Interview: HELLO HOPELESS – November 2018

HELLO HOPELESS CD release – Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures – November 30 2018

At the Boathouse in Kitchener (57 Jubilee Drive, Kitchener, Ontario)


Interview: EDDIE JACKSON of QUEENSRYCHE – Oct 30 2001 – AUDIO

This audio goes with the text of Eddie’s interview with me in October of 2001. Links to the complete text can be found below, but why read when you can listen?  The audio has remained in my dusty archives…until now.  This was a great in-depth chat about the band at the time, lineup changes, and the Live Evolution CD that they were currently promoting.  Give it a listen from the pre-digital age.  Cassette, baby!



Interview: 1537 Questions

We don’t need no preamble! If you have ever wanted to know how to write the most unique music reviews that this planet has ever seen, then you need to read on as we pick the mind of the one, the only, Mr. 1537 himself. He is one talented music writer that deserves all the praise you can heap.


M: It is a pleasure to speak with you, Mr. 1537.  I understand that anonymity is important to you.  It would matter to me too, if I had any sense.  How would you like us to address you in this interview?

1537:  A simple ‘sir’ would normally suffice, but in order to seem a bit more user-friendly ( I gather the masses tend to like that) you can call me 15 strictly for the duration of this interview.

Actually I sort of ballsed up the whole anonymous thang by using my name as the blog domain; oops, back to spy school for me!   I don’t do any social media at all beyond WordPress and I am basically a needlessly secretive dude.  I admire folk who can bare their souls in their blogs but that’s not me at all, I let bits and pieces of my life seep through the cracks sometimes but not very much.

M: As opposed to me, who built a cottage industry on the minutia of working in a record store.  Now…Lego.  You’ve managed to incorporate Lego in your articles’ artwork, in a simple yet innovative and endlessly entertaining way.  How long have you been a fan of Lego, and is that longer than you’ve been into music?

15: Well, the Lego came first, my daughter got the Lego DJ figure and on a whim I thought it would look good on the circle of the Flying Lotus LP Cosmogramma, then Sleep Dopesmoker and then I started to look at the possibilities of making relevant figures for relevant LPs.  I had a Blogspot thang where I’d managed three reviews years before, but I gradually realised that if you gave people something to look at they might stop by and read my Mighty Rock Words of Power (MRWoP) too.

It took me a while to hit my stride and then when people actually started reading it … wow, it really is the best feeling.

Oh, Lego.  Yup, I’ve always loved it, way before I was conscious of music – although I grew up in a very music-oriented household.  I used to make elaborate Star Wars games and fantasies up through Lego, way before they had brought out space Lego. You used to have to improvise weapons in those days too, because Lego didn’t believe in promoting weapons as toys for kids.

M: That’s right, you used to have to use the “bullhorns” as guns, until Lego started introducing actual guns in 2005.  You seem to have a Minifigure appropriate for every single album review you do, no matter how bizarre or obscure.  Presently how many figures do you think you own?

15: I have a couple hundred Minifigures, which is not all of them by a long way, I’m not obsessive about collecting them and there are plenty of gaps in my collection.  I love it when they produce a new line and one strikes me as perfect for an LP I haven’t done yet.

A lot of the fun is improvising and putting combos of different figures together.  I’ve also drawn on a couple duplicates I have to make an Alice Cooper, a Scott Ian and a Ziggy Stardust; oh and I have also added cleavage to a figure or two along the way; that’s normal behaviour for a 44 year-old isn’t it?

M: I’m not one to judge.  What drives your review?  Do you start with the text or the visuals? 

15: Always the text.  I think wordaciously, not visually.  I’m a slow writer because I edit it all as I go along, most reviews take me at least 3 hours, with another 40 minutes or so on top for the pictures.  If you add in the demands of family life, a really demanding job, a little socialising and even, hey, listening to music sometimes, it all adds up to why I don’t produce as many as I’d like to.  There are never any ‘in the can’, I tend to write them, hit publish and go straight to bed, as it’s usually 1am by then.  I like waking up to everyone’s comments.

Q: Do you use any fancy-pancy camera or lighting equipment?  The images are always very crisp and vibrant, much better than I’ve been getting with my BlackBerry in my home office.

15: Absolutely not.  Everything I do is done on my iPhone (the model before the last one – 6 is it?), I’m not particularly good at it, I just take a lot of photos.  Shiny, shiny covers are the bane of my life.

What I am pretty good at now, by trial and error, is editing the pictures, I use a Windows App called Fhotoroom and another called KVADPhoto.  I have never ever published a picture I haven’t edited for contrast, colour, or cropped and altered etc.  Some of my favourites have been very boring photos before I have messed them around.

M:  I crop everything, but I wouldn’t know what to do as far as contrast or colour, so kudos to you sir.  A two-part question next:  What are your favourite reviews that you’ve done, both in terms of writing and in terms of photos?

15: In terms of the writing I rather like this comparison between Andrew Marvell, English metaphysical poet and a Rhino Bucket song about oral sex – it’s even got my voice on it:

I’m also rather fond of doing interviews, that’s been a whole lot of fun when the right person has been on the other side who is willing to engage properly with the silliness of it all.  It’s also a nice way to get to chat to bands when you go see them live too.  Spencer from MFC Chicken was my first and favourite:

I have too many favourite pictures to pick a post, but these two have to come darned close – ‘Hatting’ Isaac Hayes and my take on The Shining:


M: Ahh yes, The Shining was a personal favourite of mine too.   I find I often have to listen to an album while I write, and it can’t be the first listen either.  I need a fresh listen in order to capture all my thoughts and pass them on to the weary readers.  Your reviews are very different from mine, and frankly far beyond what I’m capable of writing.  Do you use the “listen as you write” technique or something else?

15: I try to give it a good listen the night before, or on my way to/from work (an hour-long commute doesn’t have to be all bad) and I listen to bits of it as I write, or if I’m happy I know it enough – I might be writing about something I’ve been listening to in heavy rotation for 28 years (Christ, I’m old!), I have an ambient playlist I listen to when I write sometimes.

M: What else do you need to be able to write?  I need to be in my underwear with a cold beverage.  No bevvies and no skivvies means no review.  I suspect you prefer warm slippers and oatmeal.

15: I need quiet, which is ironic given that most of my favourite music involves bellowing and shrieking.  I write at a desktop (hate lap-tops) in the room that also has our biggest TV in and so there can be a certain amount of negotiation involved – it’s often why I write so late into the morning, it’s the only time I can.

Other than that my needs are simple, I prefer non-restrictive trouser ware and that’s it.  You really write in your undies?

M: Hey, who’s conducting the interview here? I ask the questions! Is there any one band you really really hope reads your stuff?

15: Nah, although there is a fair chance of some artists tuning in because a lot of the LPs I bought in the late 80’s seem to have only sold one copy, to me – I always try to be pleasant because, you just should be.  If I can’t write anything too complimentary I always add in my caveat along the lines of ‘These guys made a far better record than I ever have I’m just a loser boy sat behind a keyboard’.

Larry Miller from Uncle Sam stopping by was wonderful (I own an LP he signed and bit for me back in ’91) and we’re still in touch – I even helped get their debut LP re-released, that was a real buzz.

Oh and (coughs) Mark Wilkinson may have stopped by once too …

M: Do you have any particular influences in terms of writing?  I’ve made no secret that in my early years, I was definitely trying to be Martin Popoff, Jr.  Your style is unlike anyone I’ve read, but surely that didn’t happen in a vacuum?

stan-lee15: I had to really think about this one.  In terms of the character I write in, the tone of it, a lot of it comes from Stan Lee in those 1960’s Marvel comics – they knocked me for 6 when I first read my parent’s copies as a kid, the jokey references to himself and his fellow writers and artists in ‘the bullpen’; it was very playful and irreverent, that stuck with me.

You could maybe chuck in a bit of Harry Harrison and Douglas Adams, they were and are still, the only humorous writers I truly like and I do try to amuse.

Other than that there were all those fabulous late 80’s Kerrang! journalists, who were informative and, again, playful in the way they wrote – lots of irreverence and in-jokes, they painted their own little world and made it seem like the coolest place in the world to work.  I met Phil Wilding at a gig once and was more excited about that than the band (Dangerous Toys).

Oh and I hope there’s enough self-deprecation in there to show I do write in character and I’m not really a megalomaniac with an omnipotence delusion.

M: Sure, sure.  I knew that.  Anyway, do you ever worry you will run out of things to say about music?  Or do you see “1537” as a long-term project?

15: No, mostly because of the format I’ve set up for myself, my blog runs on rails to an extent – jokey title (usually), review of record(s), review count at the end, Lego images.  I have enough of the little vinyl buggers that I don’t have to write about the same artist too often, which would fox me – the closest I ever came to a series, like you, Geoff and Aaron do so well, was spending a month writing about artists beginning with a ‘B’ – I found that really tough.

Anyway I’ve got 809 more records to review.  Not sure where I’ll take it after that, because the whole point of the blog, apart from being an extended diary for myself, was to make sure I took time out to listen to everything I own properly – I have a horror of having stuff I haven’t heard, it makes me feel gluttonous and despicable.

M: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview.  The agent who set this up didn’t want me to ask this last question.  But the interview is going well enough so I think I’m going to ask it.  You’re a Lego man — this is clear.  Meanwhile I’m into things that turn into little robots.  With all due respect, I think we both know that robots > bricks, but that is neither here nor there.  If you could transform into something, what would it be, and why?

I know the only reason you feel safe enough to ask me that is that I am currently orbiting earth at a crucial velocity on my space station, so I shall overlook your mortal impertinence this once.  I always wanted to be a farmer when I was little and was totally obsessed with tractors, it was all I ever drew apart from digital watches (they were new then).  So the obvious answer is a digital watch which transforms into a big kick-ass Ford County 1164 tractor (I always loved their colour scheme).


TRACTOR-TRON 1537 Lego/Transformers crossover set coming soon

Thanks again to 1537 for the chat.  We’ll leave you with a suitable music video…”Rockin’ is Ma Business”…and business is good!


INTERVIEW: Kathryn Ladano – Artistic Director at NUMUS (New Music Now)


This is an exciting time for fans of live music in Kitchener-Waterloo. Part of this excitement is NUMUS (New Music Now) which is embarking on its 30th season of adventurous, artistic music performances. From their own website, “NUMUS showcases established and emerging talent from across Canada and the globe in Waterloo’s world-class venues. Diverse musical genres, traditional and experimental instruments and scored and improvised elements come together to create unique concert going experiences that capture the fluidity and relevance of contemporary music.”

To go with this 30th anniversary, NUMUS has selected a new Artistic Director, whom I have managed to secure an interview with. Kathryn Ladano is very busy these days, but fortunately I had an inside track to getting hold of her. This is what she had to say about NUMUS, new music, and the 30th year.


1. Let’s start with a basic question, since the majority of my readers are not from Canada – what exactly is NUMUS?

NUMUS is a presenter and producer of cutting edge contemporary music concerts in the community of Kitchener-Waterloo. By contemporary music, I primarily mean music by living composers within the Western art music tradition, however, we do move beyond that as well. For example, this season we are also featuring freely improvised music, music that blurs the line between composition and improvisation, and this Sunday we’re featuring Korean improviser-percussionist and vocalist Dong-Won Kim with guests.

2. You have said that NUMUS has “has put Kitchener-Waterloo on the new music map”. Can you describe what “new music” means to you personally?

To me, new music simply means compositions from the Western art music tradition written within the past 50 years or so. While many consider new music to be anything written after 1900, I consider it to be newer than that. This is music that needs to be better supported by the public. It’s different, and can be challenging for your average listener, which is why symphony orchestras for example have a hard time moving forward and getting their audiences to readily accept this type of music being programmed. The alternative, however, is music that is literally hundreds of years old, and while that music is great, there is also great music being made here and now. This is the music I’m interested in listening to, performing, producing, and presenting.

3. This year is NUMUS’ 30th, but your first as artistic director. What pressure does that add, if any?

NUMUS has an impressive list of past Artistic Directors (Peter Hatch, Glenn Buhr, Jesse Stewart, Jeremy Bell, and Anne-Marie Donovan), and it is intimating to be following in the footsteps of those individuals. I personally find that more intimidating than properly celebrating our 30th year. Plans are in place to celebrate this milestone though, and these include bringing back each of the previous Artistic Directors to curate a unique program throughout 2015. I will also be curating a celebratory program, and I think all of these concerts strongly reflect the strengths and artistic personalities of each of NUMUS’ Artistic Directors.

4. You have said that you would like to reach out to a younger audience. What do you think will attract young people to the shows?

This year, NUMUS has officially added a side series to its programming called The MIX Music Series. Tickets for this series are about half the price of our main series tickets, and the series itself focuses on improvisatory music and emerging artists. I am hopeful that this series will really resonate with younger audiences as many of the artist we present in the series will be very recent post-secondary graduates just starting to embark on their careers. There are also very few places where young audiences can regularly support emerging artists outside of educational institutions. I feel that the MIX Series has the most potential for growing our younger audience base and getting these people out to experience high quality, affordable live music.


5. Affordable is a plus.  But what appeal will NUMUS offer to open-minded rock fans and musicians in the KW area?

Any open-minded music lover will find something attractive in NUMUS’ 2014-2015 program offerings, whether it be multi-media concerts that celebrate music and film, a world-class percussion quartet, a concert of improvised vingnettes with guitar and electronics, or a concert featuring a new instrument called the reactable (a digital sampler with a tangible user interface on an illuminated tabletop) that also features video projections and recordings from the Voyager golden records.

6. Wow, is that cool!  That’s definitely something I’m interested in hearing.  Now, you have stressed that you believe in support for young artists. What support did you receive when you were starting out?

It was difficult when I started out, and I really had to be very proactive and create a lot of my own opportunities. I was at a huge disadvantage in that I played a relatively unpopular instrument (the bass clarinet) without a lot of traditional job opportunities, and I also wanted to focus on new music and free improvisation. I had a lot of support from the educational institutions I attended, and I also received a couple of grants early in my career which allowed me to study with Lori Freedman in Montreal, and also do my first mini-tour, performing new music pieces I studied in grad school. Both of these opportunities led to new connections and helped me to advance.

7. Lastly, can you please share your spice cookie recipe?


Spice Cookies:
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
4 tbsp. molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
extra sugar for dipping

  • Cream sugar and butter. Blend egg and molasses with the creamed mixture.
  • Combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture – mix well.
  • Put dough in refrigerator until firm (about 1-2 hours) – or put in the freezer if you are pressed for time – this makes the dough easier to form.
  • Take small amounts of dough, form into balls, and roll in sugar, Place these on an un-greased cookie sheet about 2″ apart.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes at 325F – they should be moist and chewy.
  • Enjoy!


Part 177 / REVIEW: Helix – Live! In Buffalo

Another double feature for y’all boys and girls.  First the Record Store Tale, then the review…

Brent live October 3 2007

RECORD STORE TALES Part 177:  Hot On the Heels of Love

The record store had begun selling Brent Doerner’s Decibel, the first solo album by the ex-Helix guitarist on consignment.  My buddy Chuck hooked me up with a copy.  I opened it up, and lo and behold — another buddy of mine, and one of my best customers, was playing guitar in Brent’s band!  I have talked about Shane Schedler in the past, he was a great guy and I was glad he had hooked up with Brent.

I met Brent at a Helix gig at Molly Bloom’s, told him about how I knew Shane from my store, and this led to our first interview, which I published a while ago on this site.  I did numerous other writing jobs for Brent over the years as well.

Anyway, we shot the shit for a couple hours, just talking about music.  He was very passionate about songwriting, particularly lyrics.  Sometimes he would come up with a catchy song title or interesting phrase, and try to write lyrics around it.  He was heavily influenced by the lyrics of Burton Cummings, from The Guess Who.

“I like the fact that Burton Cummings kind of sang in riddles,” said Brent.  “You could listen to the song 100 times and try to pick the meaning out of the sentences.  And therefore, it doesn’t have a high burnout factor.  When I’m writing, that’s the big challenge.  I don’t want it to have a burnout factor.”

“I worked really hard at getting unique titles…I want unique titles so I can have unique songs,” he told me.

Chatting away, Brent told me of some future song ideas.  “I really want to write a song called ‘Hot on the Heels of Love’,” he said.  At first, I was quiet, and kind of confused.  Brent seemed to be waiting for my reaction.

“Brent,” I said, “You already have a song called that.”

“No I don’t,” he answered, and then paused.  “Really?”

“Yeah you do.  It’s on one of the Helix live albums,” I told him, trying to not embarrass him!

“Really?  Which one?” he asked me.

We were in his basement, sitting at this beautiful bar.  He had a small CD tower down there in the basement, with a complete selection of every Helix album he’d ever appeared on.  I studied the tower and spotted the album I was looking for:  Live! In Buffalo, which was recorded in 1983 but not released until 2001.

“Right there…Live! In Buffalo,” I said, “you have a song on there called ‘Hot On the Heels of Love’, that you sang, but as far as I know Helix never recorded a studio version of it.”

Brent grabbed the CD and looked it over.  Sure enough, there it was.  “Hot On the Heels of Love” is track #9.

I guess this shows that a good song title is a good song title no matter what.  But it was also the first time that LeBrain schooled a member of Helix!  (It was not the last time!)

Onto the review!


HELIX – Live! In Buffalo (2001 Dirty Dog Records, recorded September 29, 1983)

Right from Vollmer’s first “Let’s rock!” at the beginning of this CD, Live! In Buffalo kicks you in the face and doesn’t stop until the end. Only one ballad (and barely a ballad at that, when performed at this volume), this concert sounds like it was a real sweaty affair. Helix were at the top of their game in ’83, hot on the heels of No Rest For The Wicked and “Heavy Metal Love”. This album is loud, there are no overdubs, this is a pure rock concert with no frills. The music is broken up with the occasional (breathless) intros by Vollmer, but then it’s right back into the high-octane rock.  Incredible to think this album was recorded in the middle of the day!

Sometimes I’ve felt that a good bootleg is much better than a well-recorded live album. There’s no fakery on a bootleg, and there is no fakery here. This was recorded for a radio broadcast, and miraculously the tapes were in good enough shape to release as a CD.

Helix opened with the title track from their current album.  “No Rest For the Wicked” is pounding, Fritz Hinz on the skins, pummeling them into submission, Brent on backing vocals while Vollmer seemingly shreds his own vocal cords.  This version is faster and heavier than the album version, as is every song on Live! In Buffalo.  Even a melodic rocker like “Let’s All Do It Tonite” has more bite.

Brian’s on stage raps are from the Paul Stanley school of thought.  For example, “White Lace & Black Leather”.

“This next song is about those ladies that you meet that got lots of class.  Lots of class…elegance.  When it comes to etiquette they’re at the top of their class…you’ll never find them with the fork on the wrong side of their plate.    You dare never tell a dirty joke to this lady because she’ll get up and leave the table.  But you get that same lady home, that very same night, get her back to your place, get her behind closed doors…she’ll turn out to be a moaner every time!  This is called ‘White Lace & Black Leather’!”

Elsewhere, a grizzled “Ain’t No High Like Rock and Roll” combines catchy licks with a driving melody.  A lot of these early Helix songs are among the best tunes they ever wrote.  Yet unfortunately, they are seldom if ever played anymore.  Thankfully, this album exists to remind us how great Helix can be.

Historically, this is also cool for a couple reasons. One, some of these songs had yet to be recorded on a studio album, such as “6 Strings 9 Lives” and “You Keep Me Rockin'”, which would turn up on the next album.  As mentioned in the above Record Store Tale Part 177, one tune was never released on a studio album at all. That is Brent Doerner’s “Hot On The Heels Of Love”, sung by Brent (don’t forget he also sang “Billy Oxygen”, one of Helix’ first hits from the debut album). It is a gritty fast rocker, with a memorably galvanic riff.

There are some other live offerings out there by Helix, such as Half-Alive and the promo-only Live At The Marquee, but this one blows them all away even though it was just for a radio broadcast. One of my favourite live albums, and one of my favourite Helix CDs.

5/5 R’s!


Part 178:  Some really kooky movie makers…


September 7, 2012:  Once again, things are getting exciting on Planet Helix.  If the new single / video “All I Want For Christmas is the Leafs to Win the Cup” wasn’t enough, there’s also the new anthology, Best Of 1983-2012.

Lead vocalist and founding member of Helix, Brian Vollmer talked to us about these releases, some special upcoming dates, and a lot more.

The new single seems to be off to a good start, according to the song’s co-writer, Sean Kelly.  Brian filled us in.

“Sean’s from North Bay [Ontario], and he told me we’re getting airplay up in North Bay on that song.”  The video is also doing well:  “We’re up over 5000 hits now, and we’re hoping that the video goes viral.  It’s early in the season…there might not even be an NHL season this year!”

Oh Brian, don’t get me started on Gary Bettman!

The collector in me was excited about the vinyl release of the single.  It’s also going to be on the anthology CD, but the vinyl is designed for collectors in mind.

“I had initially wanted to do vinyl on the Christmas album [A Heavy Mental Christmas], but when we wrote this song, I thought that we’d do vinyl because it’s a collector’s item.  It’s kind of a novelty type of thing, and I think that it’ll appeal to not only Helix fans but also Toronto Maple Leafs fans.  They might like the vinyl just to have in the rec room up in the bar.  We sell it for $19.99 so it makes a great stocking stuffer for people.

“We did it on green vinyl too, to fit in with the season somewhat, and when we go through that pressing we’ll probably change colours.”  Just FYI Brian:  my wife, Mrs. LeBrain, is really hoping for blue!

“We’ve been trying to write a Leafs song for a couple years,” adds Brian.  “We had the working title of ‘I’m Bleeding Blue & White Tonight’.  And we never quite got the song together.  And then we did a radio session, where we were finishing off [new song]  ‘Axe to Grind’, which is also on the anthology album.”  Brian was then supposed to meet up with Travis Wood, of the band Whosarmy (from the TV show Cover Me Canada, which Brian also guested on incidentally).

“I didn’t want to go too early, and just sit around at the restaraunt.  So we started fooling around and all of a sudden, within a couple of minutes we wrote ‘All I Want For Christmas is the Leafs to Win the Cup’.  The song was recorded within two weeks.”  The hilarious video was done right after that.  I forgot to ask Brian if any Habs fans are offended!

All I Want For Christmas is the Leafs to Win the Cup

You can buy the single on the green vinyl in a bundle with a T-shirt and the new CD, Best Of 1983-2012.  “The Best Of album I just put out has a lot of tracks that you wouldn’t normally hear [on other best of albums] by Helix.  Stuff like ‘Animal Inside’ off the Vagabond Bones  album.  ‘Get Up’ and ‘Fill Your Head With Rock’ from The Power of Rock and Roll album.”

Coinciding with these releases is the forthcoming Heavy Mental Christmas tour.

“Yes, we just added another date in Cornwall.  We have seven dates, mostly through Masonic temples, legions, moose halls, through southern Ontario.  It’s a multi-media show.  We’re taking out screens, so there’s some video segues between songs, other times there’s still pictures with Christmas themes…some of the cameras that are places strategically around stage are broadcasting whatever member might be doing a solo during the song.”

You may want to consider getting your tickets now, as these shows are special indeed, and feature a new lineup.  Not only will you meet the new Helix guitarist, John Claus, but “also Sarah Smith.  Sarah Smith is a great London [Ontario] artist, she’s got two CDs out now under her belt, she’s a great addition to the show.  Just a smiling, very talented person.  She’s on with us instead of Kaleb [“Duckman” Duck, guitars].  Kaleb really didn’t want to do Christmas songs!  Initially, we were going to go with one guitar player, and then I thought of Sarah.”

This turned out to be a good decision, according to Brian:

“I always walk out of our Christmas practices with a big smile on my face.  I love playing the material, and it’s really fun with this group of people, to do these songs.  I wouldn’t want somebody to do any of my projects that wasn’t totally into it.

“It’s a labour of love.  We’ve been working on this show over a year now.”


“Setting up the website, and the tickets, and the halls, and putting together the show, learning the show, and getting the multi-media involved.”  But it is truly a labour of love, and you can tell by the amount of work that Brian and the band has put in so far.

I mentioned new guitar player John Claus.  As previously reported, longtime axeman Brent Doerner will be leaving Helix at the end of September 2012.  Brian helps shed some light on this lineup change, and what bringing in a new member does for the band.

“We have two more dates with Brent at the end of this month.  One’s at the Rockpile in Toronto, the other’s at the Masonic Temple in Stratford.  That’s a multi-media show as well.  Tickets are going fast for that one, I think a lot of people want to come and see Brent before he goes.

“Brent’s been in the band since about 1975.  No hard feelings with him leaving at all.  He just wants to pursue video production, and in fact, Brent will still be involved on a creative level  with the band, helping us do our videos.

“I tell everyone that Brent, when he initially came back to the fold, he was only going to be here for six months, and he ended up staying three and a half years!  He definitely was better than his word, and stayed for a long time.  So I’m really grateful to him for that.”

On John Claus, who will replace Brent:

“He plays piano and guitar.  He sings, so he’s a great addition to the band.  Nice guy, great personlity.  Whenever we hire new people in the band, we don’t want any ego trips.  So, to get someone who has a nice personality and just a good human being is a nice thing to have.”  John will join the band completed by longtime members Daryl Gray and Greg “Fritz” Hinz, on bass and drums respectively.

The piano aspect will come into play for future shows.  Brian reveals that he and John will probably perform “Dream On”, the Nazareth cover, from Helix’s Wild in the Streets album, as a duo during upcoming Helix concerts.  “And the Christmas shows, we’re doing ‘Hallelujah'” says Brian of another piano-based cover to look forward to!

It’s great to see Helix continue forward through the years.  Brian has worked hard, starting in the 1970’s as an indi artist, and now today continuing down that path.  Once again the band is behind their own music releases, selling it themselves.  Brian has nothing but praise for the team he’s surrounded himself with in recent years.

“I write with Sean [Kelly] nowadays, he’s a great writer, nice person to work with.  Aaron Murray is my producer, he studied from Danny Broadback, who won a Juno for Engineering.  And Danny studied with Jack Richardson, who as you know produced Alice Cooper and the Guess Who, and all sorts of people.”  Brian adds, “Moe Berg [The Pursuit of Happiness] sometimes comes in to write with us, Sean and I.”

Thanks to Brian Vollmer for updating us on all the new happenings on Planet Helix!  Try to get out to see the Heavy Mental Christmas tour, and get tickets while you can!

Upcoming dates:

Buy the new Helix single, album, and other stuff:

Audio of our chat below!


INTERVIEW: Kathryn Ladano part 2

Kathryn Ladano, known to Dave FM listeners as the sister of LeBrain (from Stump LeBrain Week), chimed in yesterday with some insightful words about music in general.  If you’re a fan of improvised music, you may have heard Kathryn jammin’ on the bass clarinet on two continents!

We sat down and asked her 10 questions about music. Check out the final five below.

6. What do you think about the state of popular music today?  Is the quality declining or improving over the last 20 years?

I think much popular music today is crap, and by popular music, I mean the stuff we’re hearing on the radio today. There are plenty of really great bands and artists out there, but we’re just not hearing them because they’re rarely played on commercial radio. I think it’s safe to say that the quality of popular music over the last 20 years has really declined. I think there was a time when certain artists were more concerned with evolving their sound and exploring new territory, and today it seems to be predominantly about just creating commercial hits. I think a lot of bands are also guilty of milking their success by trying to keep replicating the same album over and over without putting much care into diversifying or experimenting. However, that being said, i’m not sure we can place all the blame on commercial artists. Record companies obviously want to make money, and i’m sure a lot of artists are discouraged from trying anything different. Ultimately though, how many bands today have a series of albums in which you can hear a very clear, deliberate change and evolution in sound and style? Not very many, and definitely not Nickelback!

7. What do you think the role of computers should be in music today?  Some people feel they rob the music of a live feel, due to the ease of making corrections and adding tracks.

I actually think computers can play a very interesting role in music today. There are some interesting programs out there such as Max/MSP which allow a performer to combine their acoustic sound with the electronic and be able to manipulate it on the spot. I think this can create a lot of interesting sonic possibilities and can really enhance a performance. I’ve played around a little with electroacoustic composition, such as my piece “Open Strain”, and I think for me, the joining of live, acoustic sound, and processed, or pre-recorded electronic sounds is what I enjoy the most, both as a performer and as a listener. That being said, I have been to concerts in which all you’re watching is someone sitting at a laptop, and visually, it’s just not very interesting. When I go to a live performance, I want to see the artists displaying some kind of expression, and sitting at a laptop just doesn’t do it for me.

8. What popular bands today are carrying the flag for intregrity in music?

Radiohead is for sure doing this. Their sound has evolved so much from their first album to their last, and you can tell that they are actively exploring new territory and are not simply concerned with producing commercial hits. I think it’s great that they have maintained such an impressive level of success and popularity too – obviously there is still a large market out there for more progressive music that perhaps record companies are neglecting to acknowledge. People will always disagree about what you should be more concerned about – creating music for yourself, or creating music for the public. For me personally, I think I create for myself first, and the bands I admire the most are the ones that appear to also take that approach.

9. Is it possible to make a living simply out of creating music anymore?  Or has that day come and gone?  How does one do this as a viable living?

It is, but it certainly isn’t easy. Times have definitely changed though and artists are relying more and more on social media to promote themselves. You don’t need a record label anymore to release a CD, and many artists are doing their own recordings and promotion. There are a lot of great sites out now too that help promote independent artists such as reverbnation and soundcloud which allow artists to build their fan bases gradually without big money behind them. Also, I know of several artists who are funding their albums with fan donations. I think the big problem though is time. It takes time to promote yourself and tour, and get your name out there – and it’s difficult to have both an income and the necessary time to work on your craft. People do it though. Ultimately if you’re determined enough and are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, I think it can be done.
10:  Some bands like Radiohead have taken the unusual step of giving away albums (In Rainbows) for free digitally.  What do you think this does to the value of music?  And do you prefer have an album digitally or physically?

I think Radiohead wanted to try something different in response to the changing music industry. When that album was released, I went out and purchased a physical copy without a second thought. I personally still much prefer to have a physical album in my hands. I continue to go out and buy them and build my collection. Yes, I use itunes and own digital music, but the vast majority of my digital music collection is duplicated in physical form. I have very conflicting ideas about all of it. On the one hand, I think Radiohead offered their album for free as a way of countering piracy and trying to control the value of their music. But on the other hand, it takes so much time, energy, money, and resources to create one track which is only valued at 99 cents on itunes. As a buyer, i’m happy to pay that small amount to get a song that I want, but as an artist, I only receive 75 cents or less when someone buys one of my tracks. It’s worth it if people buy your tracks constantly, but in my genre, that just isn’t reality. I make more selling copies of physical CDs, but that isn’t what most people want anymore. *

INTERVIEW: Kathryn Ladano part 1

Kathryn Ladano is a name you might not have heard before, unless you caught Stump LeBrain Week on Dave FM, or you’re a fan of free improvisation.  She’s the sister of LeBrain, is a world-class bass clarinest player, but originally came from a rock background.  We sat down and asked her 10 questions about music.  Check out the first five below.

1. What were your earliest musical influences?  I know you listened to a lot of John Williams, pop music, and hair metal like Bon Jovi.  How do you go from that to a 10 minute improvisation on bass clarinet?

My earliest musical influences really don’t have a lot of impact on me today in terms of my professional career.  I mean, I was into the 80’s hair bands and pop music for the most part growing up. However, it’s true that movie music really spoke to me and I was intrigued by the connection between music and visual images.  This is true of 80’s music videos too actually, and I would often (and still do) picture images in my mind when I hear a song.  For movie music, I was fascinated by the fact that a certain musical treatment could greatly enhance the emotional impact of a movie scene.  I didn’t really understand why, but the idea of it really made an impression on me. As a teenager, I realized that it was the “weirder” soundtracks in particular that affected me the most. For example, the opening music of Planet of the Apes did such a great job of making you feel like you were on another planet, and it’s still one of my favourite examples of movie music. However, I think the soundtrack that affected me the most and opened my ears the most was 2001: A Space Odyssey. In particular, the compositions by György Ligeti  — Atmospheres, Lux Aeterna, Requiem, etc… I think that early exposure to highly dissonant music and seeing how brilliantly it could enhance a scene in film really opened my eyes and my ears to the experimental, and Ligeti is still one of my favourite composers today.

2. As a listener, what type of LeBrain reader would be likely to appreciate your music?  Is there a track on [your album] Open that is more accessible than others?

That’s a difficult question to answer. If I speak very generally, I would say probably readers that enjoy progressive rock and more avant-garde music would enjoy the album. I tried to throw in everything I could because I wasn’t sure when i’d have a chance to make another one, so the album features a fairly wide variety of sounds and styles. The most accessible tracks are “Something I Can’t Know” (a jazzy sounding trio for bass clarinet, piano, and drums), and “Art Show” (a more upbeat sounding trio for bass clarinet, guitar, and drums). However, the track that has gotten the most airplay is “Further Reflection” (a duo for bass clarinet and percussion that features a very atmospheric opening and minimalistic ending).

3. What do you think about “jam bands” such as the Grateful Dead or Deep Purple who often would go up on stage and improvise for 20 minutes with no script?

I think the concept is fantastic! Essentially, this is what we do as free improvisors. You pretty much throw musical genre out the window and just focus on sound, using your ears as your guide. I also really admire bands that can come up with a meaningful and interesting improvised piece that lasts as long as 20 minutes as it can be very difficult to do. When there is no script and no plan, the form and the personality of the piece can be difficult to find, and the more players you have, the more directions there are to take the music. Granted, bands like this don’t always succeed at creating a successful 20 minute improvisation, and it can be a lot for an audience to absorb, but the basic idea of making it up on the spot and just using your ears and your instinct to guide you is something I would welcome more of in popular music. 

4:  Bands that do 20 minute jams were extremely popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but today they are not mainstream anymore.  Why do you think that is? 

It seemed that there was a lot of musical experimentation and exploration happening in the 60’s and 70’s and for some reason, much of that stopped in the 80’s. I think audiences changed and they wanted different things in their music. Today, I really wonder how audiences would respond if more artists started incorporating long jams and improvisations into their music. It seems that it’s not something that people want anymore, and it’s too bad.  Popular music has changed and I think audiences no longer expect the unexpected – most people just want to hear their standard three chord songs – unfortunately that seems to be all the modern ear is capable of absorbing. Music and popular culture moves in waves though, so I’m hopeful that at some point more experimental live performances will come into fashion again.

5. What should the role of visuals be in live music?

I am personally very intrigued by this concept and that of interdisciplinary art in general (mixing more than one art form together). I think visuals can greatly enhance music as I said before regarding film music, and it’s an area that I have been exploring a lot lately. For example, last year I directed Wilfrid Laurier University’s Improvisation Concerts Ensemble in a performance of a live, improvised soundtrack to the classic silent film Nosferatu. The ensemble created musical pieces within the context of the film that was unlike anything they had done before without visual imagery. I think adding visuals opens doors to new ideas and greater creativity and allows a musician to react and respond to something other than just what they’re hearing.

QUEENSRYCHE Unedited – Eddie Jackson Part IV!

Time to wrap up my four-part Eddie Jackson interview from 2001!

This has been the complete, unedited text of our 1-hour conversation.  This has never been seen by anybody before.  In case you missed the three previous parts:

Queensryche Unedited! – Eddie Jackson Part I

Queensryche Unedited! – Eddie Jackson Part II

Queensryche Unedited! – Eddie Jackson Part III

This is the final part.  Enjoy.

EDDIE JACKSON INTERVIEW, OCT 30 2001  (Unedited – Part 4)

Q – [NOTE:  We had just finished talking about the recording of the Promised Land album.]  Now the next album, Here In The Now Frontier, was different.  In the liner notes to the new live album, it’s pretty much just skipped over completely.  And only one track appears.  Were you disappointed in that album at all?

E – No.  That’s interesting that you bring that up, because we were working on a couple of the other songs, but I don’t know why there was only one song recorded for the Live Evolution.  That’s just interesting you bring that up because I kind of noticed that.  I go, “God, there’s only one song from that album, I wonder how that happened?”

Q – I guess it’s the same problem you talked about before, where you can’t fit in everything you ever played.

E – Again, I think we were really focusing on a lot of the older stuff.  Throughout our touring, these last few years and whatnot, we kept hearing a lot of  “Hey, are you guys playing anything off The Warning or anything off Rage For Order, or anything off the EP?”  So right then, that kinda sparked the idea of, “Hey, let’s go back.  Let’s really give ‘em something that they’re gonna really enjoy.  Who knows if we’ll ever get this opportunity again?  Why not just give ‘em a variety, a potpouri of Queensryche material from the beginning to the present, you know.

Q – Listening to the live album, and trying to pick out influences, I think I hear a bit of Steve Harris and Geezer Butler.  Were those guys influences on you or am I just hearing things?

E – Since the beginning?

Q – Just bits here and there.

E – I’m sure, especially from the earlier days, there were some major influences from Geezer Butler, Steve Harris, a little bit of Geddy Lee.  If there’s times that it sounds like that then you’re probably right.  At that given moment, I’m sure I was influenced.  We were all influenced by what was out at that time.  Especially with the EP, and The Warning.  When you’re listening, like I was saying before, you’re relearning the songs.  And then when you start hearing the instruments, you go, “Wow, doesn’t that sound like that one band back then?”  I don’t you’re really aware of it up until a few years later when you listen back you know!

Q – Is there anybody out there right now who just frightens you on the bass?

E – Oh heck, there’s tons of them!  I take more of a simplistic approach, but that’s just my style.  I love funk, I really like a really hard driving sound.  I tend to focus more on the sonic end of it than the performance end.  I’m really into experimenting with sound.  As you can tell, actually on the Mindcrime album, I’ve had guys come up to me,  and they go, “Hey, how did you get your bass to sound like a truck?”  I go, “What?  Where’d that come from?” you know?  So obviously there’s a little bit of fretless in Promised Land, and Real World, there’s some fretless on there.  So heck, you know, some 5 string here, some whatever, here or there.  I’ll experiment with anything.  I think I really love approaching the sonic end of it, trying to come with a really cool sound, something that’s very distinctive. 

     There’s a lot of bands out there with a lot of talented bass players that I’m just listening to this thing and go, “How the hell did he get that sound?  That is so cool!  What is he running?  Some sort of an effect?  I wonder what he’s using!”  You’re just reaching and guessing, it’s a lot of fun though, hearing a lot of these bass players.  I tell you, you learn a lot just from listening and I was really a big, big Grand Funk and especially Alice Cooper fan.  I mean, [Dennis] Dunaway [Alice Cooper] back then, that guy was an amazing bass player.  And then, what’s his name?  Sure?  Sher?  From Grand Funk?  Heck, I forgot his name…Mel Schacher.  Yeah, he was an amazing bass player.  I kind of enjoyed a lot of their bass work back then.  You don’t really hear it in my style, I just liked hearing it.  The performance, you know.

Q – I know when you put on the Promised Land video game, there’s some definite funk influences there.  Funky backgrounds and colours too!  Do see yourself for that aforementioned solo project doing some funk, big horn sections and stuff?

E – Oh yeah yeah!  That was just a little piece I wrote for that Promised Land CD-ROM game.  Yeah, that was kinda fun.  And if you noticed, I’m using a different coloured tie on each musician.  Each instrument that I’m playing.  I dunno, that’s not a big deal but it was to me.  You know I go hey, I wanna put a different tie, I wonder if anybody will catch it.  But yeah, that was a lot of fun.  I tell ya, you’re almost kinda acting your parts out, especially when I was the secretary at the front desk there.  It was kinda weird, putting all that makeup, and dressed in drag.

Q – I guess it’s a chance to lighten up because Queensryche are not the kind of band that is really known for joking around.

E – Yeah, I mean, some levity here and there, it doesn’t hurt. 

Q – Running out of time here, I’d better start wrapping up!  I wanted to ask you if there’s any questions out there that you’ve been waiting to get, but nobody’s asked it yet.

E – Oh geez!  That is a great question!  Oh geez!  You got me on the spot here!  This is cool!

Ummm…oh geez.  That’s good.  I don’t know, you got me here!  I just don’t know what to think here!  I mean, what question?  Oh geez…how about uh…this might be little cliché, or a little simplistic, but how about “How is my son doing?”

Q – And how is he doing?

E – He’s doing wonderful.

Q – How old is he?

E – He’s eight months.  Other than that, I can’t think of anything else.  Do you have anything you want to ask?

Q – I don’t know…now I’m on the spot here!  How about…what can I say…do you remember playing Toronto in ‘95 at Molson Amphitheater?

E – Yeah.

Q – I was there at that show, I thought it was a great show.

E – That was with AC/DC.

Q – Type O Negative.

E – Type O Negative, you’re right!  The Molson Amphitheater or Labbatt’s?  Yeah, that was back in, yeah with Type O Negative. 

Q – Was that the last night of the tour?

E – Yep.

Q – I seem to remember you guys messing around, like a big roadie with a wig playing the part of the nurse during that one song…can’t remember the song.

E – Yeah yeah, well that was our crew, kind of putting in the finishing touches of the last show of the tour.  And with the brawl, the bar brawl, yeah, normally that really didn’t happen except for that night.  It was the last show of the tour and they wanted to screw with ya.

Q – One of those examples of Queensryche’s sense of humour.

E – Yeah, you know, and I’m sure it throws the audience for a loop, because they just like, “Is this part of their show?”  You can just look at their incredulous looks you know.  I can just imagine what’s crossing their minds, like, “Wait a sec, what’s that guy with that wig doing onstage?”  Oh, get this!  We had that same production through that whole tour, with the bar scene, and the lounge band.  We were in Dallas, and every night there’s guests that can win seats to sit in, on stage, during the Promised Land song, and that’s when the bar comes out, and we’re the lounge band.  The winners would go up onstage with us and stuff.  And there were these two girls, and they had to have been peelers!  During that song, they started to like, make out! It almost took away my whole emphasis of performing.  I’m just looking at this, and looking at Michael, and next thing you know they’re on the floor just like, rubbing each other body to body and I go “Oh my God!  Here I am and I’ve got some cousins and aunts and nieces here!”  And I go “Oh my God, what the hell are they going to say after the show!”  It was just nuts!  That was very entertaining that night!  They were just…yeah, they were going for it!  I’m surprised we didn’t get arrested.


QUEENSRYCHE Unedited! – Eddie Jackson – Part III!

When I talked to Eddie Jackson back in 2001, for the release of Live Evolution, he gave me so much material that 80% of this has never been seen before!

I had so much material that I had to break it up into four parts!  In case you missed them:

Queensryche Unedited! – Eddie Jackson Part I

Queensryche Unedited! – Eddie Jackson Part II

Part III is below.  Stay tuned for the fourth and final part! 

EDDIE JACKSON INTERVIEW, OCT 30 2001  (Unedited – Part 3)

Picking up where we left off:  Discussing unused song ideas.

Q – Who remembers these ideas when it comes down to jamming for a new album?  Is it something that you’d dig up on old tapes, or you just say, “Remember this old bit?” and you play it?

E – Stuff like that just happens.  What we normally try to do is just create something fresh.  But it’s always fun to go back and take a listen to something that you’ve worked with in the past, on the last release or the release before.  Because there’s always some ideas there that you can possibly use.

Q – There’s certainly enough stuff out there to collect with the Japanese bonus tracks and stuff.

E – Yeah, I mean, Promised Land had “Chasing Blue Skies”.  That was on the Promised Land CD that was released in Japan.  [note: it was actually Hear In The Now Frontier that had that song]  And it also had “Someone Else?” but with the full band version.

Q – And some of those made it on to the Greatest Hits.

E – I think so.

Q – What about solo projects?  Have you ever pondered that?

E – Oh yeah, oh yeah.  I mean, Geoff ‘s [Tate, vocals] working on a little solo project for himself.  Scotty [Rockenfield, drums] and Kelly put together something.  Michael’s kinda working on that.  I’ve always wanted to do something like that, kind of like step away from Queensryche for the day and then do something on my own.  I’m always coming up with ideas and I eventually would like to put something together like that.

Q – Do you have any ideas for a direction?  Obviously it would have to be different from Queensryche.

E – Yeah, you know, my listening taste of music is so eclectic.  It’s like from Abba to Zappa.  I love pop rock, I love hard rock, I love jazz.  I think one of the last albums that I actually bought was the Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe.  That was one of the last albums, I mean it grew on me like fungus!  It’s just got some angst and attitude.  Stylistically that would be a fun little approach.  You never know, it’s always up in the air when that time comes.  You could always think about, “Alright, this is a direction I’d like to approach,” but when that day comes,  you could always have a different idea.

Q – One thing you notice when you listen to the new live album, is from about Empire onwards, there are a lot of strong grooves happening, especially on Q2K.  A lot of the older stuff is faster, more riff-oriented.  Which of the two do you prefer to play live?

E – When it comes to the era?

Q – Just which style of songs do you prefer, the faster or the groovier?

E – Oh jeez I’ll play anything!  I’m serious!  I mean I love a lot of the groove.  Yeah, I mean, heck, I’ll play just about anything, just about any type of a groove, you know.  I mean that’s what makes it interesting.  You got a band like AC/DC.  They are one of the few bands that can get away with writing 3 chord progression songs with the same 4/4 beat and still create something that’s very good!  But they’re one of the few bands that can get away with that.  I dunno what it is about them. Sure, there’s other bands that might have released one album, and then a next one and it’s kind of similar, might have a lot of the same grooves and stuff…sometimes it doesn’t work for them.  I’m always into the idea of creating something different.  But you can only go so far because everything’s pretty much been done, I feel.  I think you have to continue to be creative with what you have to work with.  You know, you’re obviously gonna hear a song that’s gonna sound like somebody else.  There’s something about that song, you know, “God, that chorus sounds just like band that was out in the 80’s,” or “that intro sounds just like this band that just came out last year,” you know.  What can you do?  You try to be creative. It’s really difficult to be original anymore.  Especially now.  I dunno, there’s a lot of musicians out there that are very talented, and there’s a lot of bands that have been very successful doing what they’re doing.  You just have to credit them with their talents and whatnot.  It’s tough to be extremely original nowadays.

Q – You notice a lot of bands today resorting to electronic sounds to make something new.  Moby, or whoever.  Do you ever see Queensryche experimenting with something like that?

E – Like more instrumental? 

Q – Yeah, I guess on Rage For Order you guys experimented a lot with electronic sounds.

E – Oh yeah, I mean we actually created some of those sounds ourselves!  Yeah, you know at the very end of “Walk In The Shadows”?  That big ambient reverberated sound?  At the very end, “Walk in the shadows…walk with me!  POW!”  That’s a door slamming in a parking garage! 

Q – It’s always something you don’t expect!

E – Exactly!  Nobody else knows that unless you’ve been told about it.  That’s why that album to me is the most memorable one.  We ended up putting something together, like I was explaining to you in regards to coming up with our own sound.  Our own little ideas.  I don’t know what triggered us into doing that, but I think we were just trying to pull out all the stops when it came to producing the album.  For the production side.

Q – I find that album, even though sonically they’re nothing alike, to be akin to Promised Land just for sonic experimentation.

E – Oh yeah!  From banging on top of these big garbage cans…  What else did we do?

Q – There’s some really neat electronic vocal effects on Geoff’s voice on “Damaged”.  “The broken parts, of my machinery…”  And then it sounds like an electronic overload or something.

E – And believe it or not, those were effects that I don’t think we could ever do again.  Seriously, because…”Well, that was cool, did you record it?”  He goes, “Yeah.”  “Well let’s try it again!”  And we could not recreate that!  It was weird!  So again it was like one of those one-offs.  That’s why the tape is always rolling because you never know what you can come up with, and you can use.

Q – The band was experimenting a bit with different instruments…sax, cello, and piano, on that album.  Do you play any different instruments?

E – I’ll tinker around with a little bit of keyboard, a little guitar here.  I’ll tell you what I really love the most, it’s really kinda rivaling playing bass.  It’s singing. 

Q – Oh really?  Well you’ve always sung backups live.

E – Yeah, I love singing!  And I’ve noticed since Chris has left, I’ve had to cover a lot of his parts, and I’m telling you they’re up there sometimes.  But still, it’s something that you don’t really think about.  Through all these tours that we’ve been performing on, I’ve never realized how much he actually sang.  Because you’re so busy playing your bass and singing your parts.  But you’re aware that he’s singing his parts too, but since I’ve covered his vocal parts…gee whiz!  I’m like, holy cow, I’ve gotta sit down and remember all this!  But yeah, it’s pretty interesting you know, but I just can’t believe how much he actually sang. 

Q – I notice the Q2K material…it’s funny that you say you’re singing more, but I think the live versions have stronger harmonies.  Do you hear that as well?

E – I think maybe a lot of that could be for the fact that the harmonies are riding a bit hotter than on the album.  The harmonies are probably still there on the album, but they might have been recorded a little hotter on the live mix. 

Q – I just thought they stuck out a bit and I thought, “Hmm, well somebody’s singing more!”

E – Yeah, well, that’s Kelly and I.  And for the fact that I love singing, I have no complaints with what was thrown at me with regard to all the backing vocals and whatnot.  I mean heck, I’ll sing anything. 

Q – Do you see yourself singing lead on a Queensryche song?  I think Chris sang a lead on Hear In The Now.

E – You know, I don’t know.  That’s never crossed my mind, but again you just never know!  With Queensryche, heck, you just never know, we’re always branching off into some sort of new territory whether it’s sonically speaking, producing, writing or whatever.  I guess at times you could say it’s a conscious effort, but there’s times where you know, you’re aware, and you just try to create something for that moment.  At least for myself, I don’t normally like to look back and listen to what we’ve done in the past.  Because then you start getting influenced by it, you know?  And there’s gonna be ideas that might sound like something in the past.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but…

Q – But when an interviewer asks you, “Hey do you remember that electronic part in Damaged” and you haven’t heard the album in 5 or 6 years…!

E – Believe it or not, you’ll be surprised, especially when you hear a lot of these songs that we had recording for this Live Evolution, it’s amazing how much more you remember.  When you play “London”, or “Screaming In Digital”, or “Suite: Sister Mary”.  All of a sudden you just start reminiscing, and you just start thinking back at the time when it was recorded.  I mean we were in Philadelphia, Rage For Order we were up in Canada…

Q – Where were you in Canada?

E – Up in Mushroom Studios, was it?  Up in Vancouver?  We’ve recorded in many studios.  We recorded in that one, was it in Montreal?

Q – Yeah I read about that, in the dead of winter.

E – Yeah, O:MC.  Operation:Mindcrime.

Q – I think the most interesting location you’ve recorded in was the cottage for Promised Land.

E – Oh geez, talk about tranquility and isolated!  It was this small little island up north up by the San Juan Islands.  Yeah, you’re right.  We got away from everybody.  Fortunately it was only like a 3, 4 hour drive, but still, just within those 3 or 4 hours you go from a live environment to a very tranquil and quiet environment.  There were times at night when we would take a break, we were recording until 12, or 3 in the morning, however long it took us to record whichever song.  But we’d be taking a break outside and you can hear the whales!  It was pretty wild.  There was a couple of little wildcats out there.  We definitely didn’t leave any food outside!

Q – I think it’s safe to say that the environment must have impacted on the sound of that album.  It sounds like it was recorded in a cottage, in the woods.

E – Do you think the influence was there?  Do you think there was a lot of influence?

Q – I think so.

E – Well, there was this doctor, and I can’t remember his name, but he owned this cabin.  It was actually sort of a…not a bed and breakfast, but like a summer retreat sort of thing.  He would hire the cabin out for people that would wanna head out to San Juans and stay there for the weekend, or for the week, or for the two weeks, or  month, whatever.  So what we did is we just basically told him, “Listen, we’re a band…” And that right there obviously…”Wait a sec!  Before you even continue!”  That kinda scared him a bit.  But no no, we’re not type kind of a band.  We respect our environment we don’t start thrashing things for no apparent reason.  But if the shitter stopped working in the middle of the night, then you’re going to hear from us!  We kind of worked out a deal, and we were there for a few months, and we ended up just hiring out…we moved in to both units.  So it was a massive cabin, it was pretty cool.  We were just living and breathing that album there.


Eddie Jackson Interview Part IV