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DailyBoom Your Old School Music Authority

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Exclusive Interview: Raiding The Rock Vault's Robin McAuley is Ready to 'Shake The World' with Black Swan's Debut Release


(Reb Beach, Robin McAuley, Jeff Pilson & Matt Starr- Black Swan Official)

The last time that I spoke with Robin McAuley he was as busy as ever, performing several nights a week in Raiding The Rock Vault (a popular Vegas all-star production) while touring the world with Michael Schenker's Schenkerfest. He also teased about a (not so) little side gig with Jeff Pilson (Foreigner & Dokken) and Reb Beach (Winger & Whitesnake), plus Matt Starr on drums. That little project has morphed into a thunderous labor of love called Black Swan

Two singles, "Shake The World" and "Big Disaster", have already been met with critical praise, leaving rock fans anxiously awaiting the full release of Shake The World, on February 14th. Black Swan is, perhaps, one of the best supergroups to come out of the last decade or so and not even a critical bout with Ecoli Sepsis could slow their momentum. I had the pleasure of catching up with the always gracious and jovial rocker a few days ago. Check it out below!

(Robin McAuley - Black Swan Official)


Robin McAuley on the illness that could have been deadly:

"Lord. I’ll make it very brief. I didn’t see this one coming. At all. I stay pretty healthy and I was about to leave my home to catch a flight to Florida. The good Catholic boy that I am, I went to church in the morning, we came home and had a family meal, a breakfast, and about an hour before leaving, I got extremely cold. I had no other symptoms, nothing, it was a great morning, and then in about a twenty-minute window my sorry old ass got hooked up to a gurney and taken to intensive care. One of my sons really jumped on it and called 911, thank God or I may not be here talking to you now. 

Everybody was shocked and I really didn’t feel much of it, other than the fact I was really cold. I had a temperature that was over 104 and I was going into shock and had no idea what was going on.  You could have fried an egg on my butt (laughing). The diagnosis I finally got after the long week in the hospital was that I somehow had contracted the E.coli virus and it had turned into a bladder infection. That went into my bloodstream, became sepsis, and it was starting to poison me. I was put in a 12-hour critical stage. I have a lot of tattoos but I hate needles. Go figure. Right (laughing)? I’ve never had so many injections and blood and, oh god, IVs, and you know the other things they strap to you but they were able to treat me with the proper antibiotics. 

It really was a shocker, didn’t see it coming at all! I know what septic means, I’ve heard of septic, but sepsis, not until now (laughing). I was a great believer in the idea that people get sick and then you go, ‘yeah, but there has to be something underlying. you don’t just get sick and you don’t just fall down,’ but, apparently you do (laughing). Thankfully I am now feeling terrific."

Robin on getting better and returning to the stage in mere weeks:

"I was sequestered. The doctor said, ''You might think you are going somewhere, but you’re not going anywhere,’ so I spent weeks on extremely strong antibiotics and strapped to an IV, so I was pretty shitty, to say the least. Even after I got all of this stuff removed from my body, that next week was miserable because I had no strength, at all. The doctors told me that when your body goes into shock, all of these muscles suddenly start to flare up, and my legs were like lead.  

The doctors were very funny and they told me, ‘You know, you’re the youngest person in here. You need to get the hell outta here. and… you know, we have more pending cases than yours,’ I mean, they were very encouraging. They encouraged me constantly to get better and go home. Because they said that as soon as I could get home I would then have an immediate turnaround. They were right and my wife was awesome, my boys were awesome and that kept me going.  The doctors gave me an extra two weeks off and I started back just last week at Raiding the Rock Vault. Now, when you’re offstage for a whole month it’s a little like riding a bicycle, but it’s also in new venue so I had to adjust to that. Right now, this will be my fifth day in and I’m rockin’. Thank god I feel great and I’ve got my legs back, plus my voice is in great shape. Thereby the grace of God, I am very thankful and grateful."
  
(Robin McAuley- Official Facebook)

Robin on getting ready for Schenkerfest:
  
"I have so much to learn for that still (laughing). We leave for Japan the first week of March and Japan is already sold out, it’s amazing. It’s a huge undertaking because Simon Phillips will be a second drummer on this one. Ronnie Romero will be coming in and guesting on vocals. Barry Sparkson was also one of the earlier MSG bass players who will also be coming in as well so it’s a hefty lineup. Then we will leave Japan and we’ll hit the UK and the rest of Europe in April. Then US dates will maybe come at the tail end of the year. I’m waiting for those dates to be confirmed."  

Robin on Black Swan:

"My favorite band of all time, I want to tell you right out the gate, it’s my favorite. Even the artwork is part of excellence. I just love it, I absolutely love the logo. Jeff (Pilson) came to me with this idea. Frontiers had approached me maybe two years ago about wanting to work with me because I was possibly the only guy left (laughing) just kidding. I was so busy with Rock Vault and Schenker at the time. Plus they wanted to put me in with some of their in-house writers and producers, who are fantastic, but I wasn’t ready to just do a record. It wasn’t right. So anyway, Jeff called me about a year ago and we go back a very long way and he said, ‘well how would you feel to write with Reb Beach?’ Well, who wouldn’t want to write with Reb Beach? I met Reb during my Survivor days when he was with Night Ranger for a short spell, so I already knew him. 

Jeff and Reb got together at Jeff’s studio and they had sent me sort of a basic idea for a song just to get the ball rolling. I came into the studio and I had a melody and I had a lyric and it was called ‘Big Disaster’, and Reb just looks at me and goes, ‘For a new project, that is probably not the best name.’ (laughing) and that’s kind of how we started. Nobody was thinking it should be a little MSG, a little Dokken, make it White Snakey. Now, why would you ever want to do that? Why can’t we just be what we are and have what we have as Black Swan?"

Robin on the writing process with Black Swan:

"Jeff went to see Bohemian Rhapsody and sent me a short note at about midnight saying he got home and set up the piano and wrote something called "Divided". It was this amazing chorus and idea for a verse and I thought wow, people will never expect this. It’s an amazing song.  

One of my son’s almost ended up at the Borderline Grill where that massacre in Thousand Oaks took place. I was actually in Poland with Schenker, and I got this text saying he was on his way there, but he got a call to come into work instead. There was this line dancing thing he and his college friends would all do. When we were writing this record, this massacre was weighing heavily on my mind so I had this idea of writing a song around the soldier that comes home from active duty and things are not the same at home as he left. When we think of soldiers we think of men and these are kids. They are kids. Kids with guns and bombs in their hands that are not properly counseled. Unfortunately, it’s a bunch of innocent, beautiful, young kids out at a bar that gets hurt.  

Part of what we’re saying with this Black Swan record will shake the world because things are a big disaster and we are so divided. It’s not a political platform because I don’t know politics, but I know my own mind. I don’t like using music as a soapbox, you know for that purpose, but sometimes if something weighs heavily on your mind and on your heart then it just comes out in the writing. We need to shake things up, we definitely do. You know, we have a voice as we always say and we are supposed to be allowed to use it. Um… But, as long as you put up with it nothing is ever going to change."


(Robin McAuley- Official Facebook)

Robin on the name Black Swan:

"Reb came up with the name Black Swan. We were kicking names around and we had some god-awful names and they all got trashed (laughing). Then Reb says, ‘Well, I like-- I like Black Swan,’ and I’m going, ‘Well, isn’t there a movie and a book?’ (laughing).  Frontiers actually got clearance because there was a big brass school band, The Black Swan-something or other, and so they had to get clearance on the name. They obviously managed to get it, and it fits perfectly, I think. It fits the music and just sort of gels with everything else."  

Robin on how Black Swan is a unique experience for him:

"I’ve recorded a lot of stuff, my name is not a name that rolls off of people’s tongues, but I’ve recorded quite a bit. I will say that of everything I’ve ever had my name on or recorded, I think this is my favorite of everything. I just love the production. It’s real. It’s not processed. It’s exactly like it is in the studio. It’s how we wanted it. And, it was one of my big things like, I just want this to really rock and be powerful. 

Jeff did an absolutely monstrous job of it. His playing is amazing considering he didn’t want to play bass. You know, Reb and I had other ideas about that (laughs). He had all of these great bass players lined up for whatever reason, and as we were writing, he’d be laying down his bass tracks just as a guide, and I went, ‘Yeah, some guide. So, are you going to get a bass player in here and show him everything you just played?’ (laughing). Then, of course, Matt Starr came in and completely put the icing on the cake."

Robin on the possibility of live dates:

(Laughing) It’s the million-dollar, Black Swan question. You know, of course, ideally, with every band, you want to go live. Reb’s schedule is crazy, as is Jeff’s, and then you have Matt and you’re going, ‘How the hell is this ever going to happen?’ So, we’re hoping that a window of opportunity will appear. God, I hope we get to do it. We’ve all agreed, all four of us have agreed, that we’d love to do it."

Robin's thoughts ahead of the Feb. 14th release of the full Shake The World record:

"I’m really happy. I know everybody says that about their record, but I am (laughing). I never thought that at my age, I could actually make something that I could boast about. This is just, I couldn’t be in a better place. I never in my wildest dreams thought that we’d be churning out something of this quality, it’s just great. It’s great. So I’m very happy with it. I hope the listeners are equally as happy and we have a go forward with it. It would be terrific. Not that I need more work, but I love this particular work so much." 



Follow Black Swan on Facebook for more news & updates. Grab your Black Swan merch here. Also, check our Robin's official site & Facebook page for updates on everything that he has going on.