LOMM: Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
AL ROSS & THE PLANETS – AL ROSS: The band has been together since the founding members were teenagers and at college, and we have made many friends along the way, two of which are Blues Legend Norman Beaker and highly respected session player Lyndon Connah. We all worked together on this album which was a great experience.
LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys have been holding up?
Al Ross: It has been very tough, but we have stayed positive and despite the many difficulties, we have used the time to create an album (Blue Crystal – scheduled for release on 10 September 2021) that we are all very proud of.
LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
Al Ross: Yes – very much so. The whole of 2020 was about making the new album BLUE CRYSTAL
LOMM: Tell us about your genre, what does it means to you, why did you choose this genre?
Al Ross: Our genre is late sixties / early seventies classic rock. We chose it because we are passionate about it, and are very keen for music lovers to start listening to albums again – a comprehensive 40 minute listening experience – as they did back then during the album era.
LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
Al Ross: Alex Mungo and I have been song writing for years and in the past played live blues and rock. The songs we wrote emerged from our love of classic rock and blues.
LOMM: Are you happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
Al Ross: I am genuinely over the moon with our new album BLUE CRYSTAL. We had plenty of time during the pandemic to plan exactly how we wanted the album to sound, so could really focus on getting everything right. Apart from the mix on one of the eight tracks that in hindsight I would maybe do differently, I am really happy with how this album has turned out. We will struggle to ever come up with anything as good as this again.
LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
[Al Ross]: So far the reception has been fantastic. We have not had one negative comment so we are very pleased that people like it.
LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
Al Ross: As a band, we have played in the US, Germany, all over England, and the middle East, but our main base has always been London. As individuals many of us have been on tour with other bands. We took time during the Pandemic to focus on making the album, and we are expecting to play live again from September, so for us personally it has not been too tough.
LOMM: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
Al Ross: The album will be released in September, and then we will need to promote it with live gigs. We have promotion going on in the UK, Germany and North America, and the feedback is so far very positive, so the future is looking bright! We will start working on the third album next year.
LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
Al Ross: I write most of the lyrics, and most of the songs on the new album were all written some time ago. When my Dad passed away, that had a big effect on me and for a while it set off a huge burst of creativity as I struggled to deal with the loss – it led to me write songs about loss and finding myself. The rest of the album is based around more positive themes – one of which is starting to enjoy life again post Covid.
LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
Al Ross: I wrote the songs together with Alex Mungo (ex then Jerico). Three of the tracks were co-written with Lyndon Connah, and another one with our Producer / keyboard player Marc Rapson
LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
Al Ross: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Band .
LOMM: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
Al Ross: I love both, but the studio is extra special as you are creating work that will hopefully be listened to and appreciated for years to come and inspire other musicians. Having said that there is nothing like the buzz of playing live on stage….
LOMM: What first got you into music?
Al Ross: As a child, I had a love of records. I grew up listening to the great bands of the sixties and seventies which had a huge effect on me.
LOMM: What do you like the best about being a musician? And what is it that you do not like much?
Al Ross: I love the creative process of writing and recording, and the thrill and excitement of playing live. On the other side, band politics really get me down sometimes.
LOMM: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?
Al Ross: Probably writing novels
LOMM: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Al Ross: Get the record companies to find real artists based on their musical ability – not on fashion, fads or looks or TV series like the X Factor
LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
I would have to say music for its own sake. Put it out and let people discover and enjoy it.
LOMM: What is the most memorable gig that you have played to date?
Al Ross: Probably the Cavern (Liverpool) in 2007 or the Victor Hotel (venue) in Chicago in 2009, but I used to love to play the Brahms and Liszt in Covent Garden (London) back in the 90s – they were great gigs!
LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
Al Ross: Creating the BLUE CRYSTAL album under very stressful and difficult conditions during the 2020 lockdown and completing the album by year end. With everything against us and band members sick with Covid, we somehow managed to create something very special.
LOMM: Who would you like to collaborate with?
Al Ross: Paul McCartney and Keith Richards
LOMM: Who would you like to go on a tour with?
Al Ross: The Rolling Stones
LOMM: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose? Tell us why.
Al Ross: Isle of Wight – Because of the great vibes
LOMM: Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.
Al Ross: Abbey Road (Beatles), The White Album (Beatles), Beggars Banquet (Rolling Stones), Music from the Big Pink (The Band), Meddle (Pink Floyd), The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society, Magical Mystery Tour (Beatles) Led Zeppelin IV, John Lennon Plastic Ono Band, Ravi Shankar – Chants of India, 2001 A Space Odyssey Soundtrack
LOMM: What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?
Al Ross: Mostly vinyl with some CDs
LOMM: What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
Al Ross: I am from London – the Metal / Rock scene is not as strong as it once was
LOMM: You can invite 5 people to a dinner party, from the future, the past, rock stars, a movie characters, you name it. Who are you having dinner with?
Al Ross: John Lennon, Brian Jones, Marlon Brando, Ray Davies and Nico
LOMM: What is your weirdest memory in your music career?
Al Ross: Mica Paris coming to join us on stage at a gig – mid song – at the Fiddler in Kilburn, London. Some band members did not know who she was and were telling her to get off stage, and I was yelling at them to let her perform with us on stage. Luckily the penny dropped, she started singing and the place went wild!
LOMM: What is the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Al Ross: A packet of jelly tots
LOMM: If you had one message to your fans, what would it be?
Al Ross: Collect your favourite 100 albums on vinyl
LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?
Al Ross: Our new album was made under extremely difficult circumstances with band members catching Covid, restrictions in place and everything against us. We still managed to finish the album before the end of 2020 and it was a case of artistic triumph over adversity. We would therefore love it if our fans listen to it as a whole from start to finish
LOMM: Thank you for taking the time!
Al Ross & the Planets release Blue Crystal on 10 September 2021 on CD and download through Wienerworld