There are very few real mastodons of the metal music left in this world. You know who we mean – those who stood at the origin of the genre and basically created it. There are even fewer of them who are still touring the world, bringing their music to masses instead of tanning at their villas in California or chilling in rehab. That’s why, when we heard about a project like HAIL! coming to Finland, there was no way we could miss it.
The basic concept of HAIL! is to play cover versions of those cult songs – the ones that can be seen as milestones in the development of the heavy music. It is sort of a tribute to what helped each member of the project become who they are. The original idea belongs to the ex-MEGADETH bass player, David Ellefson. He was joined by SEPULTURA’s guitarist, Andreas Kisser, ex-JUDAS PRIEST vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens, and Alice Cooper drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, who was successfully replaced by STONE SOUR’s drummer, Roy Mayorga, for the Scandinavian tour. All of the members admit that Roy, who is coming from a different scene, brought a new, heavier atmosphere to their music, as well as new possibilities. It shows that the project is constantly transforming and bringing the musicians together.
Answering the question of how each of them ended up in HAIL!, Tim Owens says with a smile, “Probably by mistake? Once David Ellefson and I had a jam with some guests and he had the idea that it would be great to make a band together and do a tour. Our first show was in Chile and we thought that the best one to contact was Andreas. We all knew each other before.” That’s how it all began.
At each of the shows during their tour, the metal legends have invited someone from the local scene to their jam sessions. For example, in Denmark they were joined by Hank Shermann from MERCYFUL FATE and in Norway they shared the stage with Silenoz of DIMMU BORGIR. However, in Finland, as a result of a long search, they have picked up a name not so famous abroad. The lucky “chosen one” of that evening turned out to be the vocalist of a very promising Finnish metal band, PROFANE OMEN: Jules Näveri, who worthily accomplished his mission.
The HAIL! show in Helsinki took place at Dante’s Highlight – a club that used to be a church. It remained a mystery for us how such a small place managed to get something so unbelievable within its walls. However, as we listened to the band during the sound check, it became clear that what we were about to hear and see that evening was going to be grand to say the least. The music was played by gods and they were kicking it. They performed songs that became classics from the moment they were born: musical creations by KISS, BLACK SABBATH, ANTHRAX, SLAYER, PANTERA, METALLICA, and, of course, MEGADETH, JUDAS PRIEST, and SEPULTURA. Standing a few meters away from the stage, we wanted to give each other a pinch on the arm to make sure that it was happening for real.
After such a soaring show, there came a natural question: why not publish a record? Tim Owens doesn’t deny the possibility. However, the main point of HAIL! for now is the excitement of doing the live shows and keeping the project alive and pulsating. The setlist is changed every night and quite often the new ideas come during the rehearsals and are brought to life right away.
Jules Näveri, who got to perform PANTERA’s “Walk” with the guys, could hardly fetch his breath after that once-in-a-lifetime chance to sing with his idols. “To have such a privilege to be on stage with some of your all time metal favorites such as Dave Ellefson and Andreas Kisser, the feeling is more than overwhelming. Watching those guys do what they do best at close range was an educating and unforgettable experience. The passion will never die – it only grows and HAIL! proved it to me on every scale, full-blown and heart-bleeding.”
Hail! is living proof that once you enter the world of heavy music, you can never leave it. That’s why Rock Star – the movie inspired by parts of Tim Owens’ life, where the singer of a cover band becomes the vocalist of that band couldn’t keep up with all the fame and the cruel music world, came back home and became a teacher – is nothing more than a scriptwriter’s imagination. Tim Owens sums up our discussion: “No and no. We don’t see ourselves doing anything else. That’s why we do something like HAIL! in between the work with our bands.”
Written by Victoria Maksimovich
Photos by Tanja Caciur