Interview and Biography by Austin Jenkins
Joe Lynn Turner is one of the most influential and hardworking vocalists of our time. One short look at his discography and
you will immediately see just how varied his voice is. From being the vocalist for legendary rock groups like Deep Purple &
Rainbow, to singing with guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen, to his incredible and successful solo career singing his own unique
style of soul rock, Joe has done it all.
32 years since his first taste of major success with the band Fandango, Joe is still going strong. His voice is still one of the
best in the business, and in this exclusive interview conducted by Austin Jenkins, you will learn all about his approach.
Joe Lynn Turner Interview (e-interview)
Interview Conducted by Austin Jenkins
Austin: First off, what kind of music and what artists do you think helped to shape who you are today vocally?
Joe: Several different ones from Hendrix to Sinatra to Otis Redding. Although I have to admit that my love for singing and style developed when I was singing with my black friends in their church. One of my first bands was Filet of Soul and old soul and Rhythm and Blues music has probably influenced my singing style more than any genre.
Austin: Have you received any vocal training?
Joe: I did not have any formal training up until right before my first album with Fandango.
Austin: Have you ever used any books/CDs/DVDs to help with your vocal development?
Joe: I have many old books that I read and used but these go way back before there were all these vocal coaches making DVDs, videos, e-books, etc. I can't remember all the titles but I never have used any current CDs, DVDs or books.
Austin: Your voice has changed over the years. What do you credit this to? Has it just come with age, or is it a change of style you've consciously developed?
Joe: I credit the change to natural maturity and experience that comes with age. As I have gained more experience and aged I have been able to refine and define my style more.
Austin: Back when you were starting out, how often did you practice to develop your voice into what it is today?
Joe: When I was taking lessons I practiced every day for about an hour but that was because I wanted to practice the techniques I was taught in lessons. However, I want to stress it is never a good idea to over do it or sing too much. It can wear the voice out.Currently, if I have to sing in a professional situation I only warm up about 20 minutes.
Austin: What kinds of things did you do in the early days to develop yourself as a singer, and to cultivate the unique style you are known for today?
Joe: It goes back to the soul and R&B. I listened a lot of those types of artists and also worked on developing an ear for pitch and tone.
Austin: You've always had a large range, but how long did it take to build it up?
Joe: I am still building it up. The process never ends. Sometimes truly finding your "own" voice can take a lifetime.
Austin: Did your head voice come naturally, or was it something you had to work on to get it to the quality it is now?
Joe: I had to work on it at first but now it comes very naturally.
Austin: When you are preparing to sing, do you do a warm up? If so, what does the warm up consist of, and about how long does it take to perform. After singing, do you warm down?
Joe: I use some vocal exercises from my singing lessons 25 years ago. I have them all on CD now. A lot of humming and tongue rolls, things like that. Unfortunately, there is often no time to "warm down" because in most situations, after a show there is schmoozing and socializing that has to be done with fans and people in the music business. I have to be careful not to talk excessively after a show or before a show to where it ruins my voice.
Austin: You're known for having a good control of your voice, especially when it comes to adding rasp. A lot of Voice Connection readers are interested in techniques used by famous singers to apply rasp, so where do you feel it when you sing raspy as opposed to singing clean. Do you feel it up against your soft palate?
Joe: I honestly never thought about this that much. I guess it comes naturally for me. When it happens I feel it from the throat.
Austin: What other changes do you make to your approach when your singing raspy as opposed to singing clean? Do you add more volume, push a little harder, etc.?
Joe: It's all about dynamics and emotion. I really focus on putting emotion into my singing and feeling the lyrics and what comes out comes out authentically that way. If it's a whisper or a rasp, both can have an emotional effect on the listener.
Austin: At what volume do you sing? Do you try to keep it around the same level that you speak, or do you sing
with a lot of volume?
Joe: Volume? It depends on the song and situation. I actually sing with a lot of volume...I am a loud singer.
Austin: Do you have any idea of what your current range is?
Joe: 4 or 5 octaves but I do not know for sure because I never really had to know. I can handle very low notes and high pitched screams with ease. Whatever a song requires.
Austin: When singing, what kind of support do you use? Do you utilize what Jaime calls the power push (pushing down as if going to the restroom to avoid strain and add power to your voice)?
Joe: Yeah that is a good way to describe it. I call it a push down/pull up technique.
Austin: Have you ever caused any major damage to your voice?
Joe: Not major as far as something like nodes or anything that requires surgery. I have always tried to sing correctly. Sure, I have blown out my voice some nights...or after 4 night in a row. It's really not a good idea for a singer to do more than 4 consecutive nights. The voice needs a rest after that.
Austin: When your on the road and are having vocal issues, how do you get your voice back in shape by show time? Any tips for The Voice Connection readers?
Joe: Lots of steam...steamy showers...a steam room if one can be found (some hotels have them) and herbal teas. Olbas oil is awesome, I use Tiger Balm as well. I do travel with a small steamer. It's important to stay hydrated, eat properly.
Austin: A big issue for many singers would be singing in the morning. When you have an appearance to do first thing in the morning, what do you do to get your voice performance quality ready?
Joe: Some cups of coffee or tea, warm up the throat in a hot shower...again...lots of steam.
Austin: I want to move on now to your studio approach. You've obviously worked on your fair share of albums over the years, so you're an expert with this topic. First off, where do you usually record? Do you have a home studio?
Joe: I do have a home studio and have recorded in a variety of situations. Most recently, I have done most work in home studios because technology makes this possible. Engineer Gary Tole, who has worked with many major artists including Bon Jovi, will travel with his "rig," come right to my house and we will lay down tracks in my living room. The technology really has come that far. Right now I am upgrading my own home studio so I do not have a list of gear for you at this moment.
Austin: How do you approach vocal tracking? Do you sing one line at a time, do several takes and comp it together, etc.?
Joe: I usually sing through the song as far as I feel comfortable and am able to get the emotional vibe that I feel the song deserves. Then, we will pick up where we left off. It usually does not take me many "takes" to get it right I think some of the authenticity can be lost if it takes too many "takes."
Austin: How much technology do you use when recording? Do you use things like pitch correctors and harmonizers?
Joe: I don't, no. I have very few pitch problems that need to be corrected. If I find that I did have a pitch problem in a take, I will correct it physically, not with any sort of equipment.
Austin: How do you keep your voice in shape after hours of tracking?
Joe: The same things I have already mentioned, but I also need to mention that sleep is very important...probably THE most important thing.
Austin: Give me a summary of a normal day in the studio for you.
Joe: There is no normal day...LOL...rock and roll is never always something that runs on schedule! But if you are referring
to a vocal session, if I cannot get the vocals right for one song in 3 takes then it may be the wrong day for that vocal.
Austin: What's a normal day on the road for you?
Joe: Again...LOL...normal day? What's a normal day in the rock and roll world? ;-). I do a lot of mental prep and try not to
speak a lot during the day. I also have to prepare emotionally. It's important to get a lot of steam going in the shower,
nap, get enough rest and then pump myself up mentally for the show before we go on. I sometimes will watch part of
the opening act because it gets me psyched up. If I am with RPM I almost always watch the earlier songs in the set if I
am not part of them.
Austin: What about your songwriting process? How do you usually write a song? Do you come up with your ideas
on a guitar, work with a collaborator, etc.?
Joe: It can happen all of those ways and others. There are no hard and fast rules. Sometimes I will start with a lyric and
develop a melody or track, sometimes I am sent a track and I write the melody and then the lyrics. I do compose on
the guitar...not always but since I am a guitarist I find that to work well for me.
Austin: Now a few questions about your music. First off, everyone wants to know if there will be a Hughes
Turner Project 3?
Joe: There is nothing in works right now. Glenn's doing his own stuff and I am doing mine. It would be great to do another
album. I am certainly open to the idea.
Austin: What about another Hughes Turner Project Tour?
Joe: Anything is possible. It was a great time and I would enjoy doing it again. I'd especially love to bring some HTP shows to
Austin: What other projects are you working on at this time?
Joe: WOW...too many to name and some I cannot talk about just yet because they are in the works. I will be doing strings of
shows in Finland and South America in June. Then, I have to finish working on a second "Sunstorm" album. We will
probably be doing some more Big Noize shows and then I also have some concerts to do with RPM. Eventually, I will
get another solo album written and recorded as well.
Austin: In closing, what would be the biggest advice you want to give to someone interested in becoming a
Joe: You need to put in lots of hard work and be very disciplined. It's important to also be thick skinned because as a singer
you are exposing your emotions to world. You have to be fearless. If you are afraid of any of this you need to get over