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Q5 - Interview with Scott Palmerton
By Wojtek Gabriel,
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Q5 heavy metal band
After the well-received 1984 debut album and the AOR-ish release that followed it up, the Seattle metallers from Q5 threw the towel and gave up. A shame really, as both these LPs, as different as they sound, are top quality pieces of traditional hard rock/metal and this band of capable musicians and song-writers could have done so much more. Q5 re-united a few years back, have released another album since and this year marked their first ever visit to the UK shores, where they played two shows, in two capitals. I had a short chat with the band's singer Scott P. Palmerton before their Edinburgh gig.
So, how's the European tour going so far? I believe you played some dates in Germany and then in London a couple days ago?
So far, excellent! Yeah, really great. I can't even put into words how fantastic it's been. The response's been fabulous, our playing has been fabulous, so...
I think between the London show and tonight you had like a three-day break. So, what have you been keeping yourselves busy with?
A little sightseeing. I've been to London a number of times as has our bass player, but nobody else has so, you know, we took a couple of days to show everybody some of the things that we liked, and hopefully they liked. That's always fun when you go someplace you haven't been before. And then here, same thing, although we didn't have as much time to do what we wanted, just a little sightseeing, that's all. I walked up to the castle but I did not go in. I just didn't have the time, we're on such a tight schedule. You know, to go to a place like that you'd need all day, I'm sure, if not two. So I made a quick decision, "I don't wanna do it without doing it right."
Your "Steel the Light" album has been just re-issued with a lot of bonus tracks and also on limited edition vinyl. How did it come about, did the label approach you?
Yeah, the label is out of Greece, No Remorse Records. They gave us an offer we couldn't refuse, they wanted to re-release it. They've done a number of other records, not ours, but other people's so we could see, you know, if they would do a good job, and they did. And part of the deal was to give them some tracks that we did long ago, demo stuff and stuff that ended up on the album, but slightly different versions. There's a couple of live tracks on there that nobody's heard for years, they were recorded long ago. And I wrote the liner notes and kind of explained how each song came about, that kind of thing. The box set sold out before they even released it and the vinyls I think are pretty much gone. There's just a few CDs out there. Maybe they'll do a re-re-release, ha-ha! But yeah, I like the product. I thought it was fantastic what they did, I'm very happy with it.
And why did the debut album have two different cover arts?
Well, we're a band from Seattle. Floyd Rose and I built the band up, put it together, we wrote the songs and we got signed to a production agreement with Ken Kinnear at Albatross Productions in Seattle. Ken Kinnear was Heart's manager at the time and Albatross Productions was the largest producer of concerts in North-West. So, we decided to put a demo tape out first and see if we could get signed to a record label, but our manager had a record label and he goes, "Let's just do it here. Let's release it in the local area, Seattle, Portland and let's see what happens." And he got some guy to drop an album cover, which nobody liked, but he liked it and so it went out. And then we got signed and they put a new album cover on it. That's how it came about.
The second album was more keyboard-oriented, more AOR-sounding. Was that the label that pushed you in that direction?
Yes. There are still ten or fifteen songs out there that nobody's heard that were slightly different than what you hear there. We spent a long, long time on that record. I mean, it's a beautiful record to hear, perfectly done and a lot of the songs are very nice and some of them are still my favourite songs, but it's a completely different thing. But I don't mind doing different kinds of music. I am fine with that and Q5 itself doesn't mean anything so we can't be labelled and pegged, you know, like you have to do this or that kind of stuff. Our personal favourites are hard rock, heavy metal, but Floyd wanted to do what the record company wanted at the time. There were a number of TV shows out there that were pushing that sound and there was some talk about grabbing a couple of our songs for some TV shows and some movies, so that was another part of this.
You put out your second album on Polygram, everything seemed to have been going well so, why did you disband after the album was out?
Because we spent another year writing the third album, rehearsing night after night after night, we completely recorded the third album perfectly, it was ready to go. We took it to our managers back in New York City who were Def Leppard's managers and they said, "This is great stuff, but we need you to write a hit." And I listened to it and I thought, "I hear three or four hits", but they didn't. And there were a few other internal things going on in the band that were childish and petty, but they still sometimes seem monumental. And we had spent a long time on that and then it was just kind of like, "We're done with this crap." Very bad decision.
A few of you continued on and formed Nigthshade. Why didn't you just go on as Q5?
There were some internal problems with doing that, some other people... If I was to tell you this, we would be here for another week while I delved into the story. So, to keep it short, we just decided to make it easy on everybody and go out as a new name.
So, are the songs on the first Nightshade album all new or are some of them leftovers from Q5 times?
The first Nightshade album has several songs that we had written for the third Q5 album. The title track was for the third album, another song on there called "Last Train Home", the song called "Somebody's Watching You", those were all written for the Q5 album. We took them in Nightshade and twisted them just a little bit. On the Q5 album they would have sounded slightly different.
You re-united in 2014, but you played a one-off show in 2009 at Bang Your Head festival in Germany. Why didn't you stick together after that show?
We called ourselves Q5 at the time, but it was just the three of us. It was actually a four-piece, but it wasn't really Q5, we just did a whole bunch of Q5 songs, ha-ha! It wasn't what I would call Q5...
So, when you finally decided to come back, did you speak to any of the original members, especially Floyd who basically started the band with you?
Yeah, and I talked to Floyd just last week. I talk to him regularly. He is not interested in playing live at all. He has built his guitar business and that's where he wants to be. Our drummer Gary Thompson is also not interested in playing live anymore. So yeah, we spoke to everybody several times, and I still do. I invited Floyd to come out on tour and drop in on one venue and play a song or two and he said, "Naah, I'd have to practice."
Have you heard any of the cover versions of your songs? I know of just two, Wolf from Sweden recorded "Missing in Action" and Burning Point did a cover of "Let Go". Have you heard them?
Yes, I sang on the Burning Point cover. And there's also another band, I forgot the name, they did a cover of "Steel the Light". And of course Great White did a cover of "Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady." Yeah, I've heard them all...
I know you're working on a new album. How is it going so far?
Very good. Yeah, I think everybody's gonna be surprised...
So, who in the band is writing music these days? Are the new members involved in the song-writing process at all?
Yeah, James Nelson is a very clever guitar player and a very good songwriter. Dennis Turner is also great; his song-writing goes at a slightly different angle to things. We're all involved and everybody has an opinion.
The last question... When can we expect the album to drop?
I hope before the end of this year, but more than likely it'll be Springtime, that's the way these things go. So, very soon...
Interview by Wojtek Gabriel

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Tags: Q5, heavy metal, Scott Palmerton
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© 1997-2019 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved.
Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations
or corporations without the prior written permission.