2005 - Place Vendôme
Information Place Vendôme debut album
- The album was produced, recorded and mixed by Dennis Ward.
- The album was produced at House of Audio Studios in Karlsdorf, Germany and The TrakShak in Bruchsal, Germany. Mixed at The TrakShak and Mastered at House of Audio Studios.
- Lead vocals produced by Michael Kiske and mastered by Jeurgen Lusky.
- Executive producer: Serafino Perugino.
- Cover designer: Carl-André Beckston.
01 - Standard edition: Frontiers Records with 10 tracks, standard CD case.
02 - Slipcase edition: Frontiers Records with 10 tracks with slipcase.
03 - Japanese edition: Avalon Records, contains 11 tracks, the exclusive bonus track 'Photograph'. (Chinese/Taiwanese also have 11 tracks, so the Japanese bonus is included)
04 - Press promo edition: contains 10 tracks.
05 - Allen vs Lande / Place Vendôme promo edition: this is a very rare edition which contains 4 tracks of each project. Tracks of Place are: 'Cross The Line' and excerpts 1:30 minutes of 'I Will Be Gone', 'Right Here' and 'I Will Be Waiting'.
Collaboration/Guests: Carolin Wolf doin' backing vocals on tracks: 'I Will Be Waiting' and 'I Will Be Gone'. Alfred Koffler playing extra guitars on tracks: 'Heaven's Door' and 'Right Here'.
Dennis: "I sang most of the choirs but Michael sang very much as well. I think we made an interesting blend together. In a couple of songs my girl, Carolin, sang as well."
Kiske: "This may be the best vocal recording that I have ever done. Judging myself, pitch is perfect, everything went well, and it’s very exciting. I agree that sometimes other songwriters know the better use of my voice than me. When I write a song, I focus on writing a song and don’t care about key or pitch. Then, I learn to sing the song that I wrote. Dennis can write a song that fits into my voice, and the best quality of my voice appears."
The front cover and the whole booklet design and concept was done by the Swedish artist Carl-André Beckston (Monowasp). He did the design for all Place Vendôme covers and later Kiske album and the Kiske's Past in Different Ways solo album and he use to work for/with bands of Frontiers Records label among others.
He also have a gallery a webshop where you can buy prints of his artwork in various sizes. Andre's gallery can be accessed at this location.
The cover artwork was chosen by MelodicRock.com readers as the 4th best artwork of the year.
Michael Kiske commented about André work: "The person who did the cover design was C.A. Beckston, who does artwork for Frontiers-Records, too. He also did the Place Vendôme cover, I liked a lot so I asked him to do mine as well."
Michael did a few exclusive pictures for this release. The pictures were done in the same park of SupaRed photoshoot and were also done by Corinna Wolke.
He also did a few more pictures with a black leather jacket, and there were used later as promotional pictures for the album/project of Renato Tribuzy's Execution.
The History behind Place Vendôme I
In May 2004, Sandro Giampietro confirmed to Kiske fanclub that SupaRed does not exist anymore and a week later Michael did a statement to explain he will not try to write more albums and songs of Hard Rock as solo artist. After the statement and a few explanations he started to think in what king of album he could make and how it would be release because he had not deal with any label in that moment.
A few months later, Michael received an email of Serafino Perugino, Frontiers Records owner, he wanted to know if Kiske would be interested in a A.O.R. project with music in the vein of Journey/Foreigner and those great bands of that style. It's better Kiske counts the history, he commented: "Serafino just sent me an email last summer asking me if I would be interested in doing an AOR record like Foreigner/Journey type and I said what I always say, "I have to like the music and if the music is cool, sure I'd do that. At first when I saw his email, I thought it was one of those many offers of unknown musicians that want you to do something for them you know, these offers come in quite often. But then he said he has this label and he has some big names on his label and he said he likes my voice. I could imagine to do an AOR record because that's the type of music that his label basically stands for, since I never did anything like that I liked the idea. Then Serafino got Dennis Ward who would only produce the album in the first instance, but ended up playing on the album and partially writing it too. Dennis got the songs and the musicians together and he produced the record. I was doing the demos and the recordings over here and sent him the vocal track via mail."
So after the first contact Kiske-Serafino, Frontiers owner chose Dennis Ward at first as producer and finally he also became in the main songwriter and bassis. Dennis decided to work with some friends like the keyboardist of Vanden Plas: Gunter Werno and some collegues of his band Pink Cream 69; the drummer Kosta Zafiriou and the guitarist Uwe Reitenauer, but he also was helped for other members of his band like the guitarist Alfred Koffler with some aditionals guitars and David Readman with some lyrics.
So Dennis started to write stuff for this project with Michael Kiske in mind, as the mastermind commented there were not outtakes or rejected songs of other projects/band. Dennis explained that to Japanese Burrn! magazine: "Except for 'Heaven’s Door' and 'Right Here' which are demos that Koffler had written before, all the other songs are written for Kiske from scratch. There are no outtakes from Pink Cream 69 or no demos for something else included in this album. Before starting to write songs, I listened and examined the Helloween albums from his days and all the albums he released after, and found out what his strength is and where his voice shines the best. When writing songs, I imagined how he would sing it."
Kiske recorded the vocals in his own Studio and he sent to Dennis by email. About the recordings, Kiske commented interesting things like: "The more easy and funny track to sing was 'Cross The Line'. It's the typical old fashioned heroic vocals. Even it was quite high I felt very comfortable because it fits perfect in my vocal style. The most difficult song to find the way to sing was 'Sign Of The Times' because the demo I've received come with Dennis vocal lines to teach me how the vocals melodies are. And more than vocals there were screams, something like AC/DC. So when I started to rehearsal the song I still have his screams in my ears and I could not make it, I didn't like it, so I left that song and I continued with the others. Two weeks later I tried again and it happened, I only needed to forget his screams (laughs)."
When the album was released in October, the album was very well received for a big part of Kiske fans who were used to listen to him only in little collaborations, singing partial songs, never singing a whole album as project. But Michael also got a lot of critics with this project because one year before he had been published a statement about his "departure of Hard rock scene" where he said he would not try to make another Hard Rock album. Also negative comments came because the label Frontiers used the most hardest tracks as samples; 'Cross The Line', 'Place Vendôme' and 'Sign Of The Times', and some people thought the whole album would be in the same line of those songs. The label also released the album with the typical stickers with "Michael Kiske return to Hard Rock". So Michael answered to this critics in the old Fanclub, explaining the proposal to him was to make a A.O.R. album not a Hard Rock album and it was not his fault of some tracks finally ended with more harder guitars than expected. Kiske said: "In some tracks the guitars are too high for my taste but that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the album. In some way it's confusing to some people because I said I will not make metal or hard rock again, so with those guitars it could be tagged as hard rock. But it was not supposed to be like that. It would be an AOR album. And now Serafino and Frontiers is promoting the album like a hard rock album (laughs). But the music is great, I've just prefer the guitars like the song 'Place Vendôme'". Dennis Ward also explained very well in a interview: "I've always been aware that Kiske would prefer to make an AOR record, we spoke of it many times. As a producer it’s also my job to keep in consideration the marketing aspect of selling\promoting a record. I did what I felt would bring more attention to the record."
Related with the other critics, during the promotional interviews Michael explained a lot of times he prefered the guitar sound of songs like 'Place Vendôme' and 'I Will Be Waiting' than 'Cross The Line' and 'Sign Of The Times' because if fits better in his personal taste and he would being done a different mix. For this comments he also was critized but as he explained: "I would made things differents but Dennis Ward is the producer so its not my thing. As usual people make things far too negative. People don't usually understand when I say that kind of things, I'm the guy who always says what I'm thinking. Only because I say some guitars are too high, it doesn't mean that I don't like the album. I like a lot the album. I always love to hear the guitars, vocals, drums at the same level, the basics like The Beatles did. But is just a matter of taste."
I also wanted to comment a few things about press reviews. After so many years there is the image of a very well received album by press, but that image is not very real. The album was received great for the Hard Rock/Melodic media but it was bad received for a part of Heavy Metal press at least in Europe and mainly Germany. Some journalists even used arguments like: "The album is cold, heartless, the musicians never were in the same room together, they recorded everything separate and I can easily notice that when I heard the album." Something which has none sense because a lot of real bands, even big bands (not projects) records their albums like that since years and years. Probably the negative reviews about the album were done because in that years Kiske was making a lot of hard statements about the metal scene and a lot of people were waiting for the right chance to say negative things no matter what stuff were. Dennis Ward did a very interesting statement related with this during the Unisonic promotion, he said: "...We still have a lot of fans saying that Unisonic don't sound like Helloween. So, those people got disappointed with Unisonic, then I am really sorry but I have no bad feelings or regrets about that, in reality we don't care because we did not want to sound like Helloween. The same happened when we did Place Vendôme; we made it clear from the very beginning that we would make an AOR/Hard Rock album and AOR is not Helloween and it will never be." It's also very funny to hear/read interviews 2-3 years later of this release and see how the negative comments became in very positive comments done exactly by the same people. You can easily check all interviews of Place Vendôme's Streets of Fire (2nd album) where almost everybody say things like that: "After the amazing/suberb/masterpiece debut album..."
Sales and great response
The album was received very well for not only the typical fans of Kiske also by fans of melodic stuff. Kiske commented about it: "Serafino told me the album is selling very good and the reaction of people are good. Specially in England, where I think never before talk about me, it's always great to find new audiences." The album received a lot of good feedback with fans and one example is the album was very well positioned in MelodicRock.com awards; 6th best album of the year, in the song of the year it was 'Too Late' in 3rd position, 'I Will Be Waiting' 9th position, and honorable mentions for 'Cross The Line' and 'Place Vendôme'. The cover artwork was also chosen as the 4th best artwork of the year. And Dennis Ward was chosen as the best producer of the year.
After the success of this project, Frontiers Records offered to Kiske a 2-CD deal as solo artist and he signed a deal with the Italian label. Serafino commented about Kiske: "Michael is a great singer, he does good music and his records sell good. Also I think he is a very interesting person under a human point of view and working with him has been so far nothing but a pleasure. You can definitely expect more music from him in the coming years on Frontiers!"
Serafino, Kiske and Dennis agreed quickly in producing another Place Vendôme album in the following years, after the next Kiske solo album, but finally it will take a little more time, but that's a history to tell in another place and moment.
Comments of musicians
Michael Kiske: "I was recording in my own little studio. I had email and telephone conversations with Dennis. He seems to be a very nice person. He's a good producer. What Dennis does, the way he makes the instrumentations and the way he produces a song, he does it in a very professional way. He does a lot of things that I wouldn't even think about. He's a good producer."
Dennis Ward: "I’ve always been aware that Kiske would prefer to make a more A.O.R.-like record, we spoke of it many times. As a Producer it’s also my job to keep in consideration the marketing aspect of selling\promoting a record. I did what I felt would bring more attention to the record. I’m also pretty sure that the degree of “heaviness” that Kiske is talking about is very minimal when comparing to the demos I delivered."
Kosta Zafiriou, during the promotion of Pink Cream 69's Thunderdome album, had a few words (surprising worlds) about the album: "The label did all the business part. Dennis wrote all the songs and Kiske just sung in his own studio. We didn't actually meet him. I only played the drums as a friend. It took me about a couple of days in the studio. I liked being part of this album, it's really melodic but not 100% my style."
Curiosities about Place Vendôme I
- About changing the lyrics in this first album of Place Vendôme, there is a very interesting quote with information about the changes.
Michael Kiske: "I don’t mind singing lyrics by someone else. I made small changes to the lyrics that I didn’t feel comfortable, but there weren’t many. When Dennis wrote “Maybe I’m a sinner, maybe I’m a saint”, I changed it to “Maybe I’m a sinner, maybe I’m no saint”, because I like it better in that way. There was a line that goes “I don’t need ideology”, but since I need ideology, I changed it to “I never could fit in to your ideology."
Rumours about Place Vendôme I
- Place Vendôme will release a second album without Kiske, with a different vocalist.
False. This rumour started in 2006, just after the 1st album was released. And the rumour just grew up when Kiske said he would mix a few songs in a different way, more AOR oriented. But is really difficult to believe that because almost since the first moment, they realized it would be a success, and a second album was planned for a few years later, after the following Kiske solo album.
- The other musicians were angry with Kiske for speak his mind about guitars and mixing.
Very possible. I did an interview to Dennis Ward in 2005 and two to Kiske and I didn't realize of that until I've found an interview of Kiske where he said word by word: "¿A second album? It depends if the other guys want to do it. I'm sure Serafino wants. Although they don't understand that I'm the kind of guy who don't tell people what they want to hear in the interviews. I always say what I want and I don't think it would be nothing wrong. It's what I feel, ¿why should I not say that? It could happen the other guys neither like it (laughs). I don't know. It's not neccesary to be so sensitive, it's a free world and everybody is free of having a different opinion about things. I never said I didn't like the album." So it's very possible they didn't like or understand Kiske thoughts but as I said, only at the beginning because Kiske didn't stop "emailing" with Dennis. In the interview I did with Dennis he told me: "We are discussing doing something in the future, possibly a similar project but a bit more along Michael Kiske's tastes. We'll see!" He said that in 2005, Unisonic was created in 2009.
- There were plans for a tour.
Nope. It was not planned. Remember Place Vendôme is a Frontiers Records project, and the label never make that kind of promotion. You can find a lot of statements of Kiske and Dennis saying good things about touring, for example Dennis told to fanclub: "So far no plans but if things go well I'm sure we would all be happy to hit the road with this record. Time will tell" and Kiske with his typical "it depends of the sales" but there were not plans.