In a world without COVID-19, Australian power house The Neptune Power Federation would have been on tour earlier this year. Since the virus forced everybody to change plans, the tour is postponed, but there are also good news reaching us from Down Under. The Neptune Power Federation announced a four songs comprising EP. The guys took the challenge to cover classics from no less than Rainbow and Queen, two each. MHMB talked to Mike (Inverted CruciFox for getting more insights and here they are.
Markus’ Heavy Music Blog: Hello Mike, thanks for making some time for Markus’ Heavy Music Blog. First question these days is for sure: how are you and how is life as a musician in Australia in this time of COVID-19? Seems like things getting closer to ’normal’ these days.
Mike (Inverted CruciFox): No worries Markus! Yes, normal life is slowly coming back down here but unfortunately live shows in their traditional form still feel a long way away. Some pubs/clubs are doing shows with extremely reduced audiences, and many are struggling financially. We have been lucky to have been spared the worst in general but live music has taken one of the biggest hits.
MHMB: You guys should have been on the road in Europe in June this year with some shows in Germany too. Now, due to the pandemic all shows had to be cancelled. You guys are a live band. Thinking about the show at Markthalle, Hamburg a while ago shows this very clearly, when you managed to drag people from the bar into the main room since your show was fascinating. It must be a really painful thing for you guys to not being able to play on stage right now, I guess.
Mike: The European tour being postponed was a HUGE disappointment. We loved that first tour so much and as you say, the Hell Over Hammaburg day was just really special. We have tried to put that behind us however and re-book the shows for June 2021 – Fingers crossed, all will be well then.
MHMB: Are there already new dates for the shows that had to be cancelled?
Mike: So far we have the following rebooked which is most of the original shows – Hopefully some more dates will follow:
Fri 4 Kassel, Goldgrube
Sat 5 Freak Valley Festival
Sun 6 Luenen, Luekaz
Thur 10 Jena, Kuba
Fri 11 Mts Oldenburg
Sat 12 Hamburg, Stellwerk
Fri 18 Funkenflug Festival
Sat 19 Winterthur, Gaswerk
MHMB: Instead of being on tour The Neptune Power Federation will release an EP in July. It will feature two Rainbow covers and two Queen covers. Was it a spontaneous idea to record this EP?
Mike: We recorded 2 Motörhead covers a while back for a crowdfunding campaign and they were really popular so we thought we’d do some more with different bands! We’re hoping to eventually to release an LP entirely of covers – The ones we have done so far plus a few more.
MHMB: With Rainbow and Queen you have chosen bands with legendary singers and exquisite guitarists. How much of a challenge was it to make these songs work for The Neptune Power Federation?
Mike: Very much so! I think straight away you have to throw out the idea you are going to match them in quality/impact. It’s more a bit of fun to honour these great bands of the past who have been a big influence on us. The songs are basically faithful covers but just done in our style, not trying to hit every note the way they did. We seem to get a good response from our fans with these – I think it’s just a way of sharing some rock and roll camaraderie with them.
MHMB: What do you connect with bands like Rainbow and Queen? Do they mean something special to you, beyond the musical brilliance, and what is the impact of these bands on The Neptune Power Federation and your sound?
Mike: Both are amazing bands – they were both very original and trail blazing in their own way. I think what is really special to me in a TNPF context is they blended a classical approach with raw rock and roll. Some bands who chase the classical sound go too far away from the latter for my taste – I like it when both are present, and what I try to ensure we do. Brian May and Ritchie Blackmore’s are just amazing guitarists. Freddie Mercury and Ronnie James Dio were both incredibly unique and distinctive singers. Their styles are instantly recognisable as their own which is the greatest compliment for any performer. I like to think the same could be said for our very own Imperial Priestess.
MHMB: The vinyl version of the EP will also come in two 7”s. I think it’s a pretty cool idea, esp. for collectors, but I also guess it is more costly to produce. Was it a difficult decision to go for such a package?
Mike: The double 7” was actually our record label Cruz Del Sur’s idea – As a collector myself I jumped at the opportunity. I think most serious fans love this sort of stuff and we are happy to accomodate. There is still the opportunity to buy or stream things digitally but we will always cater to fans who dig vinyl.
MHMB: Mike, you are a graphic designer too and if I’m correct you also did the logo for the Plattenkiste in Hamburg. I think you did the artwork for the records also. Can you describe a bit where the passion for graphics come from and where can we see more of your work?
Mike: Yes, that is all my work! I have been into art from a very young age and have been making a living as a freelance artist most of my adult life. My work has always been heavily influenced by music and the majority of my clients are bands or music related businesses requiring album/tshirt design or animated videos. There are ups and downs being a freelance artist but I can’t imagine doing anything else! You can see my work at www.theartoffox.com
MHMB: Mike, is there something more you would like to share with the metal community?
Mike: The other piece of news I guess is we have started recording our 5th album with a view to having it out when we tour again next year. We’re very excited about it and hope you guys dig it when it arrives!
MHMB: That’s very good news. Thank you for taking some time for Markus’ Heavy Music Blog and I hope to see you guys in Europe as soon a circumstances allow. Thanks.
Mike: Cheers Markus!
Photo 1: Luka Bakota
Photo 2: Stephen Boxchall