The art of choosing…talking with The Dreamer Within

The Dreamer Within_RingMasterReviewPromo Shot

Hailing from Exeter in the UK, The Dreamer Within is a band beginning to lure very potent attention with their compelling metalcore bred sound. Young as an outfit, they have already shown themselves a fresh presence and roar on the British metal scene with a stage presence that has audiences swinging s evidence by acclaimed shows with the likes of I Divide, Glamour of the Kill, Skindred, and Palisades. Recently the quintet unveiled a new video for the song Purge for another big poke at broad attention. It had us wanting to know more, so with thanks to the guys we explored the beginnings of The Dreamer Within, their new video, an impending EP, and more besides…

Hello and many thanks for taking time to talk with us.

That’s kewl 😀

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started?

Alex and Charlie started writing stuff when they were at Uni many years ago…like 7 years ago (they’re both well old). They both knew each other played guitar from school but Charlie didn’t like Alex because he had better hair and knew how to play more Metallica solos than him. However they ended up jamming together in a covers band and started writing their own stuff just for fun. They’d send each other random riffs and ideas and eventually ended up putting drums to some stuff so things sounded a bit more legit. One day though, Alex decided to put some synth over one of the riffs for a joke, however there was actually no laughing matter – it sounded genius. Well actually it sounded terrible but it started to influence some other things they wrote and eventually synth became a must for any song ideas. To cut a longer story shorter: they eventually got in touch with some people who they thought might be interested in actually playing some stuff live, including Alex’s dear cousin Josh who loves to play a bit of bass. After a few years of practice, writing and re-writing everything and a couple of line-up changes we eventually managed to play a show in July 2014. Ultimately, our love of metalcore probably brought us together, plus we all really like wearing vests. We all have pretty similar music tastes though, ranging from more straight up metal to trance/EDM so going down the contemporary metalcore route was a pretty natural thing for us.

What sparked the decision to form the band and the direction it was to take?

It’s always been quite a natural development, we all love our music heavy and full of synth! As mentioned above, the original conception of the band happened years ago (you can probably still find the original version of Recovery on the internet without having to look too hard) and the direction of the band really just came from a culmination of the things we love about music, minus Taylor Swift’s voice though unfortunately.

The Dreamer Within_RingMasterReviewIs there any specific meaning behind the name?

Choosing our name was a stressful time. We all had terrible ideas and it got pretty frustrating as all the super cool names were taken according to numerous Google searches.  We agonized over so many until one day at practice, Charlie lost it and said “right, I’m going to my car to get my mountain dew and packet of cashews, I want a name by the time I return…” and sure enough, Eliott came up with The Dreamer Within. It probably reminds us most of Charlie being furious and eating cashew nuts, although on a more serious note, we liked it as it vibed well with our style as a lot of our lyrics relate to recognising what’s important within oneself and looking at the world outside the box if you catch our drift. At the core of it, the name refers to the part of yourself that is dormant inside that aspires for greater experiences.

Tell us about your early days as a band; the unforeseen surprises and difficulties which you came up against that maybe musicians do not expect or realise will show themselves.

It’s still pretty early days really! I think one thing we never really considered was just how much effort (and equipment) has to go into creating the kind of sound that we have to manipulate live. I’d say one of the biggest surprises was probably when we played our first show after releasing our debut single Heart of Mine as originally we just wanted to release some music and play a live gig to say that we’d done it; the feedback was so overwhelming that we decided to keep going and never really looked back. In hindsight we could have probably done a far better job at getting ourselves shows at the start – we ended up waiting to be asked by other bands a lot which was awesome when it happened but it did mean we struggled to keep ourselves booked up. Ultimately, we realised that everyone in the local Exeter scene was super nice and talking to people/other bands was the best way to get about. Typically, no one ever has any batteries and we use A LOT of batteries for all the wireless stuff etc. The amount of times we’ve had to do an emergency battery run before a show is ridiculous – we never learn! Josh is the worst for this and also equipment in general. One show we played in Plymouth had him kneeling on the floor playing after his strap broke mid set. Obviously he didn’t have any sort of backup plan so the drummer from The Core of IO had to duct-tape it up for him while he was playing…we looked really awesome…

As you say, it has been a relatively short time that The Dreamer Within has been around; how would you say your sound has evolved in that time?

To be honest not that much – the first two songs we released in 2014: Heart of Mine and Recovery 2.0 are songs that were written alongside a few others that we actually had in mind for our up and coming EP so we’re still very much influenced by our original ideas. We guess that people can probably expect a far heavier EDM presence in some of our more recent compositions but essentially we want to get better at what we started doing rather than change our sound loads of times before people really get to know us.

Do you write and create as a unit?

Alex and Charlie often lay down the primary structure for most of the tunes as they’re both guitarists. They also have the responsibility of recording, mixing and mastering everything so it makes sense for them to take the lead on that side of things. However overall the songs come together from everyone’s ideas as Eliott is a keen synth composer and Matt handles pretty much all the lyrical side of things. As much as we make fun of him, Josh is a sick bass player and he rarely has to be taught anything and is happy to write his own bass parts rather than mimic the guitars…All pretty harmonious really.

 You recently released the video for new track Purge. Tell us about the song’s theme first of all.

Purge is primarily about recognising agents of deception and control in everyday life and “Purging” the feeling that you need to conform to believing what’s force fed to you or allow yourself to be easily influenced by common sources of information. Essentially the message is ‘don’t believe everything you read/see, don’t just sit there letting the world carry you along, get out there and find your own truth.’ We hope we don’t sound too cliché and political!

The press release with its announcement suggested that your new tracks, as well as being more creatively imposing and inventive, have “a darker lyrical tone.” Can you elaborate upon that and The Dreamer Within2_RingMasterReviewdoes Purge epitomise that evolution or are there further dark depths to be discovered?

We think the darker elements come from the overall feel of the songs themselves rather than the lyrics. We find it impossible to write anything in a major key! However regardless of what the song is about, lyrically we always try and put a positive spin on things to inspire a more uplifting feel.

What kind of things most inspires the band’s lyrical side?

We like writing about mankind’s place in the Universe, why we’re all here, what we should be doing while we are here etc. We are all really into space and all that cool stuff so we’d like to think our songs have a really big epic feel to them. We also like writing about some supernatural/potentially supernatural stuff as we think that a lot of potential answers to the world’s great mysteries could lie in thinking a bit more radically than the norm. Our first single, Heart of Mine is actually about Final Fantasy 7 which is one of our favourite video games. Video games are a theme we’d like to explore more in the future. All of us are also massive Star Wars fans so you can probably expect to hear a song in the future that mentions about how Rey from the new film is the greatest female ever.

Back to the video; who did you film it with?

An ace gent who goes by the name of Ben Lumber; the frontman of Acres who are currently killing it in Europe.

Did you, as a band, have a particular idea for it in mind or left it to the director etc. to come up with the basis for what is certainly an eye catching, ear pleasing proposal.

We scouted out what we thought was a pretty cool location for a first video. To be perfectly honest we took a lot of influence from videos that came out in the golden 2008 – 2012 metalcore/(dare we say it) crabcore era. It’s not a big surprise to hear that we love all that stuff. Because it was all performance based, it was up to us to choreograph our moves and group shots. We tried to throw in as much energy from our live shows as possible so what you see in the video is pretty close to what we pull off live, although that can be dependent on the size of the venue! Ben had some great ideas for angles and solo shots etc. but we had a lot of input in the visual side of things and Ben was great at listening to our ideas and working with us.

I believe the band is working on a new EP? Can you give us some insight and spoilers to that?

Cheeky 😉 I think we can probably let slip that the EP is going to be called This Is Not Our Home and will be out at the end of May. It will be made up of 5 tracks including Purge and another new song we’re doing a video for very soon. After listening all the way through, you should end up feeling like you’ve just danced with the Incredible Hulk at a rave until 6am.

Apart from the EP, what is in store for The Dreamer Within fans from hereon in across 2016?

We’ve got some really cool festival announcements coming up over the next few months including Massacre Fest in Gloucester. We also have our first tour booked from June 1st to 5th with High Rise, Follow the Wolf, and Last Hounds which we’re stupidly excited for. It will be our first time playing most of the venues on the schedule including dates in Leeds, Leamington Spa, and London so we’re really looking forward to seeing how we go down in places that aren’t near the South West.

Many thanks again for chatting with us. Anything you would like to add?

Thanks for having us! And to those of you coming to our hometown show of the tour on June 2nd – keep your eyes open for a ripped and kewl announcement about that 😉

And finally, give us an insight into the records and artists which could be claimed to have most inspired your own life and creativity.

We’re inspired by a lot of the bands that people wouldn’t be surprised by like Asking Alexandria, Abandon All Ships and Enter Shikari etc. Although collectively, it’s not unusual to see us listening to artists/bands like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Bullet for my Valentine, Trivium, Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Erra, Funeral for a Friend, Paramore, and The Lonely Island to name a few.

Check out The Dreamer Within further @ https://www.facebook.com/thedreamerwithin

Pete RingMaster

The Ringmaster Review 23/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Famous Underground – Self Titled

FU1

Canadian rockers Famous Underground is the return of ex- Slik Toxik frontman Nick Walsh, a band soaked in the hard rock essences of Guns N Roses with plenty of additional and varied metallic coaxing. The vocalist was no stranger to acclaim with his outfit before it called in a day in 1995 and listening to their engaging and energy fuelled debut self-titled album, it is easy to imagine Famous Underground following suit. Consisting of thirteen inventive and accomplished slices of muscular rock ‘n’ roll, the album offers rebellion to its air and riotous enterprise to its body and though arguably it is not climbing over fences into new pastures of sound it is a constantly satisfying and incendiary encounter.

From spending ten years fronting Revolver, Walsh with long-time bassist/musical partner Laurie-Anne Green began working on songs seeded in the breath of their original band, 2011 seeing the pair starting Famous Underground and recruiting like-minded but variously inspired musicians to realise their vision, people who in their independent previous projects have garnered critical acclaim and supported the likes of  Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Kid Rock, Black Sabbath, Billy Talent, Yngwie Malmsteen, April Wine and many more. Guitarists Rick Corvese and Darren Boyd join Green, Walsh, and drummer Desche Sparboom in creating an album which seizes attention from its opening seconds, the Walsh produced and Darius Szczepaniak (The Black Crowes, Sacrifice) mixed release an honest and unafraid to challenge rock rampancy with open views on the human condition.

Opening track Wasteland instantly stands toe to toe with the listener, staring them down as attitude drenched riffs snarl and prey FamousUndergroundCoveron the ear with contagious potency and craft. Soon into its stride with the rhythms of Sparboom jabbing and punching with cantankerous hunger, the vocals of Walsh scowl and prowl over the melodic flames and within the ensnaring web of riffs. It is an easy to climb on board riot of energy and sound which is unfussed with breaking down barriers but intent to inspire full pleasure and passion, which it does with ease. It is an impressive start soon matched by the following Overdrive, another predatory snarl of a song with the bass of Green deliciously laying down a carnivorous temptation behind the anthemic strikes of guitar and expression fuelled vocals. There is a familiarity to both songs and sound but equally they hold their own individual presence though with a persistent GNR feel there is at times a Megadeth aspect to the sturdier moments of the album.

Such the power and excitement of the first pair of tracks there is a slight slip from its initial plateau across some of the consequent songs, though Dead Weight, the easy on the ear yet finely crafted Love Stands Still, and the emotive ballad Forever And A Day leave a welcome glaze on thoughts and appetite, the third of these with an anthemic call from within its smouldering melodic embrace.

Necropolis swaggers up next to rival the first two songs as best the album has to offer, its jagged riffs and crisp beats teasing the ear with eager teeth whilst vocals and sonic blazes ignite its sinister corners with their impassioned shards of excellence.  It is soon backed up by the equally stirring intensively fuelled Wheel Of Misfortune and the sleaze rock gem Mommy Is A Junkie, both tracks firing up the senses and already seeded hunger further for band and release.

After On Broken Wings, another accomplished ballad but a song which fails to leave any lasting imprint on thoughts, the album offers a strong climax to its main body with firstly the riff heavy and melody sculpted Bullet Train followed by the heavy footed and infectiously captivating Hell To Pay. They enthusiastically seal the deal on a richly pleasing and fully enjoyable release.

Ending with a couple of bonus tracks in an acoustic take on Dead Weight and alternate version of On Broken Wings, the album provides a balanced meal of prime rib rock ‘n’ roll with a rich dressing of melodic invention. Famous Underground seems sure to invite in the success its members have already felt elsewhere and maybe much more.

www.facebook.com/famousunderground

7.5/10

RingMaster 11/06/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Empyrios – Zion

Photo by Matteo Ermeti

Photo by Matteo Ermeti

Italian progressive metallers Empyrios have returned with a beast of an album in Zion, a release which has something for everyone in sound and eclectic imagination. Following their acclaimed album The Glorious Sickness of 2008, the new slab of concentrated enterprise leaves the previous promise of the band wholly realised with a furnace of accomplished invention. Melding everything from industrial to hard rock, djent to classic rock, with plenty more flavours you care to imagine to its progressive heart, Zion is a hulk of a confrontation which inspires, provokes, and thrills from start to finish.

From Rimini, the band was founded by guitar virtuoso and acclaimed producer Simone Mularoni (DGM), and was soon awash with acclaim through debut album …And The Rest Is Silence in 2007 and The Glorious Sickness a year later. The years since the last release has seen the members of the quartet heavily involved with their other projects, touring and creating music making the time to this new release long for the anticipation of their fans. Guitarist Simone Bertozzi joined the Danish metal machine Mnemic for an extensive tour of Europe and Australia whilst drummer Dario Ciccioni was playing with Oliver Hartmann’s solo project Hartmann. Mularoni himself was leading DGM through a European tour with Symphony X but all the time the members were exchanging and working on elements and ideas for the new album with finally the opportunity to enter the studio for its realisation. The Mularonin produced eleven track behemoth, with vocalist Silvio Mancini completing the quartet, has enslaved the brutal and aggressively dynamic side of the band with its enamouring compelling melodic seduction for a tempest marking the band at a new height for their creativity within a devastating presence. Names like Strapping Young Lad, Nevermore, Symphony X, Fear Factory, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Meshuggah are all thrust upon the band and release as references and the release is an amalgam of those essences distilled into something purely individual to the band.

The Scarlet Records released album emerges from a war infused ambience to immediately trample and chew on the senses with test bella zioncrippling beats and gnarly savage riffs whilst electro industrial winds warm the clinging intensity. Opener Nescience takes mere moments to succumb the ear and senses, its rampaging appetite and corrosive breath a delicious malevolence with the snarling growls of bassist Bertozzi adding extra spite. Into its stride the clean melodic tones of Mancini wraps an emotive embrace around the wounds as the guitars also add their restrained flames but the ravaging heart of the track is never quelled, erupting and consuming at a constant persistence throughout. It is a staggering start which satisfies the violent intent and melodic temptation of all hearts with skill and invention.

The following Domino initially lays a sultry wash upon the ear before the tight rhythmic bombardment and mutually offensive riffs grab their piece of the senses firmly. Like the first, into the heart of its provocation the track is a Meshuggah meets Fear Factory blaze of energy whilst the vocals of Bertozzi explore further rock and progressive textures to bring extra thrills to the insatiable passion of the song. Both Masters and Reverie continue the predatory stance as well as unveiling the heart of each songs melodic sun, the first a riveting expanse of emotive persuasion within a frame of unpredictable and air disrupting rhythms with sabre flashes of guitar alongside whilst the second has flumes of rich melodic passion coursing within the walls of merciless metallic entrapment.  Both songs without finding the key to the rapture sparked by their predecessors leave only prime satisfaction in their tow, their magnetic imagination and its skilfully carved aural narrative irresistible.

The excellent Unplugged next steps forward to leave the senses continually wrong-footed and disorientated with its psyche dance of schizo rhythms and equally deranged djent sculpted riffs, whilst around this the melodic heights of the song makes the smoothest conspirator to its vengeful riot of rapacious invention. Through the likes of the outstanding Renovation with its mesmeric call through barbed carnally bred textures, the vocals of Bertozzi quite stunning, the evocative title track, and the closing fury of Madman, the album gives no respite in its hold on the passions, though every song can be given with that welcoming trait. Admittedly the album is strongest across its first half but constantly the result to its impressive presence is hunger for more.

Zion is an excellent album and a very welcome return from a band in Empyrios which just gets better and better.

https://www.facebook.com/empyrios

8.5/10

RingMaster 24/04/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Peter Tinari: Embrace The Darkness

Regular readers will know we do not have much enthusiasm for guitar led instrumental music, the eager slips into indulgence that are nearly always rife eternally unwelcome. Earlier in the year though we came across guitarist Jay Parmar who whichever music he presents, instrumental or with full vocals has a craft and discipline that has no need for inane fiddling. Now we have come across another in Californian Peter Tinari. His latest album Embrace The Darkness is not brand new out but fresh to us and it is an inspiring and inventive piece of work that lights up all the right fires with style and discipline.

From Burbank Tinari has created a release of seven pieces of music which leave one inspired and deep in thought. Yes admittedly at times he veers towards the excesses that bring shivers of disdain to our senses but without fail he always reins it in to offer compositions that find an eager sanctuary within the ear. Tinari brings the entire guitar and bass sounds which light up the sonic skies though the opening song This Chosen Ground also features Matt Contino, and is aided throughout by the atmospheric and emotive keys of Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Planet X, Yngwie Malmsteen, Billy Idol, Black Country Communion) and the formidable drum work of Enzo DiPaolo (Black Dawn). Together they bring forth a mighty collection of tracks that will thrill and ignite the hearts of all rock fans.

Musically the album has it all from classic and hard rock through to metal and progressive rock and from the initial atmospheric beckoning of This Chosen Ground the album seizes firm attention. The track reveals its muscle and mesmeric charm within moments and surges through the ear whilst caressing with melodic grandeur. In combination with the equally expansive and imaginative key sounds the song elevates to rain down scorched interplay and classy sonics. With essences of symphonic metal sweeping through the progressive weave the song has one on the edge of their seat. It is an impressive beginning but before long left in the shade by what follows.

The wonderful Now I Lay Me Down is the first track to bring a full immersion its breath flooding the mind with imagery and emotions. Starting with a simple toy box sirenesque beckon wrapped in ambient keys and heaven staring harmonies a sense of warm solitude pervades. Before long though the guitars stride in causing the ambient temperature to rise dramatically and the escapade is afoot. Like the dreams and imagination of the young where there are quests and adventures at every corner and in each shadow the track offers a soundscape of soaring skies, breathless ebbs and flows, and reflective provocation.

The drama and depths of Emphatic Universe provide a different journey upon a wave of continually evolving sounds and feelings, its drive firm and unpredictable, its heart enveloping and shadowed. The track leaves one full from its feast of invention and ingenuity but it is merely the appetiser for the brightest jewel on the album in Celestial Shadows. The title says it all; the piece has its home in the skies, the stars the source of its soul and irresistible warmth, but beneath and throughout there is a dark and tempering energy to leave an uncertainty and black energy in the air. There is a sense of chaos and conflict in the clouds but one that has always been and forever will be, its presence underlying the light and sun of the world the music is borne from.

Closing on the epic feel of Death By Proxy the album is a rewarding and thoroughly eventful piece of composition. The journey it takes is vast and surprising, never a dull moment or expected turn in sight. Peter Tinari is a masterful player and songwriter complemented by others with equal talent and vision to create in Embrace The Darkness a pleasure that ensures the deepest enjoyment. Whether you are a fan of Dream Theater, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paradise Lost, Dimmu Borgir….the list goes on, you will find immense satisfaction with Peter Tinari.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Tinari/165770380143530

RingMaster 18/05/2012

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Interview with Jay Parmar

Recently The Ringmaster Review was directed and connected to guitarist Jay Parmar and his deeply impressive new album Circle Of Fire by a mutual friend. Though not a favoured style of music we were blown away from the creativity and inspired sounds within its twelve excellent rock fuelled tracks. With a collection of deeply talented musicians and a legend also contribution to the release alongside the mastery of Parmar the album is an essential and irresistible rock album for all and a master class for all budding guitarists. We had the pleasure to talk to Jay to find out more about him, his music and the album.

Hi Jay, thank you for talking to us here at The RingMaster Review.

You’re very welcome.

First question has to be can you tell us about Jay Parmar?

Sure. I guess Jay Parmar is a professional guitarist, runs a recording studio in East Sussex (Sacred Sound), and teaches guitar. I’m just a free spirit wandering through this world expressing myself through my music.

When did you first find a heart for music and then start playing the guitar?

My interest in music started when I was quite young. I remember being at junior school and going to see the music teacher about playing an instrument. The only thing available at the time was a saxophone, which I passed on otherwise we might be talking to my jazz alter ego. That interest kept up and in high school I tinkered with various musical instruments. I tried out keyboard, drums, tabla, guitar and played trumpet for a few years. My dad had actually bought me a guitar probably around 1986-87, a used Telecaster copy made by Maya Guitars, but I played for a little while and then it stayed in its case for a couple of years as being a kid I wanted something with humbuckers and a Floyd Rose vibrato and skulls on the body! My passion for guitar was ignited when I first started to listen to Iron Maiden in about 1988 though and I uncased the Tele and started playing a year later, 1989.  I didn’t appreciate the Tele at the time and eventually took it apart and stripped the body of its paint. I now know it was a beautiful guitar so am putting it back together right now and customising it. It will be reborn as the ‘Snake Charmer’.

Why the guitar, and who were the influences initially that inspired you and have since?

I couldn’t see myself running around a stage with a grand piano strapped around my neck, so I had to settle for guitar. It was the sound and presence that the guitar had. I fell in love with the overdrive sound. My first influences were Dave Murray and Adrian Smith in Iron Maiden. A friend of mine had lent me the ‘Seventh Son’ album and I was totally captivated with the way these guys were playing. That album was really powerful and probably their heaviest and I was hooked. I then bought the ‘Live After Death’ album and that was on constant rotation for months. I learnt pretty much all the songs. From there I discovered Jake E. Lee, during his Ozzy days, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman and then George Lynch entered the picture and took over as my main influence.

Was your family background musical?

No, not really. My dad had a nylon string acoustic guitar and had played at some point when I was a baby, but I don’t recall him playing. My sister took it up for a few years when she was in junior school and when I got into guitar and started playing, she showed me my first three chords, an E, A and D.

As you mentioned George Lynch (Lynch Mob/Souls of We/Dokken) has had the biggest impact on your music, what is it about his playing that makes him so influential to you?

There were so many great guitars players kinda battling for top mantel during the 80s. I was listening to guys like Malmsteen, and Vai and Jake E Lee, then Satriani. Eddie Van Halen came a little later for me, but he was part of that crowd as well. George just stood out from the whole scene. His playing was smooth, but had this aggressive edge and what really did it for me was his pinch harmonics! He has the best squeals man! Also, I realised very early on that George’s playing was always so mesmerising because there was always a progression in his playing and songwriting. He kept moving forward with each song. His sound would change for each album. George’s solos would have the essence of his playing on each new album, but there would be new licks to listen to and learn. And he rarely uses repeating/rotating licks which he plays over and over during a song. There is a lot of movement in his solos and his playing always compliment the songs rather than take them over. I was actually really into Yngwie Malmsteen when I first really noticed George. I had heard one Dokken song previously; ‘The Prisoner’ from ‘Back For The Attack’, but it hadn’t made that much of an impression at the time. I’d discovered Malmsteen’s live album ‘Trial By Fire – Live In Leningrad’ and the speed and accuracy of his playing was astounding. A friend had made a cassette tape copy of ‘Odyssey’ for me and there was little space at the end so he’d put Dokken’s ‘Kiss of Death’ on as a gap filler. I’d just listened to this fabulous Malmsteen album and then the intro riff for ‘Kiss of Death’ starts playing and that was the moment when George Lynch became my favourite guitar player. I was blown away by the song, the sound, playing, everything. It is still like that for me now when I listen to new albums by George. There is so much forward movement and inspiration in his playing. He’s constantly evolving and adding to his playing.

George plays upon a track from your impressive new album Circle Of Fire. You must have been stoked about that and how did that come to be?

Thank you. I’m really glad you liked the album. Yes, George being on the album was one of my musical dreams come to fruition. George and I have been friends for almost 10 years now. I met him when I was working on the tribute album that I played on and produced in 2002-2003 and we’ve kept in touch since. So, when I started out getting this album together I asked him if he’d play a solo on the album and he said he would. The album became my never ending project and it took longer then I envisaged to finish, but once the song ‘When Angels Cry’ was done, we met up a couple of times and I spoke with him and we figured it out. He recorded the solo in LA and the files were sent to me. And there I was one morning, in my studio listening to George playing an incredible emotive, beautiful solo over a song that I’d written, recorded, and the first song that I had sang on. It was a really special moment. I then learnt the whole solo!

Tell us about the album itself.

‘Circle of Fire’ has 12 tracks, most of which I wrote and recorded over the last couple of years. The ideas and inspiration for the songs came from many different directions and sources. Because of the passage of time, there is also a progression and evolution that people will hear in my playing and writing style, which was influenced by what I was listening to, if I was touring, the book that I was reading, and many other factors. So, each track is capturing that unique moment, but still strung together with my sound and playing, which brings it all together. I have a wonderful collection of singers and musicians as well, and they all added their own uniqueness to ‘Circle of Fire’, and I think that keeps the whole album really interesting to listen to. The 12 tracks are the best of the tracks that were written. I think I had about 20 songs done by the time I’d finished the album but some of them didn’t fit the album, or my playing had moved on since they were written, so they were cut. There are two or three more finished songs that I have, which will be released on the CD version of the album in a couple of months.

How does it differ in direction and creation to your previous albums Will Play For Lynch– A George Lynch Tribute and the instrumental solo release Strange Day, apart from in the obvious differences.

The direction is different from both of those albums primarily because I’m always evolving as a musician. The guitarist that I was when I started recording the songs, a couple of which I wrote 5 or 6 years ago, is a different person to whom I am now. So, there was a natural progression that occurred in my writing and playing. The type of songs that I would have written 5 years ago are very different to those that I write now. I’m no longer just trying to write new Dokken songs! (laughs). The creative process was similar in that I have always recorded relatively quickly. I don’t really ‘demo’ songs and then go back and re-record, unless I need to redo the guitar sound with a different amp, or the quality needs improving. A lot of the takes on ‘Circle of Fire’ are first, second, or third takes. I re-recorded some of the rhythm guitars this time, which was different from the previous albums, because I had my studio, I could mic up my Randall amp and turn it up all the way and play with mic placement. There was a lot more thought that went into the songs as well because I wasn’t just creating backdrops to solo over and self indulge, so I was considering how vocals would flow over the music. Even with the solos, I waited until the vocals were laid down so that I could be inspired by and play off them; hence everything works together really beautifully. The production was very, very different because of my studio, which I built in 2008. I also went back to basics, re-learnt all of the production skills that I needed, and then started applying them to the work from scratch. I even changed the monitors in the studio to make sure that the sound quality was the very best that I could possibly achieve.

This may sound a silly question but is there a lot of you in the songs? Is it a personal release as well as a fine collection of inventive ideas?

Not a silly question at all. Yes, all of the music is 100% the essence of who I am. The lyrics that I wrote are as well, and I think that’s the same for everybody who contributed to the album. I’m just doing what happens naturally. I’m just being and allowing. I’m just the means to the music becoming a format that we can listen to. The ideas and inspiration come from a much higher place. It’s not something that happens in my mind because when I do that, the songs always end up in the archives as sound ‘written’ and I can hear and feel the difference in the music. There’s something missing, whether you call it soul, or spirit or whatever else it may be labelled as. Instead, I just allow the creative energy to flow and let it all happen as naturally as possible.

Is there a further connecting theme or emotion to the music on the album?

I guess just the essence of who I was at the time that I recorded the music. And I can also hear that in the vocal takes, which is why on all but two of the songs I asked the singers to write the lyrics. That way each singer injected their own experience, emotions and personality into the words and performance. It is personal to them so they embedded their own essence into the songs. For me, that is what makes the album special. I can feel the emotion behind the words and music.

How long has it been in the making? With the array of talent who have added to the wealth of skill on Circle Of Fire one imagines it was time consuming in a good way.

The process started about 6 years ago, but realistically the album as you hear it now was done in the last two, two and a half years. I’d found everybody except Pete Newdeck probably four years ago, but there were other events that took place which delayed my finishing the album – I moved house and build my studio, Sacred Sound, I went on tour with Eden’s Curse, I was involved in lots of side projects which took up my attention and time. Eventually I decided to drop everything and just focus on finishing the album. The album was completed when it was supposed to be though. If it had been finished even a year earlier then it wouldn’t have been nearly as good as it turned out. Everything synchronised when it was meant to.

People you recruited to help out included the likes of Pete Newdeck, Carsten Schultz, Andreas Novak, Tim Wallace, and Mike Rotella. Other than Newdeck Eden’s Curse, were these particular people you already knew and why did you wish these great musicians to add their skill to your music?

I was introduced to Carsten and Andreas when I was working with Eden’s Curse bassist, Paul Logue. He’d heard some of my tracks and wrote the lyrics and he recommended Carsten for the vocals on a couple of them. I’d been listening to Evidence One for about a year before and was really into them so I jumped at the chance to have Carsten sing. He has that perfect growling rock voice! Andreas I met through working with Paul as well. Andreas was singing on the project that I was recording guitars for. He has such an incredible and emotive voice. I love listening to his singing. The project didn’t come to fruition, but I kept in touch with Andreas and I asked him if he would sing on another project that I was doing with Mike Rotella. Andreas said that he would, but as his schedule was very busy and progress was slow, I decided that it would be better to drop that and just focus on ‘Circle of Fire’. We’d already been working on the song ‘Test of Time’ so I decided to put that one in the album. ‘Hell Is The Place’ was another song that was part of that endeavour with Andreas and Mike and I really wanted the opportunity to work with Mike so I asked him to do the solo on ‘Hell Is The Place’. Mike and I have known each other for many years now. We met as a result of our mutual admiration for George Lynch. He’s an amazing guitar player. His solo is actually just the scratch ideas that he sent me to check he was on the right track! I was like, are you kidding dude? This solo fits perfectly! Tim and I have been friends for a long time also. He has a really punchy and ballsy delivery. Again, I wanted to work with him for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity so I asked him if he wanted to write some lyrics, and ‘Harm’s Length’ is what he came up with. Just in yer face bang! It is beautiful! And I asked him to sing on ‘The Dragon’, which I wrote the lyrics to.

Going back to George Lynch and the song When Angels Cry he plays on, the track seems a natural palate for him to explore did you write it with him in mind from the start?

I didn’t have George in mind when I wrote it. That one just happened. I was playing around with a new guitar that Vengeance Guitars had built for me. It has a heavy maple body and the neck is wrapped in carbon fibre, and it has this really edgy sound and crisp delivery. I’d been playing with some keyboard sounds and had written and laid down the piano part in the song and then I was just noodling on the guitar and came up with the main riff, which sounded great. Different from what I usually write. That’s one of the first songs that I penned the lyrics to as well. Once it was done though and I was thinking about which song to send to George, that one just seemed perfect. He would have sounded great on any of the others but that one was different and knowing George I realised that ‘When Angels Cry’ would be the one that he’d really enjoy working on. He’s done the whole hard rock and metal thing for years, and I know he still loves doing that, but the really special stuff comes out when he’s playing to something a little off reservation, and that is what happened with this song.

The song reminds of bands like Motherjane, can you tell us about its emotion and inspiration?

You know, before you mentioned them I didn’t know who they were but I’ve just checked them out and wow! Amazing band! I understand where you’re coming from. I think it’s probably down to the shared Indian roots. Although I don’t listen to Indian music, my parents did while I was growing up, and I do have a fascination with exotic and eastern sounds, so the soul of that sound and style filtered into my playing and is there in the background. It’s a little more prevalent in ‘When Angels Cry’. The meaning and emotion, I won’t give too much away as I like people to have a blank canvas to work from so that they can come up with their own meaning. The song is all about what we take with us and what we leave behind when we die. The lyrics are quite dark and they felt right at the time because of my understanding of life, death and what comes after. I was thinking about past experience when I was writing the lyrics, but have a very different view and outlook about the whole subject now. It is interesting listening to the song though as it is a really vivid snapshot of a past feeling. The inspiration for the lyrics came from two places. First was a line at the end of ‘Blade Runner’, and the other was something that was said on Ya’el’s DVD ‘The Love Project’ – which is an amazing DVD.

Circle Of Fire is released on Digital Nations the label of Steve Vai, how did you  come to the attention of he and his label?

One of my students in the US, whom I teach via webcam, put me in touch with Tony Macalpine’s manager and he introduced me to the label. I didn’t even know of the connection with Steve Vai when I met him and we were talking for about a year and he gave me some really good pointers and constructive feedback about the album. From the outset I had in mind that that’s where I wanted the album to go. It is the right place for me as they handle a lot of solo artists. It is wonderful to be on board and I feel very honoured to be part of their artist list.

As previously mentioned you worked with Pete Newdeck ,when you toured with Eden’s Curse as second guitarist in 2009. How did that experience and the opportunity to share stages with the likes of Firewind, Stratovarius, Alestorm and The Rotted impact on your own music and ideas?

Impacted me greatly. Working with Eden’s Curse really tightened up my playing. The music demanded it and before the tours, Thorsten Koehne and I hooked up on Skype once a week for a month or two and went through the parts and worked to backing tracks. So, by the time we got to the first rehearsal, which was the first time we were all in a room together playing the music, we were 90% there. We just needed to figure out endings, which we did over the next couple of days and we were all set. I recall a couple of people talking to me after the warm up gig, the first ever Eden’s Curse gig, and saying that they had heard that we’d only met up a few days earlier and that couldn’t be true as Thorsten and I played together like we’d been in the studio together for 6 months, and I said well, actually it’s true! Firewind were an influence for sure – seeing the energy and also because I knew and liked the band. ‘Walking In Circles’ was inspired by Firewind. That whole metal approach and also the intro guitar parts were written a couple of days after I got back from the finishing the first tour. Eden’s Curse were an influence in terms of the some of the guitar parts, for example the harmony parts during the bridge in ‘Walking in Circles’ and the rhythm for ‘Stop Laughing’. The other bands had an impact as well in terms of their musicianship as well. Really had a great time on the road.

On Circle Of Fire Pete not only drummed but was the vocalist on some songs, whose idea was that and was it something he was eager to do from the off?

That is a funny story actually. Pete had been laying down some vocals for some songs he’d written, which became songs for his band Tainted Nation, so I was aware that he had started to work on his singing. When (we) he came on board as drummer on ‘Circle of Fire’ I started to send him the audio files so that he could take them into the studio and record the drums for me, which he did. But most of the songs would come back with lyrics, vocals and some arrangement tweaks as well! Very unexpected but a very pleasant surprise. The songs he wrote were great and he asked who I’d ask to sing them and whether I wanted to keep his vocals and we decided that his vocals sounded fabulous so we kept them. I had him come over to the studio to re-record the vocals for ‘Walking In Circles’ and it was the funniest time. Between recording lines he’d be looking back and pulling faces, dancing around in the vocal booth, arms in the air. It was hilarious. I captured some of it on video and it is on Youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ-k5TvzrsU.

One of the reasons we loved the album was the lack of indulgence which seems to litter guitar led albums very often, is this a natural restraint you have, and the ability to display your immense skills without showing off just instinctive or something you have to keep an ear on?

It is something that has become instinctive over time. One of the lessons that I picked up from George was to always think about the song, rather than use it as a background to show off guitar skills. There is a place for everything in a song and over indulging just takes the emphasis away from the big picture. I always trust that the guitars will come through loud and clear anyway, so I just hang back and let the vocals take over until it’s time to play some solos or something. Playing every guitar lick that you know on one song is like playing poker and bursting out in song and dance when you land a royal flush. You give it all away. Besides, there is plenty of time on songs for solos. I find the spaces in which to play them and if I do play over vocals then it has to be something that works with the vocals. I always try to compliment what the singer is doing with the vocal melody so that the feel is consistent throughout. My instrumental album allowed me to go crazy with the solos, for this album I wanted the songs to have space and to breathe. That space is so important. Not playing sometimes has more impact sometime then playing. ‘Harm’s Length’ is a perfect example of this because during the second verse everything stops except the drums and vocals. When the guitar solos do come in, they have that extra ‘zing’ and presence.

What are your favoured guitars, and those that graced the album mostly?

I mainly use ESP guitars and I have a signature guitar by Vengeance Guitars as well, which was used on a couple of the songs. I used all of the ESP that I have on this album. My Skull’n’Snakes and Serpent were the mainstays for the rhythm work. I have a custom orange guitar which I used in dropped tuning for the heavier songs like ‘Walking In Circles’ and ‘Circle of Fire’. 95% of the solos were done with my ESP GL56 Snake – which started life as a regular ESP LTD GL256 before I decided to cover it in rattlesnake and python skin. That is a stunning guitar. The tone is just so beautiful. I actually had it in the studio because I was changing out the pickups for Tim Wallace, who is a great guitar player himself, but once I started playing it I just fell in love with it and asked him if I could hang onto it to record with. Anyways, it never made it back to him! (laughs). I bought it from him, it had to stay!

You mentioned earlier you teach guitar too? How can people get in touch regarding learning from you?

They can drop me a line at studio@jayparmar.com or call the studio on 01273 252 441 and check out my website as well http://www.jayparmar.com/gtr.html for details. Teaching guitar is something that I’m really passionate about. I always take my students on their own personal guitar journeys. Everybody’s journey is a little different and unique to them.

What is next up for you? Any live dates coming up to support the album?

I’ll have some shows coming up later in the year. I’m putting a band together to tour this album. It needs to be heard live so that is all in the works. Also, I will have a CD version of the album out in a month or two with some bonus tracks as well.

Thanks so much for taking time out to talk with us Jay. Good luck with Circle Of Fire.

Thanks. It is a pleasure speaking with you.

Could you leave us with one song that any aspiring guitarist can only benefit from studying?

George Lynch’s ‘Mr. Scary’. Learn it like George plays it and then all the variations that he throws in when he plays live! Trust me that will teach you everything you need to know and keep you busy for the rest of your life!

Read the Circle of Fire review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/jay-parmar-circle-of-fire/

The RingMaster Review 03/04/2012

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Stephan Forte: The Shadows Compendium

© Perrine Perez Fuentes.

To be honest The RR is not one to offer up time for indulgence and music that ultimately is just showing off no matter the skill and undoubted talent on show.  No matter the ability and sound guitar led instrument rock generally seems to end up long winded and over played to levels that has lost our focus long before. Now that is our preference and possible lost but that is how the land and personal taste lies. Just sometimes though to reinforce the ethic of still checking things out before assuming there is a release that steps away from past history to offer something different and intriguing. Such is the case with The Shadows Compendium from French guitar maestro Stéphan Forté. The album still steps into areas that push our limits but it is impossible to deny the stunning and impressive sounds and creativity within its vibrant walls.

Stéphan Forté first drew attention his way with his first instrumental demo Visions of 1997, the neoclassical-oriented sounds soon bringing him to the notice of the guitar community. The following year saw him opening for Yngwie Malmsteen and more sponsors, endorsements and industry attention accumulating. 2001 saw the first Adagio album, a band of musicians he recruited to help realise his compositions. Sanctus Ignis drew further acclaim in his homeland and further afield as did the following darker and orchestral/ choral powered Underworld of 2003. After a further two albums Dominate and Archangels In Black and well received concerts and tours, Forté decided to stretch and push his own musical limits which has become the solo project The Shadows Compendium. Three years in the making the album is an intense, diverse and deep exploration that is musically astonishing.

Forté takes influences ranging from Bartok to Meshuggah, twisting his play and sounds in ways and into shapes no lesser mortal can imagine let alone produce. It really is hard to state how powerful and uniquely distinct the music and ability within the compositions are; only the ear can give true representation. From the opening title track and its dark atmospheric intro the album never ventures into predictable even if at times the expected rears its lengthy head. With tower high riffs and melodies that scorch the ear Forté mesmerises with his string play and caresses with wonderful piano expertise. The piece buzzes around the ear at times constantly insistent and eager before making way for truly inspired work from the composer. An array of guests feature on the album with Jeff Loomis of Nevermore aiding here though for these ears which parts he or the others add elude against the mastery of Forté, and these are talented guys.

The aggressive intense metal fuelled elements connect the deepest with these tastes but there is no doubting there is plenty for rock fans of all preferences on The Shadows Compendium. Tracks like the senses twisting De Praestigiis Daemonu with guest Mattias IA Eklundh of Freak Kitchen and the provocative probing of Duat with Glen Drover of Megadeth leave the ear and beyond happy but exhausted. These are power driven though never are the intricacies and elaborate melodies and ideas left to the side. Spiritual Bliss and Prophecies Of Loki XXI dazzle with a lighter but no less staggering manipulation and control of notes, harmonies and any other musical aspect you can imagine from Forté.

The Shadows Compendium is immense and any musician and especially guitarists will have wet dreams over the album. Personal taste stops it being an album to return to often, at times parts are still overblown and overlong, and dare one say even Forté treads the fine line of indulgence. Then again should it not be that way, the man is a genius whom very few can touch, and it would be crazy to keep such flair and ability restrained. If you want to hear an artist make his guitar squeal and sing with a technique and skill that any woman would pay to feel then Stéphan Forté is your first destination.

RingMaster 21/02/2012

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