Kurt Vereecke, Frozen Rain

(by Jukka Paananen)


Kurt Vereecke is a Belgian musician and schoolteacher with a huge, pink AOR-pounding heart, who has been dreaming of recording a rock album of his own since his first tenure with Frozen Rain in the eighties. But despite all the hard work bad luck always seemed to step in his way, and his closest encounter with that dream was a moderately successful single on the Belgian airwaves in 1992 with a band called Rhyana. But being the true survivor that he is, Vereecke hibernated through the hey-days of grunge and returned with a series of albums of children’s music during the turn of the millennium, and is now back in full force with a fresh, sparkling AOR-record. Moral of the story? Well to quote a few of his heroes: “Hold the line” and “Don’t stop believin´”, you might “Get lucky” and see “St. Elmo’s fire”.

1. Congratulations on your fine debut album and welcome to the pages of Artrock.se, Mr. Vereecke!

Thanks a lot. I hope the visitors/readers of Artrock will like the album.


2. I understand the Frozen Rain-album is a dream come true for you. Describe your feelings now that you see and hear the finished product.

Making this album is indeed something I’ve always dreamed about. Back in 1994 I already had a record deal with Long Island Records but because of the fact the label broke up I didn’t have the chance to release an album then. When I look back at it now maybe it has been good I didn’t release an album then. Now I could make a better record because I have my own home studio now where I can work without any ‘time’ pressure and I also had the chance to work with some very talented musicians this time. I’m really happy with the way the album turned out. The songs sound the way I want and my friend Eddy Meuwese has made some excellent artwork for the album. So... I’m a happy guy.

3. The songs are all in a classic AOR-vein; up-lifting and romantic. Is that the kind of man you are?

I’m a big AOR fan in the first place. I like good melodies and lyrics that give you a ‘good’ feeling. Many fans tell me my music makes them happy. A song like “Waiting for you” goes about how important friendship can be in all of our lives. Songs like “Park Café” tell us not to give things up that easily and always try to see the bright side of life. There’s probably a lot of myself you can hear through my music and I guess I also have my own ‘writing’ style.


4. Well, being a teacher myself I know it helps if you have a positive outlook on life and people in general. In what way do you think your work with youngsters influence your music?

Interesting question. In class you very often have to encourage the kids not to give things up. Good words can do miracles. Haven’t really thought about this before but I guess it’s natural that my life as a teacher and working with kids is reflected in my music and lyrics.


5. About the album then: I hear quite a few influences from the great big rock radio-days, but actually not very much from your biggest heroes Journey, Toto and Loverboy. How did you avoid the trap of copying your main influences?

Yes, bands like Journey, Toto and Loverboy are some of my most favourite bands. I mostly like their older work. I always liked catchy melodies with awesome guitars & some very nice keys. That’s also what I’ve tried to put on the Frozen Rain album. I guess the combination of my ’writing’ style and the guests involved made the album sound the way it is.

6. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that you also relate to some classic American soul and R´n´B.

No idea, you’re the first telling me this. I don’t listen to soul and R ‘n’ B normally. My whole CD-collection contains AOR & melodic rock only so I guess that influences me the most.


7. So the soulful elements on “My heart believes it´s true” and “Tomorrow” might be courtesy of singer Ollie Oldenburg then?

Singer Ollie is someone who is familiar with several kinds of music. He’s often on stage playing a lot of covers with “soulful’ elements you’re talking about. His singing is surely influenced by singing these kinds of songs.


8. I also come to think of movie soundtracks from the early eighties as I listen to your album, especially Footloose. Do you have any memories from your teenage years, going to the movies and such, which you would like to share?

Movies like Footloose, Days of thunder, St. Elmo’s fire (with music of John Parr) all had a good soundtrack and brought me more in touch with some good rock music. I also remember I enjoyed the ‘Grease’ movie a lot in my teenage days even when that movie offered a lot of other music.


9. Is writing film music something you would like to pursue, and if so, what kind of movie would you like to work on?

Writing film music would surely be interesting to do but I don’t have a kind of movie style I prefer. I can tell you that the song “Waiting for you” has almost made it to an American movie a few years ago. My main problem however is finding ‘time’ so I’m already glad if I can find time for Frozen Rain.


10. Back to your album: What did the musicians bring to your project that pushed it further, or did you have it all set from the beginning?

Back in 2002 I recorded the first demo versions in my home studio that I was just building up and that was far from complete. When I finally was able to buy myself better recording equipment the real recordings began. The very first versions of the songs had programmed drums because I wasn’t able to record good live drums then. I recorded all the keyboard parts, a temporary bass line and a vocal track sung by myself. When I had finished these basic tracks the other musicians recorded their parts one after another. During all the years playing as a musician I met some very talented musicians who became good friends. Working on a project like Frozen Rain gave me the ideal opportunity to work together with all of them which wouldn’t have been possible when I played in a band. I believe that bringing all the qualities of these musicians and singers together made the album much stronger.


11. Tommy Denander is a monster on this album!

I agree with you. When I started to work on the album I never thought I would have the chance to work with some of my personal idols like Tommy Denander & Steve Newman. I don’t have to tell you how glad I am to have them on the album. Both have added a lot to the sound. Tommy believes that he has played some of his better guitar solos on the Frozen Rain-CD. I still remember the moment I added Tommy’s guitars to the rest of the music. It sounded like magic in my ears.


12. You also enlisted different lyricists on this project. Did you have any specifications for the writers or were they free to come up with the goods?

Andy Flash & André Vlerick both offered me the finished lyrics and I’ve written the music for them. Sometimes we had to change a few words here and there to make things work with the melody. The songs written with Erik Van Bers date back to my period with my band Rhyana. Erik was the guitar player in the band and we’ve written these songs together.


13. How did you decide upon which singer should sing what songs?

Let me first say that finding the right vocalists wasn’t an easy thing. In this kind of music you really need to have a good lead vocalist. It took me two years to find the singers I was looking for. Some songs needed a powerful voice, other tunes had some very high notes that not every singer can sing. I saw singer Johan Waem the first time on television during the ‘pop idol contest” where he ended as one of the last 20 candidates. While hearing Johan sing I knew right away that he had the perfect voice for several Frozen Rain songs. I called Johan and he liked the idea of singing on the Frozen Rain CD. The recordings with him turned out fine and we had a great time in the studio. Ollie Oldenburg (ex-Zinatra) & Maurice Saelmans are two singers from Holland I discovered after putting an advertisement on a website for vocalists. Both have a very large vocal range which I needed in several songs. I hope to be able to work with them again in the future because they’re both fantastic singers with a professional attitude. The two other lead singers on the album are from Belgium. Dirk Cauwels is a good friend I know for many years and Peter De Zutter I met thanks to a mutual friend of ours. On the album I also wanted to try out a duet. Just listen to ‘On the run’ where Ollie Oldenburg & Dirk Cauwels alternate all the time. I’m very glad with the way that song turned out.


14. Well, on the future then: What happens now in the world of Frozen Rain?

Now that the album is completed I have my hands full with answering mails form people interested in Frozen Rain and doing interviews like this. I’m really looking forward to simply enjoy playing music again and not having to spend all my time with ’mixing’. I want to start writing new song material this summer and work out some fresh ideas. For the song writing I will work together with several musicians involved in the first album like singer Ollie Oldenburg, keyboard player Jurgen Vitrier and guitar player Erik Van Bers. But I also expect a lot from my cooperation with Rik Priem, a very talented guitar player with a great sound I recently met. If there’ll be a second album Rik will probably play a lot of the guitars on it.


15. So is the next Frozen Rain-album going to be recorded by a band as opposed to a project with side artists?

Probably it will sound more like a real band with me on keys, Rik Priem on guitar, Vincent De Laat on bass and my brother Hans on drums but there will be room to let some guests do their thing as well. We will see how things turn out.

16. On the fabulous cover, there’s an announcement on a screen outside the Madison Square Garden suggesting that Frozen Rain are going to perform tonight. I understand that would be another dream to come true for you. But what artists would you like to share the show with?

It would be fantastic to bring the Frozen Rain songs on stage for an AOR public but at the moment there are no plans to go on tour. But coming back to your question I would prefer to share the stage with some of my musical friends like Terje Eide (On the Rise), Rob Moratti (Final Frontier), Robert Säll (Work Of Art), Guido Priori (My Land) or Niclas Olsson (Alyson Avenue).


17. Do you have any exciting scoop for me regarding high-profile guests for you next album? I know for a fact that you have some Toto-connections.

I don’t know if there will be as much guests on a follow up album like on the first one but I hope to have some of my musical friends (see question above) on a second album. Another dream would be to have Steve Lukather playing a solo on the album. The first album I ever bought was the first Toto album and I remember I couldn’t get “Hold the line” out of my head. I don’t have Toto-connections myself but Eddy Meuwese who did the artwork for my album is a friend of Steve Lukathers.


18. I think that your album might inspire single musicians and song-writers to follow their dreams, because you have showed that it can be done with tons of inspiration and perspiration. Do you have any comments on that?

I had several setbacks in the past but kept going for my goal, the making of the Frozen Rain album. Friends and fans all around the world supported me through the years and gave me the strength to go on. So I want to tell to other musicians and songwriters, never give up and keep on believing in your dream....


19. I would like to thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to answer these questions, and good luck to you in your continuing quest for melodic rock. I’ll let you put the final touches to this interview.

I want to end with saying thanks to everyone who has supported me the last few years and to all of you for checking out Frozen Rain. The making of the Frozen Rain-CD took me a lot of work but if my music can brighten up your days then I’m happy too.