Enjoy this unhip, uncool and un-sexy music!
Elena Atkinson: Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
Michael Wachelhofer: Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Steve Wachelhofer: Guitars, Vocals
Erich Blie: Drums, Percussions
Austria may be known as the center of classical music but make no mistake - Cornerstone is here to rock! Signed by the US-based label ATOM Records, this melodic rock band – comprising British singer Elena Atkinson (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Michael Wachelhofer (bass, keyboards, vocals), Steve Wachelhofer (guitars, vocals) and Erich Blie (drums, percussions) - has done numerous tours throughout Europe and America. Cornerstone has also shared the stage with The Animals, John Waite (Bad English, The Babys) and American singer/songwriter Jeffrey Gaines – amongst others – and has played several concerts with Gary Howard (Flying Pickets, Alan Parsons). Revered for their blend of 80's rock mixed with the harder edge of today's alternative rock sounds, Cornerstone has enjoyed ample press attention. In March 2008, the band won US-based Alternative Addiction’s "Next Big Thing" contest. Later the same year, the release of their debut album "Head Over Heels" sparked reviews and interviews that were published in magazines like Powerplay, Fireworks and Classic Rock Magazine. Several tracks from this album were also featured in the motion-picture soundtrack for the documentary "Little Alien", directed by Nina Kusturica (2009).
After the release of their second album "Somewhere in America" in 2011, Cornerstone appeared on UK radio programs such as the Steve Price Show and BBC Radio. The year after, their single "Right or Wrong" won an award as "Ballad of the year", chosen by British Rock Realms Magazine. Following this, the band enjoyed success in the UK performing at such festivals as the Cambridge Rock Festival, the Rock and Bike Fest, and the Pop Overthrow Festival in Liverpool. In their home country of Austria, Cornerstone were featured by ORF Radio OE3, Radio Arabella, Welle1 and Radio 88.6, the biggest national radio stations, and made several Austrian TV appearances. In 2013, the band's cover of the 80's-hit "Smalltown Boy" (by Bronski Beat) appeared in the charts, with all proceeds going to the "Room to Breathe" campaign, a charity benefiting Nottingham City Hospital. In 2016, Cornerstone released their third studio-album "Reflections", which was produced in Canada in collaboration with Harry Hess (Billy Talent, Muse, Harem Scarem). As a prelude, their power ballad "Whatever" participated in the pre-voting for the wildcard of the Eurovision Song Contest and placed fourth. In 2022, the band will be back with a new Single "Private Eyes", a single produced in ongoing collaborations with Harry Hess.
Head over to somewhere in America
Everything started in summer of 1998, when Steve and Michael Wachelhofer learned to play the bass/guitar and decided to form a band. Later on, drummer Markus Bousska – who also happens to be a direct descendant of Napoleon Bonaparte! - joined the group, and they began to cover songs by The Cure, R.E.M. and Soul Asylum. Although the band started writing their first originals during this time, a few internal difficulties arose - there was a constant coming and going of band members - and after many personnel changes, some moderately successful gigs and a disastrous recording-session, which has never been finished, the band teetered on the brink of collapse in summer of 2004. But then Hannah Wachter and rock singer Anja Schirmer serendipitously joined the band and boosted their career. With those two musicians the band also recorded their debut "Head Over Heels".
After the worldwide promotional tour for the album there were further personnel changes - "Somewhere in America" was recorded with Mike Pawlowitsch on drums and singer Patricia Hillinger - but the optimum Line-Up was established after touring with the talented Alina Peter and Christoph Karas, who had experience playing in local bands. It was pure coincidence that these four different people, who so perfectly complement each other personally and musically, got together. The band's identity, which Cornerstone developed over time, is well summarized in a statement by Thomas Magyar, the sound engineer of the band: "If you mix a recording, it usually happens that the singer wants his voice louder, the guitar-player wants the guitar in the foreground and the bass-player his bass more powerful. In the case of Cornerstone, everyone wanted to be mixed in the background".
Let's help this poor Smalltown Boy
In 2013, the band did another very sucessful tour through the United Kingdom, including an appearance at the legendary Cambridge Rock Festival and countless radio- and press-features. Everything started fine, but in the middle of all the action Cornerstone’s UK-booker suddenly had to go to hospital due to severe pain in his chest. "It was heart-attack city first", Michael said, "we went to visit him in Nottingham Hospital and we were shocked how frail a person could look like from one day to another. This was our first contact with an illness called Cystic Fibrosis. So we've decided: let's go into action! We found out about the new unit, the only one of it's kind in the UK, which will bring in new treatment possibilities and so on, and that it is completely funded by charity. So the possibility, to help funding this new unit represented itself". The band toyed around with the idea of doing an Erasure-cover in aid of this, but they didn't feel comfortable enough with their stuff. "Then, suddenly, Steve said something like 'we have to help this Smalltown Boy', and this spontaneous thing happened with us where we all started getting into that same spirit", adds Wachelhofer."
"The lyrics of the song hit the CF-topic quite perfectly.“ says Steve Wachelhofer. "You might feel as an outsider, no one cares about you, people treat you like an alien, and this probably makes you feel to 'turn away, run away', to find a cure. We immediately saw that connection". The recording process was far from easy, and it took the band around 3 months to complete. The guy who did the very first mixdown couldn't handle it correctly, and so the single turned out horribly. “I remember quite clearly, we were somewhere on the M1, listened to the first mix of 'Smalltown Boy', and I asked our Booker about his very honest opinion about it. He didn't say something, just opened the car-window, took the CD - and threw it out of the window! So the original Mix of 'Smalltown Boy' lies now somewhere on the motorway between Nottingham and Birmingham...", says Michael Wachelhofer with a grin. "Of course we remixed the song, we have worked together with Grammy-winner Brad Blackwood, and everything sounded fine. I'm very satisfied with our version of 'Smalltown Boy' now!"