An Interview with Olivier of Sleaze Roxx

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If you’re a fan of Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam, or Hair Metal, then you’re probably a fan of Sleaze Roxx. For nearly 20 years, Sleaze Roxx has been a top-notch, go-to website for all things Hard Rock and Heavy Metal.

It could be concert or album reviews, editorials, and articles- you name it, Sleaze Roxx has got you covered. One of the things I love about Sleaze Roxx is the man running the show (Olivier) has created a space where new writers can be featured and find their voice, and he’s also well known for providing coverage for other sites articles and interviews as well. Sleaze Roxx has provided coverage for many of Vinyl Writer Music’s articles and interviews, and so interviewing the man behind it all seemed only fair.

Today, I’ve got the editor-in-chief of Sleaze Roxx, Olivier, with us for a chat. Among other things, we talk about Olivier’s entryway into music and journalism, how he became involved with Sleaze Roxx and subsequently took the reins, where the site is headed, and a whole lot more.

If you would like to learn more about Sleaze Roxx, I encourage you to head over to their website and follow them going forward on Facebook as well. Enjoy getting to know Olivier. Cheers.

Andrew:
Olivier, I appreciate you taking the time today. How have you been holding up over the last year or so? What have you been up to?

Olivier:
Personally, things are pretty much the same except that I am working from home and my kids seem to be around all the time, especially when they have to do their schooling online. Since the COVID pandemic shutdowns in mid-March of last year, my kids have done more schooling online than in person so that has been a major change in our household. I haven’t seen a concert since Geoff Tate’s tour stop in Buffalo, New York back at the end of February 2020 — which is more than a year ago — so that’s been rather shitty. Considering that I saw 74 live performances in 2018 and 47 in 2019, I would say that’s a big change for me. I would have never predicted that simply getting out of the house and going for a drive to do a mundane task would suddenly become a potential highlight for my day. [Laughs].

For Sleaze Roxx, it’s probably business as usual except for a few things, such as there are obviously almost no real concerts to review and very few tours to announce. I am not a big fan of live streams, and so far, only myself and one other Sleaze Roxx writer have bothered writing a “concert” review based on a live stream show. A few of the Sleaze Roxx writers/reviewers seem to have disappeared — hopefully not forever — due to the lack of concerts to cover. [Laughs]. There also seem to be many more artists that are available for interviews. Finally, there are a few artists that Sleaze Roxx likes to cover that seem to have disappeared or are keeping a very low profile, such as The Wild! and Airbourne.

Andrew:
Before we dive into your involvement with Sleaze Roxx, let’s go back a bit. What first got you hooked on music?

Olivier:
I discovered music just when Michael Jackson’s Thriller came out so that was the first album that I ever got. I believe that my first cassette was Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man. I still love those two albums. After about a year of listening to Top-40 music, everything seemed to change when I saw Van Halen’s video for their single “Jump.” From then on, it was a really fun journey discovering all these great Hard Rock/Heavy Metal bands including most of those bands’ prior releases. The first “Hard Rock/Heavy Metal” cassettes that I ended up getting were Van Halen’s 1984, Ratt’s Out of The Cellar, Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry, and Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil.

Andrew:
Where did your writing and journalism come from? Who were some of your early influences?

Olivier:
I don’t consider myself a journalist although I suppose that’s what my job description might be when conducting interviews for Sleaze Roxx. I also don’t really consider myself a “writer.” If I had to describe my role within Sleaze Roxx, I would describe it more as the editor-in-chief, and before I took over the reins of the website, I would have described myself as a “reviewer.” So I don’t have any influences that come immediately to mind when it comes to writing and/or journalism. That being said, if I had to pick one influence, it would actually be Sleaze Roxx’s founder Skid. I liked his writing style and always enjoyed reading his reviews. Funny enough, I think that many of the other Sleaze Roxx writers are way better writers than I am.

A photo of Diemonds, taken by Olivier in September 2012 (which was his first interview).

Andrew:
You’ve been running Sleaze Roxx for some time now. Take me through the initial founding and formation of the website. What led you to dive into the world of music journalism?

Olivier:
Well, Sleaze Roxx was founded by a Canadian named Skid way back in May 2002, so all the credit should go to him in that regard. I personally discovered the website around 2006, and it was easily my favorite website from then on. Eventually, I ended up contributing a concert review based on an Airbourne show that I caught in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, back in 2010. It took me about a year and a half to write something else for the website. I am not sure what happened there. [Laughs]. But I would say by mid-2012, I started writing CD reviews for the website on a semi-regular basis. My first interview was with the band Diemonds in September 2012. I told them that I would be taking some photos. They might have thought that it would be a full-blown photoshoot, but here I was with a tiny camera and nothing else. [Laughs]. They were good sports about it, and Diemonds guitarist C.C. Diemond ended up working on at least one of the photos, and one of them came out pretty cool at the end! Given that this was the first interview that I have ever done, I still remember many aspects of the interview quite vividly.

As I started contributing more and more to the Sleaze Roxx website, little did I know that the Sleaze Roxx founder and editor Skid was pretty tired of doing it. So by the time that Skid decided to shut things down, I was contributing quite a bit, including likely about half of the CD reviews, most of the concert reviews, and a few news articles. I even did draft write-ups for a few of the albums on the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2013. As an example, there were 29 concert reviews posted on Sleaze Roxx in 2014, and 27 of those were ones that I had written. Eventually, Skid gave me the bad news that he was going to stop running the website. After trying to no avail to convince Skid to continue, I remember that a bunch of us were at Sleaze Roxx writer Mark Hovarth’s house before going to see a Steel Panther concert on May 22, 2015 when Mark suggested that I might end up running the website. Eventually, that’s exactly what happened although I had to get a brand new website created since I knew nothing about HTML coding, which is how the old website was running. The new Sleaze Roxx website ended up launching on July 10, 2015. As an interesting tidbit, there were maybe five or six of us at Mark Hovarth’s house on May 22, 2015 and four of us became or continue to be regular contributors to the Sleaze Roxx website. The other two that ended up contributing once the new Sleaze Roxx website was up and running were Mark Gregory and Eduardo.

Andrew:
Initially, what were your goals for Sleaze Roxx? How have they changed and progressed as you’ve gone along?

Olivier:
My goal once I took over the reins of the Sleaze Roxx website was to get it back to its glory days in terms of productivity, meaning the number of postings on a yearly basis. From 2008 to 2010, my predecessor Skid posted over 1,400 News articles for each of those years. However, there was a steady decline after that. From 2016 to 2020, I have posted at least 1,395 News articles each year, and there has also been an increase in the number of CD reviews, concert reviews, and interviews. Luckily for me, many Sleaze Roxx writers — new and old — stepped up as well. So I think that I have accomplished my initial goals, and I ended up “beating” the previous seemingly unattainable records that were set by my predecessor Skid, including most news articles posted in one month and one year. As far as my future goals for Sleaze Roxx are concerned, I haven’t really thought about it. I’ll continue running the Sleaze Roxx site as long as I am having fun and feeling fulfilled while doing so.

Andrew:
Sleaze Roxx is very well known for its Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Glam, and Hair Metal coverage. What was it about those genres that lead to them being your main focus?

Olivier:
When I took over the reins of the Sleaze Roxx website, my goals were to continue covering the same type of bands that the website had catered to for all those prior years. I think that Skid and I have similar tastes in music. The bottom line is that at this point, Sleaze Roxx is covering the genres of music that I like and that I think fit into Sleaze Roxx’s musical scope. As an example, I don’t like bands such as Korn, Disturbed, or System of A Down, so don’t expect to ever see those bands on the Sleaze Roxx website. [Laughs].

Andrew:
In your time running Sleaze Roxx, you’ve featured so many incredible artists for articles and interviews. Looking back, what are some of your fondest and proudest moments?

Olivier:
When I first started doing interviews for Sleaze Roxx, I made a point of interviewing many of the newer bands in my neck of the woods, including Diemonds, Last Bullet, Revolution, Reverse Grip, and Midnight Malice. Funny enough, none of those bands are around anymore except for Diemonds, and even they have been relatively inactive during the last couple of years. In terms of my favorite interviews, I always mention my favorite that I have done for the year in the Sleaze Roxx Writers’ Top Five Albums of the Year, which gets posted in mid-January ever since 2016.

My favorite all-time interview that I did would be the one with Wolfchild drummer Tomi Nousianen-Gunnar in February 2015, where he shed some light on what led to the demise of the band as well as the publicly untold story of the last moments of Wolfchild bassist and founder Jaska Koivusilta who sadly committed suicide back in 2007. Wolfchild’s self-titled debut album remains one of my all-time favorite albums. It’s a no-bullshit Rock ‘N’ Roll record. The singer Kim Hogberg’s voice is kind of a take it or leave it type of voice, but I really love it and can’t get enough of that record.

Another favorite interview of mine is the first time that I interviewed Masterplan founder and former Helloween guitarist Roland Grapow in 2016, where he provided his thoughts on many of the albums that he had made. I also have to mention the recent interview that I did with WildSide drummer Jim Darby where he broke his silence about various things concerning the band’s history. That was a really cool interview and one that occurred very quickly. He reached out to me via e-mail one afternoon, and we did the interview later that evening. I love doing concert reviews of Rock festivals such as the M3 Rock Festival, and I have covered a few others such as Rock n Skull in 2016 and Rocklanta in 2019. I also take pride in having been able to continue the legacy of the Sleaze Roxx website.

Andrew:
Many people have said that “print journalism is dead,” but I think both you and I would beg to differ. Why is it important to you that we keep the medium alive and give the information to the people in the old school manner that we do?

Olivier:
Yeah. I definitely beg to differ. [Laughs]. I find reading to be much quicker than having to listen to a radio show or podcast. I just don’t have time to listen to one podcast interview after another, but I can read or skim a printed interview very quickly and focus on the parts of the interview that I find interesting. Time is definitely at a premium for me, so print journalism is the way to go. Given that I have very little interest and time to listen to a podcast interview for let’s say one hour just to hear something that might really interest me for five minutes, I assume that there are many other people that must feel the same way.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Cassettes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? What are a few of your favorite albums, and why?

Olivier:
I still mainly listen to and purchase CDs. I started off with cassettes back in the 80s, but most of the albums that I had on cassette, I eventually purchased them on CD as well. As far as vinyl goes, again, I used to buy albums on vinyl in the 80s and have recently started acquiring vinyl again in the last few years. I am not a big fan of listening to music digitally. As far as my favorite albums are concerned, I already mentioned Wolfchild’s self-titled debut album, which was released back in 2006. I would also include Steel Panther’s first two albums, which are absolutely brilliant. Sister Sin’s True Sound of The Underground is another favorite of mine. The album was released in 2010, and it’s just so powerful and intense. In terms of recent albums, The Lazys’ Tropical Hazards is just a great Rock ‘N’ Roll record. I can’t wait to hear The Lazys’ next one and hope that they can top the last one. Of course, I really like all the classic Hair Metal albums from the 80s and early 90s, but there are just too many to mention.

Andrew:
Last one. Having been in the game for some time, what advice would you have for any young writers and journalists just getting started?

Olivier:
My advice would be to just go ahead and start writing. There are many publications that welcome new writers, including Sleaze Roxx. You’ll get better as you go. I had zero experience in writing when I wrote my first concert review for Sleaze Roxx almost 11 years ago and look at me now, for better or worse. [Laughs], I am running the website now. At the end of the day, I would say find something that you are passionate about, and the writing will take care of itself.

Wolfchild (2006)

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.

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