Denmark’s Pretty Maids are a band that belongs on any Top 10 list of most overlooked and underrated hard rock acts. Founded in 1981 by guitarist Ken Hammer and vocalist Ronnie Atkins, Pretty Maids broke out in Europe with their 1984 debut, “Red, Hot and Heavy”. Three years later they gained popularity in North America with their sophomore release, “Future World”. The momentum was short-lived as the burgeoning grunge scene buried hard rock and metal under a thick bed of flannel and disenchantment.
For 30 years the band has continued to kick out strong hard rock albums with heavy melodic elements, all driven by Hammer’s steady flow of catchy guitar riffs. The current line-up also includes bassist Rene Shades, drummer Allan Tschicaja (Royal Hunt, Kingdom Come), and keyboardist Morten Sandager (ex-Mercenary). This week, The Examiner checked in with Hammer on the eve of the band’s current European tour in support of the new album, “Louder Than Ever”.
“Louder Than Ever”, the band’s fourteenth studio effort, presents a mix of four new Pretty Maids songs and eight re-recorded tracks taken from the group’s “forgotten years” albums, as Hammer calls them—the dozen years from 1994 through 2006. In 2010, the band connected with Volbeat producer Jacob Hansen for its “Pandemonium” album which went top 15 in Pretty Maids native country. A new era of fans discovered the quintet, and the combo of band and producer released the compelling follow-up, “Motherland” in 2013. “Louder Than Ever” is a bridge to tide fans over until the next full studio record. These two albums also went Top 15 in Denmark.
In our interview above, Hammer talks about the band’s rebirth, working with Jacob Hansen, how they chose the re-recorded tracks, and the band’s songwriting process. He also gives us a glimpse inside the four new tracks, talks about his love of classic Kiss and recent disappointment in the band, and takes us back to the “Future World” album and what it was like to work with iconic producer Eddie Kramer (Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper) and record at the famous Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York.
If you are still among the many whom have yet to discover Pretty Maids, now is the time to join the fray. Check out our interview with Ken Hammer and pick up your copy of “Louder Than Ever” which includes a live DVD from the band’s recent “Motherland” tour.