Winter Moods
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Winter Moods

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Rock

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May
27
Winter Moods @ Ghaxaq Grounds

Ghaxaq, None, Malta

Ghaxaq, None, Malta

Dec
31
Winter Moods @ St George's Square

Valletta, None, Malta

Valletta, None, Malta

Jul
30
Winter Moods @ The Granaries

Floriana, None, Malta

Floriana, None, Malta

Music

Press


The granaries in Floriana provide a fitting setting for this special night in Maltese music. The crowd shuffles in whilst new local band Cruz hit the stage. Cruz earned their place as opening act after winning a competition set by Winter Moods themselves in collaboration with radio station 89.7 Bay. The band’s blend of post-grunge and funk-rock warms the crowd up nicely. Finishing off with their winning song Red Tape, Cruz exit the stage, while the crowd waits expectantly for the men of the hour.

Shortly after 9p.m., the big screen on stage is filled with a Maltese cross against a red backdrop. Winter Moods enter the stage one by one to the sound of crackling radio frequencies and synth soundscapes provided by keyboardist Etienne Robinich. Each band member gradually feeds into the instrumental intro of Sun Won’t Shine, opening track from their latest album release Argento; guitarist Melvin Caruana injects sonorous guitar feedback into the mix, whilst bassist Joseph Rizzo and new drummer Karl Fenech form the steady rhythmic backbone.

Frontman Ivan Grech is last to come on stage, waving and showing his gratitude to the impressive 9,000 strong turnout. He is wearing a black shirt that bears the new Winter Moods logo on his right arm, and the Maltese cross on his left. Ivan is immediately on fine form, hitting big notes with his cool raspy timbre which has been a defining element of the Winter Moods sound over these last 25 years. When Ivan sings chorus line “The sun won’t shine without you”, the crowd is bathed in celestial white floodlights amongst rapturous applause and cheering. The band dive straight into second song Walk On By, after which Grech declares “Here we are, one big happy family,” while pointing to the entire audience. Clearly the band feels this is as much the crowd’s night as it is their own, a fact they are keen to emphasise throughout this emotionally charged show.

Evidently Winter Moods and the whole crew behind them have gone through great lengths to pull out all the stops and ensure the audience is treated to a show on par with international standards. Nine songs in and the Animae Gospel choir are welcomed on stage for two numbers. Crowd favourite Everyday Song is especially stunning with the supplemental gospel harmonies. Soon after, the band leave the stage and shortly reappear walking down an aisle from the back of the crowd up onto a small stage in the middle of the venue - a feat which must have required impeccable logistical organisation. Here they deliver a few acoustic numbers, including a bluesy rendition of Water and a poignant piano led cover of Maltese classic Xemx, originally recorded in the ‘70s by late Gozitan Dominic Grech and his band The Tramps, which gets most of the crowd singing heartily along. Another brief interlude and the band are back on the mainstage.

Surprisingly, fan favourites such as Jamaica and Lonely Vegas were left out to make way for the new and as yet, less familiar material from the Argento album. The band’s pièce de résistance Marigold is greeted with a flurry of sparklers in the front rows. Smiles all around, the ecstatic crowd sing their hearts out to this song which has already earned its place as one of the most popular Maltese songs ever, despite it only being a few years old. By the end of their two and a half hour set, Winter Moods have boldly proven that local music can be taken to new heights with just enough hard work and dedication ... and of course with the help of a Maltese public that holds you dearly in its heart. - The Times of Malta (4th August 2010)


Winter Moods are a self-assured, all-male quintet worth checking out. There’s an anthemic U2 feel to much of what they do on their album Argento. Opener ‘Sun Won’t Shine’ could be an outtake from The Joshua Tree. It has a robust vocal and a fine sense of drama. ‘That’s Where I’d Rather Be’ is slower and has a rugged undertow and lots of radio-friendliness. ‘My Neverland’ is a plaintive track that shakes off many of the U2-isms. It has warm strings, builds brilliantly with a passionate vocal and settles in nicely for a cosy few minutes. - Hot Press (25 Feb 2011) Ireland


Winter Moods have confirmed their position as one of Malta ’s top rock bands when they entertained a crowd of over 7500 at the Valletta Waterfront on Wednesday night. The band played through their string of hits in a two hour show that had the audience singing along through every tune.

The show kicked off at 2130CET with Fake Love, followed by All The Time In The World, Adrenaline and a string of hits including Everyday Song, Come To You, Sarah, Crazy Moon, Moonshine, and the show’s outstanding finale with Marigold.

During one of the most intimate moments of the performance, when Ivan Grech and Melvin Caruana were performing on the catwalk, George Curmi – il-Puse accompanied the duo on the violin in an outstanding rendition of the classic rock song Dust In The Wind and the band’s own Friends.

Winter Moods made music history with the highest number of tickets ever sold for a performance by a local act.

Ivan Grech said, “We were amazed by the turn out and the feedback. The people’s support made it all worthwhile. We had a fantastic time on stage, the crowd’s response to our songs carried us through our set seamlessly. It was an emotional experience and a dream come through for the band. We will carry this concert in our hearts for years and years to come.”
- www.timesofmalta.com


Winter Moods' Butterfly House will outshine the groundbreaking Morning Ale. Wayne Flask finds out why

It was all looking awesome. Beverly Cutajar greets you at the door, with her wide trademark smile and a reassuring handshake. The Alley at 12.30 had probably never seen such a crowd. It was on the cards of course; the countdown had finally struck zero and everyone was there, in semi-grandiose manner, to celebrate the release of Butterfly House. Winter Moods' third album, the diamond which took so long to form, has, at last, been launched.

Sleek packaging, wondrous design by Andrei Xuereb, eleven tracks, forty-one minutes and twenty seconds of magic encapsulating a year of hard work at Temple Studios and a weekend of songwriting in Gozo. If anything, Butterfly House is almost useless at proving that Winter Moods are the band, because that was made glaringly obvious by their second conception, the now almost forgotten Morning Ale. Winter Moods' third coming is not just a step ahead; it has moulded the Senglea six into a shiny phenomenon who can play with versatility in the same way Garrincha did with footballs whilst dribbling the defences of Italy and Argentina. The first time Butterfly House rings out in your stereo doesn't give you as much of a kick as its predecessor did, mostly because its biggest novelty is versatility and the variety in atmosphere. Pop lovers will not be disappointed though. As Ivan Grech himself told me, it does grow on you. You'll love it after giving it the third try.

There's a whole variety in those golden eleven tracks. There are sunny tracks like Lesson One (with Messrs Joe Tanti and Gianni Zammit on backing vocals), anthems such as Come to You and more sombre, down-to-the-heart tracks like Friends and Home Again. They did change some things but definitely haven't lost their sound, with some tracks like the opener All the Time in the World which remind all of us of how bright - and outstanding - Winter Moods have become since their debut album. Not that they were expressly looking for it. Joe Rizzo (bass) finds it "heavier, not in the metal sense, and even the guitars are brighter and up-tempo. If you had to remove the vocals from it and just listen to the instruments, you wouldn't think of it as a Winter Moods album."

"We wanted it to be a different album but whenever we tried to do that consciously we never really got there. Most of the songs were born out of pure coincidence, but the vibe it gave us was so good that we worked on them immediately. Ultimately Morning Ale was our inspiration and we didn't need to change its formula because it worked. Keep in mind that an album like Morning Ale encases our identity. If we'd try to change that, we won't, because man… that's what we can really create!" says Melvin.

They took one whole year off to craft this masterpiece, preferring to dedicate 2002 to the nitty-gritty of the new album rather than lingering on with a now fully-milked album. They are pretty surprised by my question as to how long it took them to make a noise. As Joe tells me, they didn't see that as a really long period. "It is normal for a band to retire for sometime into its rehearsal place to write new material. Maybe in Malta you can afford it less but in our case there were many other factors involved. It included the fact that we lazed around a bit and that our recording sessions were spread around the year. The bottom line is that because of jobs and commitments it takes longer for a Maltese band to record."

"Sometimes, especially in summer, I am too busy to focus on the band," says Ivan, admitting that sometimes earning himself a living makes him hoarse. "Our sessions were so spread out that we cannot quantify how much studio time this album took us. We used to record our songs on a certain day and add the loops and effects around a month later. But during the final month of recording we set out to finish off the job for good."

Morning Ale paranoia? Says Melvin: "We were slightly choosier in our compositions after Morning Ale, and perhaps out of three songs we would scrap everything apart from, say, a chorus. We were more sceptical about our songs and we often stopped to ask each other whether we were getting it right. Sometimes it took us a whole week of rehearsals to complete a song, even because we had doubts compared to what we did in Morning Ale."

They grin widely when they recollect how most of the songs got to be recorded. To mention some, the band had gone up to Temple Studios to give producer David Vella the chance to hear Lesson One but actually ended up recording it; another track only had a minute part written but shaped itself entirely at Temple thanks to David's golden touch.

"It was a difference experience from Morning Ale. We won't do it again though. Next time we'll go in and finish the album in one or two sessions."

Although it does give them doubtless elbow in terms of hype generated, the band seems less content - The Sunday Times (30th March 2003)


"Musicians?"

"Yes. We are playing tonight at the Ringfest in Cologne," says Ivan, answering the German passport control attendant.

Having eased his curiosity, aroused by an entourage of ten people and four guitars, he asked again, "Koln?"

We walk out, still hazy from the 5.30 am rendezvous at MIA, towards the first cigarette on German soil, towards the rainy Dusseldorf, and towards Winter Moods' finest ever outside Maltese shores.

* * *

Five hours later we are sitting, dejected, in our tent in the Mediaplatz in Cologne. We're not camping. The staff of WDR, one of the largest radio stations in Germany, and organisers of this event, have taken care of literally everything. In this elaborate gazebo you can tune your guitars, change clothes, gnaw at something to whet your hunger.

Unfortunately German weather isn't under their jurisdiction. By then we had seen only very little of the sun. Our trip from Dusseldorf to Koln was wet, and although the weather held for the short foray into the street adjacent to our Savoy Hotel for a quick doner, we knew that the massive dark clouds gathering above the concert grounds signalled discomfort. Debbie, the WM manager who organised the event in painstaking details, looked skywards with an expression of anguish, while the German staff worked relentlessly even though the first droplets could be felt.

By time the second band of the night, Orange Blue, have finished their soundcheck, Cologne was already looking darker. One of their musicians emerges soaked in rainwater from behind the stage, having been the unlucky victim of a gust of wind that blew the water off the tarpaulin onto him.

We are laughing our hearts out, but we could have anticipated the warning tones in those gusts. Barely a minute before the band went onstage for the soundcheck, Ivan comes into the tent, followed by Debbie, with the news that the concert might be cancelled, that the soundcheck is postponed indefinitely and that WDR are in contact with the authorities to get an extension past the 11pm curfew.

It's not the end of the world. Winter Moods have all the time in the world. There has to be some kind of solution. The band, including Debbie, Saif (stagehand) and myself are sitting in this tent about to look pale. Kurt Fsadni, the sound guru which Winter Moods wanted so strongly with them for this German performance, is still doing his job with the sound people on the other side of the square. There are reflections, slight groans and so everyone starts shooting alternatives: we should ask them to play tomorrow (the concert was spread over two days), even if at 1pm. We should ask them to give us a gig at Hard Rock café in Cologne. We should wait.

To cap it off, this is the brief from Jorg of WDR who came in the tent to tell us where we all stood. "There is a hurricane warning from Bochum, which is roughly 15km from here, and we don't know whether the concert is still on."

"We're so unlucky," says Melvin. The concert was about to be put off for the second time already, since in May the bassist of the Latvian band had died in a bike crash and all the event (set for June) was cancelled.

During that hour it stopped raining. The wind gave a few harmless gusts, while we consumed industrial quantities of cigarettes and chocolates (the latter were diligently distributed by the WDR staff in each performer's tent).

Winter Moods' own weather was slowly clearing up. More than all the others, Ivan showed obvious signs of disappointment. Debbie and all the band put in a lot of time in organising the whole event and being stopped by millimetres of rainfall was just too cruel. But the others kept their humour flowing throughout. Joe and Steve in particular kept us on full cylinders while Etienne (Bobby) occasionally put in some of his finer touches from his repertoire. Someone even suggested playing Crowded House's Weather with You, a reference to their ill luck with rain wherever they went. Happy bunch, these Winter Moods, we have been laughing since half past five this morning and even in these harder moments they find something to joke about.

When Anja from WDR bulged into the room - politely - she told us that it was ok if we wanted to do the soundcheck. The concert was on! There was a quick enthusiastic applause to the messenger and by an automatism we all stood up, guitars and whatever at hand, to walk to the stage.

From just beneath the medium sized stage I could hear the head of the crew saying to Ivan, "tell me what you want to have for each instrument and I can make everything for you." Indicative of their attitude: you are our guests and we'll give you a good time.

From that moment onwards, until their last note rang out, they kept their steady momentum without losing a single micro-g. The big family was back to work, down to the hard matters which they have always tackled with more than just an ounce of confidence. James sat at his drums and smiled widely when he - The Sunday Times (22nd August 2004)


With their self-titled album released back in 1995, five nominations, award for Best Band at the Malta Music awards in 1997 and a number of supporting acts for big names such as Marillion, Deep Purple and Chris De Burgh - Winter Moods were hailed as one of the refreshing outfits to emerge in the past decade, after a series of unfavourable circumstances for the crew.

The veteran six-piece have now bounced back with their latest record, ‘Morning Ale’, recorded over a span of two years, showcasing eleven tracks of pure emotion, basking in their own glow.

Winter Moods have rebuilt themselves as a svelte, sophisticated pop-rock icon, jettisoning everything that never needed to be there, educating themselves further in combining charisma with music, and incorporating spirit with innovative material arrangements and effects, condensing everything to one maximum outcome.

‘Morning Ale’ proves itself to be much more ripe and focussed than it’s predecessor, from both viewpoints of music and song writing and once again, the production was relied upon David Vella. His careful experimentation with effects, and overwhelming varnishes to the sound has paid off handsomely here, moulding the album into an exquisite creation.

“In our opinion, the sound of the album is the best ever heard on these islands from a local band. David Vella, or as we call him, “Our seventh brother” realised that there was potential in this material and so he gave his heart and soul to make it sound on an international level.” Ivan Grech and Etienne Robinich explained.

‘Lay Down’ and ‘Jamaica’ kick-start the album with exhilarating force, both exhibiting the band’s variety and depth, the latter which is the current single, proving to be a sugary and summery track with sophisticated dynamics.
“ ‘Jamaica’, was our first choice as a single because it has a bit of everything around it. Alternative guitar riffs with a gloomy voice on the verses which leads a pop rock catchy and bright chorus to a dramatic change just after the second chorus - a drop down break with an emotional feel.” Ivan Grech pointed out.

Winter Moods are bits of your favourite bands wrapped up in one cute package. You’ll hear Hootie & the Blowfish’s fresh and vibrant strumming, cuddling up to U2’s deep basslines; Del Amitri’s sweet fragility colliding with the latest jagged rhythms of Matchbox 20 – glazed with the alluring vocals of Ed Kowalczyk (Live’s front-man)
Ivan Grech’s deep and enticing voice wraps itself around your head within seconds – proof that he uses it as another instrument. On cuts like ‘Everyday Song’, ‘Better Now’, and ‘Brittany on the wall’ he seems to draw you into the song, tug at your heartstrings, and make you think that it’s all a personal treat for your ears only.

The rest of the band members are all able and competent on instrumental levels, especially Melvin Caruana on guitar; and the fitting electronic pulses of Etienne Robinich are no less than hypnotic.

“The band is made up of six musicians with different characters, influences and ideas. We all have our different styles and sounds. I might say that it’s needless to say that a voice has a major role in the band’s identity. I have improved loads with experience and have now discovered my voice nearly to the fullest. All the band members have their favourite bands, I like good music, real music, played music… but I hate dance music!” Ivan Grech revealed.
“Our style of music is a bit difficult to define as there are alot of different influences and ideas brought in together. I am more for the electronic side, Ivan is the melody man, Joe Rizzo is more a 70's rock and punk fan. Steve is in for anything hard and heavy, James Vella is more into Pure Rock, and Melvin is a Led Zeppelin worshiper. That is how I see the other members' influences, and I don’t know how we came out with a pop rock mainstream album!”, Etienne Robinich explained.

The skilful lyrics and muscular melodies of the substantial ‘Water' sound vibrant with that kind of packed energy and enthusiasm Winter Moods are known for. There is similar stuff in the way of the title track 'Morning Ale’, and a dramatic U-turn with the likes of 'Ride’ and 'Come with Me' - rather warm and soul-fuelled tracks, the latter sung in a very warm voice, with light drumming, dark and deep basslines and noteworthy keyboard washes.

At this point, I might suggest that the listener should approach the numbers individually. After lending your ears to the whole eleven tracks for a couple of times, you might tend to notice that certain songs sound slightly similar to each other in their structure and style. This is particularly evident in the likes of the closing ‘So Long’ which ambles towards ‘Sugarless, but on a more gentle melody.

Just before the release of ‘Morning Ale’ the band were chosen to perform in a massive rock festival in Belfort (France)
“The crowd went crazy while the band bravely gave the best performance th - The Sunday Times (4th March 2001)


There are few sure things in this world, but one of them has to be that everyone in Malta must have heard a Winter Moods song at some time or other. This can hardly be termed a difficult feat, especially because for the past three years at least, the radios – and I don’t just mean local stations – have been blasting Winter Moods’ music on the airwaves at a regular rate.

Making the play list (more than once, by the way!) of an international station like Radio Voyager has obviously been essential in developing the band’s profile beyond these shores, but they have also been busy on the live circuit, even hopping over to play a gig in Cyprus and France in between a tasking gig schedule that took in all of Malta and Gozo. The natural step was of course a new studio album, which is why Winter Moods seemed to fade out of the public eye around October 2001, their existence kept alive only by a steady presence on the airwaves. And while Joe Public was whiling away the time listening to songs like Jamaica, Ride, Brittany, Water and Everyday Song, Winter Moods retreated to Gozo for some brainstorming and, more importantly, song writing.

But that was then, and this is now. Winter Moods have bounced back among us, revived and most certainly relieved that the hardest part – that of completing the new album – is over. Butterfly House is the band’s new album, its name borrowed off the Gozo farmhouse that kick-started this very record into existence, and by now, you should already be familiar with Come To You and Adrenaline, the first two singles to be lifted off this sparkling new 11-track volume of Winter Moods’ music.

The new album’s mixture of upbeat songs and ballads reflects a varied mood to the record, but remains faithful to the contemporary rock direction that was the essence of Morning Ale, even if this time around, the sound oozes more of a live, recharged feel, as can be heard on tracks such as Adrenaline, Albino and opening track All The Time In The World. In between listening to Butterfly House and a million other things on my ‘to-do’ list, I managed to (finally) get some answers/comments from the singer Ivan and the band about writing, recording, radio and butterflies (not really!).

Q. With a good number of radio-friendly tracks, Butterfly House could easily follow in Morning Ale’s tracks and yield several singles. It is my feeling however, that this is probably not what the band has in mind this time around…
A. To tell you the truth, when Morning Ale came out, despite its catchy song writing and commercial richness, we did not plan for 7 singles to burn the airwaves, it just took a life of its own and each and every single did its job. ‘Butterfly House’ also has around 7 potential singles, but then again we’ll let it flow and make its own way through to the listeners, we already put out “Come To You” and “Adrenaline” and they both did very well, still loads to come.

Q. With Butterfly House, I sense a difference in that it has some tracks that – unlike Morning Ale - don’t necessarily hit home on first listen, but they do grow on you after further listening - your comments!
A. Yes you are right, a more mature touch maybe, we got this comment from most of the music critics. It’s good to hear that, its takes more then one listen for most of the new songs to get to you, but once they do, they stay there longer.


Q. Musically, Butterfly House seems to remain pretty close to Morning Ale. Was this deliberate or did it seem like the natural thing to do?
A. It’s a natural continuation, we did not hassle ourselves to stay fully in touch with ‘Morning Ale’. We were all aware that its the right formula, just had to improve and experiment with what we are now capable of. I personally think we just went to the next level of our musical journey.

Q. I think the release of Come To You as a single was a crucial moment because of its shift towards a more ‘pop’ sound. How do you rate the song in hindsight, knowing that it was well received? Also, how much of that ‘pop appeal’ do you think the album has been layered with?
A. I personally think that we should have given more time to “Come To You”. The album was released two months after it hit the airwaves and it was still at its peak, the first single ever to top Bay`s Top 40 and stay there for three consecutive weeks. It was also at No.14 on Radio Voyager`s Top 30, being played once every hour as a power shot. I wouldn’t call it pop though. It’s one of the best songs on the album and it definitely reaches a wider audience, it’s still in the ‘will grow on you’ list. Every song is a different story, I can’t compare one with the other. Second single ‘Adrenaline’ is a completely different song for example, but it is also doing very well, reaching No. 3 on Bay`s Top 40.

Q. Compared to your previous recordings, Adrenaline and Albino represent a rockier slant to your music, a sort of balance against the softer tracks like Come To You or Lifetime. Is the b - The Malta Independent (June 2003)


Reaching out to an audience while keeping followers constantly interested in your music is a challenge faced by all long-time musicians world-wide. However, Malta, being a small island condensed with fresh and young flourishing talents, makes such tasks increasingly difficult, especially since there are limited resources for musical training and progression.

Going down memory lane, I can recall singing along to the likes of Ride, Water and Everyday Song which made local band Winter Moods incredibly popular, helping them gain a large following on our islands. What started out in the mid-eighties as a group of talented, young and hopeful musicians blossomed into one of the most highly requested and established bands on the island.

Twenty years down the road, the band has managed to attract thousands to their music, which literally sums up their realistic, down-to-earth approach that they have always believed in.

With three albums already in full blast, Winter Moods has put all their knowledge, techniques and efforts into their latest album Ordinary Men – an extension of their classic material but with modern and alternative undercurrents. Meeting up with band vocalist Ivan, gave me the opportunity to understand the album’s depth, while discovering how the members have gone through thick and thin to prove themselves and remain together as a team.

When you think about it, few bands have managed to get this far while remaining entirely devoted to their music and balancing this passion with every day’s responsibilities. “Twenty years is a long time and when you are fortunate to have an audience, people tend to like you for who you are. I feel we never looked back in terms of our music but always tried to move a step forward. We do what we do because we love it and the support of the people is what inspires us most,” Ivan told The Sunday Times.

Sitting down on my boyfriend’s couch last Sunday afternoon, sipping my mug of hot chocolate, I could not wait to pop in the CD to see what this new album had to offer ­ – and I was surely not disappointed.

While maintaining a sense of identity, the band has still managed to renovate its sound. It is clear that they stuck to the basics, with their rhythmic bass lines, warm, edgy guitar riffs and overall catchy melodies. Fake Love has all of these elements, and seems to be on the lines of their second album Morning Ale but also makes more use of synthesized sounds.

“I think that there is more maturity in this album,” vocalist Ivan Grech explained. “There are new elements in the songs, such as new guitar sounds and electronic elements, but the rest is still very close to classic Winter Moods,” he added.

In this song we are made to see the importance of moving on and letting go of a relationship when it has reached its downfall. Such sad words compliment the sweet harmonious melodies and Ivan’s passionate vocals.

The entire album is all about real emotions and experiences, with an underlying message, allowing the listener to feel and experience what the musicians have put into musical notes and sounds. “It’s all real life and true emotions. Joseph Rizzo, who wrote a few songs, also went really deep. There is no fiction in our stuff and everything in here is about things that I have gone through or what others around us have experiences,” Ivan said.

A sense of hope when one feels desolate and gloom can be felt in the second number Crazy Moon. This ballad has a few influences from U2, especially in the deep, husky vocals, while the bass lines remind me of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Although a devoted U2 fan, Ivan is open to all music sorts and believes that the album was subconsciously influences by numerous bands which all members enjoy listening to. “Although I am a U2 diehard fan I am also open to various alternative bands including Keane and Snow Patrol. Without knowing it you are influenced by the music you are listening to and when you hear your final product, you realise that you are similar to some bands in certain areas. I cannot say that one particular musician influenced us. This is a continuation of Winter Moods, with more guitar sounds but with the same mysterious feeling as in Butterfly House,” Ivan explained.

Prior to releasing the album, Winter Moods had the task of deciding which song to release as their first single. With a wide variety to choose from, three songs were finally short listed, and Lonely Vegas was selected as the most suited give the public an idea of what is to come. This song reached number one of 89.7 Bay’s Top 40, Winter Moods’ second song to place first on the radio station, after Come to You, released in February 2003. This song shows the band’s eagerness to experiment with their music and lyrical content, which projects the obsession and addiction resulting from gambling habits. This song is one of my favorites in the album, most specifically due to its powerful, dominant guitar intro, creativity and stro - The Sunday Times (5th November 2006)


Eman Pulis meets up with Ivan Grech, lead vocalist of Winter Moods in a not-so-wintery afternoon


As I play Marigold it won’t take long to have me convinced that Winter Moods will be my next prey for this month’s Rocking column. So I meet up with lead vocalist Ivan Grech in a not-so-wintery afternoon to unveil more about Winter Moods’ success story - past, present and future.

Ivan is very receptive to the idea and is eager to uncover more. He takes off with a strong statement that music is an inevitable part of each band member: “We are a family of 5 friends who love music - it is such an important part of our lives that we cannot do without”. They are all passionate, friendly and emotional, not only on-the-field of play but also in their private lives.

I ask about their brand name ‘Winter Moods’ and its conception. Ivan is quick to retort that “it was the mood that inspired us in our teenage days - music, leather jackets, music, beer, music and rain”. As he pompously boasts of his hey days I can picture Ivan, 20 years younger, 20 kilos lighter, spend endless hours of song writing inside some garage in Senglea.

Things have changed since then. From the cosy confines in Cottonera, we now see them on billboards and top-up card advertising, rocking twice as hard in front of both local and foreign enthusiasts. I ask Ivan to comment about the response from his Maltese fan base: “I love the locals; we always get a good response when we perform because we reach out and connect with the crowd. It is so special when a whole crowd sings our songs, it is magic!” says Ivan.

All this justifies their four acclaimed albums, the latest being Ordinary Men. Lustrous wrapping, fine cover-design and eleven tracks, summarizing months of hard work within four studio walls and years of experience: if anything, Ordinary Men is almost futile at attesting that Winter Moods are The band, because that was made totally obvious by their first album. Back then I was 9 and I preferred Barney music to Winter Moods. But things change. The more I listen to their music the more I realise that theirs is a genuine, long-lasting trademark.

With four albums and an everlasting series of live gigs under their belt, I wonder who Ivan’s sources of inspiration could be. “Bono and U2” is his tip of the tongue, adding that; “U2 are and will always remain my favourite Band in every way”. Naturally, I couldn’t agree more to his affiliation. Bono is one of few celebrities who dare to help others in need. Through One (www.one.org), the campaign to make poverty history, Bono asserts that it is "wholly unacceptable," for children to die for lack of low-cost vaccination. "I'm going to spend the rest of my life on this; I'm going to make that kind of extreme poverty history." Similarly, possibly to a lesser extent, Ivan has also been drawn in various local campaigns aimed at raising awareness about AIDS and poverty in Africa.

It’s also thanks to a supportive wife, Deborah, and an understanding boss at Hamilton Travel that Ivan could pursue his music career.

As I scribble my last words on this “stick-to-one-full-page” article, I realise that Winter Moods and vintage wine have one thing in common. Before the batteries on my I-pod turn pale I play what I believe is one of the best songs on Ordinary Men – ‘Hang On to Your Smile’, indeed shedding light on Winter Moods as an unsurpassed local band. Who knows? Perhaps the countdown will strike zero for a fifth album release.
- Juice (April 2006)


Ivan Grech shares anecdotes and secrets of 20 years of Winter Moods with Wayne Flask

The grey hairs have almost run riot, although, admittedly, the dreaded process of hair loss has never threatened Ivan Grech. Nor has his age. His burly, 1m90 figure scoffs the myth of the skinny modern age rockstar; his eyes ooze confidence and his voice, borne with the stress of four studio albums and twenty years of Winter Moods, sounds as reassuring as ever.

That same voice is one of Winter Moods’ unique trademarks, starring from their early ‘Marillion’ years to the open spaces of Morning Ale, then to the arty class of Butterfly House and, finally, to the sentimental overtones of Ordinary Men.

By and large, twenty years have gone by and Winter Moods’ heart is still firmly rooted in the urbane ambience of the Cottonera that raised them and shaped their lives. Twenty years on, they are still doing what they like most, and once the tools of the trade have evolved, their sound has become clearer, with enough degrees of verve to leave an indelible effect on their music.
* * *
It is uncharacteristically sunny in Gozo, considering that Winter Moods have the mysterious power of the rainmaker that has accompanied them wherever they went. It’s Sunday morning and I am quietly penning my questions on the rocky hills to the right of Xlendi bay. My hands smell of salt. There is hardly a noise, hardly a movement. Soon enough, though, I have to be on my way to meet them: PR at 1 will see them have an informal lunch with radio competition winners.

The WM entourage has woken up to a slow morning. There are a few complaints about headaches, eyes are a bit heavy and throats are slightly sore. That night, at the XS Club, the best Winter Moods show in a long time was a fitting tribute to their twentieth anniversary. Seamless, from start to finish, they carried the audience with them through their meandering journey in history and emotions, with a new refined set that has brought them a few more joys.

I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that most of the thousand or so who crowded XS got goosebumps during their rousing performance, a show that included their everlasting Sarah and an unplugged version of Xemx among the highlights. It was, of course, an experiment that worked and, undoubtedly, one of the most convincing Winter Moods of the last few years.

All this talk of years prompts me to point out to Ivan that no one is getting any younger.

“Musically we are definitely still very young, and I feel the same about myself. I’m still a bit of a kid within, I’m always fooling around, and so are the others,” says Ivan. “Since we started recording thirteen years ago we’ve matured a lot, and we’ve done so together. Although we’ve had lineup changes, I think the main factor that has kept us together was our friendship.”

Interesting. Is their friendship so personal, enough to help out, say, with the occasional flat tyre?

“Yes, very much so. Our families are good friends with each other. We’re like brothers. Up until a few years ago I used to meet the guys every single day and to this day I see them more often than my relatives. Our partners are very supportive also. They knew that music was an important part of our lives and that we couldn’t live without it. I mean, it’s not easy, considering that Joseph has three children, and we really admire him because he manages to find time for everything.”

Twenty years ago it was a completely different story than today. Ivan is pleased to take a quick jog down memory lane to recount the early days of Winter Moods when their affections for prog-rock took up most of their time.

He grew up in a family of music connoisseurs. “My brother Alex was in the band club, Norman was a fan of Genesis, Asia, Pink Floyd, Joven was into Led Zeppelin, Queen and Deep Purple, and my sisters Josette and Edmea had other tastes altogether and my mother made sure to keep me in touch with music. In the midst of all this ‘cocktail’ I was exposed to a number of different styles – and Winter Moods was a balance between the creative and the commercial.”

“The first Winter Moods was Joe and Steve [Caruana Smith]. Etienne [Robinich] was a sound technician at first and the singer was a guy called Jesmond Attard. This is around the end of 1986. They had already played in Maltasajf of 1984 as Shades of Darkness, and they also used to play the occasional wedding.” (Steve once had the misfortune of fainting during a reception and collapsed onto the drums). “Etienne eventually took over the keyboards from Arthur Stanicic, with whom I had never got on really well.”

The first Winter Moods also included James Vella on drums, and the band would record their eponymous debut album in 1995, shortly before the arrival of Melvin Caruana on guitars.

The six piece remained unaltered until November last year, when Steve left the band for personal reasons. “The first repercussion was personal, we loved Steve and we’ve alw - The Sunday Times


Discography

Argento (CD album) - 2010
Ordinary Men (CD album) - 2006
Closer (EP) - 2005
Butterfly House (CD album) - 2003
Morning Ale (CD album) - 2000
Fool For An Angel (CD single) - 1998
Winter Moods (CD album) - 1996

Photos

Bio

Winter Moods have produced some of the most popular songs in Malta. Originating from Senglea, with rock roots and influences, over the years Winter Moods' music evolved into the most loved melodies on the island including Marigold, Everyday Song, Come To You, Sarah and many more.

Winter Moods are Malta's top selling artist. They consistently topped the charts and won a string of awards. The band etched its name in Maltese music history with memorable concerts and record-breaking audiences at the Valletta Waterfront in 2008 and The Granaries, Floriana in 2010 – the latter attended by more than 10,000 people.

Through their career, Winter Moods performed with and supported top international artists including Bryan Adams, Elton John, Roger Hodgson, Bob Geldof, Fish, Antonello Venditti and Deep Purple. Winter Moods also performed alongside Maroon 5, Enrique Iglesias and Akon in the Isle of MTV Malta Special and supported the CiaO’Scia concert held in Malta featuring Claudio Baglioni, Gianni Morandi and Riccardo Cocciante. Baglioni sang Winter Moods’ ‘Marigold’ together with the band.

In 2010 Winter Moods released their fifth album, ‘Argento’ which includes hit songs ‘Last To Know’, ‘My Neverland’ and 'Forward To Yesterday'. For more information log on to www.wintermoods.net.

Contact - mail@wintermoods.net, 00356 9948 6548