Iconic, the new band featuring Michael Sweet, Joel Hoekstra, Marco Mendoza, Tommy Aldridge and Nathan James, have released the first track, Nowhere To Run, from their debut album Second Skin.
“This was a very refreshing and unique experience,” Michael Sweet said. “Musically, very different from Stryper, which is, of course, very different from all the other projects I am involved with. This is more of a throwback to the past, and it felt good to do that. It reminded me of how great the music of the past really is.”
Joel Hoekstra was pleased to be back working on riff making, and the chance to work again with Tommy Aldridge was easy to embrace. “The riffs were all very comfortable to me because I wrote most of them 😀,” Hoekstra said. “I definitely have a great comfort level playing with Tommy Aldridge, which has developed over the last eight years with Whitesnake. I’ve also co-written with Nathan, Michael, and Alessandro in the past, so everything felt very natural despite this being a ‘new’ band.”
Michael Sweet was keen to follow a similar process as he did with George Lynch on the Sweet and Lynch records. “Michael asked me to write riffs without an arrangement, and then he arranged them with what he had written,” Hoekstra says. “I wrote melodic/hard rock riffs as that was the vibe we had discussed, and then all the solo parts had more to do with trying to complement Nathan’s vocal melodies and, of course, add a bit of fire.”
“Once the songs were arranged,” Michael Sweet said, “I booked a studio and recorded my guitar parts, which is always the funnest part for me. I’m not sure why, but I guess because I’m a guitar player first and foremost, and it’s just one of the most creative and fun parts of the process for me. To be able to get the right tone and play the right parts and hear it all come together is very rewarding.”
Iconic was born from an idea conceived by Serafino Perugino, President and Head of A&R for Frontiers. He wanted to surround the talents of powerhouse vocalist Nathan James with established musicians from the rock and Metal world to play a musical style in the vein of classic ’80s hard rock.
“I am on an album with so many of my heroes,” Nathan James says, “and it feels amazing, to be honest. I was lucky enough to be involved in the writing of a couple of songs, but genuinely everything I heard from the guys, I knew I could do it justice. I also feel that the guys wrote stuff that suited my voice perfectly. These are not only great musicians. They are great songwriters.”
Perugino immediately thought of Michael Sweet and Joel Hoekstra for the guitars since they had been kicking around the idea of working together for a few years. Plus, Nathan and Joel were friends from their time in Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Sweet had become a fan of Nathan’s vocals after hearing Inglorious. A powerhouse rhythm section of Marco Mendoza and Tommy Aldridge seemed the natural fit.
“It was a blast playing some fresh, new material,” Tommy Aldridge said. “Rehearsing, trying out parts virtually was not as much fun as doing it live, but considering the global circumstances, I’ll take it. I just try to create a supportive environment for all involved while having fun in the process. It was easy to do as these songs really play themselves. It was a true labour of love, so very little work at the end of the day.”
“I practised the songs a lot beforehand,” James says, “and then I recorded all my vocals at an amazing studio in only four-afternoon sessions. I wanted to make sure it sounded like me and that my vocals had the precision that I’m so used to hearing from my vocal heroes, whom many of the guys in the band have played with.
“And, of course, I was very aware that I would be on songs with the vocal master that is Michael Sweet. I felt the pressure for sure, but I just did what I felt worked, and I’m so happy with the final result.”
Second Skin is released through Frontiers Music srl on 17 June 2022. Pre-orders are available from orcd.co/secondskin
1. Run (As Fast As You Can)
2. Ready For Your Love
3. Second Skin
4. All I Need
5. Nowhere To Run
6. Worlds Apart
7. All About
8. This Way
9. Let You Go
10. It Ain’t Over
11. Enough Of Your Love
Nathan James – Vocals
Michael Sweet – Guitars, Vocals
Joel Hoekstra – Guitars
Marco Mendoza – Bass
Tommy Aldridge – Drums
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Produced by: Michael Sweet & Alessandro Del Vecchio
Mixed & Mastered by: Alessandro Del Vecchio
Executive Producer / A&R: Serafino Perugino