Virtual Festivals: You recently did a few dates with Fozzy. What was it like working with the WWE man Chris Jerico and the band. I ask because Chris got locked in after the gig we went to in Bradford and set off all the alarms to get out!
Luke Bell: Ha yeah, I ribbed him about that. I dropped him back to his hotel to catch his flight, so we talked in the car. We had a good laugh about it! Youíre never sure how a guy like that is going to be. This is a guy that has spent the last ten years performing in front of 50-60 thousand people in the wrestling arena, city after city. You could assume that someone like Chris could be up their own arse. You would be wrong. Chris is a genuine guy. He loves rock music, he is not doing this for the money, and itís a genuine love for the music. He has probably put more money into Fozzy than he has got out of it. The two dates we did with them were excellent. Both sold out and had great crowds Ė we had a blast with them...
VF: Youíve recently been on the road with Stuck Mojo who mainly share the same line up as Fozzy. How was it and do you have any funny stories to tell?
LB: Stuck Mojo are what you would consider a working professional band that are driven to perform. Stuck Mojo are driven by the music and to perform for the fans, itís great to see their fans turning out. This is all foundation for their release next year. Mojo needed to be reintroduced to the market and audience. They have not produced an album in six years and the best way to get them out there is to do these fun gigs. This was not like going on the road with American Head Charge; there was a world of difference. The Head Charge boys are great mates and I love them to death, but they really are seriously insane guys. That is not to say American Head Charge or other bands are not professional. The only way I can describe it is that when American Head Charge are on stage they are a pro outfit and excellent at what they do, but off stage they are just as much driven by the after party and all it entails.
VF: Itís been a big year for Panic Cell and full of highs. Letís start with Donington. You played to a packed out Napster stage at the Download festival this year. What was the Road to Donington like?
LB: Yeah, Jeez, Donington. What can I say? It is every bandís dream to play at Castle Donington. I have spent 20 years wondering what it would be like to stand on the stage and say ďHello Castle DoningtonĒ. I have seen my favourite bands do it over the years and it is just legendary. I had a personal dream realised this year along with the band. As you know we had the biggest grins on our faces, you just canít imagine what it felt like. Donington is something else. Calling the festival Download is fine, but to anyone that has been into music as long as us its still Donington Ė Monsters of Rock. Saying that though, Clear Channel have done a fabulous job of rebranding it Download, they have seriously done everyone a massive favour in bringing it back from the dead after its problems in the 90ís. It is a great festival and one we were really proud to play. It was an intense experience. We prided ourselves in the fact that we were one of probably only eight UK bands that played this year at Donington. I am not going to take away from any of the bands that played that weekend, but we saw the Napster tent half full and semi full for different bands throughout the weekend and we seriously did not know what to expect when we walked out. We walked out to a totally full fucking tent it was absolutely rammed. We had done it! We packed the tent at Donington! No drug or sex can eclipse that moment. Just amazing.
VF: Off the back of Download you also went to Wacken, the premier German Metal festival. How do you feel the European fans received you?
LB: Yeah we went down well. Itís always tough. We had no presence in Germany, there was no promotion or press, and youíre really a total unknown band so you donít expect anyone to turn up. Except itís Wacken and they do! They may not like the band on the other stage so they come and check you out. We had about 1,000 people turn up and it was great. German fans are nuts and they just love their metal. A true metal festival that has every part of metal there; power metal, classic metal, you name it. The people at Wacken liked us and it was a great experience.
VF: You have had two major support tours with Staind and Disturbed postponed until next year. Has it been a major setback for you?
LB: Oh yeah, but what can you do? Staind sounded a great tour. They took us on at the start of it and did us a great favour, It was a full 22 day European tour with Staind and Sevendust, which is a great tour for any band. It was gutting having it postponed. It wasnít the bands fault, it was a bit of record company issues really.
VF: And Disturbed? Their singer Dave Dramian got a sore throat didnít he?
LB: Yeah, again a great tour to be on. We got on well with them and there was no rock star persona in view. They came down on the first day while we were setting up our gear and soundchecking to introduce themselves. Dave was absolutely gutted, totally inconsolable after he saw the specialist about his throat, in fact the whole band were. They spent months planning this tour Ė 10 days all sold out, most moved up to bigger venues. If I had been in Daveís position I would have done the same thing. He has to look after his voice or he runs the risk of losing it.
VF: You still had two dates with Disturbed. How was the Astoria gig?
LB: The Astoria! Well, it is one venue you always want to play. Itís amazing . I have been in bands for many years and the Astoria is the place you must play. Again we went out not knowing what to expect. Two songs in and the crowd was raging, they had oversold it and it was mental Ė pits going and raging. Hopefully we will be lucky enough to get back on another tour.
VF: I noticed on your website that you picked up quite a few new fans on those two dates with Disturbed.
LB: Yeah we did, the crowd liked our music. Disturbed, from a crowd and band point of view, are good for us. We love their work and we got a great response from their fans. The music is similar with grooves and riffs, but Dave does have a purer voice than I and can hit higher notes than me Ė Bastard!