06/ 2003

... Sometimes It Works - Sometimes It Doesn't, But That All Part Of The Fun!

Full-time John Halliwell swings the axe for the Brit-rockers TEN. The fact that he can, however, even more, as "only" to play the second guitar at his main band, he proves with his own band ENZIGN und their great debut "Cast The First Stone". I had the great plesure to put some questions on the guitarist and songwriter. However, read yourself what the strings artist knows to tell.

S: To date you were known to most people "only" as the second guitarist of the UK-rock band TEN. How is feeling with a own band?

JH: Yeah it's great to finally have some product out that's all my own work. I've always done my own material and I record most weekends with my own band just for fun, it keeps me busy when I'm not working with TEN.

S: Could you tell to us something about the history of the origin of ENZIGN?

JH: Some years ago I had a band with Ged Rylands (ex-TEN keyboards) who introduced me to Mark Summer (vocals ENZIGN), we instantly formed a very productive song writing partnership. Over the last few years we have written and recorded some 30 or so songs. Mark brought in Matt Pearce who did the drums on the album. I played all the guitars and bass, Mark did all the vocals and backing vocals. So up to now it has been a studio project.

S: Is ENZIGN only a project or is it a real band?

JH: ENZIGN is a real band and we've just started rehearsals to go out and play the material. I'll be using extra musicians. Mark was originally going to play bass, but we felt that would restrict him as a performer so now he'll probably play some occasional guitar parts. I'll also be using another guitarist to play the rhythm parts.

S: What is the secrete behind name of band?

JH: No secret really. It was a word that we used in one of our songs that I liked the sound of. An Ensign is a banner or flag used to convey a message or order, usually in a battle situation, which I likened to going on stage with a band. I changed the 'S' to a 'Z' because it sound more 'rock' that way.

S: With Mark Summer you have a relatively unknown singer in the band. What
has he done up to now?

JH: Mark has played in many bands in and around my local area and as I've said before he was in a band with Ged Rylands. He's a raw talent and great songwriter and it was great to give him a chance to show what he can do. I didn't want to use a named singer just to do my songs, I wanted more of a band thing. Mark and I work well together and that what's important.

S: Would you agree with me if I said that the music of ENZIGN is influenced by TEN?

JH: Y'know I've been a member of Ten for some seven years now and it's in my blood. If some of my material has a TEN feel to it then I think that's only natural. I'm proud to be in TEN and I love Gary's music and song writing. My influences are very similar to Gary's. But tracks like 'Holding a Gun', 'The One', and '6th Sense' are in my opinion very different to TEN. I like all kinds of rock music from AOR to Thrash and try to show it in my music.

S: Do you have any favourites on "Cast The First Stone" and why?

JH: As I said before Mark and I write all the time, so usually your favorite song is the one you're working on at the time, but looking back I'm very happy the way 'Cast The First Stone' turned out. It's very difficult to keep the listener entertained for some 8 minutes or so but with that song it seemed to work. 'Lazarus' is a personal favorite of mine because of its lyrical content, I lost both my father and brother in the same year and that song is about what I felt and thought after such traumatic events. '6th Sense' was fun and virtually wrote it's self, it shows I think our darker influences.

S: Who are the songwriters in ENZIGN and how goes song writing in the band?

JH: Myself and Mark are the songwriters, sometimes I'll bring in a completed song and Mark will stamp his identity on it change the melody or lyric etc. Other times Mark will have a song and I'll put the music to it and arrange it. We have no set pattern or egos involved; we just write and produce what we like to hear.

John Halliwell
S: Your guitar playing on the album is pretty amazing. It seems you've enjoyed to step off the shade of a guitar-player like Vinny Burns!

JH: I'm glad you like my playing, but I like to think of myself as an all-round musician, not just a lead guitarist. I'm just as happy playing rhythm guitar or bass as I am playing solos. I do what I think is necessary for the song. The guitar playing for me is just a part of the overall picture. I was proud
to play on stage alongside Vinny, he is one of the best guitarist I've ever seen and he didn't need any help from me, he was well established in TEN before I joined. My job was to play rhythm guitar, which I was and still am very happy to do.

S: Do you have any touring plans for ENZIGN?

JH: Yes, as I've said before we've just started to rehearse a set and when we're ready and the gigs are available we'll be out there.

S: Which aim pursue with your debut?

JH: I suppose the aim most musicians have who are part of a bigger project, which is: - "Am I good enough to do it all myself? e.g. writing, playing, engineering, producing etc., to me that was the challenge, and, of course to have a good time. There is nothing better than sitting back and listening to your very own work. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't but that all part of the fun, being creative.

S: What are your next projects? I've heard you are currently working on the new TEN album and you were involved on GARY HUGHES' new solo-project, as well...

JH: I've just finished the guitars on the 'Once and Future King Project' (a concept album in 2 parts, written by Gary Hughes based around the legend of King Arthur) which is due out soon. I'll be starting the next TEN studio album plus we'll be recording an acoustic album of classic TEN tracks. Between all that I'll continue writing and recording my own material ready for the follow-up to 'Cast the First Stone.'

S: Is there something else what you would like to tell our readers?

JH: Yes, a big, big thank you to all the loyal TEN fans out there for supporting us over the last 8 years or so. I'll hopefully see you on tour later this year in support of the next TEN release.

01. Cast The First Stone
02. The 6th Sense
03. Midnight
04. I Had To Fall
05. Dangerous In Daylight
06. Close The Door
07. Holding The Gun
08. Keepers Of The Kingdom
09. Lazarus
10. The One
11. Endless Seas

"Cast The First Stone" (2003 / Z Records/ Piont Music)


"Cast The First Stone" (2003)

John Halliwell with TEN
"The Name Of The Rose" (1996)
"The Robe" (1997)
"Never Say Goodbye" (1998)
"Spellbound" (1999)
"The Best Of Ten" (Japan only/ 1999)
"Babylon" (2000)
"Far Beyond The World" (20013)

for more information www.zrecords.net


Thanks to Sven @ MusicConsult

Last Update: Sunday, 15. June 2003
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