I love it when an album just sneaks up on you out of nowhere and winds up being one of your favorites of the year. That’s exactly what happened with ISSA, and her new album Crossfire. I had it for a while, but never got to it. Well, once I pressed PLAY I was instantly hooked, and immediately began bugging Dustin over at Frontiers Music for an interview. Knowing full well I would not stop, (and probably to give his head some peace from me being in it constantly) he managed to get me some time with the lovely lady via Skype. We talked about the cavalcade of guests on the album, touring, and how she keeps that wonderful voice in shape. Check it out:
Amps: It’s tough to come up with melodic rock that doesn’t sound dated, yet you seem to do it with ease. Tell me how the writing went for Crossfire.
ISSA: I worked close with Tom and James Martin (VEGA) so we write a lot of songs together. All these songs were written as demos over the years, really. And usually one of the guys will start with a backing track and we’ll put some lyrics to it and then record it. It’s more of a collection of songs than sitting down to write for this album. I think we just had some wine one night and decided to go back, listen to some songs and see if there’s anything we want to use for this album. So basically we had the whole album done in one night (laughs)! That was a different approach from the earlier albums, but they’re amazing songwriters, these guys. For me it’s easy to catch onto their wave and it brings the best out in me.
Amps: I HAVE to tell you that my son Mini-Amps LOVES this record! We both do, but he goes nuts to it!
ISSA: (Laughing) Ah well, thank you so much, and send my love to him!
Amps: Daniel Palmqvist (XORIGIN), Alessandro Del Vecchio (HARDLINE), Steve Newman (NEWMAN), Robert Sall (WORK OF ART), production from John Greatwood and James Martin (VEGA)…how was it having this who’s who of musicians and producers to work with?
ISSA: I mean, it’s amazing because I’ve had the chance over the years to work with all these amazing people and I seem to bump into them everywhere, and we’ve kept in touch. I think when this album came up, me and James started the album, then we got John involved, we wanted him to engineer and produce the album with us. It’s just amazing to be able to pick up the phone and be able to ask someone, “Would you like to do a bit on this song?” And I think it was important for everyone to be able to put their own stamp on each song. We weren’t trying to say, “Oh you have to play it like this!” or anything. And that makes it all sound better, I think.
Amps: Besides the European festivals what kind of tour are you looking at? Will you do a theater or club run?
ISSA: I’ve got a couple of things coming up. I’m doing a song with Ted Poley (DANGER DANGER) at Frontiers Festival. That’s gonna be fun!! We are talking about doing a UK tour, only a few dates. We’re talking about maybe doing one day in London and one day in Nottingham or Manchester. It’s exciting!
Amps: So what is the U.S., chopped liver?? When are you coming HERE??
ISSA: (Laughing) I want to come!! You know, that would be amazing. I don’t have any specific plans right now. But if I get invited, gosh, I’ll be first on the plane coming over! Plus, I think it’s a great album to perform live. It’s got good songs, catchy songs.
Amps: Like “Crossfire”. That’s one I have to listen to at least six times before I can move on!
ISSA: Oh, well that’s good! It’s a really great song; it’s catchy, and it, like the rest of the album has big choruses. When we started the album I really wanted to have that feel. I wanted the massive backing vocals and a little bit of an older sound. But I think every album you do, you set out with one plan and kind of end up somewhere else. But things just end up kind of taking shape as you go. And I think getting Pete Newdeck (IN FAITH/TAINTED NATION) was amazing as well, with all his backing vocals. It’s a great album; I hope people enjoy it.
Amps: What is your goal with an album like this? Because it seems like you want us all to go out and drive with the top down and get speeding tickets!
ISSA: It’s quite funny because I started this album without telling Frontiers Music about it. I just wanted to do an album that I was a little bit more in control of, I think. And seeing them that I work so close with Tom and James I thought I’d like to put this album together and hopefully Frontiers would love it. I took my time, which is important as well. When you do a lot of albums you don’t get a lot of time to sit back and reflect on what you’ve done. I think we spent almost two years in the production of this album, which is a long time compared to anything else I’ve done. And that gave me the time to just sit and re-do bits and hopefully design it properly for the kind of feel you want from an alum. And it was an amazing feeling when the album was finally done and you could sit and enjoy it. I really wanted a lighthearted album, not too dark or anything like that. I would like to do something darker next album, but on this one I wanted to have the ROXETTE feel to it, you know?
Amps: This is the perfect album for grilling on the back deck. My neighbors will know every word this summer, whether they like it or not.
ISSA: (Laughs) Good! Good!
Amps: What are you listening to at home or in your car?
ISSA: It all depends. Usually I’m on Facebook checking out a lot of bands. But in general I’ve got some put together albums. Mainly I like the new ECLIPSE album (Armageddonize), and of course I love ROXETTE, and HEART is one of my favorites. I really wanna go and see them live, but I haven’t had the chance. DEF LEPPARD is great as well!
Amps: You really reach some vocal heights on “Heartbeat” and “Long Time Coming”. So, what do you do to take care of that voice?
ISSA: Sleep makes all the difference in the world. You have to SLEEP. I know a lot of singers say this, but it’s true. If I’m tired my voice is just crap (laughs), but if I’m good and rested it’s great. So I always make sure I’m well-rested. And I love tea, love the tea!
Amps: What’s your favorite song on Crossfire?
ISSA: “Raintown” is one, obviously because of (FM vocalist) Steve Overland. It was amazing to work with him! We actually weren’t supposed to do that song, we were gonna do “Fight Fire With Rain”, but when we got the mixes back I said, “Hang on- nope, it’s gotta be ‘Raintown'” I love his voice and what a nice and wonderful person he is. If you’ve never seen FM live, you have to go and check them out. “New Horizon” is a really feel-good song for me.
Amps: Say something to all your fans who love you.
ISSA: Awww, I just say thank you so much for all the support. Without the people buying the albums we couldn’t do this music that we’re doing. I’m forever thankful for that. I hope to see as many of you as possible out there. It would be amazing to see all of you and have a drink together!
Man, is ISSA cool, or what? She is an absolute delight to be around, with an infectious laugh and a terrific personality. But at the end of the day she is a talented singer/songwriter who knows what she wants out of her music, and does everything she can to put out the best possible album for her fans. I may have only gotten into her on album number four, but I’m a fan for life now! Crossfire is available everywhere and you all need to go get it RIGHT NOW!!