Interview with James Byrd April 2001
this interview is so long it has been split into 4 parts.
| PART 1 | PART 2 | PART
3 | PART 4 |
Flying Beyond The 9' is finally upon us, it
must be a relief that its finally seeing the light of day after
some 2 1/2[?] years in the making?
a big relief. This album was not only a difficult album to create
musically, but also a major business hassle. Between the beginning
of the writing of the album, and the final mix-down, there was a
dispute with my label JVC, and an end to the relationship with my
management company. Problems due to waiting for actual studio time
to become available during critical phases of the recording itself,
and due to my request to be released from my contract with JVC,
there was no money. It seemed at times that the album would never
be finished, and when it when the demos were finished, shopping
the album proved frustrating. Label after label expressed no interest
in the album. If there were even remotely similar comments as to
why we were being rejected, I certainly would have begun to doubt
some musical/artistic aspect of the album and consider that something
could have been better. But the bottom line on the rejections: They
were just "all over the map." One label would say "This
is extremely well done, but does not fit with our "death/doom"
roster. while label another would say "This is really extremely
well done, but its too progressive, people wont understand
it, people can't dance to most of the songs". Yet another label
would say "This is far too musically polished". Yet another
label would say "This music is too hard/heavy for our tastes".
One label claimed in their 'Mission statement' : "Our goal
is to be on the cutting edge of music and technology in every facet
of our business. We continue our quest by searching for talent in
a variety of categories. We look for the soul, the ability, and
the originality of the artist to take their instruments/performance
to the next level. If you are highly talented, unique, and ready
for the next step, we would like to hear from you." This same
label then wrote back and said; "There is no doubt that you
are an amazing guitarist and musician, but were looking for
music thats a bit more quirky sounding." So much for
their 'Mission statement'! This particular label's response was
absurd. Consider that their roster contained more artists of similar
direction to my own than any other label I'd yet seen. I took that
comment "Quirky" as both totally disingenuous, and just
plain hypocrisy to be blunt. The fact that it was run by a well
respected musician in the same field as my own, only added to my
utter disbelief that something this lame would have been said by
people who knew me by reputation through Yngwie Malmsteens
recommendation already. Apparently they consider guys like Eric
Johnson "Quirky" enough to be on their roster. Can you
believe this? I don't know why such a stupid response was sent after
I sent them 3 of the best tracks on the album, but shame on them
for a letter like that for THIS material. They know who they are.
So I was really ready to throw in the towel and just put the album
onto MP3.COM and sell it there myself. But I still didnt have
any money to finish the album to the standard I was determined to
Meanwhile, Yngwie had just
finished War to End All Wars, and he had an upcoming release date
of November 2000. I had heard from both him personally (by phone)
and also read his interviews where he claimed that his new album
was very "influenced by Queen", and would feature intricate
vocal arrangements, amazing production in a half million dollar
personal studio and the most commercial material of his career.
The description (musically anyway) sounded almost identical to what
I felt I was trying to achieve from a far earlier beginning (1999).
I was getting quite depressed at this point actually. I love Yngwie
as a personal friend, and a player, but I have always felt immense
frustration that although I released my first album (Fifth Angel)
all the way back in 1984 (and tracked the first half it in 1983),
and was influenced originally by many of the same artists as he
was. I feared that my being so much more obscure as an artist was
going to once again leave a wrong public impression, once I managed
(if, really) to get my album out; That impression being that I was
some kind of "Johnny-come lately Yngwie influenced guitarist".
It's been said before a few times by people on the internet in forums
(Though NOT by any one in the mainstream/"respectable"
press), and it's been personally aggravating at times to be entirely
honest. The truth would be known only to myself, and a handful of
fans going all the way back to the early 1980s; That being,
that I had been playing music influenced by Blackmore, Hendrix,
Uli Roth, and Al DiMeola since the 1970's, and never even owned
an Yngwie album until YEARS after I'd released 'FIFTH ANGEL' (I
received "Trilogy" for Christmas from Ken Mary when it
came out, and loved the album btw).
I seriously considered just
quitting playing music altogether last year. No money (Thanks for
all those royalty checks Shrapnel), no manager, no deal worth accepting,
and some of the stupidest rejection letters you could ever imagine,
and an approaching deadline of Yngs release, WTEAW, done on
a major budget. I was NOT happy. I thought that the universe was
converging upon me screaming "Just quit Byrd, you dont
stand a chance in hell between all of these factors". Over
the summer of 2000, I got my first P.C. and began to look at the
various options being provided by the internet in terms of hopefully
getting my music out there. I found MP3.COM before it became the
major-label "bandwidth base" it now appears to have become
(after the lawsuit by Sony Music). With the actual rights to my
previous album "James Byrds Atlantis Rising, Crimes of
Virtuosity" under my own ownership (The smartest thing I EVER
did business wise was NOT to have signed a recording agreement with
JVC, but to grant a license of my work for 3 years) again, I remastered
the album, and put the songs onto MP3.COM. I felt I had nothing
to lose in doing this, and the album went top ten in progressive
metal there in less than a week! Amazing. JVC had broken all their
promotion promises despite the album being a "featured album"
on Masa Itoh's radio hour in Asia. This (MP3.COM) was the first
time in my life that I had a visible, and direct "feedback
mechanism" to see whether my music was "Marketable"
or not. Watching my first up-loaded song go all the way up to #2
on the charts there in 10 days, and remain there for 9 straight
weeks gave me the conviction to finish Flying Beyond The 9. In fact
that song (Metatron 444) is STILL top 20 after 11 months as an MP3.COM
download, and 7 other tracks are still top 40 there. One "In
My Darkest Hour" is sitting at #7 as of late march. A man can
only work in isolation and deliberate separation (Label's bad intentions
IMO) from his fans for so long. Years of being on Shrapnel, and
then a serious ethical problem which developed with JVCs handling
of our agreement had brought me to the point of seriously just giving
up music entirely. Before I put the last album on MP3.COM, things
were bleaker than hell, and very shortly after my immediate success
there at MP3.COM, I was a guy who knew the truth: The people at
the labels were total morons. It was only going to take one guy
who wasnt (A moron) to make all the difference in my world.
And if by chance I couldnt find him or her, then by God, I
was going to finish my album myself and put it out. I just didnt
care about "label support" anymore at all. I now had something
within me that no one was ever going to destroy again with any assistance
from me: I had internal credibility, read that "by my faith
alone". The money was still a problem, but you know, when you
REALLY have faith in yourself, its contagious.
did Flying Beyond the 9 cost to make (if you dont mind my
I cant tell you what the
new album actually cost to produce in money. Its true cost
was time and faith, NOT money. And not just my own, but Michael
Flatters' and Brian Hutchison's faith as well. These two people
stood behind me 110% , and with the final assistance of a gentleman
named Lasse at a small label in Finland (Lion Music) we got it done.
I believe there was no compromise to either quality or vision on
this album. For me, this was a first since Fifth Angel days with
Terry Date co-producing.
you hook-up with Lion Music for a new deal?
The way I ended up on Lion was
interesting. It began with their approaching ME after hearing me
on MP3.COM. They emailed me and asked me if I would play on the
Jason Becker Tribute "Warmth in The Wilderness". I was
honored to say yes, and did so immediately. About a week later,
I thought to myself "Well, do I tell them about the new album
Ive been working on and see if they were interested? Or should
I just stick to my plan to release it myself? It was actually a
tough question for me. I didnt want to give Lion Music the
wrong idea about the Jason Becker Tribute and WHY I was doing it.
I thought that my mentioning my own new album might have given them
the idea that I wanted something from them (a deal) for doing the
tribute. I didnt. Jason God bless him. I really wanted
to be a part of helping him any way I could. I had in fact, just
recently gone to his website to see how he was holding up (long
before ever hearing from Lion Music). So It took me a week of soul
searching before I finally wrote back to Lion (Id already
said yes to the Tribute for Jason) and I said "By the way,
I have a new album that been nearly finished for 2 years, would
you like to hear it?" They said yes. I sent 3 songs from the
original JVC demos. We made an agreement very quickly and within
just two weeks, I had been given enough of an advance to pay my
engineer and begin the final work to finish FBT9. Part of my engineers
payment was actually one of old Strats. So it was not a big advance,
but it was enough to do the job given the commitment of Brian and
after "all this", Brian Hutchison was still "in"?
Yes, very much! Brian Hutchison
(Byrd FBT9 Engineer) had been helping me with the albums engineering
off and on since 1999. Michael Flatters also had been recording
vocal parts as I needed them done from the same time. What I needed
(to finish the album to the standard Id set my mind to achieve),
was to "lock-out Brian Hutchison Productions" studios
entirely until the album was completely finished and mixed. I didnt
want anyone else using the studio and disturbing the connections
or settings on the mixing console. This is how it's done when it's
done RIGHT. This meant that during the final recording/mixdown of
the new album, Brian couldnt make money recording other bands
in his own studio. This sort of thing (Lock-out) is actually typical
if youre on a major label whos given you more than $100,000
to make an album. But it was very problematical for a guy like me
with no money and only a small advance. Brian, God bless him, was
never in this music for the money. Hed have to be nuts. He
IS nuts, but thats another story:). Lion Music had the one
attribute that no one else apparently did in all of this: Ears and
musical integrity. Unlike the label who made lofty mission statements
about "Quality being our only goal" and then sent me the
"Looking for something a little more "Quirky" letter,
Lion Music was like a breath of fresh air. Although the advance
was small, it was enough to pay Brian and finish the album as Id
wanted to. I gave Brian the ESP Strat because hed worked so
long and hard, for so little, Id have given him 10 if I had
youre pleased this time with a recording?
Brians skills at engineering
are self evident on FBT9 I believe. The actual studio is anything
but a multi-million dollar facility. Its just a nice little
home studio with the usual Mackie board, some tube compressors,
a few ADATS, three Hard Drives, and very good monitors. Perhaps
$30,000 worth of gear. A far cry from a "major label"
studio? Yes,to be sure! But in the end, I believe the real test
of whether an album will sound great, or like sheer rubbish, has
remarkably little to do with having a half million dollars worth
of equipment at one's disposal. Good results are about having good
ears, and paying very careful attention to detail. It's fulfilling,
but hardly "Fun". Brians work speaks for itself
in capturing the music on this disk. The one thing we did have that
were just superlative, were microphones made by his own company,
ADK. I'm sure he'll tell you more about them if you ask him. We
also had multiple sets of monitors. This is SO important to getting
the mix right, I can't over stress it. We also had very good software,
thanks to the generosity of Sam Bawani and others (like personal
friends at Lucid Technology who gave us A to D converters of superior
quality). So this albums good sound is the result of faith
not only by me, but some very good people who gave of all their
time and resources to make sure it was right for us. Im deeply
touched that this was done for me. They understood that I seriously
needed to get it "right" this time.
stated that 'FBT9' had to be the ultimate album of what musically
is all 'Byrd' and that it had to "set a standard for which
future releases will be judged against. What did you hope to achieve
with 'FBT9' that you didn't with your previous albums?
It had to draw from musical inspirations
from 'my own well' , so to speak. It was "self-influenced"
in so many ways really. I spent a lot of time listening off and
on to my entire catalogue, and being very harsh with myself. But
there were little things that I liked and began to consider "Byrd
trademarks" (musically speaking). I made a very deliberate
effort to both use, and to "amplify" them on the new album.
There was a lot in my past music that I was frankly very unhappy
with. I felt that I had overdone the guitars on all of my records,
both in terms of the number of solos, and the actual number of overdubs.
I also decided that I didnt like my guitars production
in the past on several albums. And overall, the production was never
what I was after when they were done. I think my previous albums
had too much reverb and delay, and the entire musical/sonic picture
was striking me as muddy and difficult to listen to. I'd actually
like to thank a couple of critics for making me reconsider my past
use of effects during production. Good music critics can be truly
valuable to an artist whose intentions are improvement and hearing-out
suggestions. Thank the good Lord that I at least have control to
the degree of NOT being pushed by people with ulterior motives (Like
getting onto MTV, yeah right!).
heard that you hate hearing your own work. Why? What do you mean?
This is when Ive finally
finished an album, yes its true. Ive usually put so
many hours into recording and especially TRYING to mix it, that
I lose perspective and am burned-out on it all. And as I said earlier,
producing and mixing are not "Fun" in any sense of the
word. It's literally mind-numbing. After more than a few hours of
listening and adjusting, one develops "Reverb blindness"
which is akin to snow blindness. You just stop hearing the reverb
and effects. You add more and more thinking "it's not there,
I cant hear it at all". The same thing happens to E.Q.
"perspective", and the result is a less than optimal,
or BAD sound if ones not VERY careful and smart about the
WAY they work. The only way to avoid this is to really take your
time: Weeks of working on it, while taking frequent breaks. No more
than 2 or 3 hours of work at a sitting from working on the mixes.
This was MY way this time.
So in other
words, your "Just sick of it"?
YES! My experience in the past
had always been that after finishing an album, I was so completely
sick of hearing it, Id not listen again for at least a year
or two. All I can hear once an album is just finished, is every
single little flaw in the performances. It's (the studio mix-down)
like a microscope, and given the time spent with that highly focused
view, one loses all perspective on the music. And reviews CAN be
important in helping an artist improve his albums. Ive never
been happy with my production, and I think perhaps this is the record
where the most important lessons were learned by me as to why. Yes,
Ive had absurdly low budgets to work with in the past (Like
$4,000!!!), but this is also no big budget album, and I think it
worked out perfectly this time. I'm certain that the press will
let me know if it didn't?
the recording itself differ from your previous works?
I intentionally used far fewer
actual guitar tracks in terms of overdubs this time. In fact theres
only one Rhythm guitar! Its "split" into stereo.
There is no reverb or processed "effects" of any kind
on the Rhythm guitar track. For my lead guitar, there is only the
lightest amount of concert hall reverb on my guitar solos. I wanted
the guitars to be totally "articulate" and crisp. Having
to "Place" them within more than 70 tracks of orchestration
made this an absolute imperative to maintain "detail"
in my playing.
Do you think
your playing has changed over the years/albums?
Yes and no. Over the years, Ive
gotten faster and faster in my playing, and at a certain point,
"Processing" the guitars sound just stops "working"
and creates a big wet "mess". I concluded that this sounded
even worse to a typical non-guitar playing listener than it did
to me. Id been hearing not only on my albums, but others
albums as well, this "over produced" approach on the guitars
alone. I took a very difficult course of action with this production
in that there really wasnt ROOM for "Production"
if I wanted every note to be heard with real clarity. My guitars
themselves played a very important role in this as well I believe.
My own design is the best guitar I've ever played. I know this hardly
sounds modest, but it's still true. I had to actually play better
to achieve the quality I was after this time, and this was entirely
due to the lack of effects on the guitar's recorded sound.
players inspire you to change tact?
Certain people were inspiring me.
Mostly Strunz and Farrah and Paco Delucia. Notice that these were
acoustic players. Playing well on acoustic guitar is the greatest
challenge there is for a guitarist. The WAY my guitars are set up
in terms of extremely clean and bright pickups, very little overdrive
from the amplifier, HUGE strings (They begin at .050), an extremely
high action at a full one-quarter inch at the twelfth fret on the
high 'E', made my actual level of physical difficulty in hitting
the notes clearly very challenging. I also chose NOT to use the
wah wah pedal on the album for similar reasons.
Firstly, although I LOVE to express
myself with the crybaby WAH-WAH, I felt as though I wanted to avoid
comparisons to Uli Jon Roth in my playing on this album. I LOVE
Ulis playing, and he indeed was an early influence. But our
actual use of the pedal was actually very similar to my ear when
I went back and listened to him again (for the first time in many
years). I didnt set out to do this "approach". we
just had the same sort of feel on the use of the wah-wah.
So you were
being accused of being a rip-off of Uli Jon Roth?
Only by some internet board posters
here and there, but my own label say "Uli" in their description.
I cant BLAME anyone. People seem to need "labels"
for some reason. Often people misunderstand WHY two players get
compared and or accused of influencing each other: I liked Uli Roth
the first time I heard him back in 1977. This was because his approach
and my approach were already NATURALLY similar. It was never a question
of "Copying" someone, it was much more a question of seeing
a "reflection" in a mirror of sorts, and liking it. I
think (Psycologically) when we see something in someone else which
seems like something in ourselves, it's either pleasing, or you
utterly hate it. I personally- loved what Uli Jon Roth "did".
His direction was to my ear, "Hendrix meets classical music."
In later years, to my ear, his playing began to change. It reminded
me in some ways of Brian May. Well, my playing was as well, and
I had been an incredibly serious student of both Hendrix and classical
composers. But honestly, the end of my "Uli Study" was
his Scorpions period.
So the "approaches"
were arrived at independently in many ways?
Yes. But apart from that, I also
found that although the wah wah was very expressive, it took away
the "thickness" of certain notes in a way I began to find
irritating. It just was not appropriate for THIS album for so many
reasons, the most important being clarity in a HUGE mix.
sounding like a very clear, unaffected sound was the real priority
Absolutely! I have been trying
to find a certain guitar sound for many many years, and that quest
never ends. I wanted it "FULL", but not "humbucking"
or "Gibson" type "fat". I was also after a certain
sort of brilliant "sparkle" on the top end of my tone
as well. What I REALLY wanted from my electric guitar sound, was
a great deal of the sonic attributes found in a good steel string
acoustic guitar, PLUS it had to be "Electrifying" in sound
and powerful: Sustain in other words would come from my hands, sheer
volume, and not "distortion" or "fuzz" boxes.
In the end, I had to design and build, and patent my own instruments
to truly achieve this goal. I wanted nothing on the new album to
interfere with the purity of my guitar sound.
the guitar/amp set up actually like as recorded with on Byrd FBT9?
Its just my guitar, a ten
foot chord, a 1966 50 watt vintage Marshall (Bone stock btw), a
1966 Marshall 8X10 cab with alnico "blue" speakers and
(very hard to find), a cheap reissue DOD 250 overdrive box with
carbon type batteries, and a single microphone. It doesnt
get any simpler than that without going "Un-plugged".
'FBT9' certainly is a step beyond what you
have done before, yet retains all the classic Byrd trademarks fans
love. How did you get to the next level with the intricate
arrangements yet strong hooks and melody lines?
As I said earlier, there were elements of my catalogue I
liked, and elements that had to go. There were also some new (For
me) influences as well. What I liked about each of my previous albums
(If youll indulge me for a moment):
Fifth Angel: Songs! Memorable vocal
melodies. I thought that the vocal lines really were very good on
that album. I also loved the drum sounds and rhythm guitar approach
which was very simple, yet in your face and very aggressive.
Atlantis Rising: Songs again.
I didnt think the vocals were equalized as they should have
been on that album (too bright), but I liked the melodies very much.
Octoglomerate: This album
is my favorite in so many ways. Yet its also incredibly "Non-commercial"
in its sheer strangeness at certain points; There were some
VERY unusual chord changes and arrangements on that album, and a
couple of them were actually directly taken by me and re-worked
for my new album. Am I allowed to "steal" ideas from myself?
I think so, and there is actually a long and historic tradition
among classical composers of doing just that.
So you "Ripped
yourself off"? !!!
(laughing) YES! The actual chord
progression of the title track "Octoglomerate" (intro)
was taken verbatim by me and reworked into "Unity while
you were sleeping" as the verse on FBT9s track "Unity".
This track in the end, was the single most difficult thing (Intellectually
speaking) I've ever had to assemble in terms of odd meter counterpoint
. Just playing in an odd meter can be difficult enough. If you look
at the total structure of 'Unity', youll find that not only
are the meters continually shifting between 9s, 7s,
6s, and then compound 6/8 over 4/4 rhythm guitar with an additional
measure of 5 added during the chorus break points. This bloody thing
is FOUR Point counter pointed at all of its most difficult
points! It was a complete nightmare to learn once it was written,
and it nearly drove Brian and Michael nuts to correctly PHRASE their
Do you consider it "Prog" music?
No. Well yes. Its some "Other
kind" of music or something. I'm NOT generally a fan of "Prog"
because it can sound so "unnatural" often. I believe that
phrasing is EVERYTHING next to SONGS in terms of the order of importance.
It's not easy in odd-meter or you wouldn't notice a big part of
the 'prog' sound. This was yet another goal I set for FBT9: Yes,
it IS VERY progressive, but I don't believe it has that "disturbed"
and "disjointed" sound that's always bothered me on most
prog albums. You tell me? Did I not achieve a certain naturalness
here, or am I misguided in a self-serving assessment?
[Ed Note: Rhetorical question by Byrd, James continues... ]
That aside, additional "musical devices" were used that
Ive personally never heard anywhere else. Im NOT saying
they didnt exist. Just that Id not heard them. The tri-tone
with key centered bimodal melody during the B to C sections of the
chorus for one thing. True bi-modality within the tri-tone. Relative-key
modalism within bi-modal progressions. The so called "Tri Tone"
has (historically speaking) been regarded as "The devil in
music" (in a literal formal statement of Catholic dogma) by
the Catholic Church. It also has the potential to be one of the
nastiest, ugliest sounding intervals of all. To make it flow freely
while "Centering" it via resolution at each turn (with
bimodality) and actually making it sound haunting, beautiful and
ethereal, is my proudest musical moment as a composer.
"musical device" used anywhere else on FBT9?
Yes. In FACT, nearly somewhere
in EVERY song! Then of course there are the lyrics to this track
we were speaking of (Unity): Its very difficult to convey
the true message, but its about time. Another "trick"
of "musical device" was making lyrical references actually
fall on those very same lyric numbers in the meter's length in numbers.
the central theme of "Unity" (while you were sleeping),
I mean in its words?
Religion, and a time of coming
unity that has a potential which will put final enmity between God
and man for an eternal judgment is the topic. I really dont
want to delve too deeply into the literal meaning of the words.
I feel that those who are meant to understand them, will by Gods
grace. It's "Biblical". TO ME anyway. Yet those who REALLY
know my personal beliefs to any degree (and this is the first time
Ive truly begun to address them in public), also know that
my views can't be fit into, or under a label of any sort. I'm not
a "Christian" in any typical understanding of the term.
(As everyone at Heaven's Metal Magazine found out in a very unfortunate
way, but that is another story and can already be found on the internet).
you describe your beliefs then?
I am a serious student of the
Bible, it's history, it's alterations and deliberate use of certain
words which literally have no literal single word translation into
English or ANY modern tongue save for perhaps Hebrew. These certain
words were used for political reasons in the distant past. I'd accept
christian (small 'c') and admit, I dont feel like a very good
one not a very good one from MY personal perspective. But God does
indeed love me anyway I hope and "believe". If I'm "hell-bound",
I believe its my actions, not my lack of a denominational
devotion or creed. I'll finish any arguments with my self-proclaimed
"SAVED" Christian friends then and there perhaps. I believe
I love God. I say this NOT because I'm a well behaved man, or because
I have a group of people who've created a consensus that says "Yes
James, you'll be in Heaven because you've agreed to our fundamental
27 precepts critical to your salvation". I say this only because
I hate cruelty and corruption. I long for justice. Not man's justice,
we all know what a joke THIS has become. No, I mean true justice.
Gods justice, and Gods alone. And I've diverged here
because Flying Beyond The 9 is an attempt to convey this idea, with
NO intended cruelty to anyone. It's part of an ongoing story, and
it's deeply personal, yet I tried my best to make it "Universal".
Most of my work always has been. The only "label" Ill
accept for my "beliefs" is "Unitarian".
music dictate the lyrics or vice-versa?
This is difficult to answer without
seeming glib, and overly short, but so be it. Both music and lyrics
come to me as one.
the albums touched on a number of topics. I hear amongst others:
hope for the future, war, respect and dues, religion etc
there a concept theme to the album or did it just happen that they
all tended to tie in?
Yes, there is indeed a concept.
But not perhaps a formal concept. If theirs is to be regarded a
"Concept proper", then its all the result of something
quite beyond any "personal" or conscious will of my own.
It is best described I think, as "the collective" , filtering
through me what some call "God", in as unimpeded a manner
as possible. I know my God by name as "Metatron". Others
know him by other names. No, I didnt mean "him"
in any "male" sense of the word btw. My beliefs may seem
strange, or even weird, but I am NOT "New Age", nor a
"follower" of anyone or institution. Before ANYONE anywhere
attempts to put me into some crazy cult, or "box", I belong
to no religious group whatsoever. I have come to have some very
strong personal convictions about what can be described in many
many ways, but here are a few: Universal intelligence, Pantheism,
destiny which intersects at what I refer to as "Alpha-Omega
points", and an ultimate CHANCE for a future human destiny
in which we "evolve" beyond what we consider (today) to
be "physically Human". Its a VERY long conversation
really, and I dont know that Ill have the time (Nor
for that matter will everyone care to hear about it) to go into
it in depth. But either I have knowledge about certain events unfolding,
or Im entirely mad.
The last six years, and
innumerable events, multiple witnesses to these events (444s
for example), have convinced me that its not madness on my
part by any means. And were I to even to attempt to divulge/explain
more of it now, I would personally become a bit nervous about it.
Ive seen some VERY strange things happen when Ive said
the wrong things, to the wrong people, at the wrong time. I do hope
Im not coming off as a TOTAL lunatic here, but perhaps this
is not the time or forum to really tell the strange story of "The
444s". Some day I intend to, and in great depth. Something
tells me that when I feel it's time, there will no longer be any
need to explain it all. Everyone who's supposed to "see",
will understand what I've briefly referred to here. We are (as a
species) evolving spiritually in a literal way, and to speak certain
particulars at the wrong time, can go against the order established
by The Watchers, or what others call "angels". Elsewhere,
others have found what I have and HAVE written of it. My "experiences"
were entirely independent. I learned of other "believers"
much after my own faith was established.
So how does
"Flying Beyond The 9" relate to all you just spoke of
Flying Beyond The 9 for me, fits
and conveys the entire message of this current time without disturbing
anyones personal freedom to believe or not believe the message
it contains. It's NOT a religious message in any usual understanding
of the word "religious". I can't state this strongly enough.
I am NOT a "Guru" to anyone, nor do I EVER wish to be.
Each of us is meant to find "The Way" in utter freedom,
and although signposts may be erected along the way, and I may feel
"directed" to "Post" some, I for one will not
be forcing my personal view of their meaning against anyones
free will. FBT9 is a "signpost" lyrically. Yes, the world
does indeed need to be saved. But I am not so deluded to think that
I'll be the guy who does it. "God" will, and he speaks
to anyone who will listen, and this voice is entirely realised in
one's heart, not the by "directive" of some self-proclaimed
"Leader". I speak ONLY from MY heart, not someone elses
words, at least in THIS world. Some will perceive "God's"
presence within this music, others may not. And some (little doubt
on my part here) will chose to actively hate it's message out of
fear of it's "Unorthodoxy" from a dogmatic perspective.
It's message is not going to "Fit" many preconceived notions,
and I've seen too many instances of people being literally told
to "Go to hell" for daring to let their OWN inspirations
become available and expressed. Save your efforts if you feel I
need praying for for those sorts of reasons. I'll take all the prayers
I can get if they're rooted in love. But far too often in my opinion,
they are not "LOVE", but rather a "Herding"
together of fearful people who's fear of what is different, quickly
leads to real hate. Action follows. Violence. Murder in Gods
Consider then before I leave
this topic: 60 MILLION people died at the hands of "The Church"
from 325 AD to the 16th century. They died deaths of unbelievable
pain and humiliation, and it all began with religious "Debate".
How many people today know this fading history? If THAT doesn't
clearly illuminate The real identity of the so-called "Anti-Christ"
for some one, well, there's no more to be said to them is there.
The album features a superb vocal talent in
Michael Flatters, how did you hook up with him and what role did
he play in FBT9?
I met Michael through another vocalist named Steve Benito
(Original Heir Apparent vocalist). Michaels "role"
was to understand the songs in personal freedom (I never told him
what they meant btw), and then to sing them with conviction and
love for their message. I BELIEVE WE ARE all "ACTORS"
IN "Gods drama". He understood these songs perfectly,
and he sang with his heart out and "open" IMO. I was VERY
technically demanding of him. He had freedom, yet in reality, his
freedom was paradoxical because he was singing what I wrote and
directed down to the last nuance. But was it really me? We went
over this earlier didnt we. The paradox here is that it was
so easy. Remember "Radar" from the television series M.A.S.H.?
It went THAT way most of the time.
saying, "There were no "problems"?
Yes. No REAL problems. The only
"difficulties" encountered were due to MY constant pushing
of him to "keep going Michael", when fatigue was setting
in on him. He really didn't have enough time to finish all his parts
without working 8 to 12 hours a day when he was here. At the end
of the last two sessions, things lightened up a lot, and we worked
fewer hours. We had a very good time too: Sending out for various
exotic foods and renting videos on the last few nights. In the end,
he was the easiest person to work with Ive ever produced on
played a large role in the creation of FBT9, what was it that he
added to the project that helped make it what it is and how did
you hook up with him?
He apparently knew who I was and
liked what I did. Which always surprises me btw. I've never felt
"Famous" and certainly wouldn't say I am. He walked up
to me in a Guitar Center and asked me "Are you by any chance
James Byrd?". It turned out that we had mutual friends, and
we spoke at length about music and our personal inspirations and
hopes. He ended up giving me a cassette tape of his own solo material
where hed played every instrument: Guitar, Bass, Keyboards,
Drums. I invited him over as I live only a few blocks from the store,
and he played me his music. I was floored really. It wasnt
so much a matter of "Chops" on a particular instrument.
It was the highly dramatic nature of the music. The sound itself
was superb. When he told me that what I was hearing was a combination
of midi and a live guitar performance recorded direct to minidisk,
I said "Id be honored to work with you". It was
really quite brilliant stuff, very different from anything Id
ever played (Or probably will for that matter). He just has such
a vast knowledge of virtually every instrument at a high capacity
of sophistication that I knew Id found "The guy".
The material he played was reminding me of Emerson Lake and Palmer,
U.K., Pink Floyd, and even Beatles at points. Obviously Flying Beyond
The 9 is a Byrd album, but in all honesty, Id be very honored
to play on one of his albums some day as I found it very challenging
harmonically and so different from what I do. NOT having to engineer
this album was so damned nice. I recall once being criticized in
a review for "Wearing all the hats", referring to how
poor the production on one of my albums was (The Apocalypse Chime).
Well, the reviewer was entirely right, the production of that album
SUCKED. Damned if I ever "wore all the hats" because I
wanted to. I couldnt AFFORD a "real" engineer. Yes,
Ill never deny that in my way, I am a total control freak.
But if you ask those whove worked with me what Im like
as a human being, I have few worries about anything negative being
said about the WAY I deal with it. Theres never any reason
to abuse people or yell at them, and in all my years recording (27
I believe) I cant recall anything of that nature ever happening.
In the end, I just believe as humans, we realize and admit our limitations.
My limitation was engineering to my own satisfaction.
One of the
biggest areas that hit me with this album was the production. Sonically
it is massive, I know you have been unhappy with various aspects
on previous releases, how did you get this album to sound so good?
GREAT! Ask Brian. I could tell
you much of it, but he deserves to answer the question really. It
would not have happened without him.
orchestration is pretty complex and could have been a sonic mess,
yet it enhances all the tracks rather than overpowering them, how
did you manage to get the perfect balance?
Its in an understanding of
1st - I avoided overlapping
certain instruments which had similar frequencies.
2nd - I wrote parts that
either utilised similar motion, or contrary motion. One cant
have everything moving the same way in the same ranges at once.
3rd - I avoided adding certain
things at certain points. The great temptation with 70 plus tracks
at your disposal (90 on Avianti Suite), is to use them all at the
same time. I spent a lot of time listening to various classical
composers, and tried to learn from them.
4th - something HAS to "give"
in the actual mix. I tried to find the right balance. Too much rhythm
guitar volume and the "depth" was lost. Not enough rhythm
guitar volume and the power and aggression was lost. Its always
a compromise in the end you know. I did the best job I could and
Brian and I worked as a team. It was very exhausting really. Wed
do mix after mix of a song, and Id take it out to the car
and listen, Then home and listen. Then on the worst boom box I could
find I'd listen again. The perfect mix would sound good on everything
from a pile of junk car stereo, to a good home system and everything
in between. I did this with every track over a one month period.
Maybe I am "mad as a hatter" after all? Ill tell
you one thing, I dont care to hear the album again! I hope
that it was all worth it for the fans. I hope THEY will want to
hear it many times over the years. Ive heard enough to last
you decide to add orchestration to the music? Was it what you heard
in your mind to accompany the music or was it an afterthought?
OH no mate! THIS was not an "afterthought"!
It came FIRST along with the vocal line/lyric. Not only did I use
only one rhythm guitar on the album, it was the LAST part added,
and for that matter, written. The parts Im playing on the
guitar are entirely dictated by the vocals and orchestration. I
found many new ways of approaching composition in general with this
album. In a sense, my role on Flying Beyond The 9, is almost as
though "Im a guitarist who plays in someone elses band"
with the support of a symphony. It was all very intentional. Im
sick to death of "Riff" based rock albums that sound like
they took about 5 minutes to write. Hey, some GREAT records got
made that way, save any hate mail please! But I wanted to find a
higher level of maturity in composition and depth, especially production.
"Banging out guitar chords for singers with note-books and
pens" isnt going to be my direction. It may have BEEN
my direction when I was 18, but hell, I'm 40 now! This is 2001.
I dont even care if people call this album rock and roll frankly.
It just is what it is. To me, its music. My music, period.
key aspect that hit me was the song style. These tracks are more
accessible than some of the work on albums like Crimes Of
Virtuosity and The Apocalypse Chime and seem to
follow more of the standard verse / chorus / bridge type progression.
How did many of the tracks turn out more commercial?
I made a very definite decision
NOT to utilise the typical harmonic minor/phrygian "shredfest"
chord progressions so often associated with what have generically
come to be known as "Neo-classical" metal most of the
time. I wrote the majority of the songs on FBT9 either in Major
keys, or very unusual keys (at least for "metal") to distance
myself from what Ive come to view as a very boring and "over
blown" sound. Yes, there is the occasional use of harmonic
minor in one or two places on the album, but there are SEVEN "Church"
modes, as well as a whole host of synthetic modes: Enigmatic, Super
Harmonic Minor, etc. . Now if one views chords as colors, lets say
(For example) that E minor is black or burnt umber. If a musician
chooses to play harmonic minor over this back ground color, we now
have (If we assign bright red to harmonic minor just
as an example) a picture in red and black. Fine, I have nothing
against these two colors, theyre perfectly lovely colors.
But to do a whole damned album of red and black pictures? Oh, no
thank you! ENOUGH already. So the new album uses literally EVERY
mode known, including synthetics and chromatics, and
it does so over certain chord structures that are occasionally quite
strange. That it sounds "More commercial" to your ear,
well I wouldnt mind if everyone felt this way because Id
like to reach as many people with the album as possible. But really,
you cant please everyone, and I honestly tried hardest to
impress myself first.
My guess as to why that
this album seems "More commercial" to your ear, is because
the order in which parts were written, determined their impact.
If were talking about SONGS, then the vocal must be the center
of everything, and this was my priority with FBT9. I made the last
album "Crimes of Virtuosity" because I wanted to go "completely
over the top" with sheer aggression on the guitar. Get it over
with and to a degree, out of my system. I feel that after that album
(C.O.V.), with its intentionally "retro" "genre",
I made my final stand of sorts amongst the likes of players like
my friend Yngwie. Not because I dont like what he does, hes
BRILLIANT. I just needed to get it over with if this makes sense.
trying to say youve abandoned "Shred"?
Yes, you can take it that way if
you like. But I assure you, I have NOT abandoned playing the best
guitar I can possibly manage to play on this and hopefully many
future albums. And when appropriate, VERY fast. But I am sick to
death of the whole "Oh check out how fast this or that guy
is" mentality. Who really OUGHT to give a shit anymore? Well,
I dont, and haven't for years. I just want to feel completed
as an artist. For me this means writing songs, arranging them, writing
words, orchestrating, producing, and then playing the hell out of
my guitar if it happens to be called for. It isn't always called
for and that is the truth as I've come to see it. Again, Im
40 years old now! It was time to grow up in certain musical respects.
And I believe with all my heart, if this album DOESN'T end comparisons
to Yngwie's music, nothing EVER will. I respect the hell out of
him, I like him a great deal personally, I totally admire his dedication,
I deeply appreciate his support of my music, I enjoy his style when
played by HIM, and in many ways, we both feel like brothers to each
other. But I AM ME, and FBT9 is my best effort to further that concept
among anyone remotely reasonable who will LISTEN to the music and
read my words. This is nothing like an Yngwie album, an Uli Jon
Roth album, or in my opinion, anything ever released by a supposed
"shredder" or guitar virtuoso.
I am not a "shredder",
so please don't think to equate what I do, with what this term has
come to mean (at least to myself and apparently MOST of the public)
before you listen to this album. I have had enough frustration just
to finish it and present it to my friends and supporters to believe
that I deserve the benefit of the doubt here. To me "Shred"
is not a nice way of describing music or playing. I think you know
what I mean?
the commercial appeal of many of the tracks there is
a definite underlying progressive slant, yet you manage to avoid
many of the overused prog clichés. Is this a genre that appeals
I am so HAPPY this was noticed!
"Prog"? Well, its a silly name isnt it;) Makes
me think of "Frog" and Star Trek" (laughing). I know
theres a certain typical "Prog" sound thats
been around a LONG time, since the 70s in fact. Like anything
else, it can wear thin. Its that "monochromatic"
analogy again. But much so-called "Prog" is in my opinion,
very self indulgent and tiring to listen to. I honestly dont
sit around and listen to bands or guitar players, you know this.
So I would say that although there are "Prog" influences
here and there on FBT9, I dont think this album really fits
into any particular categorical limitations one might wish to impose
upon it for the sake of descriptive ease. I do enjoy certain aspects
of Symphony X (Amazing singer, amazing production, great playing
all around) and Spocks Beard. And to me, these bands are in
a league of their own under the "Prog" banner, and don't
feel personally that the label does them justice. It's just amazing
music, and happens to be complex. But again, although Ive
HEARD these bands, I dont sit around analyzing them or listening
for ideas. I would say that FBT9 is in fact a highly progressive
album. But its precisely because of what its NOT, rather
than what it is. And the real element which makes it truly progressive
in my opinion, is that although it doesn't seem typically "prog",
if you really listen hard to whats going on, (and when) in
these songs, they are technically very complex. Some how it manages
to be complex without SEEMING complex. This was my entire objective
as a writer. I really believe that grounding the center of the album
around the vocal melodies was "the trick" to achieving
a very progressive album that's also very listenable and almost
"pop" sounding in some ways.
that might surprise a few fans is that there is less guitar on this
album. You seem less inclined to throw in lots of fills between
vocal phrases preferring to let the rhythm guitar do the majority
of the work during the main framework of songs, what led to this
downplay in guitar?
Less? Not really. Different priorities
in my view actually. I decided that additional "solos"
wouldnt make the songs any better. I also think that the rhythm
guitar parts stand on their own very nicely in these places, and
DO make the song better. I put a LOT of thought into the rhythm
guitar parts and their performances on this album. There is SO much
more to playing good guitar than just soloing. Again, I guess it
comes down to taste, but in the end, I asked myself: "Why add
yet another solo/lead guitar fill?" I didnt have a good
answer. That everyone else seems compelled to do it didn't seem
like a good enough answer to me.
To my ears
your solos benefit from it and they make a bigger impression as
a result, in a word the album sounds very live, it also
puts over the impression that this album was written with the songwriter
hat on as opposed to the guitar player hat
a good way of summing up the album?
Yes, I agree entirely with this
assessment. THIS was precisely what I wanted to convey. It certainly
WAS "the song writer's hat", and I agree about the solos
as well. My goal as a musician/guitarist is first and foremost,
to communicate with people. I can't sing, so I "sing"
with the guitar. It's my entire philosophy about GOOD guitar playing.
My philosophy about communicating with the guitar as my "voice",
is that it's no different than were one to be speaking of literal
singing: #1, no one gives a damn how "fast" someone can
sing, #2, no one in their right mind would sing exactly the same
word over and over again, and IF there's going to be a guitar solo
in a song, it has to make the song better for everyone who'd be
listening. My other goal as a guitarist was, remains, and will remain
a continual quest to avoid repetitive playing AND writing at all
costs. It means a life time of study of music itself with the guitar
as the notebook I happened to chose. I hate guitar playing that
repeats the same stupid "Lick" again and again. I've been
a very vocal critic of this approach, but I'm not going to openly
criticise any particular players by name. So you tell me: What is
"Fast"? It could be argued that alternating between only
two notes, but playing them at a rate of 1200 notes per minute is
fast. And what does it mean? Nothing. Now what about a REAL musician
who plays "Lazy 8th's" for 15 minutes over dozens of chord
changes, meter changes, mode changes, and never once repeats himself?
Lets say it was only 300 notes per minute in terms of speed. Is
this "Fast"? Hell, I don't know. But it's BLOODY GOOD
Well, my never ending quest
has been to approach every song I play on (Speaking of the guitar
here) from the perspective that whether improvised, or worked out,
a good guitar solo ought to stand as a composition, and a good one
at that. It should fit the song, and between songs, the approach
taken ought to be different every single time. I'm working towards
a point in my playing where "Modes", scales, the very
concept of pattern becomes less and less meaningful. I spent years
to learn them, now I will spend years unlearning them. Music itself
exists only between the past (memory) and the future (anticipation).
As a matter of metaphysical
reality, it has no "Current" existence, only as polarities
between these two points. There also does indeed exist something
coined by a now departed friend of mine, Howard Roberts: "The
Big Now". Does this seem to be a contradiction to what I just
stated? I'll clear it up as best I can; Yes, it does "exist",
but ONLY existentially and entirely within the mind/spirit of the
listener (If we confine this to music). You will know it when you
experience it as a listener. Its "spiritual". I
know it when I hear David Gilmour play his "solo" on "Comfortably
Numb". It's a form of connection with a listener so deep, that
an "arrow" goes straight into the heart of the listener.
Listening is much more than "hearing" when it happens:
It's an "experience". It happens literally one note at
a time. Jimi Hendrix could communicate in "The Big Now":
When a single note vibrates in a way that creates this event, it's
a resonance. A resonance of the note with the actual spirit of the
"receiver". We can become receivers if we have the gift
of recognition of this experience. And if we can recognise it, theoretically,
we may also have the gift to make the move from receiver, to transmitter.
I believe that the best
communications come about when one can become a natural transmitter,
and it's not a "Goal". It's not a goal as Zen is not a
"goal". It's "achieved", but not by will, but
a true absence of ego. Sorry to become so metaphysical, but for
me, music which moves people is truly religious as an experience
Of Me features no guitar at all, what led to this and was
the track written away from the guitar?
All of these songs were written
away from the guitar. But in the end, putting guitar on this track
would have destroyed its character and message. When I feel
as though a set of words convey something as important and utterly
personal as these do to a message, Im not going to play a
guitar on it if it detracts from those words. I believe playing
guitar would have done this. I consider myself a song writer Andy,
and even without a guitar part, Ive believe Ive still
done my job here.
I know you do not listen to a lot of rock
music, but were there any acts that had any influence in this album?
Id say Queen did. Not that I think that this album
sounds like Queen, but vocally, especially the way the vocals are
intertwined and the use of 7th's, 13th's and other non-standard
harmonies, I think people will hear not "influence", but
"inspiration" from this aspect of Queen's music. There
are also an insane amount of vocal tracks and harmonies throughout
the album and it's very thick sounding. I DID want "slick"
production, but also direct production. I believe Queen represented
this concept brilliantly.
you used your handmade Super Avianti® exclusively.
The change in tone is definitely anything but subtle, was this instrument
responsible for bringing some of the tracks to you?
Perhaps "Avianti Suite". I will say that when youre
totally inspired by your sound, its very very nice, and often
does result in a better performance. My guitars are set up in such
a way that frankly, they're very difficult to play. The action is
quite high, the strings are very heavy, and the sound is very dry.
But being inspired by THAT "difficult to play" was a goal
because I knew that it would get the best possible sound across,
even if it was physically more difficult to do. So yes, they're
a joy to play, but not for "ease of action". I doubt anyone
else would feel comfortable with the actual set-up of my action
and string gauge choices.
(for want of a better word) a 'Harder' and also Higher
action would bring out the soul more?
Mostly the TONE, but Yes, in the
end. For me, it's a form of intentional "struggle" with
the instrument that needs to be there to sound and project at my
best. I hate guitars with super-low action and flat finger boards.
For me, it's like trying to build a house while standing on ice.
Impossible! It's horrid, and my playing on these sorts of instruments
gets completely out of control. They're to easy to "drive fast"
on, and there's no "Fight" with the guitar anymore. I
want to "feel the road" to use an automotive analogy.
I don't want an automatic transmission, and I don't want power steering
either. I want to feel what I'm up against if this makes sense.
And yes, I do occasionally drive insanely fast, but again, music
is not a race. I step on the gas when I FEEL it, not all the time.
also added a number of new guitar textures that I have not heard
before, where did they come from?
My hands and the guitar itself,
along with my choice of a "vintage" Amp and no use of
effects. This allows me to create many additional subtleties with
my fingers and hands alone which really come through more clearly
now. The sound is incredibly dynamic. If I play softly, the sound
is clean and very sweet. If I play harder, it becomes more aggressive
and filled with new harmonics. The actual tone is always "shifting"
depending on the "handling of the instrument" with the
left and right hands. It presents the difficult challenge of keeping
the sound "even". This clearer sound also enables me to
learn to find entirely new "textures" you spoke of. So
its with the hands alone, and I now have actual control over
a wider range of dynamics. It's made me (I think) a much more expressive
player and also much cleaner sounding player. It didnt make
it any "easier" to be "effortless". Yet it DOES
in the end. A paradox? YES!
Suite is a perfect showcase for your solo guitar skills, where
did the inspiration for that tune come from?
I just heard this amazing piece
of music in my head while asleep (It happens all the time this way).
I was determined and committed myself to learn to play it first.
Then to capture it with real conviction true to every note that
hung in my head. It (The guitar part) is one continuous take from
start to finish. It was an entire "Live" take. In other
words, the guitar as solo instrument amidst 90 tracks was not a
"pieced-together" performance using technology. The performance
was not the first take mind you! Maybe take 35 or 40? But one continuous
take. I rehearsed every day, 3 to 4 hours a day, for over 2 weeks
to do that. I must like challenges! I wanted continuity above all
else. You lose "continuity" when you "assemble"
guitar solos with punch-ins and editing. Since there was no drummer,
anything less than an end to end performance, AS IS, would NOT have
gone unnoticed in terms of phrasing. "FEEL" was everything
apart from the right notes. Without a drummer, it had to be one
take to have the continuity I felt the music deserved. I must be
a masochist. I got it into my head that "Classical discipline"
would improve my skills immeasurably. It was no damn fun in all
honesty, but again, it was extremely rewarding when I "Nailed
it" and played it back. Hearing it on playback WAS fun once
it was right. I was elated really. "Finally"!
any favourite performances on the album?
Yes, but Id rather not influence
any future listeners with my opinions here. Now that it's finished,
it belongs to others now. Of course it's "Mine", but I'm
just going to let this one land where it lands. All in all, I really
like the whole album, and Id have to get silly and nit-pick
to do it anyway.
give me a quick overview of what each track means to you, either
lyrically or musically?
This is a message from Metatron
to humanity about the coming spiritual changes. Its actually
anti-apocalyptic on one level, yet not on another. I think its
message of hope, and also a warning. It's fairly self evident in
its message about the state of things now, and to come. I
wrote the words and melody prior to the whole Y2k fiasco (as it
turned out to be). It was meant to make people realise that "the
light's will still shine", and "the end" is not now.
It's also a message of hope in that angels are watching each and
everyone of us, and at certain times (444) speaking to our hearts
and spirits, assuring us that our futures are in their hands, and
no matter how it looks from our perspective, in the end, it's all
very very good.
This gets down to some of my personal
beliefs, one of which is definitely reincarnation. Its written
at times in the 2nd person, and other times in the form of the 1st
person. Its about the myriad of "dark and unrepentant
souls who return to earth as ordinary looking people for many thousands
of years. They exert an evil influence on this planet's history
past, present, and future. Its set from a beginning point
of origin, that being the Atlantean Empire. These "Dark Hearts"
are in fact nearly all of us, for we've all been here before, some
more often than others. We have a destiny of eventual salvation
from our own evils because in the cycle of rebirth, we are given
opportunities to learn new lessons with each new life cycle. The
time period in which events are referred to in Dark Heart, is a
time of man's reliance upon his own devices and technologies as
his own "plan for salvation" as in a "Better world
through technology alone. It is destined to fall under it's own
weight because the "ships" lack a moral compass as their
guide. Instead, they are relying upon their human king and his earthly
power. The period of history begins 14,000 years ago, and it's ending
has both already occurred, yet the cycles of rebirth in ignorance
continue, and these "men walk among us today". Some are
ordinary people, many are in positions of immense political power.
But as I have already alluded to, it's all of us in various degrees
of advancement or decline, spiritually speaking. We ARE all "fallen
angels" in my view or wed not still be here. The Bible
speaks of a judgment upon the world by destruction through water.
Plato writes in detail of this event. The Myan Calendar begins with
the same event. I have read into the accounts by various cultures
of this first apocalypse, and their almost identical accounts and
dates convince me of it's factual nature. It really happened.
I penned this while watching my
city (Seattle) burn during the riots. I dont like violence
thats senseless, but the violence thats unseen is the
most senseless of all. I have long been an opponent of the W.T.O.
and all it stands for. These words are very self evident. The World
Trade Organisation represents the least repentant souls, who's agenda
is identical with those of the Atlantean Kings who abused the gifts
of technology through "one world government", and ruled
until 11,550 years ago. FBT9 is all interlaced together topically
in my mind. In the final "conflict" (Which spans many
human lifetimes to play-out), the cycle of judgment comes through
it's circle, and once again, a disaster for humanity awaits. Not
for cruel vengeance, but to once again advance man's spiritual state
in renewed hope for a "just" world through personal sacrifice.
Guys at record companies who destroy
countless lives and dreams with nary a thought of the true consequences
of their greed. Its Epic isnt it. To me, these are the
most spiritually ignorant, yet perhaps most innocuous appearing
group of fallen beings here. Their level of awareness is so low,
that their own desires are easily quenched by controlling and feeding
upon the worlds lowest orders, both socially, economically, and
in all ranks of status. "Rock stars" are created illusions
who's comfortable existence and grand life styles, are the proverbial
"carrot on the stick" under the noses of 13 and 14 year
old children. These people will stoop lower and lower to fill their
lust for ego gratification and power, even if it takes a demographic
thats underage to do it. That their entire marketing strategy"
is a lie, goes without saying but I said it anyway. I wrote this
track for every artist I've personally known who's also never been
paid, and I know a lot of people. And yes, we all know that includes
me. Apparently the kids understand a part of the equation: They
know enough to know that they read of artists not getting paid,
yet they are charged $17.00 for a piece of plastic thats worth
50 cents. The missing $16.50 cents belongs to someone. But does
it belong to a child who only understands that he can't afford $17.00
for an album? No. Does it belong to the record companies who wont
pay an artist, unless the artist can afford to sue them? No. It
belongs to the countless artists who've dedicated their lives and
time, usually their ability to pay their rent and eat, because THEY
borrowed the money to make the record the label sells for $17.00.
And they're starving on every level because they're just not being
"allowed" to pay back the original "Loan" -read
that 'recording advance'. Selling a CD for $3.00 isn't the answer
unless you're the consumer. I spent 2 and a half years of my life
making this album. Every album has countless hours of blood sweat
and tears put into it's completion before it reaches the market
place. Will anyone seriously look me in the eye and tell me that
just because the medium (50 cents worth of plastic) is cheap, my
very life is also? That the WORK contained on that 50 cent disk
is it's only value? If so, then The Mona Lisa is worth $12.00 for
the canvas and frame. People might think I'm bitter. They're right,
shouldnt I be? But not only for myself, but for the unbelievable
levels of selfishness and oppression allowed to serve this multinational
That it is allowed to go
on effecting tens of thousands of lives, that IS bitter, and SHOULD
be "bitter". So if by chance you don't care about anything
other than a "Pollyanna world" where you get what you
want, damn the rest of us, then not only do I have no sympathy for
your position, but personally stay away from my face with your self-justified
views, or I might just punch you. I'm sorry, but I am not a "Turn
the other cheek person TWICE". I believe in social justice
and that those who work, whether in sweatshops, shoe factories,
or for record companies as artists: NOT ONE human being should be
"enslaved" at the hands of national indifference to what
is ethically right.
Written in the 2nd person. I almost
subtitled it, but theres already enough subtitles on the album.
It could have been called "Letters from God". Recent events
in my life (Wonderful!) lead me here to formally dedicate this song
to my intended and soon to be wife: Kelly Purcell. God does send
angels, thank you God:) Kelly "sweetheart", you are everything
YOU WERE SLEEPING]
The REAL Anti-Christ revealed to
those who really want to seek his abode, and to know the shocking
truth. He's no "devil in red with a pitch fork". He has
been many, and rules from one office. Each "incarnation"
has had a unique mission within several organised religions. I know
much much more, but I'm going to save it.
This is a song about mans
hope in the "Heaven to come". I love this track personally.
It begins to "jell" the duality of good and evil dealt
with on this album. Its the long hoped for period of peace
ALL OF ME
[AN ALLEGORY TO THE CHURCH]
Written in the 2nd person again.
Jesus, murdered by religion 2001 years ago. Still murdered again
and again, every day with the nails of dogma. What would he say
if he could speak to "The Church" using his name? Not
too happy about all this, is he.
Just music. I literally heard this
music in my sleep in a dream, exactly as it now exists. From the
great spirit of aesthetic, to my head, to yours. I'm thankful for
this gift to me and that I found my way in transferring it from
"Out there" to tape decks. This is for me, WHY I make
also contributed to the Lion Music Jason Becker tribute album
Warmth In The Wilderness what did you contribute to that
I played about a minute and a half
long solo on "Outro Jam". I didn't try to "Impress"
anyone with constant speed. It does have some fairly fast playing
as it begins, but towards the end, it actually slows down. I believed
this would work, because as a compilation of performances by many
guitarists, I have no idea who would play the next solo after my
own, or what their approach would be. I thought (And I hope) that
I was able to provide the next player with a musical ending which
would allow him/her? to have a fresh start and a chance of their
own to build their own solo as they saw fit beginning from my slower
ending and resolution. I have heard so many of these compilation
"Shred-fest" things (Always Shrapnel it seems, and one
listen was MORE than enough usually) that I noticed that as a "format",
there CAN and usually are problems with each guy playing a million
notes, and then each guys solos just run into the next guys.
I think it's horrid sounding. So I slowed way down and smoothed
my way into 8th notes and repeated a little motif (Picardy 3rd)
that I hoped would make someone else's job a bit happier.
could sum up FBT9 in a few words what would they be?
Me, un-self conscious, highly focused,
and at times, very very musically joy filled. It's by and large
a very uplifting work IMO. I'm not saying who here, but someone
I played Avianti Suite for actually began to cry upon hearing it.
One listen is worth a thousand words (And I apologise for the fact
that I've far exceed those words here, but this interview was very
special to me this time). If you like it, well buy it! I don't know
if I'll become wealthy through music, but if I can get this album
AVAILABLE, perhaps I'll be able to continue to make albums that
grow in quality. It's been a 17 year learning curve for me as to
HOW to actually make an album and make it hopefully better each
time. This album marks the first time since FIFTH ANGEL that I feel
I've reached a quality goal in production and sonic impact, that
was lost for years due to a lack of money to make the records properly.
I didn't actually have any more money this time, but I had real
love, and invaluable expertise from Brian and Michael. I honestly
will tell you: THIS album has met my own standards. I hope (that
I've conveyed) that these do in fact actually mean something which
can be trusted. God knows, everyone's latest album is "Oh it's
my best", so when one is honest, that honesty is often lost
on a rightfully cynical public who's tired of self-serving B.S.
served on a platter of MTV "Gratitude". Final word? See
Im already working on it,
but seriously, I can not talk about it. I have no certain knowledge
that it will actually happen because I'd just be one of many artists.
But I hope it does because I REALLY want to see it come to fruition
and be a part of it. If and when it does, no one will know for probably
a year or more. It involves a LOT of different people and work,
so I am always wary of "Murphy's Law" lurking in the wings.
I do have faith though. I believe this particular project I'm being
so mysterious about here (sorry!) will happen.
Thank You Andy, its been
an ultimate pleasure that I've been given such an extensive forum.
To my fans, God-bless you all. Your letters have meant the world
to me and I'm not sure I would have gone on with FBT9 without them.
And last but not least, the Fan Club. Yes it's small, but I love
you all for being there and taking an interest in my life and art.
Finally, thank you 444. I know your love and although I've had fear,
it's been of myself, not you. Want to learn more? http://www.fourfourfour.com
Again, I don't "Follow", belong to, endorse any one "religion"
exclusively or believe that anyone follow anything but their own
heart. It's just a web site. I didn't find until YEARS after I knew
what I know. They know it too.