Painted Doll – On Retro-Rock, Death Metal and the great fun making music

Two guys form a new band, founded on their Passion for „obscure European Rock Bands of the Sixties“. No big deal. But this cooperation is Special. It’s Dave Hill, most likely known for being a TV-and-Radio Comedian (and also musician), and Chris Reifert, Drummer and Singer of the mighty Death-Metal-Force Autopsy. The selftitled Album Features melodies that could well be found on a Album of The Kinks, as well as Oasis or The Doors. This interview was conducted for german online Music Magazine Whiskey-Soda. It’s the raw, unedited Interview. Enjoy!

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Hello Dave and Chris, and all the Best from Germany to the United States!

First of all, I’d like to thank you for taking your time and this interview for the readers of German alternative Music Magazine whiskey-soda.de.

DAVE: Thanks for talking to us!

CHRIS: Yeah, glad to chat with you!

1. Obviously, your music is influenced by a wide range of Rock-Bands from the 60’s until today. I hear mostly british/european influences, like The Kinks or The Clash, but also a lot off other stuff. In the last twenty years there’s been a revival of so called „Retro-Rock-Bands“. This has reached a level where a new release could be easily regarded as „just another unispired Retro-Band“. Where you guys aware of that and if yes, did you try to make something about it?

DAVE: I don’t think we were really trying to be “retro”, but the band was definitely inspired by our mutual love for ‘60s and ‘70s psych rock and pop music. Shortly after we met at an Autopsy show a couple years ago, we began sharing music that we loved with each other, stuff like Shocking Blue and the Groundhogs as well as more obscure stuff like Inca Bullet Joe and bands that had only released a single or two maybe. Eventually we decided to form a band inspired by all the stuff we’d been sending back and forth.

CHRIS: We went into this with basically no preconceived notions about what we were going to do. Once we decided to actually form a band, we started sending each other song ideas without ever saying that we should sound like this or that. It was kind of pure how it happened in the sense that our heads seemed to be in the same place in regards to what sort of stuff we were going to write. We pretty much never even mentioned the fact that there’s a heavy retro scene going on at the moment. For me, these tunes all seem really fresh and not even retro at all. Just good rock songs with a psychedelic edge, ya know?

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2. I really like the Album, it’s no light fare and very quite diverse and unique.  What do YOU GUYS consider to be unique about the album, what are you especially proud of or what was/is important to you to point out?

DAVE: I think what’s unique about the album is that Chris and I are both from pretty different backgrounds creatively or are at least known for very different things and then we joined together to wind up where neither of us had really gone before and create Painted Doll. As far as what I am proud of about the album, this might sound corny, but for me, it was just the process of how it came together and becoming good friends with Chris as we went from just trading music as fans to eventually jamming and finally getting into a recording studio together. It all came together very quickly without much plotting or planning. We would just trade rough demos we had recorded into our phones and then, whenever I was in LA doing comedy shows or TV stuff, Chris would drive down from the Bay Area and we’d jam for a few hours. We probably jammed together four times before going into the recording studio and banging out the whole album in three days. It was a fun and loose process. We didn’t overthink anything and just kind of went with our gut and had fun. Also, we only had three days in the studio, so we couldn’t screw around too much. We picked a couple guitars and two or three amps we liked the sound of and just banged it out live on guitar and drums and then overdubbed bass and a second guitar. Everything was done in one or two takes. So just the process of all that feels great and the fact that people are actually going to hear it now is super exciting.

CHRIS: Yeah, it’s an interesting pairing that no one saw coming, least of all ourselves. Haha! That’s what makes it so cool for me though. I like how the songs are all over the map style-wise but somehow they flow together nicely. That has a charm for me. I’m also proud of the fact that this whole thing actually happened in the first place. We had a crazy idea and went for it and it worked. We actually recorded the album without anyone having heard of us and with no label interest at all and even went as far as making a music video to go along with it. Nick Gomez really made a cool video for us and he’s an amazing dude on several levels. Anyways, we figured we’d just make the record and if it came out really good, someone would be interested in it. I do recall Dave saying that he wanted to get on Tee Pee Records for this, which ended up happening, much to our delight and surprise. It’s been a fun ride so far and we’re just getting started as far as the public is concerned. I’m enjoying the fuck out of this!

3. Dave, you are also a comedian and you collaboration with Chris could be described as quite „unusual“.  Can you tell our readers a little deeper than the press info how Painted Doll came to life in particular and if there were any special obstacles?

DAVE: Haha- yeah, it’s definitely a weird combo on the surface what with me being known mostly as a comedian and Chris being a death metal god. But it all came together pretty naturally. I always played in bands before I went into comedy, so I already had a musical background. And then I was at Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Festival in Texas a couple years ago and Autopsy was playing. I was psyched to check them out and Chris wife, Nancy, said hello to me out in the lobby where she was selling Autopsy shirts. Chris and Nancy had just seen me on a TV show in the states, @midnight on Comedy Central, so she recognized me from that, I guess. The three of us ended up hanging out that night while Goblin played and hit it off right away. Chris and I kept in touch via email after that, just trading music and stuff and not really planning on playing together and when I’d come to the Bay Area to do comedy shows, he and Nancy would come out. I play guitar a bit in my comedy shows, so I guess when Chris saw that I could play he got the idea that maybe we should jam some time. I was of course excited for that! Originally we were just going to do a 7-inch or something, but the songs came quickly and soon we were ready to crank out a whole album.
As far as obstacles, the only real obstacles are that Chris lives in California and I live in New York, so it makes it hard to practice! But that almost makes it better for us because we have to make it count when we do get together. Sometimes I think if we lived in the same city, we wouldn’t have gotten as much done already! We already have the next written pretty much written, so we’re gearing up to do that hopefully before the end of the year.

CHRIS: What Dave said is exactly how it went down. My wife and I were fans of Dave’s after seeing him on @midnight, and we heard that he was going to be at the same festival in Texas that Autopsy was playing. He was playing guitar for Thor, which was unusual in itself. Even more unusual and super cool was meeting up after my wife flagged him down in the lobby of the venue and watching Goblin together. We stayed in touch after that and became friends and like Dave said, my wife and I would come see his comedy shows when he played in San Francisco. I remember having this thought about jamming together while watching him play guitar at one of the shows. The rehearsal room I jam in is in Oakland, which is really close to San Francisco, so the thought started out as „hey, next time you’re in town, we should run over to the jam room and make some kind of noise.“ That triggered this whole concept of starting an actual band. Things just snowballed from there and here we are now talking to you about it. Life is nuts sometimes! And by far, the biggest obstacle was and still is the fact that we live on opposite sides of the country. But of course, when driven, there’s always a way to figure things out. Nothing was going to stop us from rocking!

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4. Chris, you are a well known Death Metal Drummer. This project probably appears to be quite unexpected to a lot of your fans. What was the hardest (or maybe most rewarding) thing for you as a metal musician co-writing some kind of Psych-Rock? How did you guys share the work / write the music in the first place?

CHRIS: I have dabbled in psych rock before when I did a project called Mirror Snake 12 years ago. It was fun and turned out cool but quickly slid into obscurity. I still have boxes of that album sitting around in my house. Haha! But I like challenging myself by doing different things musically, going back to playing death metal when it was a new thing. That was weird and actually an uncool thing to do at the time but that kind of just turned me on. It felt like being a part of something special that most people didn’t know about or approve of. I didn’t care if it would be accepted or not and there were definitely people that thought it was a dumb thing to do. Haha! When it comes to Painted Doll, I have the same attitude. I believe in it 100% and never worried about it being welcomed with open arms by any particular scene or not. When I do something musically, it’s because I feel driven to do it and this is no exception. So far it’s been going over great though, which is fantastic. One of my favorite things to do when it comes to music is writing. I never get tired of finishing a song on just guitar at home, and hearing the whole thing finished in my head with all the instruments and vocals in place. It’s fun to create something that was never there, ya know? It was really easy to write this stuff for me and I reckon Dave would say the same. Both of us being fans of psych rock probably helped when slipping into the mindset. We pretty much wrote songs separately and sent crude home demos back and forth, making little tweaks along the way when necessary. We came up with half of the album each and the way we broke it down in the studio was like this: I played drums on all the songs and Dave played guitar and vocals on all the songs and keyboards on a couple as well. From there, whoever wrote the song would play bass and the second rhythm guitar on the song. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to do it again!

5. I realize this is something whole new and you may not be able to answer this, but as of now: Is this more kind of a „fun project“ or something that could become a bigger thing/real touring band / whatever in the future?  I.e. are there already any further plans, ideas, wishes?

DAVE: I think it’s both- we’re definitely having fun but are excited to do as much as we can with it and go with any opportunities that come our way. At the moment, we are planning to play a handful of live shows on the East Coast of the U.S. in March, including a couple shows opening for Monster Magnet, which we are really excited about. And then in April, we’ll do a handful of shows on the West Coast. We have a full-band lineup for the lives shows, including Erika Osterhout from Scolex on bass and Tom Beaujour, who recorded our album at his studio in New Jersey, on guitar. So yeah, we’re excited to play live and would love to come to Europe or go anywhere in the world where people want to hear Painted Doll and hopefully let us stay at their houses and rifle through their things. And then, of course, we’re excited to record our second album, which is pretty much ready to go too. So yeah, we’re having fun even if it’s just the two of a jamming in a sweaty practice room but we’re also excited to take Painted Doll as far as we can all over the world. If you want us to come to your town, get in touch! I’m talking to you, Berlin, Tokyo, Cleveland, and anywhere else!

CHRIS: It’s definitely something we’re taking seriously, but it’s also super fun. We work well together and nothing feels forced, which is the way it should be. We’ve already got a bunch of shows booked, including a couple with Monster Magnet, who are one of our favorite bands, so that rules. Plus we already have the second album just about written and ready to go, so expect more smokin‘ jams from us in the not too distant future. It’s exciting waiting to see what else is going to come up too. I really dig this band and we’re ready to rock your socks off!

6. Obviously you guys love making music and dedicated quite some time and sweat in your album. Besides being passionate, innovative musicians, do you guys have any other „Secret Talents“ ? What are you not talented in at all? 😉

DAVE: Hmmm. I don’t know if I have any secret talents other than I used to be able to do that one dance move where you jump through your own legs, which was briefly popular on MTV in the 90s. I haven’t tried that in a while though. Maybe I will make it part of the Painted Doll live shows if things get slow. As for things I am not talented at, I do know that I suck at basketball, but I am okay with that.

CHRIS: I can read squirrels minds but haven’t found much use for that gift yet. Beyond that, music is just about the only thing I’m not terrible at.

7. Give answer to the question, no Music Journalist ever asked you or tell us the share the one question, you can’t stand hearing any longer!

DAVE: No one ever asks me what I think of the ‘90s R&B group TLC. I love them.

CHRIS: No one asks me if I can read squirrels minds or how I developed that talent, but unless I bring it up, how would they know? Now that I’ve brought it up, I’ll probably begin to hate the repeated questions asking why I think it’s a useful quality. The answer will always be „don’t question it, just wait and see who is safe when the squirrel revolution comes.“ It’ll be me.

8. Anything else you want to point out about the album, the band, your other artistic projects or your passion for music?

DAVE: If anyone wants to bring us snacks at shows, we would love that. I once played a show in Cardiff, Wales and someone brought little salmon appetizers. Everyone was super pumped. Some people think you shouldn’t accept salmon from strangers but I disagree. You only live once- try the salmon!

CHRIS: I will absolutely be all over the salmon if it’s offered to me, especially if it’s accompanied by some lemon, dill and maybe some capers. And if you give Dave a couple of Habanero peppers, he WILL eat them, so don’t think you’re being clever. I can attest to that. And sure this answer has nothing to do with Painted Doll, but Dave set the stage here and I just turned on the lights.

Copyright Fotos & Album Cover: Painted Doll Facebook

 

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VEKTOR: Sci-Fi or Die! (Interview)

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Vektor is a Progressive Thrash Metal Band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The four guys including singer, guitarist and founder David DiSanto have been around for almost 15 years, creating their very own approach of Metal, including enthusiasm for Science-Fiction. In December 2015 the band were more than excited to get on their very first European Headliner Tour, just very shortly after the horrible terrorist attacks at Bataclan Club in Paris. I talked to David right before their only Swiss Show about their roots and Thrash Metal in general, about philosophy and religion and of course ubout their upcoming third album „Terminal Redux“ (due in May 2016 at Earache Records). This interview is a raw and unedited transcript. There will be an edited, german translation coming up at Whiskey-Soda Webzine, which I conducted the interview for.

Whiskey-Soda Magazine: It’s your first tour to Europe and you’ve been to France and Italy. What are your thoughts touring Europe considering the latest events? It’s only three weeks after the Terrorist attacks at Bataclan in Paris. Do you feel safe and comfortable?

David DiSanto: There was just a very short conversation in the band like: „Are we still gonna do this? Yeah, let’s do it! Fuck that!“ Obviously it’s very sad what happened from these terrorist assholes. But we won’t gonna let detour us from playing. There was already a bunch of people that wanted to see us. After something like that happens, there’s much tighter border control, there’s tighter security. It was a little nervewrecking some night, though. A few days ago when we played in Paris, there was a mobile police station outside the doors. Once we started playing the crowd started going nuts. The venue was close to being sold out. So when everything kicked off, we felt okay.

WS: You are a Thrash Metal Band. What about this Statment: „Thrash Metal is still musically relevant today.“ Agree or Disagree? In my reception, there’s mostly the veteran bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer and so on.

DD: At the core, we’re a Thrash-Metal band. There’s a lot of newer bands, and a lot of the new bands only like the old bands. So I kind of fall into this category. My favourite Thrash-Bands are the old ones, although there are a few ones that I really like. Like Antichrist, „Forbidden World“ was a great album. But there’s no huge bands. So People might call it a revival, but it’s not anywhere big as it used to be.

WS: But the old bands are still very popular, or popular again. I think it’s because Thrash has a good part of „old values“ in it, it’s usually raw, straight-forward and authentic. Unlike a lot of polished, over-produced newer Metalbands, that sound pretty much the same and become boring very soon. So why aren’t there more younger Thrash-Bands coming up a little closer to the Surface of success? There are a lot of Death-Metal-Bands that get bigger audiences, and of course the more Mainstream Stuff. So if Thrash is altogether honest and straight, why isn’t that the case for them, too?

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DD: Well, I think it’s a lot of factors. For a lot of Kids today it’s much more easier to copy other people because of the internet. They have the world at their fingertips. They can go to Youtube-Channel after Youtube-Channel and just binge on it. When I was younger, I didn’t have a ton of bands. They way I found out about bands was reading Thank You Notes in Albums. When I decided to start a Thrash-Band I didn’t really know about many Thrash-Bands, but I was listening to all kinds of music. So I ended up blending a lot of different things. But today there’s so much Thrash available so the kids tend to just copy it all. And it doesn’t end up coming off as genuine as a lot of the older bands. You can name them all, they all sound very different: Exodus, Nuclear Assault, Kreator, Destruction, Slayer, Violence, Forbidden. They all got Thrash elements, but you can tell them apart easily. That’s not something you can really do nowadays.

WS: Maybe it is just because there are some many bands nowadays. It’s much easier to produce an album, you don’t necessarily need a record deal. You can pay for the production of your own album with crowdfunding. With the internet, the world is at your fingertips and once the music is done, and album is just „a few“ clicks away.

DD: Well, there probably was a lot of bands back then, but nobody knew who the hell they were. It wasn’t flooded like today. The only people that actually got noticed were the really good bands.

WS: I assume you guys are close to the metal underground, at least at the US East Coast. What exciting stuff is going on there? Are there any great new Metal bands coming up that you can recommend to our Readers?

DD: One of the coolest younger bands coming out of our area is called Noisem, they’re from Baltimore and they’re awesome. When they came oout with there first album, which is just a year or two ago. They’re only teenagers, but they’re ripping it up. So they’re a great band. We’ve some friends in Black Fast, they’re not so much East Coast. They’re getting bigger now and they’re gonna catching the last leg of the Voivod Tour with us. Black Fast is very progressive, for fans of bands like Cynic and late Death and stuff like that.

WS: You are an insider recommendation to discover within the Thrash Metal Scene. Why should any Metal Fan pick up your music in the first place? I give you some room for free promotion and shameless profiling.

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DD: This is the one thing were I don’t like thrown in with the Thrash bands. Because there are so many more elements to our music, it’s not just one thing. It’s a little bit of Black Metal, there is parts that are almost reminiscent of Pink Floyd, very atmospheric, big chords. There are a lot of dynamics in our music, so a lot of proggy guys like it because of all the changes and the technicality. Thrash kids like it because there are a lot of Thrash-Riffs, Black Metal kids like it because of the vocals and there are a lot of Blastbeats.

WS: Let’s come to your upcoming album „Terminal Redux“: I know music can’t be described easily, but will you take the challenge? What are the differences compared to its predecessor or what else do you consider important to know about it?

DD: A little bit. It’s a constant evolution, constant progression with our sound. Without straying, I always despised bands when I was growing up. I like a natural progression, but I hate it when bands just change. Some bands loop around full circle. Like the new Voivod Album for example. I think it is much more reminiscent of their earlier career. Coming back to our album: It has got all the elements that make up a Vektor record: A lot of heavy Thrash riffs, there are nice, pretty clean parts. But everything is just like times ten. I think it maybe sounds a little bit more like „Black Future“ (Debut-Album von 2009), feeling-wise. I tried out a few things, I did clean vocals in parts of the last two songs. We got these two Soul Singer girls from Philadelphia with crazy, powerful, soulful vocals on a couple of songs. It brought tears to my eyes when I heard it.

WS: How did that happen, Soul Singers on a Metal Album? Was it something you tried to challenge yourself with, did just met them?

DD: The guitar happened first, that’s how I work. I just write it all out on guitar. When I play it and listen to it, ideas start to pop up in my head. The first song on the album has this riff that switches from major to minor – going back and forth like the key changes but it has it’s very grandiose sound. I started making up this vocal melody in my head, thinking of some of the guys singing it. When I was thinking I had the feeling of „I need Soul Singers for this.“ I don’t know, it just kinda happened. But I’ve always been a big Pink Floyd fan, which had probably something to do with it.

WS: A lot of Metal Bands deal with Gory Monster, Skulls and Pentagrams and stuff. You developed an fictitious universe telling the story of an individual in the Cygnus regime. Why is metal and science-fiction so close? And why Science-ficiton and not Fantasy?

DD: The easy answer is because we’re all nerds. (Laughs)

Well, I think it just kinda fits with our technical kind of music. And I think people that dig technical music also like science and philosophy, deeper thought patterns. I don’t get into a lot of brutal stuff, I like thought provoking music and I like music that moves me. It can still be Thrash metal, I like Slayer a lot.

WS: So Science-Fiction fits your music much more than pathetic fantasy stuff?

DD: Yeah, safe the fantasy and unicorns for Prog Music and the Dragons for Power Metal. (laughs)

WS: Do you know any other Metal Bands that fascinate you when it comes to the Science-Fiction approach?

DD: Voivod of course, they’ve been one of my favourites for a long time. There’s also Algebra from Switzerland, they’re awesome and Aspid from Russia. They’ve one album, „Extravasation“, it’s from 92.

WS: The protagonist of „Terminal Redux“ takes command over the Cygnus forces after a coup, but eventually realizes that power is just an illusion. This appears very interesting to me. What political or philosophical thoughts are behind that conclusion?

 

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DD: Power is an illusion. At the end of the day, we’re just people. We live in this universe that we don’t fully understand. You can expand the topic into a lot of fields or different paths of life. For my it’s a very personal, kind of reflective approach. Thinking about what my life was, what I wanted in life, about my goals and if I got those things to happen. What if I had everything I wanted and would I be happy. It’s kind of a battle, detaining this, these unreachable things and what happened when you have those. There’s a lot of meaning within the lyrics, like Cygnus itself was chosen because it signifies the bird atop the stellar tree that controls this flow of souls. I don’t really believe in the astrological things like that, but I thought it was just pretty cool. There is certain things in there, there’s a star named „Our Shame“ that explodes. It’s all about balance, and when you put people in charge of life and death – what happens then? Because that’s what we try to do. We try to do it in our cities, in our home, within our friendships – we try to control these factors that aren’t necessarily meant to be controlled.

 WS: For you as a musician, are technical achievements just a tool to get your job done more easily or is it something you also enjoy? You already mentionted that you see yourself as a „Nerd“ also. What’s your opinion?

DD: I like to keep it simple on stage. I still have just an instrument cable from my guitar to my amplifier. I don’t have a lot of crazy effects, as far as making things interesting and new – that comes from my brain. I don’t need a lot of tools to make that happen. A lot of people are very much into weird effects, but I like to keep it simple. Guitar. Distortion or clean. Otherwise I just use effects that have been around since the 70s.

WS: Switch of topics into another direction. We touched the subject of philosophical themes, of responsibility. I had the pleasure of interviewing several christian metal bands in the past. Do you know any christian metal bands and what comes to your mind when you hear the topic? Religion and metal?

DD: Well, there was this particular band, Believer. They’re fucking awesome. I really, really like their music. But lyrics are such an important part of music for me, that I can’t just overlook it. If the lyrics are too cheesy I kind of wanna laugh. Every time I hear very christian lyrics, I reminds me of South Park. (Imitates a South Park song that is overly satirical). If you’re from an educated society, you shouldn’t even be doing anything like that. I like science, and I like reason. For me Christianity or any religion shouldn’t fucking exist in any progressive society nowadays. It doesn’t matter, if it’s connected to metal or something else. Living in Philadelphia I understand why a lot of people are religious. It’s because they’re poor, the education system sucks. A lot of them get a good education, so they can’t really think for themselves. I understand, why it exists, bot it bothers me.

WS: Your band name refers to a a position and a certain direction, like the mathematic term. Right?

DD: Yes and No. Actually I took the name of the biological definition, where it means „carrier of a deasease“, we are the carrier of a deseased music.

WS: Well, sounds a little bit more appealing to a metal band, but it doesn’t fit my last question. (Both Laughing) Because that was: What postition is Vektor now and what direction are you going?

DD: Hopefully up and up. We just gonna stay true to what we do and see where it takes us. If it doesn’t make us happy any more, we figure something else.

WS: I was smiling when I read all your excited comments about the upcoming first tour in europe. You were so enthusiastic and it appealed to me very much in a authentic way. Thank you for your time, looking forward to the Gig, David!

 

An enthusiastic Growl of gratitude and friendship goes out to Carin Vinzens at http://www.bodypics.ch for the photos.

 

 

Revulsed by Filth, Greed and Darkness

 

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He’s sort of a pioneer – at least when it comes to connect Extreme Metal to profound Christian values. Jayson Sherlock was the Drummer in Mortification, whose „Scrolls of the Megilloth“ is still an outstanding Death-Metal-Album almost 25 years after ist release. Sherlock carried on with Death-Doom-Stronghold Paramaecium and was the first musician to release an Christian Black Metal Album with Horde. 2015 marks a new step in the career of the versatile Artist. His new Band is Revulsed – and Sherlocks aim was to take brutality and heaviness to a whole new Level. He was Kind enough to answer a few questions about his new Band. This interview is also available in a german Translation at Whiskey-Soda-Webzine.

Eskapismus: Hi Jayson, could you please tell something about the founding of the Band? In understand that InExordium appeared to be the „father“ of the band. How was Revulsed born?

Jayson Sherlock (JS): Basically without going into too much gory detail, after my long time collaborator and great friend Jason Deron left inExordium, and was replaced by Sheldon D’Costa, Sheldon and myself, after a few months of struggling to keep the excitement and enthusiasim going for inExordium, (the other two members simply no longer exhibited the passion for the music that Sheldon and I had) we decided to leave inExordium. We had a dinner meeting, I made my intentions to leave clear to the 3 other guys. Sheldon, after following my work from the very first Mortification albums, decided to stay with me and form Revulsed. The other guys had full control and creative licence over inExordium, and could have taken it to whatever ends they wished, and they, as proof of their lack of desire, chose to let it die a slow death. Not even advising their fans of the status of the band for months and months. Leaving them in bewilderment as to what had happened. Sheldon and I were then free to forge ahead creatively and pursue our dreams to create brutal old school death metal with a slam-tech modern twist. Some still classify Revulsed as brutal technical death metal, but to us we are death metal, pure and simple, the way it was meant to be.

E.: Is there something special that you want to point out regarding the Revulsed album or something that you are especially proud of? What distinguishes it from the music you did earlier?

JS : I think the main thing is that for most, when one gets older, the norm is to go lighter, slower, simpler and softer, etc… I wanted to do the total opposite. inExordium was the heaviest and most brutal thing I’d done since Mortification – Scrolls of the Megilloth or Paramaecium – Exhumed of the Earth. With Revulsed, I knew I wanted to go even further than inExordium did and Sheldon was totally onboard. Sheldon is a master of brutal riffs and a killer soloist and he is heavily influenced by the early Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation material, so he was just what Revulsed needed and  there would be no Revulsed without him. I guess I always wanted to outdo those earlier albums of mine in terms of speed and overall brutality, everyone always says, when is Mortification going to release Scrolls part two? Scrolls part two is no longer required Revulsed is here. I am not only proud to work with one of my closest friends in Sheldon, but I’m also SUPER proud and blown away to have had the absolute pleasure of working with the best death metal vocalist ever, Mr Konstantin Lühring, whom you should know from Defeated Sanity and Despondency fame.

E.: It’s horrible of me to let a father choose between his « kids », but if you had to pick one Revulsed song, which one would it be and why ?

JS : This is an impossible question to answer honestly because every single song on Infernal Atrocity I’m very happy with. We wanted to make absolutely sure there were no filler songs AT ALL on this record. I honestly can’t choose one song because they all have something unique to say. But, have said ALL THAT, if I absolutely HAD to choose one, it would be Agonising Putrid Self Infliction. This song encapsulates everything the Revulsed is in one song. Agonising Putrid Self Infliction was also the first song we used as a test track for Konni to try out on and he utterly killed it, and in one brutal take I believe

E.: If you had to do some namedropping of similar bands to help new listeners to get an idea how Revulsed sounds, which Bands appear on you mind ?

JS : Well one dude said it took him back to Suffocations first album, Effigy of the Forgotten, which blew me away. But I guess, somewhere between Defeated Sanity, Suffocation – Effigy, Pierced from Within era, Gorguts – The Erosion of Sanity era, and Cannibal Corpse – Tomb of the Mutilated era, with some elements of modern slam thrown in

E.: The Cover Artwork of your new album is absolutely outstanding. In which way does it represent the music or the lyrics on it?

JS: Well, thank you very much, I designed it and came up with the concept, but full credit goes to Pär Olofsson. He brought the cover art to living, breathing, impaling life and he is the master. The cover is basically the Infernal Atrocity itself. It represents the filth that is destroying this world, with each passing day, the world is sinking deeper and deeper into well, shit basically. Just take a look at whats happening in the middle east, and thats only a glimpse of the full picture. So the tree is a symbol of the evil in the world, some folks take it as a symbolic representation, while others as a realistic manifestation of the present state of evil. The tree is impaling it’s victims mercilessly. Just as evil does. The number of dead in the cover art is beyond count or measure. Some of the dead, the spirits are rising to a new life. Finally in the far left side of the art, we see a sun rise, this signifies that the time of evil will come to an end, and the sun (or light) will consume it (the darkness).

 

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E.: You are a graphic designer by profession and created some great cover artworks in the past, mostly for your own projects. Why did you choose to hand your cover concept over to Pär Olofsson (who is of course by far one oft he most outstanding Metal Artists) in the first place?

JS: I knew that this cover art was going to be WAAAAY beyond my pitiful skills. So we had a few artists to choose from, but, at the end of the day, Pär was really the only choice if we wanted perfection, which is what we got. I’m a huge fan of his, and have been for years and years. Loved his work for The Faceless, Immolation, Abysmal Dawn, Psycroptic and so on, so we knew that he was going to be the best choice for us. Also it’s worth mentioning that without Stefan from Permeateds financial intervention we could never have afforded to employ Pär to paint the cover. So a HUGE thanks goes to him.

E.: You are known for your former bands Mortification and Horde. As a christian musician I presume, that your beliefs also effect you art. What topics do the Revulsed Lyrics talk about ?

JS: Revulsed is not a Christian band per se, however we do make it a point to have intelligent positive faith based lyrical content to contrast with 90% of the brutal death metal lyrics out there today. We are just over the violence towards women and general gore for gores sake. It’s all been done to death and it’s getting really old. Our songs are about topics such as greed, the results of a separation from God, hurtful and negative words towards others, the positive transformation of the mind, physical purification and refinement, corporate greed, celestial visions and detailed descriptions of dark entities and their demise. Hope that all makes sense !

E.: The singer on the album is Konstanin Lühring, the former singer of Defeated Sanity. How do you manage to have a singer from the other side of the world? What about the future, touring, more music with this „geographical challenge“? Is Revulsed a „Project“», or a „real band“ ?

JS : First and foremost Revulsed is most definately a band and not just a project, Sheldon and myself have been working with our new bass player, Mark Smith, who has been learning and tabbing out our songs from scratch. Our dream is to start playing this material live sometime very soon. We have been advertising for a local Melbourne based vocalist so we will see how that journey unfirls. Konni is THE Revulsed vocalist right now but due to the distance between us, it makes rehearsals and live shows with him impossible for the moment. However, if we get the opportunity to play live shows in Europe, then it will be totally possible. Revulsed will never be a massive extensive touring band, we would be more than happy to play a very small tour here or a festival there, thats all. We are all family guys who are busy at home, so we cannot be away for too long. How we connected with Konni is an amazing story. Basically in a nutshell, I was wearing a Defeated Sanity shirt in a Revulsed photoshoot we did for the album, and I used the image as my Facebook profile picture. Konni was my Facebook friend at the time but we hadn’t really connected properly yet, so when he saw the profile picture he was blown away, as he was a fan of the early Mortification material back in the 90s. So this started an amazing dialogue between us about basically everything, inlcuding our latest musical pursuits. Which let me to mentioning the fact that all we needed to do for the Revulsed debut was record the vocals, Konni then asked if he could  listen to the material and then offered to learn and perform all the vocals on Infernal Atrocity. I bascially couldn’t breathe. My favourite vocalist from my favorite band just asked me if he could record the vocals for my album. That was a miracle right there. I make no apology for stating that God set that up no doubt.

E.: Anything else you want to tell our readers at the end of this interview?

JS: Just to say thanks for the support and interest! The album is availble in digital format form our bandcamp page: https://revulsed.bandcamp.com/releases

And CD’s and merch from Permeated Records: http://permeated.bigcartel.com/

Thanks for the interview!

 

Album Stream:

 

 

Revulsed are :

Jayson Sherlock (Ex-Mortification, Ex-Paramaecium, Ex-Horde) – Drums

Sheldon D’Acosta (Ex-InExodrium, Ex-Incursion, Ex-Incarnate) – Guitars

Konstantin Lühring (Ex-Despondency, Ex-Defeated Sanity) – Vocals

Mark Smith (Ex-Bind Torture Kill, Ex-Severed Abortion) – Bass

 

 

 

Norwegian Profoundness – Einar Solberg of Leprous (Interview)

 

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Norwegian Proggers Leprous are on their way up. They absolutley deserve to be up there. Their very one-of-a-Kind, emotional Prog-Metal is still getting better and better. At Euroblast Festival in Cologne I had the opportunity to talk to their Musical mastermind Einar Solberg. This is the raw, almost unedited, english Version of the Interview. There’s a German Translation available at Whiskey-Soda Webzine. Enjoy!

 

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WS: You’re on tour now to promote your latest album „The Congregation“, which has just been released a few weeks ago. How has everything been so far?

ES: Well, the response has been really awesome and everything. It’s very nice for us to get such good feedback. But still, we need to distance ourselves a little bit from all the feedback, wether it’s positive or negative we need to keep focused on the music and do things better. The problem is that everyone has his different opinions and when you start considering them, it just becomes chaos. And that really leads you off the path in a way. A lot of people set their opinions as facts, so you just need to keep focused.

WS: Although I’ve been doing it for a few years now, it’s very hard to write about music. You can describe it and try to get something said about it, but it’s still very subjective. More than to write about video games or movies for example. A lot of it is a matter of taste of course. So you gotta keep true to yourself.

ES: It’s the only thing that you can do as an artist actually. That’s why it is very important to us during the writing process of new music to really isolate ourselves. Of course, there are a few selected people, that we share our thoughts, because we trust in their opinion. It’s nice to get some outside views sometimes, but it has to be somebody that we really trust and who knows what he is talking about. I’m the same like this when it comes to other subjects, I have a lot to say, but when it all comes down, I haven’t got a clue (Laughs). Doesn’t matter if its politics or other stuff. Everyone has a lot more opinion then knowledge.

WS: One thing were you obviously don’t care about how your audience reacts is the way you present your vocals. They are intense in a way, but also quite soft considered the style of other vocals in metal bands or even compared to the hard riffs in your music. Is it your natural tone, was it an intentional decision to sing this way? Why do you sing the way you do?

ES: Well, I still scream from time to time, but more like an effect than to sing vocals. It’s still a part of Leprous, but it will never be a main part. The more I develop, the less I think about how to sing. Also I think that you can not sing properly unless you relax yourself – that’s true to a lot of other stuff as well.

WS: Yeah, if you have listened to the last few albums of Leprous you gotta notice that you developed very much as a singer. From time to time you remind me of a famous singer. Can you guess who I mean?

ES: Well, of course I have been told before. There are different people. Because I listen to a lot of Radiohead people tell me that I remind them of Muse – because they are also inspired by Radiohead. Was it Muse?

WS: It’s a guy that comes from Norway and is very famous there.

ES: Morten Harket?

WS: Yeah.

ES: Hmm, I’ve heard that one before amongst other names. But he’s normally singing much clearer than me. But if you think about ‚The Cloak‘, I understand what you mean. Some memories create associations. And of course he’s an awesome vocalist. But I like A-ha very much, so it’s definitely a compliment.

WS: You started your musical career as the Keyboarder of Isahn of Emperor, who is your brother in law I believe. I was asking myself how that experience in particular as a part of the Black Metal Scene influenced the music you went on making later on.

ES: Everything you do, that you spend time on is a part of your shaping of who you are in a way, you cannot control that. I’m not very directly inspired by black metal any more, but still I really appreciate dark and melancholic music in general. Much more than other stuff. So of course a lot of Extreme Metal falls in that category. We still have some sections here and there that resamble that. My favourite record the last year was Behemoth, „The Satanist“. Even though I’m not that much into Extreme Metal any more. Because I think the most of the bands keep repeating themselves.

WS: What did you like about it specifically?

ES: They had the passion – like they were meaning every single note that they were playing. That’s what I need in music – I need a passion, really going deeply into it. That’s what I love about it. I had absolutely zero relation to the band until I saw them live and they played a few songs from that album. I’ve always thought they were not that interesting, but then I saw them live. So I really don’t mind genres in music. I mind mood and atmosphere. Some electronic or pop bands can be darker and more intense than some extreme metal Bands in my opinion. It’s about going deep and some people I believe are playing music just on the surface. When I go on big metal festivals I always think: Same, same, same… Another thing that is very important that a band or their music has it’s own character. I don’t even have to like it, but it needs to have some character. Regardless if I like their music or not. You can recognize that within five seconds. Their are a lot of bands that I don’t like, but I respect them very much for having it. Just take one of your german superstars from Rammstein. I don’t like them, but I respect them very much for having their own sound. You recognize them in two seconds. And that’s what is most important in my opinion. Being true to themselves and not trying to fit into something.

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WS: You told me of Behemoth and I talked about Emperor earlier. So there’s another question on my mind now. Do you think their passion for their music is linked up with their personal view of the world, their beliefs, all the occult and satanistic stuff?

ES: I don’t take that part of it so serious, to be honest. I think it’s more like a gimmick for them. The musical, emotional part of it – that seems to be very very sincere. Like giving their whole soul into making it.

WS: I read an interview of the Bandleader of Behemoth, Nergal, a while ago in a christian metal magazine. And it was very, very interesting. He was very respectful, but also very clear in his words that the occult ideas are something that he relates to very much. Almost like a sort of personal belief. I think, that may be at least a part of the sincerety that you feel.

ES: Well. Maybe.

WS: Artistic Dreams.

ES: The only thing, that I really, really want to do, is to be able to live fully out of the music – and it’s getting closer. So that’s my main dream – so that I can focus only on that. I’m kind of in a good circle now because until now, I had to work a lot besides the band. We’re all still trying to get things better, and the bigger the band gets – and it’s gradually getting better and better for us now – the more time I get to make it even better. I already have the live of my dreams – and now the next thing is to live off the music.

WS: That’s funny because Oystein was telling me the same when I asked him the same question in a e-mail-interview two years ago.

ES: Really? He isn’t that obsessed with living off the music. He’s that kind of guy that needs some of the „normal world“ besides the music. He needs that. And I don’t. (laughs)

Real world, go away, I want to focus on the music. I think everybody who sets long-term goals and works hard enough for them, will finally achieve them if they have the talent. At least in the western world, where you have the economical possibilities. It’s just about not giving up. It sounds like a clichee, but that’s the reason why it’s a clichee. Because it’s actually true.

WS: Did it help you to change to InsideOut Music?

ES: Yes, very much. Because they reach much more people than the last label we had. That definitely helped. And we have our own artistic freedom, sometimes we’re discussing a little bit, but in the end, WE chose what we do. Sometimes they make suggestions like „maybe you should put this there and cut away that song“ and stuff. Sometimes we listen if they got a point, but in the end it becomes what we’re convinced about. That’s also in our contract and that’s very cool. I don’t mind if they got opinions about our music – because sometimes you can get lost a bit in your own world. Sometimes it helps, to see things rationally.

WS: Well, I think it’s always a big tension between staying true to yourself and everything. But of cause these guys now about marketing and all that stuff.

ES: Yeah, that’s true. But sometimes label tend to overthinking everything. They sometimes make the audience more stupid then they are. We had a discussion regarding the length of the album. They wanted it shorter. But we said we won’t cut away two songs. It’s doesn’t matter if the album is long or short. It’s the same with movies. A four hour movie can seem short if you like it. And a 90 minutes movie can seem like an eternity if you don’t like it. That’s what I mean. It’s just numbers. But in the end we agreed and now they’re advertising it: „This 64 Minute Album“ (laughs). And of course a long album is not a bad thing in the Prog Scene.

 

 

 

BIGELF – Of antique instruments, Jedi Forces and Broken Bones

Band Logo - Bigelf

 

Whiskey-Soda: Damon, thank you for taking your time to answer a few questions for the readers.

Damon Fox: Well, it’s you guys that put bring the music out there and put the words together, the stories behind the music and everything.

WS: Our Magazine is called Whiskey-Soda, usually when I start I ask my interview partners what they prefer to drink: Whiskey-Soda or Swiss beer, as we are in Switzerland right now, right?

DF: Well, I was actually never known to drink, I’m not a drinker. I’ve been into the sort of Frank-Zappa-Stoner-Doom-World.

WS: (Laughing) Okay, other stuff then?

DF: Yeah, I never got to much into partying to much actually. As a kid, but I was lucky to get out of it. Rock’n’Roll, especially in Bigelf, we go between a lot of different genres, but one of these would be just Rock. Not Prog, because I think Prog isn’t traditionally a drug infested thing, even though It can be. But in Rock and Metal there’s definitely no shortage of drugs. Bigelf has an hallucinate-type feeling, and there always people that want to take mushrooms with you or they give you mushrooms. I usually say thanks, take them and flush them down the toilet. I like people do their thing. And I like Whiskey-Soda!

WS: I’ve been to one of your Shows four years ago in February 2010 and there were so few people, maybe only like 20 or 30 people. I loved the show and for that reason I almost felt a little bit sorry for you guys, because there were so few people attending. And I thought by myself: Why are these guys not bigger? Wasn’t that frustrating?

DF: The whole career has been frustrating. So is that. Though there’s no one person to blame for that in the machine. But certainly by all the touring that we’ve done, we’ve played in Europe on our own for various times before doing all the Dream Theater stuff. We’ve been exposed to seven shows in Germany with Dream Theater and we got a Record out, so you would think that more people would come. And you don’t know wether it’s competition, just too many bands touring at the time. But February isn’t really a key month, the fall are more like the key months when it comes to competition. Is it the promoter, you don’t know. Is it the wrong club, that people don’t go to see Rock’n’Roll-Stoner-Rock at that club? I got a couple of E-Mails already on this tour asking me: Why are you not in this club? But I’m not in charge of all the pieces that are put together. You just try to do the best and hopefully the next time things will turn out better. But I think this club is a great club so we’re looking forward. But I don’t know why all this stuff happens. It always happens to somebody. But no doubt – it’s disappointing. One thing about Bigelf is we’ve managed to stay relevant somehow. Somehow, through all the different changes in style and trends and all that we’re still there. And this is cool. It’s relevant, it has passion and most of all: It’s still – in a way – new. So it’s a little bit of a blessing and a curse.

WS: I was wondering, looking back to the show four years ago, if you just were ahead of your time? In the last two years there’s been sort of a movement with a lot of seventies-influenced bands coming up and sometimes even become big. But you guys have been around for about almost 25 years.

DF: Yeah, absolutely. Of course it’s really cool to be hip or visionary, but Bigelf was definitely, with other bands. When we started Bigelf the bands that were around at that time. I wasn’t really happy with the metal-scene or the synth-pop-scene. I have origins of all kinds of music, growing up with the Beatles and Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, all this stuff. I wasn’t really a huge Prog-Head, you know. You don’t put on „In The Court Of The Crimson King“ when you’re seven years old. It’s something you discover when you’re a teenager. But everybody gets into „Highway To Hell“, everybody gets into „Stairway To Heaven“, you know what I mean? But I was also into Run DMC and Depeche Mode when I was a kid, but when the late 80’s and early 90’s were rolling around I didn’t have a place to make music and so it made sense. I think early on I was trying to be Retro but I just didn’t know how to do it. It was such an abstract thought to make music that didn’t sound current and I was playing with ideas around 88 that turned into the songs ‚Falling Bombs‘ on „Hex“ and ‚Change‘ from our debut. Those songs were like a blueprint, they were written ’87 and ’88. And then Lenny Kravitz hit with ‚Let Love Rule‘. And then it was Black Crowes. That’s when I realized that I was in time with this. This was making sense. And I actually knew a few of these guys because we were all Westcoast-Guys. So why started to make this Rock Music that had Prog-Elements, Doom-Elements, it had Glam-Elements – but they main element, that it had that I don’t think any band had until now: It had an aesthetic element. So we were always about the way we looked. Now a lot of bands that do Stoner-Rock-Doom-Prog-Seventies-Rock whatever you call it, they have long hair, they’re wearing flares. They’re wearing the clothing that kind of looks like Black Sabbath or Deep Purple. And yeah, we’ve been doing that for 25 years. But in the time, we were 30 years behind, ten years ahead. And everybody always says: These guys’d been great in 1971, they probably would be famous. I don’t see it like that, because we’re carrying a torch kind of further. But those were dark years, it was a different time. Weezer, Chili Peppers, Hip Hop was really big. It took a while, though it was happening tons of stuff at the time. There were Saint Vitus and Nebula. You know, Stoner Rock is really a 90’s concept. It’s just getting big again. I think Wolfmother was one of the main things making the people go: Wow, you can sound kind of Zeppelin – and it sells. And now it’s everywhere – which is fantastic. I was like a Godfather of the scene, much older than all these kids. Totally cool! As I went to do this record people were telling me: Well, you should do a Retro-Thing. And I thought: We’ve already done that! We’ve already done this kind of Stoner-Retro thing. And our style is also in the Progressive-Soup-Thing. It’s about putting all these elements into the soup and finding the balance versus just putting out ten songs that sound like Blues Rock or whatever. I’ve never said Bigelf was original, not one time. But it’s innovative, because it’s different than the origins of it. You never hear the combos that we do, like the Beatles and something else. So that was the goal, it’s sort of a hybrid-style. Maybe because of that it doesn’t appeal that well. Because for Metal People it’s too Pop, for Pop People it’s too satanic, for Prog People it’s too glammy, for Glam People it’s too busy. We’re like an everymans band, but we just can’t get the fish. We can’t get the one combination that connects us with the audience. I know it’s out there, we’re out there, do the shows and playing our music. It’s there. There’s just so many bands. Let me be honest about it. It’s just about promotion. That’s the solid answer to all this. I’m trying to be nice, but the reality is when there are only 40 people at our shows it’s because it wasn’t promoted. More money always connects to reaching more people.

 

Band Photo - Bigelf

 

WS: About this retro-thing going on for the last two years, did you notice that in terms of Sales od Concert Visitors?

DF: To be honest, I don’t know yet. Obviously there’s a lot of young fans who don’t know who we are because we’re a little older. So you have to connect with that scene or connect with that audience, wether it’s a certain tour or a certain band. Connecting with the Dream Theater thing really put us in front of that Progressive audience. So that has nothing to do with bands like Kadavar and Ghost and all the stuff coming out of England and all the retro stuff that’s really big at the moment. But that is our origin. To me Bigelf is more like that than we are a Prog Band. Bigelf isn’t Prog. We’re simply just innovative. It’s intelligent music.

WS: We could have a conversation of hours just about the question what Prog is in the first place because there are so many answers.

DF: Yeah. Well, are there elements of Bigelf that are Prog? Of course! We totally define 1970/71 Italian Prog. Raw Rock’n’Roll with complex arrangements and organ and mellotron. Early King Crimson like Bigelf? For sure! There’s definitely a lot of lineage to Prog from Bigelf. In the whole is Bigelf a Prog Band? No! Because that’s more like Yes, Kansas, Rush, Marillion, Dream Theater. The real origins of Progressive Rock was Jazz, combined with Classic and Rock. That were the origins. Let’s get crazy and copy classical music, let’s copy Jazz music and put it in Rock. That was what ELP was doing. That was what everybody was doing. The Beatles. It’s just copying classical music. No big deal. That’s what blues is. Most of Rock Music, Led Zeppelin is just Blues done with psychedlic pants and theremines. It’s a brillant concept. That’s what it takes, but it think that we don’t really fit to Prog. Well, some Prog Fans like it, because it’s alive, and it’s – dangerous isn’t the word…

WS: Maybe it’s because there’s much to discover. Maybe that it what appeals to a prog audience. It’s no simple music, that you get bored of if you listened to the album three times.

DF: Yeah, thank you. There you go. But I don’t sit down and plan to do that. It just turns into a wormhole as I get into it. I just go in the rabbithole, looking for the rabbit for a year. And sometimes, I never find it. The records are good like that and people keep mailing me saying: Oh my god, I listened to the record for ten times and I just found these cool things. And that’s what makes a good record. Well, thank you. But it’s not about the playing. It’s about the mental space of the record and the concepts and the sonic layering and stuff like that. For us. So in that way it’s kind of… For me, „Revolver“ and „Sergeant Pepper“ were Progressive. Before Rush were progressive, the Beatles were definitely progressive. They were doing shit that noone ever thought of. That’s what Progressive should be. And in that way, we’re definitely Progressive because nobody has 17 different styles of music in one song. But you know, the Prog audience, it’s a very ambitious audience. When you listen to Frank Zappa you belong to very intelligent audience, that’s used to a multitude of notes coming into their ears. Their almost a little snobby. I don’t think Rock Fans are snobby. They just wanna fucking rock. They’re totally different.

WS: You just mentioned all the setbacks the band survived. There’s a song on the Record that’s called ‚Control Freak‘. Are you singing about yourself and is that the reason why the band is still alive. Because you are a Control Freak?

DF: No, that song is just about who „Am I happen to be that way?“, but it’s also about my experiences with people that I identify as a Control Freak. It takes one to know one. So it’s just that kind of people that are very controlling, that are having a hard time letting go. It’s a song about pain. What I sing about is like „Fucking Help Me!“ Like „let go of that shit“. It’s not only about you don’t have to have this Apple IPad right here, but it’s not except about that. It’s like: Let me let go of me having you wanting to treat me the way I wanna be treated, let go of my expectations of people. And that can go from the parts in the songs or Love or anything. So it was just like: Let go of everything!

WS: You were producing „Into The Maelstrom“ on your own and then went to Inside Out Music to put it out. So, as you talked about all this turmoil in your bands history I was also wondering if you ever considered to do a Crowdfunding Campaign to get the album done?

DF: It’s a tough balance. We weren’t a machine up and running at that time. The band had gone through a little bit of a hiatus and I wasn’t even sure if it had disbanded. I sort of let go in order to survive. So, it did survive and we were thinking about doing a funding campaign, but I didn’t want to do something so homegrown. We really needed a label for the structure, because we spent a lot of time into Bigelf over the years. I didn’t to sit there saying: But now we got no distribution! So now with Inside Out it’s been a proper step, we’ve been talking about that for a while and it seemed to be a good thing to have. Connect with the Prog community, Portnoy is on the record so it’s like a good progression. And of course you wanna make to most of where you’ve been. We’ve been on Tour with Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree and so it seemed like a natural Progression. Probably not the perfect Progression, but certainly a step that has to be taken. As far as the Genre I already said that we don’t neccesarily totally fit in with the Prog. I think the Progressive community definitely scratches their heads. Maybe we’re prickling the brains a little bit in order to let the people grow. Historically prog doesn’t look. It’s not something aesthetic. It’s not something you look at for the imagery. Pink Floyd, die ultimate Psychelic Band, original prog, slow, mellow. You’re looking at them, you’re looking at theit pics, the imagery that they have. It’s not fucking Jimmy Page, is not Chris Robinson, it’s not Nikki Sixx. But Bigelf IS that. We’re not the thing with the pics, even though like that both. Bigelf is definitely about the Rock’n’Roll. And Prog has never been about that. He’s got makeup on and a tophat. But he’s got a mellotron. Wait. Must be Peter Gabriel! That’s the connection they make. You now what’s the most way out there thing? Hawkwind! They’ve got Hawkwind! Because it’s fucking out there! Or Arthur Brown or something. As long as people like it – that’s all I care about. I don’t really mind if you don’t like it, I just try to connect to people who like it.

WS: When I saw you for the first time at the show I mentioned I was fucking impressed seeing you play two keys at one time and singing as well. I asked myself, if you see yourself more as a singer or a keyboard player. If you would have to give back the keys or the microphone, which one would you choose?

DF: I think I’d rather be a singer. Here’s the thing: I’m already singing and it’s easier to just play the keys. To do both together is still the hardest. I still don’t even do it right! To do what I’m trying to do is really difficult. And I only do get better at it when we actually do shows. It’s not something that I can actually do in rehearsal. It’s only during shows, it’s the space. You get in there, there’s all these things happening, it’s literally Jedi-Shit. Pushing knobs and you’re singing. If there would be nobody else aroud I couldn’t do it. You’re actually connecting with people, so my hands are not looking. This is prog 101. Don’t take your hands of your neck, you might make a mistake. Everyone’s looking what they’re playing. My fucking eyes are closed, I’m just feeling it, I’m looking at people. If if have to do quick adjustments, there’s mistakes. But singing is kind of a way to just focus on that. When I’m doing videos and I’m not playing keys I really like it. I have my mic and just explore that element, but I don’t do it that often. So I don’t really know that much about it to be honest.

WS: So you’re looking out for a keyboard player to concentrate on the singing. That would be the next logical step after your answer!

DF: I don’t know. I’m usually open to anything. We were a five-piece for a while and I was the second guitar player. It was just a brief little thing we did in 2002. I would be potentially open to another guitar player that played keys so that I could do two or three songs where I could just roam. But honestly I think the foundation of Bigelf works like it is. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I get all this feedback. Jules Verne, Time Machine, Wizard of Oz, fucking Willy Wonka thing and I’m like: I’m loving it. If that’s what you’re getting out of it, what you’re seeing or hearing – I’m happy. Somehow I’m doing something that people get some professor-thing out of. I don’t know, maybe it’s a combination of the words, the music and the image and there’s some really cool things happening. The funny thing is, sometimes I think people are just watching to see me fuck up. Is he gonna make it or will he fuck up? The next one, he’s gonna blow that and go back in time! (laughs)

WS: Well, I think it’s kind of a trademark, you playing both keys with your tophat.

DF: Yeah, it is. I’ve got so many cool ideas. I wanna have the keys on a circular riser and have it go from side to side and also turns, so I could fully see everybody and go up. I would do so many things if I had the money. Holographic pirate cellists – I could go on forever. We play a lot on the westcoast and we have a Laser Guy doing this thing for us. It’s like Pink Floyd, it’s fucking amazing, it blows peoples minds! But it’s hard to get somebody that works the laser. Maybe someday. At this point, that’s the hard part: I’m literally just trying to keep Bigelf alive. I really love to do it, but I also try to make a living out of it, playing the music, but there’s always other things. The show didn’t change. It’s raw, motherfucking rock’n’roll. It’s probably not any different than we’ve ever been. Raw, passionate, blow your face off. Now, if we could actually make a lot of money selling records and everything and make it to some sort of Dream Theater level – then I’ll bring out the elephants. The first day we played in 1992 people said: You guys should be at the Forum, you guys should be in an arena. And we just had started. The music, the sound of it and the style reminds people of Arena Rock from the seventies. Now it’s just living up to that or figuring out a way to do it. It’s about making music and being happy.

WS: How long did it take you to lose stagefright?

DF: Well, I’m comfortable in front of people. So it’s not that. I guess it’s more the machine, the cockpit, my stuff, is it gonna work. It’s like twenty spinning plates. I mean Portnoy is on the show, but we’re not a band. We play together and he’s the greatest ever, John Wesley’s just coming in to these shows. It’s like a last minute thing we put together, this little special presentation. It’s a lot, they’re incredibly pro-dudes. It isn’t like the band before, were we had this intuition thing. Ten years ago, we just went out and played. This is a different thing, we’re not always really speaking the same language, you really kind of have to pay attention. But sometimes, I already said it, I’m in kind of autopilot-mode, I go back to another state of mind. Thank god! It helps me to do better, but that doesn’t mean that Mike or anybody else is following me. It’s a challenge! I get a little nervous, to be honest. It’s a small tour, it’s not a huge crew and we try to keep the budget as tight as possible. And everybody’s pushed to their limits and asks the others to help him out. I’m helping loading and everything, but it works good. I like playing in front of people. I don’t get nervous in front of people. I just want my shit to work. Some of the stuff is from the Sixties.

WS: Obviously you enjoy making music and gained quite some positive feedback from fans and press. Besides being a passionate, innovative musician, do you have any other talents? What do you love to do in your free time. Can be artistic stuff or anything else.

DF: As far as feeling the muse I draw. I can draw, I did a lot of the designs of the records. I can get into anything, as long it is something that I’m passionate about. But outside from music – hmmm – not too much. I really wanted to get into meditation, like Tai Chi. I have always been attracted to this Samurai kind of thing. To be in that Zen state. I’m trying to find that world where I am in inner peace. Trying not to be on your dark side, fighting your demons and pain, you know what I mean?

WS: Well, you mentioned the Jedi-thing earlier. So it’s about becoming a Jedi and not a Sith? To be on the good side of the force, huh?

DF: Yeah, it’s a little bit corny, but yeah, I’m trying to be with the force. But sometimes it’s just about meditating. I really like the beach, I like the ocean. I just got back from Australia. I loved the beaches in the days off, it has been so wonderful. Just my and I felt totally right. I feel like a Billion Dollars. Not like having a Billion Dollars, nothing matters to me in that moment. At that special beach, there were these pools and reefs, it was pretty fucking amazing. It’s dangerous for piano players, so I try not to do it as much as I would: But I like skateboarding. In pools in stuff, I was seeing that when I was a kid. I’m a friend of the Dogtown Area in Los Angeles, but I was too young. But it was so cool, seeing Tony Alva and Stacy Peralta and all these guys. And in my head, it’s still the same today: It’s so cool! It’s not about the height, or the tricks or the flips – it’s the style! So when I’m skating, especially with no helmet, it just feels so good! But the higher you go – well. My manager…. (Laughs)

Interviewing british Progressive-Rockers IQ @ Night of the Prog 2014 (English Version)

 

road of bones

In June they brought out their great, tenth album „The Road of Bones“ and at this years edition of Germanys „Night of the Prog Festival“ I had the honor to interview all five members of England’s Neo-Prog-Band IQ. Mike Holmes (Guitars), Peter Nicholls (Vocals), Neil Durant (Keyboards), Tim Esau (Bass) and Paul Cook (Drums) had quite some interesting topics to talk about. The new album and their suprise about it’s success, about Progressive Rock in General and interesting new bands. About the internet’s impact on music and some other stuff. Enjoy!

Daniel Frick: Hey Guys, thank you for taking your time to answer a few questions for the readers of our music magazine Whiskey Soda.

Paul Cook (drums): Isn’t that terrible to call the magazine like that? Because you ruin Whiskey putting Soda in it!

Daniel: Yeah, I heard that answer before. It’s just a simple story behind that. When the founders of our magazine got together in 1996 I think, they were both working as DJ’s. Well, one of them gave himself the nickname „Jack D“, the other one called himself „Soda Bubble“. So that’s why it became „Whiskey-Soda“. But just a few days ago I talked to one of them and he said to me: Back in 1996 there were all the cool names for a music magazine available like „Metal.de“ or „Greatmusic.de“ or whatever. Why did I go for Whiskey-Soda?“ (laughs). After the Show later, will you have some good German Beer instead of ruined Whiskey, won’t you?

Mike Holmes: Well, any beer we can get!

Daniel: You played the Night of the Prog Festival in 2011. How does it feel to come back and do you know the Loreley Legend?

Mike Holmes (git): A little bit. It’s something about the river, isn’t it?

Daniel: Yeah, it’s a german romanticism legend about a mermaid with that name distracting the sailors with her songs causing shipwrecks at the strait just down here.

Mike: And they blamed it on a mythical creature? (laughs)

Daniel: Yeah, I think it probably really developed with the time that went by.

Mike: Maybe they just couldn’t find the directions because of all the loud music at the Amphitheatre? There was no GPS back then, right?

Daniel: What I was going to aks was if you ever thought of bringing a female singer to the band?

Mike: Well, we have some additional background singers from time to time. Since this is has been going for so long we tend to write for each other now. When we write, we’re writing for Peter singing it. So for a female singer on a regular base? I don’t think so.

Daniel: I read that this it the first time you play the New Album Live?

Mike Holmes: We did a few gigs leading to the album, but since the official release in June it’s the first gig.

Daniel: So I guess you’re still a little bit excited or at least curious? How does it feel to step out to the fans with an all new album?

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Peter Nicholls: It’s the most important thing that we do. It’s a new album. If we release a new album and it’s not good, we do ourselves bad. So we always want to make sure that the albums are really good, because it stays with us for the next three or four years until the next album is coming. We had great reactions to this one. It never becomes something ordinary, it’s always very exciting to have new material out.

Mike Holmes: And it makes a difference as well playing it live. We always enjoyed playing live and new material makes it different again for us to play.

Peter Nicholls: It’s still new to us, so we’re still trying to remember it. On the edge, definitely. Some songs you’ve already played 50 or 60 times. You can’t relax with this. Because it’s new material you wanna do really well, and we’re all trying to remember it and get confident with it. It helps keeping the attention levels higher.

Daniel: So does that mean, that everytime you get up on stage, the stage-fright turns up again?

Paul Cook: Yeah, I think so. When you got new material it’s not as well, you’re better with the old stuff. So you have to keep a special concentration.

Daniel: „The Road of Bones“ has been released for about three months now. As far as I know there’s been great critical acclaim all over the world. But it also had quite some success when it comes to sales. You hit Top 40 in Germanys Album Charts. That’s not a matter of course for a Prog Band, is it?

Mike Nicholls: We’re really very surprised by that. We didn’t even think about any chart placements. If we had thought about that, we might have done it quite different. We just went out and did what we usually do. And that was incredible, we’re really pleased by it. The nice thing is we’re getting good reviews in different types of magazines. Even metal magazines have given us great reviews as well. There’s one metal website, I didn’t find out which one, that has given us 100 of 100. Which is really cool for a prog album!

Daniel: Do you finally feel that you’re now where you deserve to be? Because good sales are of course also a kind of affirmation, aren’t they?

Tim Esau: We’re getting closer (smiles), we worked very hard. But we’re not quite there yet.

Daniel: The house mortgages are not payed yet? (laughs)

Tim Esau: Not yet. We don’t think about what we deserve, we just do what we’re enjoying. That’s pretty much it.

Mike Holmes: Yeah, we’re just doing our best and hope it gets down well.

Daniel: Let’s talk a bit more about „The Road Of Bones“. I really like the Album very much and as I understand it’s a concept of a Story of a Serial Killer or just the title track. How did that special topic occur?

Peter Nicholls: When Mike presented the music, he said he felt it like sort of filmic, it’s like opening up on a scene of some kind of carnage, where a serial killer had been at work. So it just turned up to fit that idea. I think that track is quite different, to me it’s a quite visual piece of music. you can easily visualize scenes and get an idea when I was trying to do the lyrics. It just came from that really. The best thing about writing is that one idea follows the other idea. You just throw things in and so it becomes the bands project.

Daniel: So that’s your usual approach to write the music first?

Mike Holmes: Yeah, we always do the music first. I’ve been watching a lot of films recently, and also the scandinavian murder series. „The Killing“ – do you watch that? There’s loads of it, it’s massive in England. There’s an american version of it now. And „The Bridge“, all these murder things coming from scandinavia, and they’re done very well. And I suppose it was that, because they’re quite atmospheric as well.

Daniel: Did „The Road Of Bones“ turn out harder when it comes to guitar riffs and so on because of that Serial Killer Topic or did the music develop harder and darker and you came up with the idea?

IO_1

Mike Holmes: No, it just felt very natural. On our previous album „Frequency“ there were one or two tracks getting towards that. I think we just allowed this album to go down that mode a bit more. Particularly when it comes to the sounds that we were using in the stuido. Quite a few people that say that there’s not so much guitar on it. But actually we spent more time on the guitar sounds than we did on any other album. I think it just presented itself, the sound of the album. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It evolved.

Daniel: So you didn’t also listen to a lot of Metal stuff at the same time?

(Collective laughter)

Mike Holmes: No. But there’s quite a big crossover between Metal and Prog over the last ten years or so. The most of it isn’t prog to me but just Metal with different time signatures. But there are one or two bands coming out now that actually do manage to combine it really well.

Daniel: Mike, as I expected only talk to you I’ve got a special question only for you. As what do you see yourself mainly: As a Guitar Player, a Keyboarder, A Producer or a Composer?

Mike Holmes: My main thing is the guitar. But I’m not a person that hangs around in guitar shops. I like guitars obviously, that’s why I play it, but I’m equally interested in keyboards and records sounds. I see myself as a musician in general

Daniel: There’s also Synaesthesia, who are signed to your label GEP, whose CEO you are. I think most of the visitors of the festivals haven’t heard of them before, neither did I. So here’s your chance to do some shameless profiling and advertising for them. How should anyone give these guys a shot? Why are they special?

Mike Holmes: I think they’re special. GEP gets sent between 6 and ten demos a week, and they’re the ones we chose from a years worth of demos. They’ve got some really interesting ideas, they’ve actually good melodies. I think a lot of prog bands or prog musicians tend to think melodies aren’t important. They tend to think it’s important what keyboard sound they have or to play 7/8. For us, melodies are pretty much the most important thing. That’s why I like them, because I think they’ve got some good melodies. And it’s a nice mixture of real classic prog sounds and modern sounds.

Daniel: As I mendioned already you’re also the CEO of your Label GEP. What music you listened to in the last time did convince/inspire you when it comes to progression, excitement, originality?

Neil Durant: I was listening to a Japanese Band lately called „Tricot“. They’re all female Prog-Funk-Band. Very, very tight, very dynamic. I really like them. I stumbled on them on Youtube, they’ve got this great video of them playing in a big aircraft hangar. It’s really captivating. I went to see them in London a couple of weeks ago. They’re very good live as well.

Daniel: Is there now the time for a Revival of Progressive Music? How do you evaluate the Standing of Progressive Rock Music in 2014?

Peter Nicholls: Well, you’re probably in a better place than us to say, because you’re probably more aware of what’s happening generally then we are. And we’ve been sort of locked away for over a year working on our album. It seems to be detaining it’s popularity, I don’t know if it’s actually growing. Prog is always gonna be niche-market, isn’t it? But I think within that, it’s sustaining. There are new bands coming all the time, although I’m not familiar with them.

Mike Holmes: I don’t know if there’s more sales in prog, but I think they way to see prog has changed. You don’t have to be ashamed to like prog any more. It’s cool to walk down the street with a Genesis or King Crimson Shirt.

Tim Esau: The internet probably helped as well, the people are a lot more aware, there’s a lot of prog on Youtube.

Mike Holmes: And the social media have also shown, that there are a lot of people that like prog, before they weren’t that vocal. There’s a magazin in Britain called „Prog“ and it’s going great. It’s selling a huge amount, they’re very popular. It used to come every two months, now it’s probably every six weeks. And that’s cool!

Daniel: When it comes to the internet and social media, there’s also platforms like Spotify and other streaming sites. I saw that your new and the last album are available at Spotify and the earlier ones aren’t. I asked myself if that has a special meaning. What’s your opinon on this topic? Because it’s special. Some musicians tend to say: I don’t get the money from it that I deserve or I need to keep on making music. Others say, especially smaller bands, that it’s a good chance to get a bigger audience.

IQ_3

Mike Homes: You do get pityful amounts of money from spotify, but unfortunately I think it’s gonna be the future of music. Streaming. So you have to run there I think. Ten years ago people where really worried about illegal downloading and it hasn’t really proved to be the death of music. I think we’re lucky to be a prog group, because so many people into prog are collectors. They love to have a physical product in their hands. So thats good for us. I don’t know if it’s the same in other genres but in prog that’s great.

Daniel: And how long did it take you to lose stagefright? And how did you manage to achieve that?

Paul Cook: For me it’s always an underlining bit of nervousness there. I think it needs to be, you need to have a little bit of that. If you’re too releaxed, you probably won’t do a great gig. So for me, it’s still there. I don’t know about the other guys.

Peter Nicholls: Yeah, always. If you went on stage and didn’t care, then you shouldn’t be doing it. I’m always nervous before a gig, I’m fine once it starts. But the time before a gig, you start to think about the things that could go potentially wrong. But that’s because I care about it. Then I have to go to my little place and focus on the things you’re about to do. Because nobody wants to see someone on stage looking nervous or unsure about what they’re doing. Well, I think the important thing is there’s only five of us on stage and we rely on each other. We have to support each other and if somebody makes a mistake it’s up to everybody else to get through that. It’s no telepathy, but we’re looking out for each other and we’re always concentrating on what we’re doing. If you sit and analyze it, it’s a bizarre thing to do. Because you’re not going on stage saying: „Look what we can do!“ It’s not a normal thing to do. But when we’re working together, it’s great, there’s nothing like it.

Daniel: In my opinion you’ve proved to be an great musician. Are there other secret talents that you have? What are you not talented in at all? 😉

Paul Cook: Well, for me, the band is just a small part of my life. It’s not a big part. When I wake up in the morning I don’t think: „Oh my god, I’m a musician, I’m in a band. It’s not like that. It’s something I do for pleasure. My everydays life and my work is more important.

Daniel: What can we expect from IQ in the future? Are there special projects that you have been thinking about for quite a time or something similar?

Tim Esau: There’s a movie from „Subterranea“, Mike wrote the music for it and some guys want to use some of the themes for a movie.

Mike Nicholls: The movie is done and they’re pretty much at the final edit. And I do the soundtrack for it. It’s just themes from „Subterranea“, inspired by the album so to say. It’s someone elses take on the story, that’s the interesting thing from my point of view. They’ve taken elements from the story and taken them into a different direction, it’s very interesting.

Daniel: So, that’s quite it. That was my last question. Thanks again for your time and all the best for the gig!

 

Interview: Daniel Frick @ the Night of the Prog Festival, 18th July 2014, St. Goarshausen, Germany

Photos: Michael Buch

 

Interview with Dream Theater’s John Petrucchi in Zurich, Jan 27th, 2014 (Raw English Version)

petrucci

 

Whiskey-Soda Magazine:  John, thank you for taking your time to answer a few Questions for the readers of our German music magazine Whiskey-Soda. We’re in Switzerland, yesterday you were in Munich. That’s what my first questions is about. Our Magazine is called Whiskey-Soda: So, what did you have yesterday: Some Whiskey Soda or a good Glass of Bavarian beer?

John Petrucci: Actually I had wine yesterday, but I will have some Bavarian beer. We’re going to play in Nuremberg in a few days so I will have some Bavarian Beer and Food. I love that.

WS: In case you haven’t before, you have to try the Weizenbier, that’s the best. It’s my favourite, to be honest.

JP: Yeah, I have, it’s very good.

WS:  We have to talk about the Grammys today, because we’re day one after the Grammys, where you reached your second nomination. I think the Celebration started 2 a.m. Central European Time. Did you sleep bad with excitement? J Did you go to bed at all? Did you watch the broadcast on the internet?

JP: Actually the whole band was watching last night after the show. The category we’re in gets announced in the pre-telecast during the day, it’s earlier. So we all watched after the show in Munich, we had a streaming from Grammy.com – but we didn’t win. But you know: Sabbath – it’s pretty much guaranteed, right?

WS: Yeah, sort of. I thought about it a little bit today, discussed it was some friends and Metal-Enthusiasts at Facebook. I think it’s the safe decision to chose Sabbath, but it would have been a lot more courageous decision to take Dream Theater.

JP: Yeah, that’s true.

WS: Although you were competing Sabbath, which is quite hard, do you think it’s  harder to win a Grammy or another prestigious award as a Prog-Band? Because Prog is quite complex, it’s not the mainstream 4/4 stuff everybody listens to.

JP:  Right, well. I would have thought it was even more difficult to get nominated. But now, that we have been nominated twice, to me that means that…. You know the Grammys are voted on by the Members of the Recording Academy. So it’s all musicians, engineers, producers – everything like that. And the fact, that our Prog Music is recognized in those circles means that there is more of a presence, there is more of a relevance and importance to the scene. So again: Just to be nominated in itself is difficult and then to win is a whole different thing.

WS: So do you think, that it was maybe even harder to get nominated with prog ten or twenty years ago?

JP: I don’t know. I also don’t know the history so much about what bands have been nominated or not. I think, one of the things that we’ve done, which is a maybe a little bit different and which is more in the scene today, is that we mixed Metal with Prog. So where not the traditional, 70’s based sound. We’ve that metal sound to us and the category we’re in is Best Metal Performance. So that crossover kind of brings us into focus a little bit more.

WS: So as for the nominated category, you’re glad that you’re not some kind of Retro-Prog-Band, right? (laughs)

JP: Yeah, we’re not, exactly. I mean, Metal is a style we love to do. I love the sound of Metal Guitars  and everything. And it’s also a powerful style of music. It keeps our audience young and growing, because a lot of kids are into it. I can see it in young metal bands

WS: You don’t look very disappointed to me about not winning. But I thought by myself, if you will not win today, at the day of our interview, I will have to bring you some comfort. So I brought you  a little present. But before you get it, I have to ask you (Laugh) What kind of presents does a famous Rock Musician get? I don’t know, from fans, or maybe even from journalists? Do they all bring you the CD’s of their own bands to get a record deal? 🙂

JP: Well, people bring us their CD’s or their friends CD’s. You know, this is my band or my brothers band. Our fans are really great, they bring us very nice presents. Last night, I got a really, really nice bottle of wine yesterday from a friend and fan. They bring chocolates and specialties of the area we’re in. This is something of my hometown. Some of them are artists and they draw portraits of us and they give us those. So, they do really nice things.

WS: You already even mentioned it:  I brought you some Swiss Chocolate. J (Give Swiss chocolate in blue metal tin). I had a hard time finding this because first, I was looking for a gold metal box, like the colour of the Grammy. Then I was trying to get a black metal box matching the current album cover artwork,  but I didnt succeed. But I only found this blue one – the Chocolate is really great, though.

JP: (Smiles) It’s perfect. Thank you so much.

WS: But, as my mommy always said: You have to share it with the boys! (Grin)

JP: (Smiles) I promise I will. You know, stuff like that disapeears very quickly.

WS: (Laugh). Yeah, somebody takes it. „Has anyone seen my blue tin of swiss chocolate?“

JP:  Thank you very much, this is very nice of you. Awesome.

WS: You’re very welcome. This is something Switzerland is famous for. I didn’t bring cheese and a Swiss Watch is to expensive for a poor music journalist. (Laugh) You guys are considered to have had the biggest impact on Prog Metal in general.  Almost always somebody talks or writes about progressive metal, Dream Theater is mentioned as being some kind of a blueprint. Like this band sounds similar to Dream Theater, or this band does make Prog Metal, but doesn’t sound like dream Theater at all. So, Do you keep track of what’s going on in the Prog-Metal-Scene? Maybe there’s even something you can recommend to our readers? Some new blood you’ve been listening to? Do you even find time at all to listen to all the new stuff and the music you get from your fans.

JP: Right, well the interesting thing is, everybody’s different. For me, personally, I don’t really persue new music a lot. I never have been that way. If people turn me onto it or if I am in the right place at the right time and I read something, then it’s great. Last time we were in the UK I sat down and read Prog Magazine. I was going through and there were all these bands I never heard of. But one of them, Tesseract – I really like those guys.

WS: I saw them a few days ago.

JP: How were they?

WS: They were great!

JP: I love their latest album, it’s really cool.

WS: They have a really great singer. It’s very special because the guitars, the drums and everything are quite hard, but the singer does sing very clear, not like a metal singer at all.

JP: Yeah, he doesn’t. He’s almost like a Pop Singer.

WS: It was great, it was a quite small venue about 50 Kilometers from here, not a lot of people, but they created a great atmosphere.

JP:  Yeah, I like those guys. So every once in a while, even in the band someone says: Have you ever heard of this one? You gotta check it out. I know there’s a lot of great stuff out there.

WS: So your recommendation would be Tesseract, right? Fine. As for Progressive Music I’ve got another question for you. Imagine there’s someone that really means a lot to you and He or She tells  you : Progressive Music is tiring and made from  egomaniacs. I dont’t like it at all ! How would you convince him or her about how exciting Progressive Rock or Metal Music can be, without using your Position in one of the most famous Prog Bands in general. Just as a regular guy?

JP:  Well, there’s a couple of things. One thing is: Go see it Live! I meet people that never have seen us before and it’s their first time and you know – they Love it! It’s a different experience. The other thing is: You might have to ease people into it. So for us, we have a different kinds of levels of how proggy the music is. Sometimes it’s a little easier to digest for people that not listen to that kind of music. So you have to play them the right song first. You don’t wanna start them off with a 25 minute epic-extravaganza.  Maybe ease them in a little bit.  And of course it depends on their taste, too. You can get to somebody who might like a certain style. If somebody is really into Metal, I’ll play one of the heavier songs. Or if somebody likes more poppier stuff, ballady stuff,  I’ll pick something more in that direction, maybe acoustic. And then you play that and then  you have their attention.  They realize: There’s melody, there’s meaning, Lyrics, it’s produced nice – it sounds good. Then you can go on and tell them: Now check this out!

WS:  As a music enthusiast and a music journalist I hear and read a lot of stuff of Fans like : Slayer isn’t Slayer anymore without Dave Lombardo. Or Dream Theater isn’t Dream Theater anymore without Mike Portnoy. What do you say to these guys?

JP: It’s definitely not true. There will be people who say that…

WS: There are a lot of them!

JP: Yeah, you know, that’s their opinion. But for me it’s all about the spirit of the band, the attitude and the mission, the writing and everything. It’s all been Completely intact and we had different members changed throughout they years. Different singer, different keyboard players and now a different drummer. So to me Dream Theater is always Dream Theater.  It’s not just about one person, it’s bigger than one person.

WS: Yeah, I think so –  it’s not my personal opinion my the way.

JP: Yeah. And again: Sort of a remedy for that maybe to see the band live. That’s something I noticed. Obviously Mike was there from the beginning and such a integral part of the band. Before the people saw us with Mangini of lot of them were like: „What’s this gonna be like?“ But as soon as you see the guy play with us it’s like: Alright. Question’s anwered. So anybody who feels that way like „It’s not the same anymore“ I encourage them to see the Band live. Because there’s two things: He’s tremendous as a drummer, he’s mindblowing. That’s Number one. And Number two:  As far as the old material he respects the way it was played and he plays it like you used to hear it. So it‘ s cool.

WS: You just released the Live at Luna Park DVD-stuff, where you had a string ensemble joining you on stage performing with the band. I think your music fits this approach very well to mix it with classic stuff. Metallica once recorded a whole Live-Album with the San Francisco Symphonic Orchestra. Is this a challenge you would take for Dream Theater to do something similar? And if yes, would you use songs from your existing catalouge and arrange them new or would you write new material especially for this occasion?

JP:  There’s a couple of different approaches. As far as an orchestra playing with us and the material we currently play – we’ve done that before.  Not for a whole concert, but we’ve done it at the „Score“ DVD filming at the Radio City Music Hall 2006 in New York. And we’ve an event coming up in Boston in March where we are playing at the opera house in Boston with the Berklee College Orchestra and Choir playing with us. That’s an approach that works pretty well, because we’re just playing our music and they’re playing along. And a lot of the way that we orchestrate our music already has, at least the bigger songs, they already have this string-things in it. So it works. As far as writing pieces specifically for that, that would be cool. That’s a whole different mindset, you have to go in with an arranger, string musicians and whatever and do it. It’s different and we’ve never done that before. That might be interesting.  Who knows?

WS: Are there any reasons for you, not to do something like that. Maybe it’s too big logistically or something?

JP: No. (smiles)

WS: So if you like the idea, you go for it!

JP: Yeah, you take on different challenges. I mean even at the Luna Park Shows, that was at the end of the tour for us, I think it was in August and we’ve already been on tour for fourteen months or so. Our show was pretty much dialed in and then we decided we’re filming a DVD. Let’s bring back this song, let’s bring back that song, and by the way, we’re gonna have string musisicans on stage with us. There are all these different variables that we are not used to, meanwhile we’re filming and so on. But to me, I think you have to take these chances to make the evening a little bit more special, to make the DVD a little bit more interesting than just one night on tour. It presents challenges because now you bring in something new and new people, a lot of things can go wrong. Usually it’s not that great as you hoped it would be (laughs) . There are always problemes, they try to mice the little violin, the guitar is bleeding through all this stupid things that happen.

WS: And it’s keeping it exciting for you as well, right? A lot of musicians, especially progressive rock musicians tell me: „Well, at first I do it for myself, for my own joy and fun. If other people like it -great. I hear that a lot. So it think you have to keep it special for yourself as well.

JP: To me, that’s a funny statement. Because to me, the music is all about sharing. Like the chocolate and what you said. When I play a show, yes, I’m thinking about my performance and that I play good. But I’m thinking more about the people that are there watching it, you know? Because they came to see us and they’re expecting something. They made plans to come, they spend money on tickets and a T-Shirt, a babysitter and whatever they had to do to come. At that moment I feel it’s more about the audience.

WS: That’s true. I think the few musicians I mentioned they meant it for the reason of: If I enjoy it for myself and even play it for myself it’s authentic – and then the people like it. The people realize when a musician just plays his instrument as a job. Nobody will recognize.

JP: You know what? That’s a 100% true, the people are smarter than you think.  They know, when it’s not authentic. And if it’s something that comes from your heart and you believe in it, they’re gonna like it or they’re not gonna like. But at least you know it’s something authentic. It’s all about integrity.

WS:  You are on the show for almost 30 years now, how many years did it take you to loose stage-fright?

JP: It’s funny because it’s so long ago, it’s hard to remember the first shows really. But I don’t really get nervous before we go to the stage. But every once in a while, for no reason whatsoever I feel a little anxious right before I go on stage. But normally I’m calm.

WS: You are professional and feel cool about it.

JP: Yeah, and the reason why I feel cool is that the band, the guys, everybody’s gonna do their job, I know that we have a reliable crew, I know that the light and the sound – everything we worked for and planned is going to go well. It’S well organized. Anxiety comes from not being sure, like being unprepared, right? So if you’re prepared and feel comfortable and have confidence in the people around you it makes you feel good. And any time you feel like: Oh shit, I don’t remember this song or something’s gonna happen, there’s something broken then you tend to be a little bit insecure.

WS: Yeah, and of course everybody sometimes has a hard day, like today is not the day. I’ll better do that tomorrow. But then, YOU have to go out on stage (Laughs)

JP: Most of the time nobody knows the difference.

WS:  What’s the most Rock-Star-Esque thing you’ve ever done?  I mean besides the usual sex, drugs and killing babies stuff? I want some proof you can catch up to the cliches as a rock star!

JP: (Laughs) Oh my god! (Thinks)

WS: There’s nothing you can recall. Come on!

JP: Once I flipped an entire table full of stuff backstage took it and tossed it.

WS: You were angry or something like that?

JP: (grins) No, just because I wanted to. I was just feeling goofy. Does that count? (Laughs)

WS: Hmm, just only a table? Not an entire hotel suite?

JP: No, no, no, no, no. I’ve never done that.

WS: There are special bands that were famous for devastating whole levels of hotels. I don’t know, like Mötley Crüe. These guys were crazy! (Laugh)

JP: Oh my god, I can’t even imagine, I’ve never done anything like that.

WS: Do you have a funny or awkward anecdote to share with our readers that took place in your long career? (Maybe something about the most unusual spot you ever did a Concert)

JP: Well, there’s a lof stories like that. There’s one story I remember. We came over to Italy to do just a few shows. My guitar tech was not the guy that usually is my guitar tech but my Buddy from New York.  He’s a winemaker. I did a guitar clinic and we went to the clinic together and at the end of the clinic a guy came up to us and said, okay we gonna have dinner. That’s usually typical a clinic or a workshop. The company that you do it for takes you out to dinner or whoever hosted it, the distributor or other people. And he said: „My friend owns this restaurant, it’s closed but he will open it for us. So we go to this guys restaurant, it’s cloed, but he opens it especially for us. The chef makes this unbelievable meal, he’s bringing out one thing after the next after the next. And we’re enjoying it, we’re drinking wine and grappa and cracking up. A couple of hours into the meal a said: So, you work for the distributor, right? No! You work for the guitar company? No! So you work for the, eeeerr, venue, right? No! And at this point I look over to my friend and we’re cracking up laughing, you know? Who the hell is this guy? And I said: Who are you? And he said: I fix the cars. It was just a guy, a fan who was a mechanic who took us to this restaurant and set up this whole thing and meanwhile we thought it was the host of the guitar clinic. We didn’t notice at all. But we had a great dinner with italian cuisine. One thing I remember when they brought out the grappa, the bottle had a stem on it that that was so long he was pouring from the other side of the table. That was a very funny situation.

WS: A last question, because I know you’re in a hurry on your way to the venue and everything.

JP: Sure.

WS: It’s a big one. You’ve had a career of almost thirty years, you toured the world, you recorded albums and Live DVD’s. But what kind of unfulfilled or unreached artistical dreams does a person like John Petrucci have?

JP: One of the things that we’ve never done is, we never scored a movie. It’s something we’ve talked about for the longest time. For some reason I guess we never have been asked to do it or we haven’t persued it. I’ve always felt that our music would be perfect in some kind of movie to score it. Actually see it, to write the music for the movie, all the different moods and things like that, I think we’d do a really good job. It’s something that we haven’t done yet, but that would be very cool.

WS: And what kind of movie would this be? Something you like or something you think that would suit your music.

JP: Our music would probably be best for sci-fi or fantasy.

WS: Are you into that stuff?

JP: (Laughs) Who isn’t?

WS: (Laughs) A lot of people.

JP: (Laughs) Really? Who doesn’t like Star Wars? I like this dramatic stuff and I can picture our music working really well with it. Even with the Harry Potter stuff and the Tolkien stuff – the fans that kinda like that stuff, the different levels of the story and the characters are very similar to the fan we have. They dig into the music on that level, it’s a very similar mindset, so I could picture it working. But somebody has to ask us. (smiles)

WS: Well, I could picture it working as well and would be ecxcited to see that movie one day and listen to the music you wrote for it.  Would be great.

JP: Yeah, it have to be good, though.  Couldn’t be like a cheesy one, not something like from a bad independent film maker.  It had to be something good.

WS: What about this: The next time you get nominated for a grammy, you will win it. Because there’s a saying in Germany „Aller guten Dinge sind drei“, which means: The third time you gonna make it! So you win the Grammy and then you get an offer to score a movie.

JP: There you go. That’s the way to do it! I like that!

WS: Thanks for your time, even though there was this misunderstanding where to meet.

JP: You’re welcome, and don’t worry about that, it’s all good. I was talking to my wife on the phone and I thought I had to go but then Rick said: They’re gonna be late. So I could talk to her for another moment.