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03 Jul 2016

C.O.P. UK

They showed up nearly ten years ago as Crimes Of Passion with a great debut album and then toured with big bands, signed to UDR, released their sophomore studio effort and changed their name to C.O.P. UK. Yiannis Dolas lost them for ages, didn’t realize they’d put an amazing record out, “No Place For Heaven”, which passed over at record stores. Then he found out what happened! So, here’s Dale Radcliffe, the band’s frontman, to answer all his questions!

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Rockpages.gr: First of all, I have to say that I really lost you guys after the first album, which I enjoyed very much, and I didn't know what happened with the band. I found out that you've changed your name... well not exactly!

Dale Radcliffe: Yeah, a few people had said that, they thought we've gone off the radar, but it was a decision a bit above our heads really. The management, ICS, who run Wacken Open Air Festival wanted a shortened name with more punch. They didn't like for some reason the name "Crimes Of Passion", although we all loved it, we always liked the name... so various names were suggested and we thought of other names, but nothing is coming up, so Leo our manager suggested "C.O.P." and we started working out some logos and we added the "UK" so it was clear that we come from the United Kingdom... and he started sending logos and we thought that it looked OK as "C.O.P. UK" and technically we are still "Crimes Of Passion", so we embraced that really, but a few people said exactly the same as you: "thought you disappeared, never thought that C.O.P. UK was Crimes Of Passion".

Rockpages.gr: How did you come up with so catchy melodies, almost in every song?

Dale Radcliffe: Ahh, a little help from Sascha (ed Paeth)... I have to be honest about it, because we had the original song ideas which we worked on in the rehearsal room as a band and then we roughly recorded these and sent them to Sascha but all along what the managemet wanted from us was not to be as heavy as the previous album, not too much power metal and they wanted more commercial, chartable, mainstream songs. So, Sascha pretty much kept the choruses that we came up with and we sort of re-wrote with Sascha some of the bits in between. Sascha's got a great ear for melody anyway, so he told us what to keep, what to re-work and he also threw in some of his ideas also. At the end of it I think that it worked really well with everybody's different ideas and we came out with a really catchy album thanks to Sascha extracting from us what we didn't realize would be the best bits of the song and also presenting us his own ideas.

Rockpages.gr: Also, I have to say, although I haven't yet listened to the second album to compare, that judging from the first album the production on this one is amazing...

Dale Radcliffe: Well, the production is also amazing on the second album with Charlie Bauerfeind... in our very first album, the first "Crimes Of Passion" album it was raw, kind of a glorified demo really, it was the first album from a new band with limited budget and so on. But, as we divulged more and got more involved with sort of higher caliber producers like Charlie... I think you'd be impressed with the second album also, it's great, it's a really cool album and then obviously this one produced by Sascha. So, the second and third album by Crimes Of Passion were produced by top guys in their genre.

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Rockpages.gr: Also, there is also some modern stuff in the album. How do you combine your more classic and traditional influences with the modern stuff?

Dale Radcliffe: Well, I am glad you said that, because that's exactly the appeal we want to give because we are all massive fans of all the groups, all the classics from Maiden, Dio, Saxon right through Ratt, Dokken, Winger and this kind of thing. Myself I was a big fan of the new metal thing, I liked Linkin Park and all the emo stuff, Funeral For A Friend, Bullet For My Valentine... but more recently we've become fans of Five Finger Death Punch and Avenged Sevenfold and a few people said that in little bits we reminded them of Avenged Sevenfold, or Iron Maiden. Especially in the second album to be honest, but since you pointed out it's evident that we have modern influences as well as the early ones. I think our songs do reflect this, modern touch and classic rock.

Rockpages.gr: Listening to the album someone might get the impression that you are guys are not British. If I didn't know I would have thought that you are Swedish or maybe a German melodic band...

Dale Radcliffe: I think this reflects a little working with Charlie and Sascha on the past two albums. Their style and input of both being German is going to rub off a little on the album, so I totally agree that we’ve certainly got a German influence there. It could make people think exactly that.

Rockpages.gr: Also, the titletrack, “No Place For Heaven” reminded me the good part of the ‘90s. What rockers and metalhaeds didn’t hate of that decade! Can you tell me a bit more about the song and the female vocals?

Dale Radcliffe: Yeah, we wanted in some shape or form a special guest on this album. When this song started developing, Sascha didn’t change a hell of a lot about it from the original concept to be honest, it stayed 75% the way we wanted it, but as it developed a bit more Sascha said that he saw this as a duet. And I sort of said this is similar to Avantasia’s “Sleepwalking”. And as it happens Cloudy (ed Cloudy Yang) was local and Sascha said that she’d be very happy to sing, so he contacted her and that’s how it developed. As easy as that. She was living next to the studio and we did it. I am so happy with it. It sounds great.

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Rockpages.gr: Why did you chose “Catch Me If You Can” as the first single and video from the album?

Dale Radcliffe: Well, that wasn’t our choice really. “Catch Me If You Can” was a song written by Sascha with the aim of having something a bit more pop sounding possibly for the charts as a first single. Because, we all thought that our first single should have been maybe “Kiss Of An Angel”, but that ended up getting released as an EP prior to the album coming out, as a bit of teaser. The manager liked “Catch Me If You Can” and he decided that we should put it out as a single. I think it’s the most poppy song on the album and this is why I think. They wanted something to make a catchy impression straight away and maybe appeal to other fans outside metal.

Rockpages.gr: Also, for this album you have an expanded lineup, how did that work?

Dale Radcliffe:  Ahmm, it works great! We’ve known Henning (ed Henning “Wanna” Wanner, keyboards) for ages since we toured with White Lion. And then obviously we’ve done some shows with Jaded Heart. So, we’ve become good friends with Henning and as things were developing in the studio we started experimenting with keyboards on some of the songs and it was then that the decision was made: we need a keyboard player. It was then when we contacted Henning because we were friends and he had seen us develop as a band over the years. He’s seen that we are hard working and dedicated. He was interested, so we took it from there. He joined and we toured with him, and live it’s superb to have him because he is an excellent backing vocalist. This has given me so much more relief on stage. I can concentrate so much more in being a frontman and doing harmonies with Henning, rather than work twice as hard filling the vocal parts, being the only strong singer in the band. Because, I think we come back in vocals in the past. But, now we are back and with Henning on backing vocals it have given Charles (ed, Charles Staton – guitar) more confidence to do his backing vocals. It’s working fantastic live, he is a true professional, everything about him is professional, he nails the parts, he rarely makes mistakes, he knows the songs better than we do. Everything works and he is a great guy, he is a fun guy, so it works fantastic to tour with him, it’s a pleasure to have him around.      

Rockpages.gr: Does he also take lead vocals in the beginning of “Kiss Of An Angel”?

Dale Radcliffe: No! It’s all me! All the lead vocals in the album are mine, there are some backing vocals from Herbie (ed, Herbie Langhans (Sinbreed, Beyond the Bridge, ex-Seventh Avenue) who also works with Avantasia, and of course there are Cloudy’s lead vocals on the album’s title track. Again, Sascha was interested on how different my voice can sound, that was his comment also, he said that I sound like two different singers. ]

Rockpages.gr: Listening to “Kiss Of An Angel” made me think that it sounds like a Tommy Shaw – Jack Blades collaboration, plus listening to your debut and the latest one raises the question what are your influences?

Dale Radcliffe: Well, we’ve all got a mutual love of things like Avenged Sevenfold… difficult to say, except Andy (ed, Andrew Mewse) the new guitarist, who is more a fan to the Motley Crue side of rock’n’roll. The glammy side. We haven’t written with Andy yet, we’ll do on the fourth album where he is going to be heavily involved in writing. So, I am interested to see his influence in this, with him being more rock’n’roll influenced guitarist as opposed to a metal fan. But, apart from that Avenged Sevenfold is mutual, if you listen to the second album, you will hear a very strong melody that could have come from an album of theirs and a lot of people had said that. But, on our third album we’ve also got Sascha’s influence, so hopefully on our fourth album we will work similarly to the third.

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Rockpages.gr: Have you already started working on your new album?

Dale Radcliffe: Literally yeah, this week. We were meeting the other day on the rehearsal room where Charles was going to present us some new guitar riffs and Andy was going to show us some of his ideas, so that was our first meeting to see what we could work as choruses and verses giving me the chance to see how I could start working on writing some melody lines. Also, Henning also brought some ideas to the table. Again this brings another dimension to the table, another influence.

Rockpages.gr: What would you say that was you inspiration while you were writing the album. In what sort of mood were you in when you were writing the songs?   

Dale Radcliffe: Ahhm, I think very similar to every other album that I’ve written from my perspective although a few things changed in the studio with Sascha thinking some of the lines that I wrote don’t transpose too well as a song line. So, some lines were changed because they sounded better. Aside from that I tend to write kind of a deeper meaning is obvious, so somebody reading it will release it’s a deep song and it would mean something to them, but most likely the meaning of the song will not be what they think it would be. I like my songs to have a deep hidden message but to appeal to somebody else. So, somebody can read it and think: “I know what this is about”, but really they don’t. Most subjects I pick on are more spiritually related. Afterlife… this kind of thing.

Rockpages.gr:  Actually, I always wanted to ask you about one of the best songs on your first album, “The Me I Lost”, so can you tell me a bit about that?

Dale Radcliffe: Yeah! It was a good tune, a great song, I like that as well. That’s about finding yourself again, something clicking in your life and you find yourself. Whether it would be depression, or no focus on a career, anything really, and then something clicks and you find yourself again. That’s what this song is about.

Rockpages.gr: What would you say about the melodic rock sound in the UK nowadays? I am asking you this because I recently found out that Firefest was cancelled this year as well, so it’s two years that is not happening, on the other hand there is Hard Rock Hell in Wales every year. So, what’s the deal with melodic hard rock in Britain?

Dale Radcliffe: I think people are into it. It is not as mainstream or advertised as much as other bands and different genres of metal… but, I think for the likes of myself and bands like Eclipse and bands like this as well in that kind of scene it’s all there if you want it. And if you are in the loop of people that go to these shows you will always find out about it. So, I think it’s still here alive and kicking and if you are into melodic metal, or melodic rock you still get to know about these shows and it’s still a buzzing scene to be honest. That’s my opinion anyway, I don’t fail to see adverts on Facebook, or from friends who are going.

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Rockpages.gr: Sheffield is the town that brought us Def Leppard, would you say that you are influenced by them, not just musically, but from what they did, how they became very big and how they survived the ‘90s and the ‘00s of course.

Dale Radcliffe: Absolutely! I mean Def Leppard are part of my classic rock flesh and blood. “Hysteria” was the album that hit me like a ton of bricks when I was a teenager. They are local heroes, a band from Sheffield going to this level. Def Leppard will always be the band to get inspired from, for us being from Sheffield as well, the absolute success story.

Rockpages.gr: You’ve also played and toured with big bands, like Helloween quite recently. What do you get from gigs like that?

Dale Radcliffe: Everything! I mean what you learn doesn’t stop on the stage, it’s everything about touring. Just everything about getting on with people and no matter how big the band, they are all human beings, they all like to drink, to chat… it’s such a learning curve. None of this people are up on their own asses, they are thoroughly nice guys, easy to get on with, they are not intimidating, nice to be around, they are not show-offs, they are not big heads and I think there are lots to be learned from for a band that is up and coming, not to get big headed, always remaining feet-on-the-ground and be nice to everybody around you. Because, the headlining band creates such a nice atmosphere to the opening band and the main support and so on. So, everything from stage craft to conduct in the dressing room, on the tour bus… you just learn a bit about everything. No matter how big these bands get it’s very important that they don’t become assholes. And then everybody gets on and it doesn’t seem like a tour. Every minute is an absolute pleasure and that’s how it was with the Helloween tour, with the Rage guys and that’s exactly how Biff was with us on the Saxon tour, the Anvil tour and so on. I don’t think we ever tour with anyone who pissed us off and vice versa. No matter what happens to your band there is no excuse in not being a nice guy and enjoying everything about it, being nice to everybody around you. We are privileged to call some of these guys friends…

Rockpages.gr: Some of the bands you mentioned earlier, Avantasia and Eclipse, both were nominees to represent their countries in this year’s Eurovision contest. Would you be interested to do so for England?

Dale Radcliffe: Of course! I mean I’ve gone beyond that age where you want to stick in a certain genre because you think it’s cool and you don’t want to get outside of that genre. A catchy song is a catchy song. As I’ve got older I think my music horizons have broadened and if somebody wanted to pick a song from “No Place For Heaven” as England’s entry I wouldn’t say no. hahaha! It’s all publicity!

Rockpages.gr: In your website I’ve noticed that you mention about the band that: “it’s not a matter of if, but when”, can you comment on that?

Dale Radcliffe: Hehe! Well, my first comment about this comments is I hope that this comment is correct! With the management, the label and the backing that we’ve got, the song writing and the production that we’ve got now, I think we have to screw up big time for it to not work. So, that’s behind that comment really.

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