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Interview with Dino Jelusic from Animal Drive

Animal Drive lately signed a deal with Frontiers Music Srl. The band is about to release the debut album in early 2018. We decided to do an interview with the band's vocalist, Dino Jelusic. He told us something about the upcoming album, the collaboration with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Paul O'Neill and future plans for Animal Drive.

Photo: Josip Marković


1. When was the band founded, how many members does the band have and who are they? Tell us more about the transition from Dino Jelusic & The Mad Dogs to Animal Drive. Also, why 'Animal Drive'? If that is not a secret. :)

Well, it's simple, I didn't wanna do ''Dino & band'' kinda thing EVER, but people I work with would always convince me that it should be like that. As soon as we got record deal with Frontiers Records I insisted in the name change. I had ''Animal Drive'' in my head for years, and finally wanted to make this a band. I'll do my solo stuff as Dino Jelusic separately, but Animal Drive is a band. We make songs together, and it's our stuff.

2. Who writes the music and the lyrics? What is your main motivation in songwriting?

I did all the lyrics and music for Animal Drive debut, but we already started working on some new songs, and Keller (guitarist) brought 2 songs which will probably be on the 2nd record. Lyrically there's a lot goin' on, lyrics vary from life stories, love, pain, rage, sci-fi, mysterious stories that don't exist and etc. I get motivated everyday by little things.

3. The band is about to release the debut album in early 2018. Tell us something more about the upcoming album and the collaboration with Frontiers Music Srl. How did that happened?

Well, it happened during my first Trans-Siberian Orchestra tour. During rehearsals Jeff Scott Soto asked me if I had any songs in English. At that time I've had ''Bad to the bone'', ''Walk on the other side'' and ''Father'' so I told him about those. He listened to it, liked it and sent it to Frontiers, and we got signed few months later. Debut album is called ''Bite!'' It's a very versatile record (people that heard it said that, I think it can be a lot more versatile) and has a lots of different types of songs. It contains 8 heavy songs and 3 ballads.

4. Will you have a tour after you release the album?

Hopefully yes. We have Frontiers Rock Festival in Milan confirmed for April, and then we'll see what's next.

5. Where have you held concerts so far (under both band's names) and do you have any upcoming shows any time soon?

We played in Croatia, and also we did Summer Rock Festival in Trieste last summer. First show we're about to do is Frontiers Rock Festival, we start rehearsing as soon as I get back from US tour.

6. What do you prefer about performing live? Is there something special about it you want to share with us?

I love the energy this band has. I have super cool energy with Keller, as soon as he came to the band I knew he was the right one for this gig. He's got my back anytime, and helps me out a lot. Also drummer, Adrian. He's a beast. We have a new bass player, Rokindja, did couple of shows with us and proved that he's our guy.

Photo: Ivan Matković

7. Can you put your band's biggest dream in one sentence?

I can't. Dreams change once you make them happen. I never thought I'd be sitting in the same room with Al Pitrelli, Jon Oliva and the rest of the guys, but now I do. So it's time for some new dreams. I'm pretty simple, just gimme the mic, music and stage and I'm happy with it.

8. What do you think about the rock & metal music scene in Croatia?

There's a lot of good bands in Croatia. Unfortunately, most of them will never make it, not because they're not good, but it's really hard to achieve anything in Croatia, musically. I've been to a gig recently in my hometown to see a metal band from my friends, and they kicked some serious ass, but there was about 30 people in the audience. It's tragic. But that's the reality of Croatia and what's going on with the music there.

9. Is it easier to succeed abroad?

Well, competition is bigger. But if somebody who is important sees you and you're great, you might. But you gotta be more than good. There's so many awesome musicians around the world, you gotta compete with them. If you can make them believe what you do, and write good songs, and sound great live, you might have a shot. But you gotta be on the right place in the right time.

10. You are the founder of the band but also a vocalist for Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Did that collaboration help you when it comes to future plans for Animal Drive, speaking in terms of pure motivation and ideas for the future? You can tell us more about the tour in 2016 and the collaboration with Paul O'Neill.

Hell yes! TSO opened so many aspects of my singing that I wasn't even aware of. I do totally different type of performance with TSO, but really helped me a lot to be better with my own bands. Paul O'Neill was an amazing human being. I was on my way to studio in Florida when I found out that he died. I was crushed. If there wasn't for him, I'd probably be sitting right now in Zagreb and arguing with my father about what song should we put on Croatian radio... So thank you Paul for this opportunity and for giving me a shot. I was beyond blessed when I heard what he thinks of my singing and my performance. I wasn't sure if I was doing everything right 'cause nothing happened in Croatia with music I did. Only tapping on my shoulder, for years. Feels good to be part of this big machine, and to finally do Animal Drive.

Photo: Josip Marković

11. What do you expect from 2018?

Well, I hope the debut album goes well, we have chosen some really cool songs to be singles, but also there's a lot of epic songs that wont be singles, so if you like what you hear at first, get the album!

12. Is there something you wish to say to all the young, fresh and enthusiastic rock/metal bands from Croatia?

Well... I really wish they make it big. I'd love to share stage with some of my friends in the future, on big stages around the world. We all do music 'cause we love, not to make living out of it. If you can do both, you're the luckiest guy on earth.

Photo: Josip Marković

Thank you Dino! Looking forward to the new album :)

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