Rolling on through 2020, here are a few words from Cruel Juno’s drummer and producer Lowell Parker…
I’m from Texas. The rest of the guys are kick-ass pros from Europe that I’ve conned into recording with me. (Actually, I asked them very nicely.)
How did you meet?
I met some of them when they would come through on tour. I ended up spending a whole day with Doro’s band, and that’s how I met Luca Princiotta, who plays guitar on most of my tracks. I’m a big Fabio Lione fan, and wanted to see if he’d do a song – and so for him, I bought a VIP ticket when he came through with Angra. Instead of taking selfies, I spent my two minutes telling him about my project. It was a wild plan, but it worked! Other people I sought out through Facebook because I loved their music. I found Gandolfo Ferro that way – he sings on most of my tracks.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Cruel Juno has been going for a little over a year. I originally envisioned it as my “Avantasia” – mostly because I thought that people would only want to do one song: “OK, I’ll do it. But just this once, as a favour – because I’m a nice guy.” That sort of thing. And so I thought I’d have to find different musicians for every song. I didn’t really expect them to say, “Hey, that was great – send me another one!” which has been the general reaction. As a result, I have a fairly stable group of people I can record with. It’s amazing – and a little bit scary – because these guys are such high calibre.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Gandolfo’s band Heimdall released a concept album called Aeneid – which is based on the epic poem by Virgil. The name Cruel Juno is a direct reference to the Aeneid, and is also meant to honour Gandolfo and Luca being from Italy/Sicily.
What are your influences?
I taught myself drums by trying to play along to Judas Priest records. British Steel was pretty manageable for an aspiring metalhead, and I spent ages playing along to that record. When I’m writing a song and working on the guitar parts, I think, “What would Glenn Tipton play?” The first Cruel Juno song I wrote was “Swallow My Medicine,” and I sequenced a guitar solo for the demo I made. The whole time working on that solo, I tried to honor Glenn’s style of playing. When Luca recorded the real guitars for the song, he of course made the solo much better, but he kept the overall structure and style just as I had written it, and I really think you can hear the Judas Priest in that solo. I’m very proud of that first effort.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Cruel Juno is straight up full-throttle hard rock. Loud at any volume! Drum-wise I play single bass, and it was a very purposeful decision. I want the songs to sound wild through the music itself, not because I’m just slamming double bass underneath it. I want the song itself to sound like a car swerving down a narrow road.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
You bet! When I started out, I wanted to tie all of our songs together, not as a concept album, but using a general theme. I mentioned our first song, “Swallow My Medicine.” It had an overall Jekyll/Hyde feel, so I decided that each song would represent a classic monster: Jekyll/Hyde, Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy. The monster theme also provided a great way to have quality music videos. I’d edit old monster movies and set them to our music.
They’re fun to watch, and it’s really the only affordable option when musicians are spread all over the world. Although for the new mummy single “Wound Too Tight” released today (Friday, December 13), there was really not enough footage of mummies in any old mummy movie, so I had to shoot my own video. I bought a spandex bodysuit mummy costume and filmed myself in front of a tomb backdrop. It was all going OK until the zipper broke midway through the take. Ever worn a spandex bodysuit? Let me tell you a secret: They’re just like Cinderella. You have until the twelfth stroke of the clock to get home before you’re naked, because those suits will literally just peel off your body once the zipper fails. The suit was ruined, so I had to reuse the first half of the take I’d filmed, making the mummy video I filmed genuine B-Movie material. Rock and Roll!
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
It would be extremely difficult to play shows with the musicians I record with. Not only are we in different countries and continents, we are all involved in separate projects. That doesn’t diminish the interest, though. I’ve encouraged Gandolfo to perform the songs with his band in Sicily. I’d love to watch that via live feed!
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
In a previous band, I had a gig where there was no stage. Four really big guys were waiting outside when we arrived to set up. They said, “Hey, can we be your security tonight? We’ll stand in front of you and protect you. We don’t need any money or anything. It’s just fun.” So we agreed. That night, the place packs out and these guys are standing just in front of us to provide a barrier between us and the crowd. But I’m still thinking, “We’ve never had security. Do we really need these guys?!” And then we start playing, and I look up over my drums, and I see bodies flying toward us over the crowd, and these big dudes are catching them and throwing them back into the crowd! It was the most insane crowd-surfing mosh pit I’d ever seen, and all night these guys are catching people and throwing them back. Had they not been there, our set would have ended in the first song, because our gear would have been destroyed!
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
I play a Premier Genista. It’s 75th Anniversary kit from ’97, one of the true Made In England Premier kits at the height of their years. Listen to it on “Wound Too Tight” especially – because that’s where I really perfected my recording process. My mixing engineer did very minimal processing, and the drums just sound huge. I play Sabian Crescent Element cymbals, and use custom sticks from the London Drumstick Company.
What are your plans for 2020?
Our first EP, Playing With Monsters, will be released January 10! It will be available online pretty much everywhere – Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, Apple, etc. Videos are on Facebook and YouTube. And I’m currently pressing a very limited number of CDs – only 50. I’ll likely put the CDs on Reverb.com, but people can email me at to get one, too. I’ve got handwritten lyrics and the drumsticks used on each song for anyone who likes that sort of thing.
New music is on the way! I am collaborating with Jasio Kulakowski (Kobra and the Lotus) on a new song as we speak. Drums are finished, and he and I will decide whether we need to bring in more musicians to finish it. I need to record drums for another song that Luca wrote, and there are several others in the works. We already have enough material for another EP. I guess we could have waited and put it all together as a full album, but it’s taken a year to get these 4 songs done, and I thought it best to go ahead and release them as an EP.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
The only way we could realistically do a live show would be if we opened for a band where some of the musicians I record with were already on the bill. For instance, if we opened for Doro – since Luca plays for Doro. But he’d be stuck with a double set. I don’t think that would ever happen, but I think it’s the only way it could happen. Setting realism aside, I recently went to see Kemelot so that I could meet Oliver Palotai (their keyboardist) who plays on my newest song “Wound Too Tight”. I did not pay any attention to who else was on the bill, because my whole purpose for going was really to shake Oliver’s hand and thank him for working with me. But as I was walking in, Battle Beast was playing, and they were amazing. I had heard their music before, but seeing them live really took me from being a listener to being a fan. They put on such a great show. They really gave their all. I’d open for them any day!