Is This A Sympathetic Resonance? John & Jim Speak out
Founder Fates Warning guitarist Jim Matheos formed the band back in 82 along with founder vocalist John Archand Victor Arduini, bassist Joe DiBiase, and drums Steve Zimmerman in Hartford (Connecticut) U.S.A. to which the band recorded several demos before the band released their debut Metal Blade album 'Night On Broken' back in 84. Mixing Power Metal with vocals from John Arch which would come very close to that of Bruce from Iron Maiden the band were praised for a classic debut album, impressed were fans and the media it wasn't long before the band released their next album 'The Spectre Within' back in 85, this was when I 1st discovered the band and to my amazement this album pretty much blow me away. I then knew the band had a lot more to offer and how right I was, next came 'Awaken The Guardian' 86, another classic album but it was soon to be John Arch's last album with the band, soon replaced by Ray Alder who is currently wit the band now since 88 with 'No Exit' album. Jim Carried on with Fates Warning, whilst John auditioned for Dream Theater just after Charlie left the band. John later on had made a comeback with Jim helping out with his new album 'Twist Of Fate' John teamed up with Jim to complete Arch's debut album. Later on the 2 teamed up for this new band 'Arch/ Matheos' with the 2011 release Sympathetic Resonance' released through Metal Blade. This album has a modern Fates Warning sound with the classic Arch vocals, something that seems to work well. I managed to chat with both John and Jim about the new album, and why John left the 1st time around. Here is what they both had to say when I started by asking them why John left the band back in 87.
(J.A.) "I think there were mixed feelings back then, I left like I wanted to carry on creating but when it comes down to it the band wanted to do this as a full time thing and I felt that I had obligations to take a save path and hang onto my day job. In the end I think leaving the band was a good choice in a way and the band continued with Ray and they have made some awesome music together. I don't think now looking back at it I would of changed anything and were here today with a new album the 2 of us. To answer your original question I didn't feel my life was committed enough to the music."
I know you auditioned for Dream Theater after leaving Fates Warning, how did that come about?
(J.A.) "I was asked by the band if I wanted to audition for the band and my vocals were very lose and very loud and it is what it is, and when I did audition for the band I was having mixed feelings of creating music but I didn't miss touring at all. I thanked them for giving me the opportunity for auditioning for the band and James came along and got the job."
When you look back at the albums you did with Fates Warning, which ones out of the 3 are your favourites and why?
(J.A.) "Well I would have to say 'Awaken The Guardian' but that has been a bit of a curse for me (laughing), because back in the day I was touring and singing a lot and I got to a point were my vocals were in shape. And the best I could of had them and whilst in the studio I think I got carried away and I made thing difficult to sing live as I made the vocals so great in the studio it really took its toll on me live. Recording the new album was really nice because I am older now and my vocals are getting back in shape and they sound refreshing, this album is not 'Awaken The Guardian' and it is different which stands on it's own.
John I also know that you did the Twist Of Fate album after leaving the band, please tell me a little bit about that.
(J.A.) "Well that became an EP and Jim was working with me on that release, I fell that the record was a little bit different to the Fates material lyrically and people use to say that I hadn't stopped singing after leaving Fates, but I did. (ED: How did you get your voice back in shape now? did you have some coaching lessons?) Well I started singing again from scratch and I made it hard on myself because I hadn't sang all those years so when I did the new CD it took me a while to get my voice trained again after the Twist Of Fate CD."
Have you & Jim always remained friends since you left Fates Warning?
(J.A.) "Yes we have, we have always kept in touch & I love their music now, I have followed their music since I left the band."
I guess you both have been asked why don't you do the ultimate Fates Warning tour, with all the original members playing songs from each album right?
(J.A.) "Well the band had done the 'Parallels' tour back in 2010 and I was asked to do the 25th anniversary of 'Awaken The Guardian' tour but it has been something that has not been approached but I am afraid of doing these live performances and it is something that I take lightly. We are talking about tour with this new band but there is a lot to talk about as each member has different life's."
I managed to see you live at 'Bang Your Head' festival last year 2010 in Germany and we met backstage, did you ever think of continuing with Mark Zonder, Joe DiBiase, Frank Aresti why aren't they still in the band?
(J.M.) "Well Joe & Frank at that time we had just done the tour with Dream Theater for the 'Inside Out' album and they left because they had got to a point were it was so hard for them to make a living as we really don't make that much money. They had been in the band for about 13yrs so they made the decision to leave the band and support their families. Frank is back in the band now, and I know Joe would love to carry on doing this but sometimes the realities of life don't allow that. With Mark I think it was kind of the same thing and I think he got tired of the touring and I think we wanted to do something differently musically."
Are Fates Warning doing a new album soon Jim?
(J.M.) "Yes we are, we will be writing new songs very shortly with a summer or winter release of next year with Bobby from Halford on drums, Joey (Armored Saint) and Frank of guitar."
I'd like to now ask you why Fates don't play the UK much? Why is that? I believe you played the UK about 2yrs ago in London.
(J.M.) "Well I guess there is no interest for it. We would love to play more shows in the UK, and we get asked that questions a lot why we don't play the UK at all. It all boils down to the cost for us to play, nobody seems interested in us playing there with promoters that is. Its also about the money and you have to break even."
So now let's talk about the new album you have both released together, so how did the idea come about?
(J.M.) "Well it has been a long process, it kind of came together which took about a year and & half and we decided to work on a couple of songs to see what would happen and one or two sounded good so we decided to work on more songs. We had no intentions of writing an album, it was just us 2 sitting down and working on some tunes and when we had enough material we deiced to make this record. (Ed: do you guys live close by to be able to write songs together?) Yeah we will about 2hrs away from each other."
Jim you did the 'Twist Of Fate' release with Jim as a guest, so how do you compare this album to that of the 'Twist...' CD?
(J.M.) "Well I think it is pretty different actually, I see the 'Twist...' CD as a solo record which only has 2 songs, 1 of which Jim had written as an acoustic piece and I just came into arrange the orchestral pieces and it was pretty much and the other one we had collaborated. The new one has been more of a collaboration and I think it is a little more heavier and I think it is something that Fates Warning would be doing now and we are both on it and John as a very unique style but I think this album is a little heavier."
John do agree that your vocals are like a very young Bruce Dickenson?
(J.A.) "Well yes I do, I love the album 'Number of the Beast' and the very early albums had a big influences on me and with 'The Spectre Within' & 'Awaken The Guardian' I started to find my own style of vocals. (Ed: Did you ever think of auditioning for Iron Maiden when Bruce had left the band?) I think it was too big for me (laughing) no I didn't to be honest follow much what was going on at that time. That would of been a huge opportunity for me."
John do you play any instruments at all?
(J.A.) "Well songs like 'Incense and Myrrh' that I started writing with an acoustic guitar and I would show Jim the basic structure, so I'm a half guitar player."
Was the songs on the new album sent to each other using Pro-Tools by email?
(J.A.) "No not at all, I would just get in the car and travel to Jim house and stay there for weekends and then I would go home and take the ideas and songs home and I would start to write the lyrics for the songs. I would then go to Jim's a week later with the ideas I had and work on them even more so and be making the demos for the songs."
So who came up with the idea for the album title 'Sympathetic Resonance'? Also did you have any other titles for the album?
(J.A.) "Well we went through a whole bunch of ideas for the album title and so much ideas were taken as far as ideas were concerned and I think the title 'Sympathetic Resonance' is something I love the definition of it and I love the way the 2 words flow together and I love the meaning of it. I also think it fits the concept of what we were writing about and I think it fits the music and the lyrics too. (Ed: Is this a concept album?) Not so much as in design but lyrically it does when you tie it together and there is a common theme going on though the whole album with exception of 'Stained Glass Sky' which does break away from the concept. When I 1st heard that from Jim I thought there was a lot going on in that song but it had such a middle eastern feel to it that I knew what the lyrical content would be. I think we did have other titles in mind for the album, but it was either taken by other bands. We had a gut feeling about the title for the album that we made the right choice."
So where did the artwork for the ideas come from for the album?
(J.M.) "Well the artwork was done by a photographer named Dennis Calvert and I think we found him thought a site called 'Deviant Art' and he has a bunch of images on there and he deals with light painting and it is all natural with no paint shop involved using a really long exposure time with film and moving lights across. He is really good at what he does and we were taken back by his artwork that we wanted to use him for the album cover. (J.A.) "I was really taken back by his website and his artwork is amazing."
Jim Do you think you will use him for the next Fates Warning album cover?
(J.M.) "No not at all, this is a unique cover and I want to keep it that way. I am not sure if we will do another record but we will have to wait & see."
Now could you tell me where the album was recorded? Was it mainly at your studio Jim?
(J.M.) "Well it was recorded all over the place, the drums were recorded at the same studio were we had done the last few Fates Warning albums. All the guitars were recorded at my place and the vocals too. Joey recorded his bass parts at his home and Frank did he parts at my studio too."
So who write the music and lyrics, is it Jim doing the music and John handling the lyrics?
(J.M.) "Well the writing process is always the same, it will start with me writing the music and I like to get the music done in a fairly reasonable way before I present them to John so I will do a demo of just the music to give him some ideas to what I hear. The John will take it away and write whatever inspires him and it is just about sending the stuff back and forth."
John could you please tell me what the songs are about please?
(J.A.) "Well each song is with exception of 'Stained Glass Sky' been of middle eastern origin which goes through a lot of different movements which is about the interwoven tapestry between the U.S. and middle eastern relations. It's never about one thing, there are so many ideas going through my head at 1 time. ' On The Fence' is about times in our life's were we all just sit on the fence because we don't want to make a decision in either direction and we feel compelled to do so, so it is always best to lay low. The song 'Any Given Day' is a very long song that goes through a lot of different movements which is about the eternal struggles with your soul in your mind and using a lot of different imagery the next song 'Incense and Myrrh' is a self indulgence song about suicidal thoughts. The song 'Neurotically Wired' is about a lot of stuff related to the 'Twist Of Fate' and a lot of experiences that I have had dealing with certain issues I have had to deal with in my life and trying to find the answers for. I think the whole album is pretty personal for me expect 'Stained Glass Sky'. I always say there is a darker side of life with fear and I think they create some creative parts within us. If you can't make a connection with the fans then your not human."
I've noticed that there are only a few songs on this album, but most of them are rather long on time length, why was that and who's idea was it to write such long songs?
(J.M.) "Yes for me it is, it only has 6 songs but it is 55 minutes long and for me it is border line too long and I don't like to listen too album which are over 50 minutes so I think it is a good length for an album.
(J.A.) "Well I had mixed feelings about it and I thought we could of had just 1 more song but I think now in high sigh having listened too it I think it is very complete. It is also nice to step away from the music every while which I did as you can overdose on the stuff in the writing process and you get sick of listening too it. Later on I took a break from it and then listened too it with headphones from start to finish but by the tie the album had finished I was very pleased with the whole album. I am proud it."
So I presume your both happy with the end results of the album with the playing, vocals and production right?
(J.M.) "yes I think so, I don't think we would of got to this point if we didn't.
(J.A.) "Yes I will ad to that comment too, going into this having been out of the scene for some time I never take anything for granted just because I stood next to a microphone that everything would work out and sound fantastic!!"
What length of time did it take to record the album?
(J.M.) "Well I think we started the drums in early January 2011 and we finished recording towards the end of April."
Will the band be recording a promo video for this album at all? I presume you will be right?
(J.M.) "Yes we are, we are talking to a director right now about doing a promo video and we hope to have it started within the next 2 wks (August) but we have not yet sat down and talked about the concept. It's all about finding the right director and a concept that we are all happy with. The song we will use will be 'Midnight Serenade' because it is the shortest song on the record and I think it is also the song that blends into that format."
Do you think it is rather hard doing promo videos now with no 'Headbanger's Bal'l on MTV, it's just playing them on You 'Tube right'?
(J.M.) "it's not hard doing them, it's just hard to find the reason to do one & in some cases it doesn't make sense to do a promo video because there is no more MTV but on the other hand like you said Jason there is 'You Tube' or 'Face Book' and the videos nowadays are done for a much smaller budget.
(J.A.) "I'd like to add to that, if the video is professional and looks good then I am up for that, but if it looks cheesy and low budget then I would rather not do one."
Besides Metal Blade been the 1st choice to sign with, who else did you send out demos too?
(J.M.) "Well I pretty much talked to Brian from the start about this at Metal Blade, he has been our friend since we started Fates Warning for 25yrs and he has always promoted the band so I had no question in my mind who I was going to do the CD with. Brian was extremely excited about the band, he wanted to help and release the album."
I know in the past Jim that 'Inside Out' had released some CD's and a DVD for Fates Warning, did they ever enter your mind?
(J.M.) "No not at all, Fates Warning are still on 'Inside Out' and OSI is now on Metal Blade."
Well I would like to thank you both for talking your time out and doing this interview. As always do you have anything to say too your fans reading this? Good luck with the CD and the band. Nice chatting to you both.
(J.M.) "Yes I hope that everybody enjoys listening too the album, it's been a pleasure making the album.
(J.A.) "Yes I am honored after all these years that the fans are still asking for something and I hope they enjoy this album too. Pleasure speaking to you Jason."
Thank's to Mr T @ Metal Blade for the interview & John & Jim.