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



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 – 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.


Interview with Spanish Prog-Metallers Carving Colours (in English)

1. Hey Guys, thanks for taking your time to answer some questions for the Readers of German alternative Music Magazine So the most important thing for the start: Whiskey Soda or some Spanish Brandy?

JULIO: I wouldn’t go for brandy, but for a Pedro Ximénez instead, or any of the sweet Sherry wines from southern Spain.

ÁLVARO: Fresh gazpacho!

ARTURO: Sorry, not too much into neither of them! Give me some tequila instead 😀

2. Why don’t we start giving you the opportunity to introduce yourself as a band? You´re quite new to the scene, especially outside of your homecountry Spain.

JULIO: Well, we are a progressive metal band hailing from Seville, in Andalusia. The band was started by Juan Pablo (guitarist), Barranco (guitarist) and Luisma (drummer), in the end of 2010’s summer. The last two eventually left the band, and since then we’ve been trying to stablish a solid line-up that was completed on November 2012 with Álvaro (guitarist) and Alejandro (vocalist). Also we managed to write, record and release ‚No way but forwards‘, our first album, and did about twelve gigs. Now we’re trying to reach every corner of the world with the album and planning both a tour in Spain and a second album.

3. Who are you guys, and can you tell us something about the meaning of your bands name?

ARTURO: We’re six guys who used to play in different bands until we discovered, one way or another, that we had the chance to create something special with this band and chose to give it a try. We have no previous remarkable career, and our lives outside music are not too relevant, though for the record I can say we comprise a couple of web developers, a pizza chef, a biologist…

Carving Colours is a name we liked because it’s an impossible concept (a colour itself can’t be carved). The impossible is great fuel for imagination; besides, it sounds funny and catchy due to the alliteration of letter C and it also depicts our intent to craft something diverse and eclectic („in many colours“).

4. Tell us something about your musical education, maybe you have an anecodte from your childhood days that has to do with it?

ÁLVARO: I haven’t studied music theory in any academy (but I would like to have done it), I’ve studied it on my own by some books, but I still have a lot to learn. At university, I took a subject about History of Music in which I learnt a lot about how occidental music evolved over time, that’s great. I don’t remember any important anecdote.

JULIO: Well, I haven’t got any formal musical education, apart from the horrible Music subject I had at elementary school. We got to learn to read sheet music, some rythmic expression, musical history and appreciation and to play the recorder (a small kind of flute). Seriously, no one could ever get out of that class and say „hey, I want to learn to play an instrument!“. Many years later, Alberto, a friend of mine, was trying to form a rock band. I told him I liked the bass guitar and that it would be nice to learn to play, and he encouraged me to buy my first bass and amp. He and another friend, Fre, gave me the basic lessons. Apart from that, I’m mostly self-taught. Occasionally, other band members teach me some musical theory, concepts and techinques that are necessary to play our songs. I must admit, I still have lots and lots to learn!

ARTURO: I was in a music school for five years. I learnt a lot, but I didn’t get to make use of it until I joined my first band. Until then, I knew a thing or two about making songs but I didn’t know how to make them work for an ensemble. That’s something you can only learn when you play the real thing.

5. What kind of music do you stand for and what do you think is your unique feature musically?

ARTURO: We stand for music made from the heart. Being technical is only useful when you have a soul to play with; otherwise, music becomes just a mathematical filigree – beautiful, but not inspiring. We’re not too technical ourselves: some of our material is a bit more complex, but it’s not what we focus on. We try to be passionate, that’s the feature I’d highlight.

6. Your recently published your debut „No Way But Forwards“ independently. I know, music stands for its own and can’t be described easily, but will you take the challenge to describe it? What do you consider important to know about it/is there something you are especially proud of? I think I read it is an concept album?

JULIO: Yes, it’s a concept album that explores the validity of violence as a way to change our society when it becomes oppressive and unfair. It talks about sacrifices, cycles, consequences and the value of our actions, no matter how small they would be. Musically, is a progressive metal album that combines melodic and harsh elements, such as clean and growled vocals, blastbeats and delicate eerie sections in songs that span from 6 to 15 minutes each. If I had to choose one song from the album, it would be ‚No Way But Forwards‘. It’s a fifteen minutes piece that is divided in 4 sections, and it revisits musical themes of all the other songs of the album as a recollection, prior to the end of the story. I’d say it has all the elements of the sound of the band, so it’s the best example of how we sound like. Finally, we are very very proud of the artwork and design Ideophony did for us. It really sells the album by itself. The cover art is beautiful and the booklet is very original and supports the concept of the album.

7. You describe your style of music as „Progressive Metal“. What does the label ‚Progressive‘ mean to you?

ÁLVARO: I’m not a big fan of putting so many labels on bands. For me, „progressive“ means a way to compose without limiting the songs to a typical structure or armonic progression. But I really don’t care so much about this while I compose, music just flows. I just try not to sound generic.

8. What Band/Album would you choose to convince a newbie to progressive music about how exciting it can be to exceed the conventions and limitations of mainstream/popular music or genres in General ? As you are part of the underground yourself, you certainly know some yet undiscovered treasures when it comes to Metal Bands. Maybe you’ve got a insider tipp, maybe a band not well known or known, but underrated, bands befriended?

ÁLVARO: I really don’t know, it depends very much on what music he or she’s used to listen! I wouldn’t recommend a Jethro Tull album to a person that uses to listen only to Metallica as I wouldn’t recommend a Dream Theater one to another one who only listen to vintage rock. But I think I’d go for Remedy Lane of Pain of Salvation, it has a bit of all and it’s suitable for almost all ears I think.

JULIO: I’d recommend the albums that got me into the modern progressive music. Those would be Opeth’s ‚Deliverance‘ and ‚Damnation‘, Porcupine Tree’s ‚In Absentia‘ and Dream Theater’s ‚Train of Thought‘. Also, Obsidian Kingdom’s masterpiece ‚Mantiis‘ surpasses conventions, limitations and genre in every possible way. As for undiscovered treasures, the Spanish and Sevillian scenes have lots of them. Monkeypriest’s ‚The Psalm‘ was my one-way ticket to the underground scene and I cherish that album a lot.

9. What Bands influenced your Band musically and why especially this bands?

ARTURO: We try to learn a bit from every band we like regardless of its genre, so this could be a veeery long list! If I have to narrow it down to a few names, Opeth and Cynic are early but persistent influences – we share their taste for progressive extreme metal, but we combine that with sweeter motifs such as those from Porcupine Tree or Haken. Leprous is a nice middle point between both sides, we find them amazing. As for me, some particular favourites of mine are Isis and Riverside.

10. 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? 😉

ARTURO: You’re too kind! We’re actually untalented for many, many things. For instance, we suck at interviews!

ÁLVARO: I think football is my nemesis.

JULIO: I’m the best out there at falling asleep in the car after a gig or a rehearsal. Seriously, I’m the worst copilot ever. Apart from that, I pretty much suck at sports. But I’m really good at drinking beer, so I think it compensates for (or justifies) that.

ARTURO: This might be the right place to mention that Álex (singer) writes short stories from time to time. I’m into it as well; in fact I hope to finish this year my first novel, The Copper Heart – a steampunk adventure story.

11. Imagine you were given the opportunity to participate a musical project with Geddy Lee from Rush or John Myung from Dream Theater. Only problem: You would have to choose one of them! Who would you choose and why?

ÁLVARO: Wow! What a difficult question! I think I’d choose Myung just because I started listening to Dream Theater before than Rush, but I’m not sure at all. It depends on the purpose of the project.

ARTURO: I’d go with Geddy, I’d love to learn some of his multitasking. Besides, Mr. Myung might find me a bit too talkative for his personal taste. By the way, speaking about bass players, can I suggest Les Claypool too? 😀

12. Imagine sitting in your favourite bar in Seville and John Petrucci enters and sits at the table next to you. What will you do, i.e. what would you like to do and what will you REALLY do? 😉

JULIO: We’d surely love to sit with him and talk for hours and if he wanted to, take him to other bars and even to the rehearsal room and play for him. Of course, we’d give him a copy of our album, a t-shirt, and stickers! I don’t think we would act any different than I’ve just described, unless of course, we saw he was with his family, or if he showed reticence to spend some time with us.

13. Rock music is full of four letter words. Which is your favourite word or sentence to insult someone in a classy and sophisticated way? If you can’t think of something, you are allowed to teach our readers a way to insult someone in Spanish. We believe that most interviews lack educational values, so go ahead!

JULIO: Sincerely, I can only recall bad words for insulting in English, being “motherfucker” a personal favorite.For Spanish insults, “mamahostias” is a good one, not the worst sounding, but quite powerful and despective.

ÁLVARO: You can say „mamerto“, I couldn’t think of a more classy word to insult someone. If you are really sophisticated and upper-class, you can also say “fistro” or „torpedo“, but be careful, it could be really offensive!

ARTURO: „Abrazafarolas“ (lamppost hugger) is one of my favourites. An abrazafarolas is such a drunkard that he’s often seen tottering on the streets, so he needs to get hold of something, hence „lamppost hugger“. There’s another one that I like, much less classy, purely disgusting just because. It’s „lamerretretes“ (toilet licker).

14. There is a lot to be heard of the bad economy in Spain. I think it is hard as a musician to earn some bread and butter in any country, but with that special situation in your country, how do you manage making a livelihood and be a musician? Maybe you want to tell something about the topic „Being a musician in Spain today“ in general?

JULIO: Well, “being a musician in Spain today” basically means having to work a real job to pay for that hobby you have of playing music and making albums and doing gigs. I think it’s pretty much the same at some levels everywhere, but the fun (?) starts when having a job is not easy at all here in Spain. In my case I’m a freelance web developer, and although I don’t make much it pays the bills, puts hot meals on the table and allows me to pay some extras (but not all of them at once). I could say I’m lucky, but it’s horrible to label as ‚good luck‘ something that should be ‚basic‘.

15. I believe composing music with an artistic ambition has to be some kind of fascinating, unpredictable voyage, just as life itself. Which moments on that voyage where the most meaningful to you guys?

ÁLVARO: Sometimes, a cool musical idea suddenly arises in your mind. It’s great when you begin to write it and even more ideas flow… after a few hours you realize that you have a proto-song that even sounds well, and that’s amazing! When a couple of days later you realize that another member of the band has been adding new arrangements it’s even more great. I’m really wishful to see the result of this compositive process in our next album.

ARTURO: After the release of the album, playing live for the first time and watching people singing along with you is a wonderful feeling. You realize you’ve actually built something that is touching people, and that’s amazing. All the things we do mean nothing if we can’t share them. And having an album done is great, but we can’t see how do people react and feel while they’re listening to the songs at their homes. It’s more powerful for us if we can be present at that moment; and our live act sounds rawer and more natural than the album, so we think we get more visceral reactions from live crowds and we love to experience them. We’re eager to play everywhere!

16. Anything else you want to tell our readers at the end of the interview?

JULIO: If you like the music, spread the word! Download the album, pass it along, recommend it to your friends! Say ‚hi‘ on Twitter, Facebook or by mail, let us know you’re out there!

ARTURO: And also, not for your readers but rather for you guys at Whiskey Soda: thank you all very much for your attention!!! It’s been a great interview!! 🙂

17. Please point out, WHO answered the interview questions.

 Julio Antequera, bassist.

Álvaro Quílez, guitarist.

Arturo Prada, pianist and keyboardist.

Carving Colours – No Way But Forwards

Artista: Carving Colours
Álbum: „No Way But Forwards“
Sello discográfico: Producción propia

Lanzamiento: 29.10. 2013
Medio: Álbum
Género: Metal progresivo
Autor de la crítica: Daniel Frick

Traducida por: Elisa Romero Massia



Hace mucho que España no produce ningún grupo que se conozca más allá de sus fronteras. Veinte años atrás, teníamos a los desaparecidos Héroes del Silencio, pero desde entonces, el panorama del death metal y de otros subgéneros similares ha permanecido en silencio. Los sevillanos Carving Colours tampoco son conocidos fuera de su país, pero esto podría cambiar. Bien lo merece este sexteto formado en 2010, que ha lanzado su primer disco de metal progresivo a finales de octubre con un resultado magnífico. „No Way But Forwards“ es el nombre de su álbum conceptual, que trata sobre la violencia y de si esta puede estar justificada en algún caso. Desde el punto de vista musical, se trata de un agradable viaje de 45 minutos a través del rock y del metal progresivo, dividido en seis pistas y con toques de thrash, death y black metal.

Del toque extremo se encarga principalmente el cantante, Alejandro, que modula su voz con profundos guturales o penetrantes gritos tipo shriek dependiendo de la canción o de la sección de canción, como ocurre en „Martyr“. El segundo tema del álbum empieza con un breve preludio acústico que da paso rápidamente a riffs propios del thrash. Les siguen interludios tranquilos que, de no ser por el sonido de las guitarras y la voz, nos recordarían a los Héroes, pero solo hasta que vuelven a entrar en escena oscuros guturales, riffs técnicos y elegantes solos de guitarra. Una canción genial, muy variada y expresiva. Pero Carving Colours también sabe crear un ambiente tranquilo en las partes de teclado, sin que las guitarras y la voz pierdan su protagonismo. Después viene una canción como „It had to be done“, cuya teatralidad nos hace pensar inevitablemente en los grandes Dream Theater, si bien en la parte final también se aprecia claramente la influencia de Opeth. „Beheading the Hydra“ empieza de nuevo con batería y riffs estilo thrash, suavizados por el teclado y una voz clara que de vez en cuando pasan a primer plano. No obstante, a partir de aquí vuelven a la carga: „Beheading the Hydra“ es, con diferencia, la canción más dura del álbum, pese al juego cambiante y dinámico de la voz. Para terminar, tenemos una pista épica de 15 minutos que da nombre al disco y que presenta fantásticas frases melódicas de guitarra solista y voz. La pieza central del álbum condensa todo el potencial que se esconde en este joven sexteto español. Quienes no se dejen intimidar por las influencias de metal extremo en una banda de metal progresivo, se encontrarán con un grupo de gran talento y mucho potencial que, con „No Way But Forwards“, nos ofrece una cautivadora ópera prima de alto contenido emocional. Y lo mejor de todo: la banda nos deja descargar el álbum gratis desde su página de Bandcamp. ¡No hay nada como darle caña al disco duro una y otra vez!

Valoración: 8/10


Barren Cross Concert Review and Interview



The performance of Barren Cross  was probably the highest anticipated Band at this years Elements of Rock Festival in Uster near Zurich, Switzerland on Sat, March 18th, 2012. The White-Metal-Veterans would hit the stage one hour earlier as originally planned. For the first show in 5 years Ray Parris (Guitars), Mike Lee (Vocals), Jim LaVerde (Bass) and Steve Whitaker (Drums) especially flew over to Europe. When the four guys hit the stage, they showed no sign of slowing down. On the contrary , from the beginn there was this special energy and atomsphere – as there has always been. Each one of them was obviously enjoying to play again with authentic greatfulness, when they presented their musical message.

In the two hours that followed that wouldn’t change a bit and the enthusiasm of the audience kept staying even after the following bands had entered the stage. Besides „old stuff“, an instrumental of Mike Lee and also the first song he ever composed in 1984, with „Withwashed Love“ there was the first new Barren Cross Song in 15 years. But not only the Rockmusic experience was pleasing, but also the statement about their faith in Jesus Christ. Singer Mike Lee gave a testimony about having had idols for long years and to repent and get back to his Lord. After that, he had experienced a whole new Joy and Peace in his life.

Bassist Jim LaVerde contrasted the Lyrics of Nickelbacks „Rock Star“ to the ones of his favorite Barren Cross Song „Here I am“.

Passionately he showed, that life is not about getting fulfilled in property, but about hard-line dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally he invited the audience to sing along with the band. Everyone sang out loud to the chorus with a mixture of enthusiasm and devotion. What an experience!

(Barren Cross on stage 2012 in Uster, Switzerland.)


(Barren Cross Promotion Picture, 1986)



In the context of the Festival we also had the opportunity to have an interview with Ray Parris and Jim LaVerde about Barren Cross in the past and the present. We want to thank them once again and want everyone interested to have the chance to participate what they told us. So here’s the whole thing. Enjoy!!


Hello Ray, thank you for taking your time to talk a little bit with us about Barren Cross.  We prepared some questions were we try to take you back in time.

Ray Parris (RP):

Oh, I did a two hour radio thing while I was driving – they took my back to ‘83 and I said to them: “You want to do that? I don’t even know what I had for breakfast.”


Your Song „Out of Time“ from the Atomic Arena album is about Rapture. The whole evangelical scene at the End of the 80’s unto the Beginning of the 90’s was affected by a very strong expectation by the expectation of the coming of Christ. I think your song was maybe something like a mirror in the time. So 22 Years later we are still here. Looking back … what do you think about the “early” Barren Cross time? How did the band effect your personal life?


Okay, so we’re not talking about the time now? (Grinning)


(Laughing) Not this one. We’ve got some questions about the time now but some are far back. We’re beginning with them.


Okay, I thought you were asking me a theological question. Because I can answer that, too. It wasn’t meant especially as a theological statement like “This is what you need to believe”, but it was just a song that says “Christ is going to come and you need to be ready”. Whatever time it is. Because even the apostles were thinking Christ was coming back in their lifetime. So we were just telling people at that time “Be ready”. You can’t live in hell and think you’ll gonna be okay when the Christ comes. You’re a follower of Christ or you’re not a follower of Christ. So that’s all there was. But as far as the band – how did it affect me? (thinks). Well, I’m half deaf – 40% in one ear and 60% in the other.


Is it because of the band?


Oh yeah. I used to play extremely loud. Oh gosh, yeah.

(Ray Parris live on stage in Uster, Switzerland)


There was no hearing protection stuff in the 80’s?


You know, I did wear them, but it only takes a couple of times. So when the sound wasn’t right I pulled my earplugs out. It only takes one night to ruin your hearing. I wore them 90% of the time but that wasn’t enough. At least that’s what my wife says. “What? I can’t hear you!” (laughs). But you know, that’s a pretty hard question how it affected me. Well, you know, in many things. There are many things.


What do you think your life could have been without Barren Cross? How did the band influence your life or your lifestyle and how you live today?


Hmmm, I think that’s a lot of speculation. I probably would have stayed in school, probably would have worked in a regular job earlier. But I think that god had a plan with ministry, which I still carry today. I’ve got my own ministries in church, got a evangelistical in nature, always seeking how people getting churched. So it probably gave me that band of wanting people to know Christ or at least to get the opportunity.

Jim LaVerde (JLV):

I think my life would have been very boring without Barren Cross. It created a lot of great memories and a lot of great times that we had together. Most of all, we had seen the power of God move amongst people, how could I not have been part of that? I would have missed a lot good stuff. But I knew, going into Barren Cross, that  god had a plan for the music and a plan for the group that went far beyond our capabilities as individuals. The whole is greater than its parts. And it is interesting, because when you take Barren Cross apart you have four guys, really average musicians, nothing spectacular but something special happens when we get together, play music, write music and when we hit the stage.


What was the most important ore most emotional moment in the band history? Is there one thing that you still remember today, saying: “That was a very special or emotional moment?”


When we finally signed up our contract with enigma records. That was huge for me because we were waiting for a year. Negotiations between lawyers … and I thought we will never going to be able to get signed. I remember the day, we were sitting at this big conference table with all the people which were representing enigma and our management and we singed our contract. A couple of weeks later we were making Atomic Arena. We were signed at a christian record lable first and then went to a secular one.


Oh, gosh. (thinking). Well, it wasn’t during the band time. In the late nineties, I called a good friend of mine because I came to town where he lived for a family reason. He managed a guitar center and so he said: Come on down to the store, let’s chat and catch up. So I went down to the store and he said: Wait here, there’s someone I want you to meet. And this guy came up on me. He’s big, he’s bald, he’s full of muscles and I didn’t know what was going to happen – and he gives me that biiig hug. I mean – I’m big, but this guy he was big and was all muscles. I looked to my friend and asked him: “Who is this guy?” (laughs) And he said: I got saved in your show in East Germany. When we played the wall had just come down. And they were allowing American bands, well, any bands to play shows. And he said he was stationed in the military. He was from America but he was in Germany at that time. He was there at this specific time, we played one show there and goes: “I got saved.” Wow. So, that was pretty heavy.


That was in Germany? I remember your tour, it must have been 1990, I was 14 years old and visited a concert in Ulm.


Yeah, we were there for about a month, a little bit more I think. And we were just ushered all around, we had a home base a pastor had taken who set up the whole thing. We played clubs and bars and all this different avenues. And I remember the show. I really remember the show because they said: If you talk you have to have a translator because there was nobody there who talked English – so we got a translator. But I remember the show, I remember there was a lot of people there, the place was completely packed. I didnt even know where we were. (laughs) But it was absolutely packed and sold out and this guy came up and he was 18 years old at the time and gave his life to the Lord. So that was probably eight years later and he came home and he was still walking. You know, those are probably the more emotional things than getting hits on my Facebook from people I dont know. He said „I got saved and I was 17 years old at your show. That is why ist worth wile.


And you don`t remember the name of the town?


All I remember is that I got a piece of the (Berlin) wall at the next day. It was a hall, it wasnt a club. It had a stage and it was nice. You know, it was a good show, I still remember that.


The Lyrics from Atomic Arena and State of Control are about Jesus and also about themes like love, drugs, abortion, suicide, occultism, racism. Themes which very often are more important for young people, people which were in your age at that time. So, what kind of lyrics would appear on an Barren Cross Album 2012, which is performed by People who are in their 40’s? You have new songs, haven`t you?


Yeah. I think that the recordings that we`re planning are still going to talk… Well, we used to call them “Issues of the Day”, we were always conscious writing lyrics about things that were taking place. And I don’t think they`re indicative of the 1980`s, everything we wrote about is still existing, like abortion and all those things. But I think you`ll gonna find them a little more aggressive – theologically. It`s not gonna be “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” but it`s going to confront people because I think the people that are listening to us are probably the Die Hard Barren Cross Fans and they`re in their fourties and they should be acting – spiritually – like they are in their fourties and not like they`re in their twenties. So I think you probably would find that we are a little more confrontative to really have people step back and look at themselves and who they are in Christ. Are they maturing or the off the milk and onto the meat as Paul would say.  I think that`s what you`re gonna find, were we`re heading.


I think that young people still deal with suicide, they still deal with drug addiction – more now than ever – . How many millions of babies have been aborted – in the United States alone – since we started the band? It’s like 5000 a day or something ridiculous. How many people are going through depression? How many people deal with alcoholism? We still want to write Music and write songs that count, that say to anybody that is a teenager ore even 30 ore 40. Pic a topic. There are a lot of topics to write about. I think that’s Barren Cross. Barren Cross has always been evangelistic, too. We are very interested in seeing people come to Christ, come to a true relationship with Christ. Not just saying a prayer and go home and live like you want to live. Make a commitment to Christ, lay down your live and take up your cross and follow him.


It was often said, that the thing, which made Barren Cross special, was the fact, that the voice of Mike Lee sounds similar to the voice of Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden. What do you think, what makes Barren Cross special or what was special in the 80’s, that really a lot of young people heard Barren Cross?

(Jim LaVerde Live on stage in Uster, Switzerland)


First of all we were fighting the devil. You know, honestly, Satan dident want us out there, doing what we were doing and so we fought tooth and nail to get to the stage. Once we got to the stage, the devil had to take his hands of us and god said I’m going to come in and what you do is special. One thing I told the people this weekend was, that 25 years ago someone gave his live to Jesus and today he is a youth pastor in a church with 300/400 people.


Well, I think it was several things. I think we were one of the first to record and to play. I think Stryper kind of came in tandem at one point with a little bit of the same thing. But when they released their record, they got a lot more notoriety. And the second thing is that I think we were much heavier. There was no heavy band out at that time. When I was trying to find members for “Barren Cross” – I couldn’t find them. I mean, there was no one. I advertised in a newspaper and got nothing.


Because you were too heavy for the Christian music scene?


Yeah, you know. I was fifteen years old and was listening to Black Sabbath. In my first years as a Christian I didn’t even know that there was Christian music to be honest. And I was still listening to that, you know, Deep Purple and all that sort of bands and that’s what I wanted to play. But I couldn’t find anyone until I was finally met Steve when I was 16 years old. He was 17. And we couldn’t find anybody even after that. There was just no one out there. They would look at us crosside. And after that, after we finally found each other, there were the record labels. Everybody threw us out. They said: “We’re not signing you, you guys are crazy.”


You mean the Christian record companies?

Yeah, everyone. We went to all of them. There was nine at that time. All shook their head. Then finally Star Song came back and said: We give you a shot. We recorded the first record ourselves, they didn’t have to do much except put a few more songs on it and re-release it. So it didn’t cost them anything.


That was the “Rock for the King” record?


It was “Believe” and became “Rock for the King”. So we recorded that on our own and we sold so many copies. We sold out in several months so we knew there were people that liked what we were doing. So I think it was really that. We kind of pioneered Metal. Because no one could get signed, it was impossible. So we finally came out and then Enigma picked up “Stryper” and then picked us up. We kind of legitimized all the other bands that came afterwards. Obviously the record companies realized there was something that could be made money from. But there was legitimate ministry that could take place as well. You know, we just opened doors and we finally got the better contract and everybody said: “It’s now okay to do it.” And then all the Christian companies started signing and then all the other record companies were popping up.


So you were the right guys at the right time, and you had enough courage to do your thing.


There was no courage. We just liked to play, but you know, we were striving. We wanted to be more on the secular, so  we played Christian concerts and then we played clubs. So we played clubs for a month, which paid us fifty bucks and a pizza. But there were Christian concerts were we could make some more money. That was kind of our plan and we were hoping it would expand and we sold more records in the secular stores than we ever did in the Christian stores. So with that we kind of had the right recipe.


Was there a time in your Band history, in which you earned enough money to live from that (with a family, children)


I lived pretty much from 1985 to 1990 of the band. I still earn royalties from ITunes. Thank God for ITunes. (Laughs). None of us had kids at that time, but it was enough for most of us, I think three of us could actually live on it. I heard so many stories of people, Christian artist who lost their houses and all this types of things. I think God just watched over us. He made the avenues to play, so we could open a lot of doors.


There is an old joke which says “how do you call a musician with no girlfriend?” –“homeless”. We did not live with our girlfriends. We were single guys, no family no children. You would have to play all the time and be away from home all the time. And we did. We spent 3 ore 4 years solid playing all across America.


We have a picture for you. We want you to look at it, at the guys and the way they are dressed. And then you tell us, what is the first thing you think today or about those guys, okay?  (Show the Album Cover from “Rock for the King”)

(Album Cover of „Rock for the King“, 1986)


You know, the first thing I think is this: “What were they thinking? What were the guys thinking?” And “Do they still fit in those outfits?”, “Do they still fit in those things?”


I get pictures like that all the time.  All the time, it’s funny. Well, I think, I weighed a hundred pounds less. (Laughs) We were right at the end of that glam era, and actually there’s a long story behind that picture. Those are actually the undergarments. To the real costume. We had all this leather gear, it were white chaps, it was all leather and you actually could see only this part of the pant. (Points to thigh) and then on top, there was a leather legwear. And all the leather was stolen from somebody’s car who had them. So all the leather got taken and those were like half the costume. (laughs) I don’t know if I ever told this story before.


Do you know if anybody recognized that it was just half the costume? Because you just said, you don’t know if you ever told the story before.


There’s always stories like that. You know, our second video, “Crying over you”, what you have seen on MTV wasn’t the video. What you see was supposed to be the background shots. They were supposed to be projected and they hired a model and they hired an actor. We had a whole story and something went wrong – so you’ve got the whole background shots. A lot of things like that happened.


How did it come to the reunion in 2005? Did you ever sort of spilt up or was it that you just stopped playing concerts? Was there a time when you went to the press, “Barren Cross” is over, it’s finished now?


We actually played a concert in 2002 in California, which we called a reunion show. We didn’t go to the press, but it was over 1990 were we officially had broken up. Mike quit the band and Jim and I finished the tour with a couple of hired musicians, that’s when we went to Germany. We were booked for six month in advance and we had to cancel a month of that tour and I didn’t think that was right, we’re obligated to it. We finished the tour in July, I think we went to Cornerstone, played in Texas and then we came home and it was kind of officially over.


Did Steve Whitaker quit the band to?


No, he was married and was just taking a lull, he didn’t really quit. We took a drummer along, but he was planning to make the next record. He just had to take a break from being on the road. It’s hard to be away so much at a time when you’re married.


How did it come to the first reunion 1995 and then the second in 2002?


Wow. I dont know (laughs). You know, somebody probably called somebody, then called the next person, and we got together and chatted. Oh, you know, I think it was when a friend of ours started Rugged Records and I think that maybe he had approached one of us, maybe Steven and asked: „Would you guys do another record?“ And thats when we started talking and then decided: „Lets make another one.“


So you also went on tour with the „Rattle Your Cage“ Album?


Yeah. It wasn’t a tall tour, we would actually played once a month and then  flied to every show , because we were all working and had all families by that time, had kids. So we just would fly out on Friday, played on Saturday and fly home on Sunday. We did that steady for about a year.


What did you do in the years between 1995 and 2002? When I asked you 2005 you said you were working in a bank?


I was a hobo. Well, let’s see: I got married, we started to have kids, I was working. I worked for a bank. I’ve been a sales ever since, so I sale software now. I went back, I finished my degree in theology. I have a degree from Vanguard University, it’s a Christian school in California. I was involved in a church, I was the worship leader, I had a home group and I was on the board. So I was more active locally for all that period of time.


You said that you also were a worship leader. Did you have other musical projects, maybe like Mike, he alwas has something going on.


I was kind of burned on doing that music scene thing and travel. Well, I still travel now, I travel a lot, but not like touring. I’m not gone for a month at a time. At that point I wanted a family and I knew that wasn’t the lifestyle that was going to benefit being married and having kids by any means. So I made pretty much a conscious choice to stop. My guitar collection got a lot better. (Laughs).


You have been at the Elements of Rock Festival 2005. For us (and a lot of the other visitors) it was an awesome evening and a great concert. We all felt like teenagers again. This is now seven years ago and during that time there where rumors, that you plan a Barren Cross Reunion and want to record songs for a new Album. So can you tell us, what you’re up to currently?


Right now, the intention is that we’re going to try record this year. We have music, that’s not an issue. We’re just trying to figure out how to do it, how it works within our lifestyles. I’m not gonna tour, so how is it gonna look when we play, what kind of shows do we want to play. So it`s about keep doing what we’re doing and then add this component of ministry back into our lives. So we’re trying to plan it out a little bit. We’re really at the early stage, the intention is to record. We’re trying a release… (thinks). Well, I don’t wanna talk about this. We’lre trying to do something by summertime and then do some more original recordings by the end of the year. We have to package how we wanna do it, when we’re gonna do it and getting it together. For now, we’re recording in one state, in another state and somebody puts it together like a puzzle.


Yes, we are going to do our very best to get new music out for the Barren Cross fans out there. We’re going to try our hardest. We’re going to do probably  two ore three songs at a time, no full length CD, four month later do two ore three songs again and so on, because we have to do it on our own we don’t have finances to back us up to do it. So we got to raise the money to do this and from that point on the proceeds from the songs we recorded with we take that money and make three more songs. It’s kind of our own business.


But with a little bit patience your fans can look forward to more Barren Cross music?

Yeah. I think what we’re gonna do is get the logistics down. When we fly back to America we will regroup, probably next month and we’ll start announcing everything at our Barren Cross page and facebook and will spill what we’re up to.


Will it be with Dean Cohn or Mike Lee or maybe both?

(Mike Lee Live on stage in Uster, Switzerland)

No, it will be with the original band members. We’re trying to figure out who to record with and how do we wanna record. It’s really a lot logistic stuff. Will we record in a studio or not, will we record digitally – so it’s all about how we wanna pursue what we’re trying to accomplish. The intention is to record what we have together on… I can’t even say on tape. On something. (laughs) I guess on a hard-drive.


There were also rumors about a re-release of your first record. What about that?


We’re gonna try to put some really nice stuff together this year. Some of it may be re-release stuff. We’re trying to bring both original and new material out. That’s the really the intention.


What  music do you listen today? Is it Christian music? Is it secular music? You said you were listening Black Sabbath when you were young, so now. It it still metal, is it rock, or what kind of style? Is it pop music?


Oh man, gosh. My kids like Dance music and it scares me. (laughs). I’m playing a lot of blues. You know, I did worship so I like the “worship sound” for my own pleasure. I’m playing a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughn, a lot of Muddy Waters and just trying to process and create a personal style with a lot respect. I enjoy that a lot.


Do you keep up with the Christian music scene of today?


(Laughs) Only through my kids. They like Skillet, bands like that. I have my feeling of what’s going on, I just don’t know who they are any more.


If you look on the Christian music scene today, it had more become sort of a business, especially in the US.  And maybe the content has to step back behind the business. Do you think, that’s the case or what are your feelings?


I don’t think it’s indicative of current. I mean, we saw the good, bad and the ugly when we were 20 years old. I have more stories than I could ever tell anybody about artists and companies and things like that. The mock and the mire isn’t anything new. I think there’s probably some very genuine artists out there. I think there’s probably some artists that are genuine Christians but wanna make a career and I think there are those out there that just make it for money.


Imagine you would be a rich music promoter. Which band (maybe underestimated) would you bring forward/promote? Is there maybe a newcomer blues band or something?


Gosh. (Laughs). Well, if I were a wealthy promoter I would probably try to put a band together. They would be something that I would like, it would be blues based. I knew there’s been a few blues bands and they haven’t got the reception. It’s kind of a dichotomy though, because blues is singing about the blues and when you’re saved, there’s that change in life. It’s hard to sing happy blues. I think I would put a project together and it definitely would be blues based. I think I would go about it a little different, I think they would be based more in clubs, more than trying to play in church. There are some very, very good ones. So I think I would stick a band of Christians together and I’ll stick them in clubs. That’s what I would do.


Okay, I have a last question, very short. What`s your favorite Barren Cross song? Is there one you like specially or is it like they’re your kids and you love them all?


I like “Here I Am” and the reason why I like it so much is, because it’s a worship song. It speakes to me, it is a praise.


Wow (thinks). Well, it’s kind of weird, because we play it so much, but I like the way “Rattle you Cage” came out. It’s a little more bluesy rock and that’s probably when I started to steer into more traditional blues and for the old stuff “Living Dead” is probably one of my favorites. We will play that tomorrow.


Did you ever play it before?


We did when we first released that album, we played it for a while but then, I don’t know. I guess we got bored. If you do it 60 days in a row…


How do you manage it not to get bored of playing your own songs?


You get bored. There’s some songs that I just don’t wanna play. There’s a song that we play tomorrow, but it’s part of the business. It’s three fault: A – it’s part of what you do because people are familiar with that. B – It`s why we`re talking now. You wouldn`t talk to me if I was just a banker. There`s a certain pleasure even in the mundane of going back and playing music that we recorded a long time ago that brings a lot of memories back. And then, lastly: I think we really play some complicated music. You know, if you`re a musician. We`re gonna play “2000 Years” tomorrow and I don`t see any band copy that song. I mean, I struggle with it and I play it all the time. There`s time signatures in there and everything. So I think for us a lot of music is interesting if it has some progressive parts in it. If we`re playing 4/4 Glam music that would be probably a lot rougher. (Imitates simple guitar riff) You know, over and over again. We play a lot of different time signatures and that`s interesting. Some of it is hard, I`m gonna struggle with a few of the things tomorrow because I don`t move as fast as I used to. So I think those three things together makes it okay. I mean, don`t you get tired of interviewing people?

Q: (Laughter): No, we really enjoyed talking to you. Thank you very much for taking your time.  We`re looking forward to a great concert tomorrow.

If you’re still reading at that point, you might be willing to see the whole two hour show. 🙂 Here you go:

Interview by Andreas Vosseler and Daniel Frick, also  soon available in German at More pictures of the show can be found here.

Glosse: Trying to break my heart oder wie ich bei Wilco einem Doppelpenis begegnete…


Eigentlich könnte an dieser Stelle ein weiterer Konzertbericht von einem grandiosen Wilco-Konzert stehen. Aber erstens gibt’s ja schon einen, zweitens werde ich vermutlich in Grund und Boden geklagt, wenn ich noch ein paar Fotos ohne Genehmigung der Band auf mein privates Blog stelle. Und weil man mir drittens an vorherigen Wirkungsstätten attestiert hat, dass ich das ganz gut kann und die ganze Story auch genug Material dafür hergibt,  hab ich mich entschlossen, mich an einer kleinen Glosse zu versuchen. Denn man könnte tatsächlich denken, dass irgendjemand oder irgendetwas meinen Einstand als Musik-Redakteur beim Laxmag-Online-Magazin verhindern wollte.  Hätte ich ein Honorar bekommen, hätte es verflixt hoch sein müssen. Aber ich mach das ja „nur“ aus Liebe zur Musik und zum Schreiben. Aber ich schweife ab – lest selbst:

Lange hatte ich es vorgeplant, mit der Chefredakteurin des Online-Magazins gemailt, in dessen Auftrag ich zum Wilco Konzert in Zürich gehen sollte. Mit dem PR-Verantwortlichen des Veranstalters. Mit der PR-Verantwortlichen des Schweizer Plattenvertriebs. Ich hatte ein kurzes Mailinterview entworfen, dasselbe auf Englisch übersetzt und es via Plattenvertrieb der Band zukommen lassen.  Ich hatte der Band sogar meine Seele verpfändet (durchstreichen)  eine Erklärung zur Veröffentlichung der Fotos unterschrieben, nur um überhaupt welche schießen zu dürfen. Gut, das scheint ab einer gewissen Bekanntheit üblich zu sein. Ich werd zum Ausgleich tonnenweise Wilco-YouTube-Videos verlinken. Hier gleich das Erste passend zur Überschrift ^^ :

Das waren aber bei weitem nicht die einzigen Anstrengungen und Hürden, die ich überwunden habe, um meinen kleinen Artikel beim Laxmag abzuliefern. Das mit dem Interview hatte leider gar nicht geklappt, weil, wie mir die nette Dame beim Schweizer Vertrieb bereits im Vorfeld erklärt hatte, die Band auf Tour sei. Ich weiß nicht genau, ob der nette Herr beim Veranstalter mir das Presseticket trotzdem genehmigte, um meine echtes Bemühen zu belohnen oder nur, weil er keine weiteren Mails mehr von mir kriegen wollte. Jedenfalls gehe das klar, und das mit dem Fotografieren auch, weil ich ja brav unterschrieben hatte, dass ich die Fotos nicht an eine große Zeitschrift verkaufe oder an Merchandise-Fälscher in China. Der 7. März kam also tatsächlich näher und nach dem grandiosen Konzert in Basel vor vier Monaten wuchs nicht nur meine Vorfreude, sondern auch die Bakterien und Virenkulturen in meiner Familie. Die Nacht vorher hatte meine vom hartnäckigen Grippevirus geplagte Jüngste mich immerhin knapp vier Stunden schlafen gelassen – als ich aufwachte bekam ich selbst nur ein Krächzen heraus. Naja, ich hatte ohnehin nicht vor, beim Konzert viel zu Reden oder gar gegen Herrn Tweedy anzusingen, aber so kurz nach dem Aufstehen am Morgen sah ich nicht viel Hoffnung, am Abend fit genug zu sein für eine einstündige Autofahrt und dann immer mit der Kamera im Anschlag und so… Ein paar Stunden und x² Phamaerzeugnisse später hatte ich mich dann doch genug gedopt, um mich auf den Weg in die Schweizer Metropole zu machen.

Nach mühsamem Kampf von der Autobahn ins Stadtzentrum (Zürich mit Auto klemmt so häufig wie ein Präzisionsgewehr, das man unachtsam in den Schlamm geschmissen hat), einer ungeahndeten Einbahnstraßen-Einlage (naja, bis auf den empörten Gegenverkehr) und enormem Glück bei der Parkplatzsuche (darauf trifft der Vergleich mit dem Gewehr in der Regel auch zu) stand ich also mit meiner Fotojournalisten-Kutsche in der Nebenstraße des altehrwürdigen Volkshauses in Zürich. Inzwischen recht entspannt, doch meine Vorfreude sollte in wenigen Minuten  für einen endlosen Schockmoment in Frage gestellt werden.  Routiniert ließ ich am Kassenfenster mein Journalistensprüchlein vom Stapel und drückte nonchalant meinen Presseausweis an die Scheibe. Die offensichtlich genervte Dame hinter der Scheibe schien das nicht sehr zu interessieren, als sie mir wortlos zwei Tickets hinschob und das Fenster schon wieder schließen wollte. Als ich nachfragte, ob ich zum fotografieren nicht noch einen extra Ausweis brauchen würde meinte meine neue Freundin mit der für Zürich typischen Mischung aus Arroganz und Ignoranz: „Scho, aber Foti-Uswiis si nur begränzt vorhandä, sorry…“ Vor meinem inneren Auge sah ich mich schon mit hängenden Schultern zu meinem Auto zurücktrotten, der Chefredakteurin im Kopf eine entschuldigende Mail formulierend. Mit der selbst vom überheblichen Zürcher gefürchteten sprachlichen Schlagfertigkeit des genau darum unbeliebten Deutschen überzeugte ich die gute Frau dann mit charmant-bedrohlichen Nachdruck, doch nochmal mit ihrem Vorgesetzten zu reden und voila, bekam ich meinen Foto-Batch doch noch wie im Vorfeld vereinbart. Spätestens als ich dann noch das zweite, überzählige Gratisticket (Mist, wenn ich das gewusst hätte, hätte ich meinen Freund Hutz mitgenommen) mit den Worten: „Brauch‘ ich nicht, ich bin alleine hier“ zurück über den Tresen schob, hat sie mich wohl innerlich in den Kreis der Hölle, der für nervige Deutsche reserviert ist, verflucht. Jedenfalls liessen ihr ungläubiger Gesichtsausdruck und das genervte Schulterzucken diesen Rückschluss zu. Mein Puls jedenfalls hatte sich zwischenzeitlich beruhigt, als ich mich an dem hünenhaften afroamerikanischen Türsteher vorbei schob, der mir noch ein „Njoy da Cancert“ hinterher nuschelte. Das hatte ich vor, keine Frage:

Glücklich, doch noch der Schmach des Greenhorn-Journalisten (große Welle aber kein Artikel) entgangen zu sein, machte ich mich auf den Weg zur Bühne, nur um dort den nächsten Rückschlag zu erleben. Als ich im Herbst noch bei einem Konzert im Volkshaus gewesen war, hatte es einen richtig netten Graben zwischen Absperrung zwischen Bühnenrand und Publikum gegeben, spitze zum Foto schießen.  Davon keine Spur, stattdessen ein Absperrgitter, das im 45°Winkel zum Bühnenrand aufgestellt einen halben Quadratmeter Platz schuf, um mit einem Boxenturm am Ohr von der Seite Bilder zu machen. Aber hey, ich hatte mich nicht mit zig Mails und an Bazillen, Stau, Parkbuchten und der netten Dame an der Kasse vorbeigekämpft bis hierher, um mich jetzt noch entmutigen zu lassen. Entschlossen schritt ich auf das Absperrgitter und den freundlich blickenden Security-Menschen zu. Und dann. Dann geschah es. Von der Seite an der Wand drängte er sich vor mich. Ein schicker Schweizer Profi-Fotograf. 1,90. Armani-Brille und Snob-Haarschnitt. Und an seinem Leib baumelten die beiden größten Penisse, die ich je gesehen hatte. Ich meine natürlich die beiden Nikon-Spiegelreflex-Kameras mit den 600mm-Teleobjektiven. Aber es sagt ja nicht nur der Volksmund und die Populärwissenschaft, sondern auch der gesunde Menschenverstand, dass gigantische Phallussymbole einen auf ein gewisses Körperteil bezogene Komplexe unterminieren sollen, zumal, wenn sie in doppelter Ausführung an der Körpermitte angebracht sind. Da stand es nun am Bühnenrand in meinem Sichtfeld mit seinen breiten Schultern, dieses imposante Exemplar des Euselachii Turicum Photograpiensis, und machte auch keine Anstalten sich mehr zur Seite zu bewegen. Als er schließlich seine Klaspern in Stellung brachte, beschloss ich, es auf der anderen Seite der Bühne zu versuchen, da würde ich ohnehin viel bessere Aufnahmen von Wilco Ausnahmegitarrist Nels Cline machen können. Dort schloss ich auch Freundschaft mit dem Security-Mann und verbrachte gut gelaunt im Takt wippend den Rest des Konzerts, nachdem die drei ersten Songs vergangen waren, während denen nur Fotografieren erlaubt war. Der dritte Song war übrigens der hier ^^ :

Ein Erlebnis wird ja erst dann zum Erlebnis, wenn man dafür etwas geleistet hat. Und mit vorzüglichen Livemusikern wie den Herren von Wilco wird so ein Erlebnis dann zu einem Highlight, das sogar einer eigens geschriebenen Glosse würdig ist.

Für alle, die es interessiert: Die geschützten Fotos gibt’s drüben beim Laxmag, die Setliste bei Wilco.

Und nun bitte fleißig das Blog von Andy und mir weiterempfehlen und die Glosse mailen, facebook-liken, google-plussen, twittern, Smsen und Flattrn. Ach nee, Flattr ist ja tot und gibt’s bei mir auch gar nicht… Aber wegen dem Geld mach ich das hier ja nicht. Nur wegen dem Spaß am Schreiben.


Mastodon (mit Red Fang)

X-Tra Zürich

28. Januar 2012

Es gab in der deutschsprachigen Rockmusik-Presse wohl kaum eine Publikation, in der das aktuelle Mastodon Album „The Hunter“ nicht in den Top-100-Listen der besten Platten 2011 der letzten Wochen vertreten war. Mitte Februar haben die vier Prog-Metaller aus Atlantas sogar noch die Chance einen Grammy für „Best Rock Performance“ zu gewinnen, nachdem Ihnen diese Ehre bei der letzten Nominierung 2008 verwehrt geblieben war.  Seit Mitte Januar ist die Band nun in Europa auf Tour, um das aktuelle Album nach einigen Konzerten im vergangenen Juni nochmals denen Live vorzustellen, die bisher nicht die Gelegenheit dazu hatten.

Die Location in Zürich wirkte trotz guter Besucherzahlen durch ihre Architektur angenehm weitläufig, als die Vorband Red Fang pünktlich um 19.30 Uhr ihr halbstündiges Set begann. Die Stoner-Metaller aus Portland, Oregon ließen es eine halbe Stunde straight auf die Mütze und ohne große Schnörkel krachen. Absolut genial gewählt als Opening Act: Voll auf die Zwölf und gut eingeheizt, ohne dem Main-Act das Wasser abzugraben.

Dann, nach einer kurzen Pause betraten Bill Kelliher, Troy Sanders, Brent Hinds und Brann Dailor die Bühne und eröffneten Ihr Konzert mit „Dry Bone Valley“, dem Song, zudem erst vor wenigen Tagen ein neuer, psychedelischer Videoclip veröffentlicht worden war, gefolgt von „Black Tongue“, dem Album-Opener der aktuellen Scheibe.

Von Anfang an war die Band mit einem fetten Klassesound sehr präsent, auch wenn die Herren abseits von Ihrem Gesang und bis zu einem Dankeswort von Dailor am Ende des Konzerts kein Wörtchen zum Publikum über die Lippen kam.  Die Setlist umfasste satte 23 Songs, wobei der Schwerpunkt neben dem Aktuellen auf „Blood Mountain“ und „Leviathan“ lag. Vom letzten, hochgelobten „Crack the Skye“ wurden leider nur der Titelsong sowie „Ghost of Karelia“ in der Mitte des Konzerts gespielt. Aber bei der Setlist kann man es vermutlich nie jedem Recht machen. Einige Songs später das sehr eingängige „Curl of the Burl“, den das Quartett besonders routiniert präsentierte und das Publikum mit dem Ohrwurm-Refrain zum Mitsingen animierte. Bis zur Zugabe blieb dies auch der letzte Song von „The Hunter“, dem Rest des Konzerts widmete sich die Band hauptsächlich weiteren Stücken von den drei ersten CDs.

Nach knapp 2 Stunden ging das Konzert mit der Zugabe „Creature Lives“ zu Ende, zu dem drei der vier Mitglieder der Vorband Red Fang auf die Bühne kam und den Refrain lautstark mitsang, eine Geste die deutlich machte, was beim Konzert etwas gefehlt hatte – die Nähe zum Publikum. Ebenfalls etwas schade: Durch die volle Lautstärke-Breitseite auch bei den stilleren oder progressiveren Songs kam die Vielschichtigkeit der Band nicht so gut rüber. So kann man sagen, dass das Konzert in Zürich eine professionell-routinierte Metal-Präsentation war, klasse Sound, klasse Lightshow und Atmosphäre.  Ein fast perfekter Abend!

Setlist vom Konzert in Zürich

Text und Fotos: Daniel Frick

Bandlogo: Mastodon

Videos: Youtube


Kaserne Basel

7. November 2011

Es passiert nicht alle Tage, dass man in unseren Breitengraden die Möglichkeit erhält, Musiker live zu erleben, die zweifache Grammy-Preisträger sind und außerdem noch einige weitere Male für den berühmten Musikpreis nominiert wurden. In der Regel ist dies tatsächlich ein Qualitätsmerkmal, dass es sich bei den Künstlern um Ausnahmemusiker handelt – auch wenn Musik natürlich immer Geschmackssache ist. Die Rede ist von Wilco, deren Kopf Jeff Tweedy mit seiner Ex-Band Uncle Tupelo als Mitbegründer des Americana („Alternative Country“) gilt. Seit den noch sehr countrylastigen ersten beiden Alben Ende der 90er Jahre hat sich die Band musikalisch konsequent weiterentwickelt, ohne sich allerdings von ihren musikalischen Wurzeln völlig zu entfernen. Der Indie-Szene sind sie im Hinblick auf Plattenverkäufe, Coverstories und Auszeichnungen einschlägiger Musikmagazinen eigentlich längst entwachsen. Mit dem inzwischen zehnten, beim bandeigenen Plattenlabel erschienenen Longplayer „The Whole Love“  halten die Mannen um Gründer und Frontmann Jeff Tweedy allerdings auch Konstanz und Bodenständigkeit: Die Besetzung ist nach Zeiten mit großem Wechsel das inzwischen vierte Album gleich geblieben. Neben der Tatsache, dass es sich bei Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt , Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, Glenn Kotche und Mikael Jørgensen ausnahmslos um erstklassige Profi-Multiinstrumentalisten handelt, sicherlich auch ein Grund, warum ein Wilco-Konzert ein solches Erlebnis darstellt.

Doch selbst eine „gewachsene“ Band ist ja noch kein Garant dafür, auch eine gute Liveband zu sein. Das Konzert in Basel begann mit der Vorband um Jonathan Wilson, und für einige Songs kam Wilco-Mitglied Pat Sansone mit auf die Bühne, um die Band zu unterstützen. Wilson präsentierte mit seiner Band routiniert mal folkigen, mal psychedelischen aber für meinen persönlichen Geschmack zu ruhigen Singer-Songwriter-Rock. Das Publikum schien meinen Eindruck zu teilen, der Applaus war selbst für das als das sehr zurückhaltende Schweizer Publikum allenfalls höflich – Begeisterungsstürme sehen selbst bei den ruhigen Eidgenossen anders aus. Eine passable Einstimmung lieferte Wilson allemal, schließlich soll die Vorband nicht den Hauptact überbieten. Nach einer guten Stunde Auftritt und einer kurzen Umbaupause ging das Licht aus und es traten die sechs Herren aus Chicago auf die Bühne.

In der zwischenzeitlich mit schätzungsweise gut 1000 Personen gut gefüllten ehemaligen Reithalle setzte zu dem Klängen von „Dawned On Me“ vom neuen Album zustimmender Applaus ein. Das erste Drittel des Konzert lief über „One Wing“ vom letzten Album bis zu „Hummingbird“ recht ruhig ab, sowohl im Bezug auf die Songauswahl, die kaum vorhandene Ansprache des Publikums durch Tweedy als auch die Ovationen der Zuschauer.

Nach „Whole Love“, dem Titelsong des neuen Albums und „Handshake Drugs“, einem von 3 Songs vom 2004er Grammy Album „A Ghost Is Born“ bekam ich auch langsam den Eindruck, dass Band und Publikum etwas wärmer miteinander wurden. Einer der vielen Höhepunkte des hervorragenden Konzertabends war dann nach zwei Dritteln des Konzerts die Darbietung von „Impossible Germany“, bei dem Gitarrenvirtuose Nels Cline mit dem 3-minütigen Gitarrensolo eine guten Einblick in die Beherrschung seines Instruments gab und für begeisterten und langanhaltenden Applaus und Jubelrufe sorgte.

Mit dem Eröffnungssong vom neuen Album, dem stark an die von mir ebenfalls sehr geschätzten dEUS aus Belgien erinnernden „Art of Almost“ beendeten die Künstler aus Chicago ihren regulären Auftritt und verliessen nach gut 2 Stunden die Bühne. Das Versprechen von Tweedy, seinem Publikum einen unvergesslichen Abend zu schenken, war zu diesem Zeitpunkt bereits mehr als erfüllt. Umso erstaunter war ich, dass die Band dem applaudierenden Publikum 6 (!!!) Zugaben und damit eine weitere halbe Stunde Ohrenschmaus gewährte, darunter Highlights wie das ruhige „Via Chicago“, den Ohrwurm „Shot In The Arm“ und dem absolut groovigen Finale mit „Heavy Metal Drummer“. (Für vollständige Setliste vom Konzert in Basel hier klicken)

Als das Konzert um 23.30 Uhr endete war ich ebenso begeistert wie mein Begleiter. Der Veranstalter hatte Wilco in seiner Promotion vollmundig als „eine der besten Livebands überhaupt“ angepriesen. Obwohl ich Wilco immer gemocht hatte und in gespannter Vorfreude auf einen schönen Konzertabend nach Basel gefahren war, muss ich anerkennen, dass die Promoter in der Kaserne in Basel nicht zu viel versprochen hatten. Und außer der felsenfesten Überzeugung, etwas absolut besonderes erlebt zu haben (und das nicht nur, weil ein Schweizer Publikum tatsächlich DOCH zu echter Begeisterung fähig ist), mag ich Wilco jetzt nicht mehr nur. Ich liebe Sie.

Text: Daniel Frick

Fotos und Bandlogo: Wilco Pressematerial

Videos: Youtube