When one has been witness to the seismic changes that have occurred in the rock music world since the late 1960s, it’s a wonder that said person didn’t lose his way trying to navigating such an ephemeral realm. Yet whether it was the olden days of British soft rock circa the psychedelic craze, or the heavier times that would follow, English-born vocalist and songwriter Graham Bonnet has stood the test of time, culminating in a career that rests somewhere between that of a stoic hero on some mythic battlefield and a highly adaptive philosopher who was often willing to take note of the next big thing. Many eyebrows were no doubt raised when he was tapped to fill the mighty shoes of one Ronnie James Dio in Rainbow during the twilight of the 70s, given his association with a lighter rocking past and his stage presence being something along the lines of James Dean meets David Bowie. But when the rubber hit the road, his voice carried the day along with Ritchie Blackmore’s career into the 1980s, and that same spirit of triumph has endured to this very day.
Naturally the Graham Bonnet of today is a fairly different one from the affable bloke who collaborated with the Bee Gees during what now seems a bygone era, and it goes well beyond the heavier pomp and bluster that has typified the sound of his work since the mid-80s when he helped introduce the world to Yngwie Malmsteen. Having split his time between the project that bears his name and his then newly reformed flagship project ALCATRAZZ over the past several years, he found himself in the unenviable position of having to pull himself up by his proverbial bootstraps once more, between an unfortunate split with his old band mates following the successful venture that was 2020’s “Born Innocent” and the music world grinding to a complete halt during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The trials and tribulations that would coincide with these events, including a relapse into his former drinking days after more than a decade of sobriety, may not have been as auspicious as the ones that occurred on and off the stage years back, but they would prove equally as potent in shaping the sound that would mark his return to the studio as he kicked the habit once more and reconnected with the GRAHAM BONNET BAND’s collective membership.
With all of this distant and more recent history considered, it is all too fitting that Graham’s triumphant return at 74 years of age would be named “Day Out In Nowhere”, as it underscores the surreal character of a world trying to get back to normal after being knocked on its back and held down for 2 years. The tone of the album would prove equally as heavy and kinetic as the one struck by “Born Innocent”, but also more diverse in terms of both lyrical content and songwriting. The virtuosic display put on by guitarist and longtime collaborator Conrado Pesinato and newly recruited keyboardist Alessandro Bertoni alone rival the many incarnations of ALCATRAZZ that have come and gone over the years, and despite several decades of punishment on the road, Bonnet’s powerful pipes are showing zero signs of dysfunction or newly met limitation. Likewise, the diverse assortment of songs that include the fast and vicious opener “Imposter”, the melancholic ode to Bonnet’s struggle with the drink “12 Steps To Heaven”, the dark exploration of human perversion with a biting edge “Uncle John”, and the somber yet beautiful, “Eleanor Rigby” inspired symphonic ballad and elegy “Suzy” culminate in the tip of a highly impressive iceberg chiseled into high sonic art by one of the most experienced sculptors in the business.
Though not backed by the massive media empire that brought rock to the masses during the style’s heyday in the 60s and 70s, “Day Out In Nowhere” stands as another example of the greatness that was the order of the day during said time period. Earlier on Sonic Perspectives associate Jonathan Smith had the privilege to shoot the breeze with one of rock’s original legends, covering all of the aforementioned topics and also what will lay ahead for GRAHAM BONNET BAND and also a new prospective version of ALCATRAZZ featuring Graham collaborating with none other than acclaimed heavy metal virtuoso and former Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis. For more interviews and other daily content, make sure to follow Sonic Perspectives on Facebook, Flipboard and Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified about new interviews and contents we publish on a daily basis.