February 2013 (e-mail)
Park Sipes is North Carolina based lead singer of the 80's cover band Sunset Strip, featuring rising star guitarist Chris Michael Taylor (Carmine & Vinny Appice Drums Wars, Hair Nation) & also with the Christian rock band Barbarian Way with guitarists Marty Paris (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse) & guitarist/vocalist Steve Goatley. In 2012 he contributed 2 tracks to Tune In to Mind Radio: A Tribute To Multi-Talented Vocalist Kelly Keeling, performing both with instruments & voice, on songs written by Keeling of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Baton Rouge, King Kobra & a host of other bands. He's one of the many rising stars on the scene aiming for something other than the alt rock the populates the music charts.
I had Tune In To Mind Radio sent to me for my reviews blog & recognized all the contributors on the EP except for Sipes. But, he we shared the mutual friendship of Marty Paris & with a little more research I discovered he fronted the band Sunset Strip of which another friend had gotten off the ground over the past year. Anyone who works with Taylor & Paris I knew was talented & worthy of reaching out to & supporting. The fact that I found his age was a bit younger than the voice I heard also impressed me. I appreciated him answering some questions over e-mail about the Kelly Keeling tribute & other activities in his musical landscape & it's a pleasure to share a rising star on the horizon. For those that say there's no guitar heros left or not great singers or no great rockers ... they are if you look for them. I know a few.
Special thanks to my friend Sandy Serge, executive producer of Tune In To Mind Radio & owner of Surgeland Records, for making this happen.
* * * *
AJ: How did you get involved with the Kelly Keeling tribute album Tune In To Mind Radio?
PARK: A while ago, Sandy Serge of Surgeland Records contacted me about choosing a song to perform on a compilation album as a tribute to the artist Kelly Keeling. It sounded fun, so I obliged.
AJ: How familiar were you with Keeling's music or career before contributing to the album?
PARK: I was first introduced to Kelly’s voice from guitarist George Lynch’s album Furious George [album of classic rock covers featuring Keeling on vocals & keyboards]. This was circa 2005. Being a singer, I was impressed with his skill & personality. I then dove into more stuff, like BATON ROUGE & his solo album Giving Sight to the Eye (which happens to have "Rising Of The Snake" [one of the songs on the tribute album]).
AJ: How did you come to choose “Rising of the Snake“?
PARK: Since I was only doing one track for the CD, I wanted something upbeat. Sandy presented me with a list & I was already familiar with “Rising Of The Snake.”
AJ: How did you approach interpreting Keeling's song?
PARK: When I demoed the track, I basically did a cover; essentially an exact copy of the track in the same key. Sandy sort of intervened & wanted a different vibe to the song, to give listeners a reason to hear the new version. I then decided to slow it down a bit, change the key & make it sound like a DOKKEN meets DIO vibe (at least that was my aim).
AJ: Can you tell me something about bassist Mike Qualls & drummer Dallas Holder you recruited to play behind you?
PARK: Mike is a friend of mine who happens to enjoy playing bass. He performs for his church & I thought it would fun to include him. To be honest, nothing besides the novelty of being on a track with a friend was involved in the thought process. I met Dallas through Marty Paris & Steve Goatley. I enjoyed his work ethic, his personality & his availability.
AJ: On your 2 contributions to the album you work with Marty Paris. It was quite unexpected to hear your rock version of "Rising Of The Snake" & then go to a quasi-Americana take of "Free". Any thoughts on that second song with you, Marty & Steve Goatley?
PARK: It’s all a network & availability situation. Marty & Steve wanted to include “Free” on an album of some sort & since I was around, I sat down & played the bass & synth parts to fill up the otherwise purely acoustic song. Again, Steve, Marty & Dallas are all good guys.
AJ: You & Marty have a band called BARBARIAN WAY. Can you tell me more about this outing?
PARK: The band BARBARIAN WAY has been more of an idea for years now. Marty wanted to do a Contemporary Christian album & had a few songs written. He met up with Steve Goatley somewhere along the way & started writing with him. I’m excited that they want to include me in the project. However, I am more or less a utility player involved. Marty’s goal is to complete the album this year & go out to support the reason for making it.
AJ: Marty is known for being very helpful - such as through his NYC/NJ SKULLS PROJECT & helping your bandmate Chris Michael Taylor, amongst others - how did you 2 hook up?
PARK: I met Marty at the same time Chris did. I was in a band with Chris called STANDOUT when we were in our teens. After generating some local buzz, Marty was informed about us & eventually came to sit in on a rehearsal. It progressed from there. I consider Marty a dear friend outside of the music aspect.
AJ: Speaking of your bandmate, tell me about SUNSET STRIP.
PARK: SUNSET STRIP is classic rock tribute act. Chris has a deeply rooted passion for playing that type of genre (80s rock). He formed a band of musicians & basically called me up while I was doing some studio stuff in Tampa, FL. I crammed a set-list (most of which I was already familiar) on the way home & joined a rehearsal. The band is great & is comprised of awesome musicians. Basically anything outside of that is up to personal perspective. It’s a fun show.
AJ: Now, I have to confess on “Rising Of The Snake” you remind me vocally of Jon Bon Jovi. That’s a compliment. What’s your musical background?
PARK: Well, I’ve been a fan of hard rock for a long time. Despite my involvement in piano lessons, voice lessons & guitar lessons, I mainly didn’t gather a deep 'love for music' (as the cliché is used) until I didn’t have that obligation to attend a lesson. I later picked up on the theory aspect (& am still learning & developing different styles all the time). I play guitar, keys, bass & things like that, but I don’t profess to be a guitar player or anything besides singing. Singing is open to debate & in my opinion a grey area. I enjoy it the most & feel it’s my strongest presentation. As far as the Bon Jovi thing, I don’t know – Ha. Bands I enjoy the most are DIO, WINGER, SAVATAGE, DOKKEN & others of the such. I also write poetry & try to translate that type of influence to my lyrics (which you will hear in my upcoming solo album). I want people to be able to relate, but I’m not into pandering to the lowest common denominator, ya know? I’m not in any way insulting anyone. I just like what I like.
AJ: Anything I’m not getting related to your current activities or things folks should know about you?
PARK: I’m working on a solo record at the moment & will eventually begin performing it in support of said record. If my current endeavors pan out the way I intend, you’ll be hearing more from me. Of the millions of bands & artists out there, it’s naive to think people will dig your stuff. My main goal is to do what I can, as best as I can & let the rest follow.