Interview with Keith St. John of Rock Band Burning Rain

by: Carox Rox
Carox: I’d like to know a little bit about how you formed this partnership with Doug Aldrich.
Keith: We met in around 1999. We both had a mutual bandmate, a bass player by the name of Ian Mayo who was in the band with Doug and also in a band in L.A with me. I guess we were both creative types, Doug and I. Doug was looking to put together a new band for a certain market that he had been involved with for years over in Japan. That was the band Ian was in with him. They were both looking to put together another band with another singer and so Ian asked me to come by. I made demos with Doug and we wrote stuff together. With the first couple of songs we got a deal over there on (Pony Canyon / Z Records). We made a couple of records in a row right around then, 1999, 2000 and 2001. We had a great time, made a few releases, went and toured over there. It was pretty much just the Japanese scene in Japan only then it started to spread in Europe a bit. But we both got real busy for about ten to 12 years and we tried to get together. It took until 2013 to release a new record together and with bringing in our experiences, (Doug with Dio and White Snake, me with Lynch Mob, Montrose, and Nazareth), we made a fresh album. This fourth record Face the Music just released is adding a few more experiences to the pot. We are really excited about this record. The first thing I would really like to say is we are now a real band. What I mean by that is we are going to be able to play live and go out and support this record.
Carox: Why is the band called Burning Rain?
Keith: I don’t know if there is an exact answer to that. When we were tossing band names about way back in the Pony Canyon days, I wrote a whole bunch of names down and I have always been a typical singer/wordsmith guy so you will find a lot of terms in the songs that come across as having double or even triple entendres. Burning Rain is obviously fire and water and ying and yang that can mean a lot of things to people. It resonated with Doug and he said “I really like that one, man”.
Carox: I like it too. What is lovely about Burning Rain is that you will bring the music out on tour. Did all the current band members work on this latest album?
Keith:  Yes, we got them involved as were tracking the record and it was in a way a hard maneuver for us. I mean we are artists and we are sensitive. It’s not like we are “trying to drop the old girlfriend and just purposely move on to something else”. But it is complicated – our band, seeming like a project because there were so many years since the last one. Now our bands members on the third album are desired, talented musicians playing in other bands, bigger bands and they were busy. It was kind of hard choice but we had to deal with what was on the table. Luckily the perfect guys were around and available and not beholden to anyone. Both Brad Lang (Y&T)bass and Blass Elias (Slaughter) on drums are both super sweet guys, hard workers, easy to get along with and they were our first choice.
Carox: I am very excited to see such dynamic band members all playing in this band. When will you be coming out to play this year?
Keith: In the month of April, Doug and I are going to do an acoustic duo promotion tour. We are going to have people in the media, rock rags and DJs from radio stations. We are going to invite everybody out there to these acoustic gigs and all throughout April, throughout Europe. Europe has a healthy rock n roll ear and I feel is responding well to our record. We really do want to get over there as much as we can and try to get back there with the band in September. We will have a full band at the Milan Frontiers Rock Festival in Italy.
Carox: When will you be coming to the USA?
Keith: We have a few promoters we are working with that know me and Burning Rain over the years. We are working on some of those dates already. The states are big for us. We will be having our CD Release party at Count's Vamp'd in Las Vegas.
Carox: What is one of your favorite songs on the new album?
Keith: Well it is rare that I can say this about a record but I have a certain love affair with every track on the album. We didn’t write it all at the same time. Some of the songs are riffs we developed into songs ten years ago that were still floating around that we may be updated, or now we got a chorus for it. Then it just fell out in the time when the universe meant it to happen. Or we walked in with new stuff that sort of fell out of us in such an organic way and we would listen back to it and say, “Oh my god, just love this the way it is, let’s not touch it and leave it the way it is.” Every song really resonates for me. When we were doing the record one of the songs I could not get out of my head was Lorelei.  It is kind of a slow dirge and I just love that swampy, syrupy guitar part that Doug came up with. It gives me all sorts of imagery. I just feel like I am in a row boat in the middle of a swamp made out of molasses and even though I keep pumping the oars I can’t move. Or you try to walk and your boots are glued to the floor and you can barely take a step, it feels so heavy. Some of the album art work and a lot of my early vibe was Lorelei.
Carox:  Thank you for this interview! Can’t wait to check you guys out! What would you like to say to your fans?
Keith:  First of all to the fans that have known about Burning Rain from the beginning, thank you for sticking with us for so long. If you like what we do, I promise you we are doing our best this time to really come to your town and play everywhere and anywhere and really get this music in your face. That is our intention and we will get it done! My message is “WE WILL BE THERE MAN!”
Watch the video for "Midnight Train":

BURNING RAIN, a hard rock band founded by guitarist extraordinaire Doug Aldrich (REVOLUTION SAINTS, THE DEAD DAISIES, EX-WHITESNAKE, DIO)and vocalist Keith St. John (MONTROSE, KINGDOM COME), are pleased to announce the release of their fourth studio album, Face the Music, on March 22nd via Frontiers Music SRL.

When asked why the band chose to release "Midnight Train" as the first single, Aldrich explained, "it's been some time since the last BR record, and we wanted to come out swinging!”Midnight Train" encompasses the sound of BURNING RAIN. It sounds fresh and heavy. I thought it was a cool lead off track to reintroduce the band. People normally have different ideas about favorite songs and there are a number of tracks that could have been first, but we just went with 'Midnight Train.'"

 "'Midnight Train's' message, albeit fully ensconced in carnality, is about wanting something so brutally bad when you can't have it," added St. John. "The main character here is basically a deeply tortured soul during all the daytime hours. The phallic likening to the train and its track along with the blackness, the bed of nails, and the cravings of the night are meant to further fortify the extremity of sexual addiction. Doug had all the basic music together including bass, drums, and all when he first played me a demo of the song. I loved it immediately. The first experimental vocal track I scatted out had the basic framework for the chorus, which we both felt had good potential, but the original verse began with a higher, bluesier part that seemed to not quite fit. After I fashioned a new verse with a lower, more growly approach, we both felt it really complimented the chorus and we knew this track was in good standing!"

BURNING RAIN was established in 1998 by guitarist Doug Aldrich and vocalist Keith St. John. After meeting through mutual friends, Aldrich and St. John commenced work on what would eventually become their self-titled debut album. The 1999 record established BURNING RAIN as a hungry yet seasoned group of musicians. Although the album was limited in its release, it did receive rave reviews from fans and critics alike for their take on heavy, blues-y hard rock. The following year, BURNING RAIN released the follow up, "Pleasure To Burn" which showed a matured Aldrich-St John collaboration that gained even higher praise than the first album. 

In 2001, Aldrich joined DIO and later departed in 2003 as he was approached by David Coverdale to join a newly reformed Whitesnake, while St. John joined forces with guitar legend Ronnie Montrose. While still in Whitesnake, Aldrich started working on new BURNING RAIN music, which saw the light of day in 2013 as the album "Epic Obsession". Their third release was again met with enthusiams from fans and critics alike. Aldrich would later leave Whitesnake and join The Dead Daisies and Revolution Saints, which left BURNING RAIN on an extended hiatus. 

Now, finally a new album is ready for release! Face the Music is a blues driven hard rock record which is truly a tour-de-force. With a renewed lineup featuring the amazing Blas Elias (SLAUGHTER) on drums and bassist Brad Lang (Y&T),the album evokes the sound of the classic 70's hard rock scene, but also stays true to the Burning Rain sound.

One thing is for certain, BURNING RAIN has made the wait for new music well worth it.

Burning Rain Lineup:
Doug Aldrich - Guitar
Keith St. John - Vocals
Brad Lang - Bass
Blas Elias - Drums

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