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”.
Congratulations on your fine debut album and welcome to the pages
of Artrock.se, Mr. Vereecke!
a lot. I hope the visitors/readers of Artrock will like the album.
I understand the Frozen Rain-album is a dream come true for you.
Describe your feelings now that you see and hear the finished
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.
The songs are all in a classic AOR-vein; up-lifting and romantic.
Is that the kind of man you are?
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.
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?
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
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?
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.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that you also relate
to some classic American soul and R´n´B.
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.
So the soulful elements on “My heart believes it´s true” and
“Tomorrow” might be courtesy of singer Ollie Oldenburg then?
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.
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?
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.
Is writing film music something you would like to pursue, and if
so, what kind of movie would you like to work on?
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.
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
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.
Tommy Denander is a monster on this album!
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.
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?
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.
How did you decide upon which singer should sing what songs?
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.
Well, on the future then: What happens now in the world of Frozen
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.
So is the next Frozen Rain-album going to be recorded by a band as
opposed to a project with side artists?
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.
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
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).
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
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.
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?
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....
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.
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.