Jordan Rudess - Dream Theater & Andrew Jacobs - Mutiny Within
Jordan Rudess - Dream Theater
Jordan Rudess is the essential musician. The dream Theater sound would not be the same without his theoretical input and deft fingers with the keyboards and other regarded instruments of electronic sound. Dream Theater have been touring for awhile now for Black Clouds & Silver Linings but this jaunt finds them out with Iron Maiden. Jordan had much to divulge, the process behind Dream Theater, his hot new invention the MORPHWIZ and why you need an iPad.
An interview with Jordan Rudess by Jeffrey Easton
Jordan Rudess: Last night was the first night and the exciting part of this tour are the big shows with the large audiences. We have big audiences but we do not draw the numbers that they do so this is our chance to play in front of a large crowd. Usually the opening act plays to an empty place but a lot of people showed up early for us so it kicked off well.
Metal Exiles: I would imagine you have some of the same crowd considering the virtuosity and the draw would be about the same.
Jordan: Well, its just the size of the crowd, Iron Maiden are still huge. They still can draw about 20,000 people to any given gig.
Metal Exiles: You guys are still promoting Black Couds & Silver linings and the music is again stellar. I know Theater writes as a collective but how much of you (Personality wise) goes into the writing?
Jordan: The way the band works is that there are three main writers in the group, Portnoy, Petrucci and myself. Together we write all of the music but Petrucci and myself will write all of the notes and harmonies but sometimes Mike will write some of the notes. Mike is the director if you will, guiding the writing if you will, organizing all of the riffs that we write and coming up with suggestions. But for me the way that Dream Theater works is that they allow much of me stylistically to come forward in the work. I go out and collect ideas, interesting technologys, seeing what I can get away with and bring them into the band to keep our sound fresh and keep moving forward.
Metal Exiles: That being said, how much ground do you think you broke musically with Black Clouds?
Jordan: The band is not an electronic, futuristic ensemble, we are bout tipping the hat to the art rock/metal scene and the magic of Dream Theater is really about our own particular combination of ideas together. You have the metal side and the prog side and mixing with virtuoisity you have Dream Theater. What ground we break is in how we put the styles together. From a personal standpoint and the technologies we use since I use many new things the Continuums, ipad’s, iphones and using DT as vehicle to introduce these things to the world, is the flavor of what we are talking about.
Metal Exiles: I have the special three cd edition with the bonus cover songs and I know you have performed covers in the past but I must say that Stargazer (Rainbow song) is the best yet. (Editors note: The covers made it worth every penny to plunk down on the special edition.) To me Tony Carey was a great keyboardist so what was it like covering his parts for Stargazer?
Jordan: It was fun but in that kind of that situation you have to be respectful of the original except for the possible ways of moving it forward and improving things with new technologies that were not available when they first recorded the song. A lot of times in Dream Theater when we cover something we try to add our sound to it whether it be in the form of being tighter because our fans know us to be precise but we are respectful in not changing it all that much.
Metal Exiles: On the same note, you did the Queen Medley of Tenemment Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of The Valley with you of course playing out Freddie’s piano parts. Was channeling Freddie something that you enjoyed?
Jordan: It is always a great opportunity to play those kinds of pieces. The parts were very simple but they were very nice and they fit the song very well. It is another case of trying not to change things to much. I could do some fancy piano runs but I like to keep it true to the original.
Metal Exiles: You have a great new product called MORPHWIZ. Take us through the details….
Jordan: MORPHWIZ was just submitted to the APP store for Apple, providing it gets through the approval process quickly it should be out in a few weeks. It is a program that I worked on with a partner named Kevin Chartier . It’s a program takes the world of audio and visual and combines them as one. When you are playing on the surface, you can see what you are playing in wave form on the screen in a visually exciting way. It is also based on the Continuum, an instrument I play. It is a vertical grid to lay out the notes and on the vertical grid you can have whatever scale you want and you can you can use the grid to add expression. It also has pitch mapping as part of the program. You can slide your finger around but when you stop your finger it will automatically tune you to the note you stopped on. My idea was to give the player ways to make the musical experience easier but not sacrificing the music. Take a violinist who is sliding from one note to the next. The problem with that instrument is that unless you take many years out of your life you do not stand a chance to play it in tune if you slide and stop. With MORPHWIZ we wanted to make it so they can slip and slide across the surface to create music but when they stop they can hold the note and it will be in tune. I am excited about the whole iPad/iPhone interface and what it offers to the future of music in the electronic music world. I think it is great to get these ideas out there easily which was not the case before the iPhone came along. You had to go through a major company but before that you had to create a piece of computer software. This is an exciting time and I am excited to be a part of it, putting out my ideas like the MORPHWIZ and it is the first one to come out with my company name, Wizdom Music.
Metal Exiles: What was the biggest hurdle getting the MORPHWIZ from start to finish?
Jordan: It was just a lot of work, I am busy as a keyboardist, busy with Dream Theater, making albums so it was a huge process but it was a fun one. The guy that I partnered with is a great programmer, he can make anything I think up happen. If I want a green circle and have it move as I push my finger around a grid and slowly fade away when I remove my finger it can happen. It is all possible, it is just up to me to guide the vision of it and Kevin is a numerical magician who can make incredible things happen. Peaole are telling me they want to buy an ipad just to get the program. It is great that I can offer this program to the fans.
Metal Exiles: For someone who is not into Apple products what would make someone buy an Ipad for something like this?
Jordan: The possibilities are endless. If you are a DJ, a recording engineer needing tools, testing the sound at a gig or the studio or a musician wanting to try new gear. It is just an amazing forward thinking device, which the music world is taking and breaking new ground with. If you are interested in where the music world is going and want to be a part of it then you have to have your hands on an iPad.
Metal Exiles: You support Roland so what are you playing for them now that’s new?
Jordan: I am playing the Roland GAIA. It is a synthesizer that has is 64 voice keyboard, an analog model synthesizer. It is quite nice and I showed it at the KEYS N BEATS Summit at the Musicians Institute.
Metal Exiles: To close this out, you have a book called The Dream Theater Keyboard Experience. Tell us about it.
Jordan: Alfred, who puts this out, is a forward thinking company themselves and we wanted to do this with them. The Dream Theater Keyboard Experience offers up different exercises that relate to different Dream Theater songs . They have the song transcriptions which are very accurately transcribed and I also offer studies that go with it to highlight different techniques to help you play better keyboards.
On that note the interview ends but how can you play better keyboards than Jordan, that is a mountain to climb. His addition to Dream Theater was a monumental one and one that I am sure the band will never regret.
BUY BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS!
Andrew Jacobs - Mutiny Within
Metal has a thundering new force this year and that is Mutiny Within. After struggling for so long Andrew Jacobs, bassist, founding and sole original member, has finally pieced together the ultimate band and has released what should be one of the ultimate metal records of the year with their debut S/T effort. Andrew tok the time out of their hectic tour schedule to give Metal Exiles an indepth look into the world of Mutiny Within.
Interview with Andrew Jacobs of Mutiny Within
By Jeffrey Easton
Metal Exiles: After having a few demos out and years of playing how does it feel to have your debut full length in your hands?
Andrew Jacobs: It feels great. It is good to finally have my CD in my hands and we are proud of it. It was a lot of hard work, it took so long and it was many ups and downs.
Metal Exiles: You are the only holdover left from the early days. Did you ever feel with all of the revolving members that this dream might die?
Andrew: I never did and I was the only one that believed so that is why I am the only original member. I never said “Maybe I should go back to school and get a regular 9 to 5.”
Metal Exiles: The record sounds great and I see you had Jason Bieler and Jason Suecof do the album. How did you end up with those guys doing the record?
Andrew: Mike Skinner is a big supporter of the band. He signed us to Roadrunner, he is A&R there, and got us into the studio with Jason Suecof. We wrote about 50 songs and brought Jason about 25 of them which he narrowed down to 15. We started recording and for over two months, we recorded the drums, guitars, solos etc and for one reason or another the record was not sounding right. We wanted another take on and we have so much from Roadrunner they said we will set you up with another guy. We were set up with Jason Bieler and he was amazing, he put a whole new spin on the record. He is a “song” guy. He does not touch the mixing board, he does not touch the computer, he just sits back and listens. He heard what we wanted to do with the music and he heard what Chris (Clancy) wanted to do with his vocals and his lyrics and he gave us the tools to get there.
Metal Exiles: I know Jason was in Saigon Kick, who were a big melodic rock band when I was younger. Do you think his melodic background brought that part of the band out?
Andrew: Funny enough, the heaviest parts of the record are what he instigated. We had the melody and all of the components. He would tell us “You do not need this part, I am feeling this, extend that part”. He was also great with vocals. He did not plant his personal taste into us, he knew what we wanted to do and he gave us the tools to get it out of us.
Metal Exiles: What were you not feeling so to speak the first time around with Suecof?
Andrew: It is such a complicated record and we were still searching for our sound when we were with Suecof. Lets say we had ran with Bieler the first time I do not know if we would have found our sound. It was our debut, we had to find our sound and we spent months trying to get it to sound right. I am not saying Suecof killed it, he is a great producer and he had some sick ideas. He helped us get our drums solid and Brandon’s solos were tracked there, they sound great. We just wanted a different take. When we went to Bieler we had the technical stuff done but the songs started to take shape and the album sounded complete.
Metal Exiles: As far as the songs are concerned, how much of you came out in the material?
Andrew: I got the structures together as well as the riffs, I spent years writing these songs. Personally for me it means that I took them as far as I could and now I hold this album in my hand.
Metal Exiles: What is behind the song Year Of Affliction?
Andrew: Chris writes all of the lyrics and vocal melodies and they are personal to him. He leaves his lyrics open ended so you can interpret your own meaning. It is a very important song to him, personally. The song Awake helped me recently through a hard time I was going through because I was into the lyrics. Musically Year Of Affliction had a distinctive sound that helped us write the rest of the record.
Metal Exiles: Musically the song that does it for me on the record is Falling Forever. The Keyboards and the guitars mesh so well, it almost reminds me of a prog element in your record.
Andrew: Falling Forever was written piece by piece and Drew Stavola did some great work on the keys. My favorite part is in the middle of the song where you have this beautiful keyboard piece.
Metal Exiles: I know a lot of bands use keyboards but it is either not there or overkill.
Andrew: I like that song a lot because it does not sound like anybody else. Also it is not super aggressive but if you pick up a guitar you are going to have a tough time playing it. It could be a single but it is not one of those simple songs.
Metal Exiles: You say that you want to keep the lyrics etc private but you put a lot of yourselves out there with the mini documentaries that you have. Why did you guys decide to do those?
Andrew: Tommy Jones does the video for us and he has filmed every show we have played. He said he was going to come on the road, manage our tours and I am going to make a documentary. He wanted us to be covered in video footage. Everybody can get to know you, your great guys etc. We love it and it is in all Hi Def. Our story could happen to anybody, I was that could who wanted to be in a band and tour the world. This shows you how to do it and it happened to us, a bunch of regular guys.
Metal Exiles: You use Guitar Pro, how much did that help with this album?
Andrew: It was a huge thing for us. I am a bass player so I cannot play the stuff in my head. I can play guitar but I cannot shred. I want the ideas in my head out so with this program I can type it in, work it out press the space bar and it is playing back to me as a full band. I am also to write different guitar parts so that is a huge thing for me. Before we go our rehearsal space the band can hear what I want in the song and then go and jam it out so it becomes a real song by a real band. Now you can write music all day on Guitar pro but it doesn’t mean shit unless you have a killer band to play it out.
Metal Exiles: And you forsee this lineup staying together, right?
Andrew: Oh yeah, it took to long to put this together.
Metal Exiles: One thing I noticed in your videos is that you love Glamour Kills clothing, you really put it out there. What is it about them that you like?
Andrew: They have this new line that fits us well. We like this stuff, its not dark and demonic. It is stylish and comfortable and they do work hard for their bands.
Metal Exiles: You guys are touring all summer long with the best bands in metal. You are coming up with Soilwork and (Just announced: Nevermore.), is this what you were expecting?
Andrew: It is what we wanted but expectations are different. You never know what to expect in this business but these are the kinds of bands we want to tour with and we are fans of the bands we are going out with.
Mutiny Within ARE the new band to watch for and with plenty of road action this summer in the States it will be hard to miss them. Make them your new band to burn the CD player up with…
BUY MUTINY WITHIN!!!