AN INTERVIEW WITH BARRY SPARKS
By David Iozzia
Full Name: Barry Sparks
Birthday: June 20th, 1968
Birthplace: Lucasville, Ohio
Hobbies: Staring at womens breasts, riding his bicycle
in the desert naked, and playing hop-scotch with six year old girls.
Favorite movie: Anything starring Catherine Zeta Jones.
Favorite band: Dokken!!!
Additional Info: www.BarrySparks.com
By David Iozzia
When we last caught up with bass player Barry Sparks, we were sitting on a bench, at a concert venue merchandise booth. Barry was rockin' with DOKKEN at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey.
DI: Barry, I'd would like to thank you for sharing a few minutes to talk metal music.
BS: No problem, Dave.
DI: Last year, U.S. audiences and arenas got rocked by the awesome Scorpions/Whitesnake/DOKKEN tour. What is your personal highlight point from that tour?
BS: I don't think that there is one single highlight, but that tour was the most fun ever! I'm such a big fan of The Scorpions, and I got to watch them play every night. Marco Mendoza from Whitesnake is a friend of mine. He's a great guy and real cool to hang out with. Plus, those big arena tours are real cool!
DI: A year later, DOKKEN is back, headlining on their U.S. tour. How longer are the sets when you headline? How many more songs in the setlist?
BS: Last tour, as openers we only had a forty minute set. Tonight, as headliners, we'll play a little over 90 minutes. That's six or seven more songs. A few more solos are added to other songs. Tonight, we've added one new song from "Hell To Pay" to the setlist. We'll be working in two or three others as the tour proceeds.
DI: Jon Levin has replaced Alex Del Rosso as DOKKEN's lead guitarist. What can you tell metalforever.com about Jon?
BS: Jon is our lawyer and lead guitarist! And he is an amazing guitarist that knows DOKKEN's 'signature' sound. He does a great job conforming his own style to fit our songs. You're going to love this guy.
DI: DOKKEN'S new CD, "Hell To Pay" was released July 13. Best of luck with it. What feedback have you heard from DOKKEN fans as you tour this summer?
BS: The fans really seem to dig this album. much more than the last one, "Long Way Home". They also are loving Jon Levin, so am I!
DI: Start to finish, "Hell To Pay" is a solid CD from my listening perspective. How would you describe the musical direction DOKKEN wants to take us with this CD?
BS: Well, Don really wanted to make a classic sounding DOKKEN album, but at the end of the day its us doing what's real to us and just trying to make good music.
DI: Barry, what is your favorite cut on "Hell To Pay"? Why?
BS: "Don't Bring Me Down." It's a real rocker and I wrote quite a bit of it.
DI: I recently heard Velvet Revolver play a cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender". What rock classic do you think would be fun to cover with DOKKEN?
BS: Hhmmmm...........how about "Seasons Of Wither" by Aerosmith? I love that tune!
DI: Barry, you've recently released your solo CD, "Can't Look Back". What musicians did you use and what musical direction did you take with "Can't Look Back"?
BS: I did all of the guitars and vocals, Ted Nugent and Billy Gibbons added a few guitar solos. My buddies Shane Galaas and Jim Pavett handled the drumming. The CD is "in-your-face" pop music, very vocal orientated. Catchy songs with a lot of harmony. Don't take this wrong, "a heavier version of Hanson".
DI: If you could tour supporting this CD, with musicians you've NEVER played with, who would be the band?
BS: Wow, I like this question. Vocals and a guitar for me, and I'll use Marco Mendoza on bass. I need a guitarist that compliments my style, I'll take Trevor Rabin. Drums would be a toss-up between Stewart Copeland and Taylor Hawkins. My friend over there at the merch table, Claudio Pesavento will play keyboards. Since this is my dream band, I want three hot back-up singers. I'll take Britney Spears, Catherine Zeta-Jones and pornstar Aria Giovanni.
DI: Between DOKKEN tours, you were out with The Motor City Madman, Ted Nugent. I had heard a rumor that Whitesnake's Marco Mendoza recommended you to Ted, who attended a SCORPS/Whitesnake/DOKKEN gig and hired you on the spot. Is that how it happened?
BS: That's almost true. Marco told me to call Ted's manager, who was expecting my call. Ted caught the final show of the tour in Detroit and checked me out. I stayed in town when the tour ended and we jammed at Ted's house. We hit it off good, and I already knew so many of his songs.
DI: In addition to playing bass, did you handle lead vocals?
BS: Half and half, Ted did some and I did the rest.
DI: What was your favorite Ted Nugent song to sing ever night?
BS: "Hey Baby".
DI: What was your favorite Ted Nugent song to play bass on ever night?
DI: I have this image of Ted stopping the tour bus in the middle of a wooded highway. He unpacks his bow and arrow, shoots a deer and cooks it for the band and crew. Obviously, just an image. Can you share a true and wild Ted Nugent story with us?
BS: No wild stories that I'll admit to. Ted goes hunting after the concert now and then. He does have guns.
DI: You play bass on two Scorpions songs from their new CD "Unbreakable". Did Rudolph Schenker bring you into the studio after hearing you nightly in the 2003 tour? Or, did he know you previously from your work with his brother, Michael?
BS: Rudolph knew me from the late 90's CD's I did with Michael Schenker Group. MSG also toured with The Scorpions back then. During last years's SCORPS/Whitesnake/DOKKEN tour, SCORPS drummer James Kottak forced Rudolph to watch me play with DOKKEN. I was thrilled when he asked me to spend time in Europe with them recording "Unbreakable".
DI: Speaking of MSG, Michael has reformed the group. He is touring this summer, sharing the stage with Uli Join Roth and George Lynch. You've played with Michael and Uli, what should music fans expect from these outstanding guitarists on this tour?
BS: Wow, what an amazing gig. That's three of the best guitarists sharing the stage. Don't miss that show!
DI: What are the B'z?
BS: They are the biggest Japanese rock band ever. 88 million records sold in Japan, and their live gigs sell out stadiums. I play bass and Shane Galaas drums. My commitment to do the last B'z tour prevented me from recording more of The Scorpions CD.
DI: Please share your thoughts on the resurgence of classical metal music?
BS: I think there has been a definite resurgence and that's cool. I wish that the younger kids would be more open-minded and respectful of what was done before them.
DI: Do you listen to Nu-Metal?
BS: Not really, some of it is boring. I like bands that put on a show, I like rock stars. It's hard to identify with some of those bands.
DI: What new artists have impressed you the most?
BS: Evanesence. The Darkness is cool.
DI: Any other thoughts you'd like to share with metal music fans?
BS: Metal music fans are the greatest, I can't thank them enough. I see young kids wearing the t-shirts of their parent's favorite bands. I see people bringing their kids to our shows. It's a different time we live in, and everything moves along so fast. But our fans are there for us.Thanks.
DI: Lastly, what's next for Dokken? For Barry Sparks?
BS: DOKKEN's touring all summer, and we're hoping to tour either Europe or Japan in the fall. Right into the studio for another album. I'll keep busy with some gigs of my own too. I love to play music!