SCOTT LEACH & STEVEN MAGENEY (CRYSTAL BALL): “This Album Took Us The Longest To Finish, But Still Faster Than [DEF LEPPARD’s] Hysteria

Crystal Ball 2022

Switzerland’s Crystal Ball is entering their third decade on the music scene. 3 years ago the Swiss Hard Rock act celebrated their 20th Anniversary with the release of 2020. The double album includes 20 fan favorites, with 10 classic songs given the re-work treatment. During the lockdowns, Crystal Ball composed over 30 song ideas for their next studio album. Whittled down to their 11 best tracks (plus two bonuses), Crysteria was released at the beginning of 2022. I had the chance to correspond with guitarist Scott Leach and vocalist Steven Mageney shortly after the album’s release.

Metal Express Radio: If I knew absolutely nothing about Crystal Ball, how would you describe the band’s music to me?

Scott Leach: CRYSTAL BALL is a Hard Rock / Melodic Metal band out of Switzerland. The band has its roots in the eighties, but plays with a modern approach. Catchy, passionate songs with heavy riffs, a tight rhythm section and great melodic vocals and guitar solos are their trademarks.

MER: On January 28, 2022, Crystal Ball released their 11th studio album Crysteria through Massacre Records. Reviews from critics and your peers alike have been highly positive. Would you say this album is your Hysteria?

SL: Time will tell … but I actually I always preferred Pyromania, LOL. Seriously, it’s hard to say. But since the sales are good but have not trippeled yet … we are relaxed and see what happens next. There is one analogy though, this album took us the longest to finish, but still faster than Hysteria, haha.

MER: You’ve added a new guitarist to your ranks for this album. How was Peter Berger discovered and recruited for the band?

SL: We knew Peter already from a past show, where he played in another band that opened up for us. Switzerland is quite small and the rock music scene is not that big. So we knew more or less what he was doing from social media too. We were brainstorming who we could consider as new guitar player, and he was one of the first to pop up. So we got in touch and met for a first talk and of course we jammed in the rehearsal room. He convinced us on both levels, musically and personally.

MER: Let’s talk a bit about the singles you released thus far from Crysteria. What is the story behind “I Am Rock?”

SL: “I Am Rock” is about the music we all love. It’s written from the perspective of the music itself. So the music ‘speaks’ in this song.

MER: Talk about the story behind “You Lit My Fire”…

Steven Mageney: It’s a typical eighties song with a distinctive guitar riff. I wanted to write a suitable text for it and came up with “wild life, music, fun” or better sex, drugs and rock’n’roll (hahaha). So I wrote a corresponding text and used everything about car racing as an image.

MER: Peter Östros & Johan Fahlberg of Jaded Heart appear on “Crystal Heart.” How did you get them involved and what is the story behind the song?

SM: We have known the band for many years and we wanted to tour with them in January. So we came up with the idea of ​​writing a song together to promote the tour. It was a great cooperation, both bands gave all and a really great song came out of it, which we will definitely play live together one day.

MER: Another special guest on the album is singer Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, MSG, The Ferrymen). How did you recruit him for the song “Call of the Wild,” and what is the story behind the song….

SM: I met Ronnie at joint shows in Switzerland. He’s a super nice guy and a fantastic singer. When it was clear that we wanted a duet on the album, Ronnie was my first choice and, as you can see, the right one.

MER: Do you think some Hard Rock & Metal fans are unfairly critical of Ronnie appearing on so many projects whether they be with longtime established bands or up and coming new projects?

SM: Who am I to criticize him? He is currently one of the best singers in the world and he wants to show it. I think that’s totally fine. I’m happy that there is such a singer and I like to hear him, no matter with whom.

MER: Crystal Ball wrote over 30 songs for Crysteria. What do you plan to do with the leftovers?

SL: The question we ask ourselves is: If the leftovers were not (yet) good enough for this album, why should we use it for the next? When time is right, we will listen to the material with fresh ears and decide whether we’ll keep working on it or put it back on the shelf. If we decide to use some of the material, we will certainly work it over and see if it’s on the same level as the new material

MER: Stefan Kaufman (ex-Accept, ex-U.D.O) returns for the 8th time as producer. What does Stefan bring to table and what have you learned from him over the years?

SM: This man is a legend and I personally learned a lot from him. Always giving your best or that the focus is on the song and not the individual musician. He also made me better with every production, for which I am very grateful.

MER: Does Crystal Ball have plans to tour in support of Crysteria?

SL: We had a headliner tour planed in Germany in February 2022. It had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. It was planned more than a year ago. Of course will set up something new, but this will take some time. Also it’s difficult because so many bands kept shifting their dates over the past years, that many clubs are completely overbook and don’t have any free spots for this year anymore. But will have some shows in Switzerland coming up.

MER: Crystal Ball has toured the World over since its inception in 1998. What is one of your most memorable gigs and why?

SL: It’s hard to pick just one. To me personally it was our first show with the Scorpions. Great stage, great scenery, great sound and most important: a great crowd. I felt like a rockstar for the first time myself, LOL. And we never sold so much merch before. It’s quite a difference if you play clubs or even smaller festival or in front of 10000 fans.

MER: Along the way you must have had a “Spinal Tap Moment” …

SL: Oh yes, I remember one moment almost similar to Spinal Tap. When the HELLvetia album was released, it featured a song with a Swiss “Alphorn” intro. For the first shows we organized two real alphorns (they are about 3,5 meters long) and some traditional swiss costumes for our crew to “play” the intro. That was all perfect and very well received by the fans. When we went on a longer tour, we wanted to do the same thing, but we could not take along the real expensive instruments, because we didn’t own them.

So we asked a guy to do a genuine looking replica of an alphorn for that tour. He said, no problem I can make you one. It took quite some time. It was finished only one day before the tour. He delivered it to our rehearsal room at night before we arrived. What we saw made us laugh so hard. It was about 1 Meter long (original about 3,5 Meter) and the shape was just like drain pipe. Not even close to what a real alphorn looks like. The color was not wooden, but more like vanilla cream. That was just like Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge”.

CRYSTAL BALL - Virtual EmpireMER: This year is the 20th Anniversary of Crystal Ball’s third studio album Virtual Empire. What do you remember about recording the album, the reception after its release, and the tour that followed?

SL: I remember it very well. It was the first album for Nuclear Blast and we were really thrilled about it. It was our third production with Tommy Newton and we knew how everything is done. Nevertheless I was not very happy the mix of the album. It was the first time that I wasn’t there during the mix. So I have to take the blame myself I guess.

Nuclear Blast helped us to lot to get more attention. I did a ton of interviews like never before and the distribution was extended to a lot of countries we had no contacts beforehand. We toured a lot with this album. Starting off with supporting Dokken, that was a dream come true for me. We continued the tour with some Festivals and headliner shows, supporting DORO, U.D.O, and again with DORO. All in about 8 month.

MER: Does the band plan to honor the album’s anniversary in any way?

SL: There are no plans for that yet. Since we’ve done our “2020” anniversary double best of album already in 2019. 20 songs for 20 year of Crystal Ball. We have recorded 10 of the older song completely new. Among them was “I Am Free” and “Dance with the Devil” from Virtual Empire.

MER: Is there anything else you’d like to mention that I didn’t touch upon?

SM: We are very grateful that it starts again, and we look forward to seeing many fans at our concerts again. Everyone stay healthy and take care of yourselves.

SL: Many thanks to all the fans that support us, buy our CDs, come to our shows (sometimes from very far away places), stream our music and give us feedback on social media.

Crystal Ball Is

Steven Mageney – Vocals
Scott Leach – Guitars
Cris Stone – Bass
Peter Berger – Guitars
Marcel Sardella – Drums


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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