and record together in the same room, so to speak.
Nowadays that is impossible with the tiny budgets we have, but thankfully, technology has come to rescue us with new ways to record and produce our music, in remote studios, separately.
Metallerium: Line-up changes are always difficult, especially when you replace the vocalist or guitar player, I guess. In this case, how have you been dealing with this new line-up? How do you see fans’ reactions to these changes?
Ring of Fire: So far reactions have been great! We discussed several possibilities but came to embrace our choices fully. The new members stepped up and nailed their parts, seamlessly bringing the total picture together.
Metallerium: I had the chance to listen to the album and we are going to post a review about it. I really liked it! Your voice still sounds powerful! Not many vocalists can preserve their voices so well. How do you work in order to preserve your voice? Is there any advice you can give to young vocalists that are beginning in this business?
Ring of Fire: I am very lucky and blessed to have been given singing talent from birth, a gift from God, and my love of music and singing have kept me working at it and learning, still to this day. My advice is to listen, listen to your favorite singers, learn from them and develop your own sound that flows naturally. From there, keep singing every day and never stop. Keep yourself in good physical shape and develop strength in your lungs and diaphragm. Bottom line is, your pure voice is a sound that comes from your soul…Physical elements can help or limit you, but your spirit will make it happen or not in the end.
Metallerium: Another aspect that I always appreciate in your music is that we all know that you are all virtuoso musicians, very skillful and experienced. You show us all of those skills in your music without losing the sense of melody or emotions when you perform. How do you work in order to keep that balance? Because it is awesome how songs like “Storm of the Pawns” and “Gravity” could be quite long but it always keeps our attention.
Ring of Fire: Well, that is just what we do! We all have a lot of experience and try to not be boring hahaha!
Metallerium: Again, you are releasing the album under Frontiers Records. In these times where musicians can work in an independent way. Why do you think it is important to have the support of a label like Frontiers?
Ring of Fire: Frontiers can give worldwide distribution easily, and they supply promotion also…
Metallerium: What are your plans after releasing the album? Are there chances to see you on tour with Ring of Fire or Shining Black? Any chances to see you touring across Latin America?
Ring of Fire: I sure hope so! We want to and will do our best!
Metallerium: Talking about other aspects of the music industry. As a professional musician, you have seen a lot of changes and in the last 2 years probably the pandemic forced us to change in many aspects like working remotely or streaming events, etc. How do you see the music industry nowadays compared to the 80s when you begin your career? Which period do you like more?
Ring of Fire: Well, the ’80s were incredibly better, because people still bought albums in vinyl and cd formats, so there was a product that people could hold in their hands, especially vinyl! And with these products, as I said before, labels would give large advances and we could get royalties from sales. That is pretty much gone now, so it’s even harder as time goes by to make a living at music…
Metallerium: In terms of new bands. Do you still have time to discover new bands or new music? What do you listen to when you have some free time?
Ring of Fire: I listen to a little of everything, from pop to metal, to classical, to even modern rock bands, and every once in a while I hear bands that sound a bit different, which is always what I’m looking for. I hate how so many bands copy each other so much now.
Metallerium: How has been your experience with digital platforms that give us access to a lot of music? Because for example nowadays an unknown band can be discovered by thousands of people around the world but on the other side, we have people that focus more on singles from a playlist than enjoying the complete journey of listening to a complete album.
Ring of Fire: It has good and bad points, and availability is good but hundreds of thousands of new music posted daily also creates a challenge for new artists, and it is also a shame to only hear one song from any band instead of hearing an entire album…
Talking about technology, nowadays artificial intelligence is getting more accessible to people. For example, we can write a detailed description of a picture we have in mind and the A.I will create an image based on that description, the results can be amazing. So, do you think this will impact the music industry sooner or later? I mean do you see yourself for example using A.I to create the covert art for a new album? or do you think this will be used by people to create music without working with real musicians for example?
It is already being used to create music by non-musicians. I hate that, taking our humanity away little by little, right? I will always use human artistry in my projects…
Metallerium: Before we finish. I am just curious; you have worked with a lot of talented musicians. But if you have the chance to create a new band with any musicians you admire but have not had the chance to work with. What will be your perfect team?
Ring of Fire: That is difficult. I have already worked with most of my favorites, but there are a few still missing, I guess Jeff Beck and Neal Schon on guitar, Ainsley Dunbar on drums, Billy Sheehan on bass, Jordan Rudess on keyboards. Now that would rock!
Metallerium: Again, thank you very much for your time, and congratulations on the new album! It is great to enjoy your voice again in 2 great albums this year! We wish you all the best! Is there anything you want to say to Metallerium readers and your fans from Latin America?
Ring of Fire: Hey, thanks everyone for supporting me and listening to my music! Please spread the word about me so I can come and rock your city with a live band!
Cheers and God Bless you all!