Alcatrazz, formed by ex-Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet in 1983 and briefly featuring guitar virtuosos Yngwie Malmsteen then Steve Vai, are now settled into their “second coming”, begun after a 19-year hiatus in 2006.
Initially, the five-piece line-up fluctuated, but became more settled when they brought in guitarist Joe Stump alongside original members Jimmy Waldo (keyboards) and Jimmy Shea (bass) and recorded a fourth album, Born Innocent, in 2020.
Bonnet, though, wasn’t happy with the involvement of management – both creative and day-to-day – and jumped ship. That opened the door for former Rainbow/ Michael Schenker frontman Doogie White to take over as lead singer on 2021’s V, a role he reprises on the band’s sixth album, Take No Prisoners.
We caught up with Waldo to look at the current state of play with the band.
Graham Bonnet argues that two versions of Alcatrazz exist. But his is yet to muddy the waters. Does the thought that it might trouble you?
No. Honestly, I don’t know anything about what he’s doing. One, it’s distasteful to me to keep track of a negative thing. I’ve nothing against Graham, but that was not a good situation. Two, I’m busy! Graham wasn’t really into the more rockin’ stuff, so that was a problem for me.
As you’ll hear on Take No Prisoners, I like the heavier stuff. Doogie does too. We do our new songs [live], plus we are working on bringing in one or two more from No Parole From Rock ’N’ Roll to add to the two that we did in the UK in February.
The new album, with ex-Blaze Bayley man Larry Peterson on drums, is certainly heavier.
Yes. I particularly love Battlelines. It’s got that Judas Priest [German WWII fighter aircraft] ME109s, and I love that – I’m a big World War II buff. Another favourite of mine is Gates Of Destiny, which [Survivor founder] Jim Peterik wrote. I’ve known Jim for forty years – he sang at my wedding! So I asked, and he wrote a demo especially for us. We just changed the feel a little – Joe gave it more of an Iron Maiden gallop.
Girlschool, who supported you on tour in Europe in February, sing on another of the new tracks, Don’t Get Mad… Get Even…
Those girls are so much fun to tour with. I always have my rig – a laptop and a microphone – so I can cut tracks anywhere. We were in France, and asked them to sing back-up vocals. The four of them walked in, we did two runs top to bottom, and they nailed it.
You keep referencing British bands. Alcatrazz’s album does have a very British feel, certainly compared to how you started with No Parole.
Alcatrazz used to be an American band! Now it’s just me and Joe – but even Joe is more of a European thinker. I grew up worshipping The Who, then I got into Yes – and Led Zeppelin just took me head off. I love Saxon’s last record.
People might think I’m crazy but I even love the weather. I know people in England want to move to LA, but I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I remember the first time I was ever in London, and we were wandering between pubs in the dark, it was cold and drizzly – Jack The Ripper weather. I love it!
Take No Prisoners is available now via Silver Lining.