Interview with Nick Van Dyk

Progressive Metal and Rock has certainly come along way over the last decade, with the godfathers of Prog Rock such as Genesis, Yes, Marillion amongst others holding the flag for the Prog Rock era, we have also seen the likes of Dream Theater, Queensryche and fates Warning holding the flag for the Prog Metal era. Redemption on the other hand could be best described as either a project or band which features of Fates Warning (Ray and Mark), former Steel Prophet (Rick), Agent Steel (Bernie), Symphony X (Jason) on the debut album which was self titled. This album was released through Sensory in 2003. The album certainly made waves within the Metal scene because of the song structures and the all star line-up, not forgetting the main man Nick Van Dyk. Since the release of the debut album the band have had a line-up chance, with Rick no longer part of the band and also Jason, Nick has now a steady line-up been: Ray, Bernie, (Out 2 other members names here). Redemption have released their 2nd album through Massacre Records in Europe this year and I have to say it is without doubt one of the best Prog Metal album of 2005, titled 'The Fullness Of Time'. I managed to have a few words or 2 with the main man of this outstanding band, Nick to find out how Redemption came to be. Here is what Nick had to say. In the meantime check out the albums there classic and great albums!!

OK Nick, first of all could you please tell me how you became a guitar player and also who inspired you as bands or musicians?

"Well I first learnt to play the guitar when I was 14-15yrs old, and I grew up playing the classic piano and then realized that girls weren't showing any interest in me for playing the piano (laughing), so I knew I wanted to play something which was more heavier of more aggressive. I'm 37 yrs old now, but I feel I could be a lot better at playing the guitar by now!! Well I grew up north of San Francisco when all the Thrash bands were coming out and we would see Metallica, Megadeth playing in little small clubs in front of 200 people. I also grew up with the NWOBHM, Maiden, Priest, Sabbath. I loved the Megadeth early stuff as it was really technical and before I knew it I was forced into the Progressive elements, and I started listening to stuff like Rush and Kansas."

Besides 'Redemption', what other bands have you either been in or formed?

"Well this is the first serious band I have formed. I have played with other bands as hobbies, but Redemption is the main one so far. I became friends with the Fates Warning guys and I had wrote tons of material which I knew one day would be used. The songs I wrote later on were good enough for Ray Alder to sing on, so I asked him and he agreed to help me out. The bands I used to be in were nothing to speak about, most of you would of never of heard of them. I can't remember the names of them either."

It's rather strange that this is the 1st serious band you formed, why was that? Considering you have been playing guitar for a number of years now.

"Well Jason, I had a serious day job for a number of years so music had always been a hobbie and a release for me and it is now great that it has taken of a more serious element forward. I never knew I would be doing this professionally. 

How did you come up with the bands name?

"The name actually came from the film 'Shamshawk Redemption', this is my favourite film. To be it implies a positive outlook to music, as a lot of it is dark. 

Hi Nick, could you tell me how Redemption came to be? How did you hook up with this all star line-up? What other musicians did you try to get if you could not of got the line-up you wanted for that album?

"Well I first met Ray at a Flotsam & Jetsam concert and we hooked up for a couple of beers and started chatting. The moral of the story is, if you meet your favourite singer buy him a beer and be nice (laughing). I told Ray that I was a big fan of Fates Warning and I thanked him for making so superb music over the years. After we had met, 3 weeks pasted and I was going to go and see Saxon in concert and I was there by myself and I saw Ray again with Bernie. So I wasn't sure if I should say hi again, incase he didn't want to speak to him, so I did and we ended up drinking beer and before I knew it I was invited to a Fates Warning rehearsal. Rick, formerly with Steel Prophet came into the band because Fates Warning and Steel Prophet rehearsed in the same studio, and Rick was available to help out on the debut album. So I asked him if he would be interested in singing on the album. He agreed to help out once he has heard some of the demos. The thing with Jason from Symphony X came about when Ray & myself went to the Prog Power festival and Jason was there with Symphony X, so we spoke and I played him some of the pre-production material and he liked it. I'm not sure who I would of got if I didn't have the line-up I had for the debut album. We had a list of very professional musicians within the Prog Metal scene, but I don't want to say who they were as I don't want to insult them as 2nd place musicians for the album."

Did you record any demo Nick before the debut album was recorded, if so what were they called?

"Well I didn't do any demo before the album was released. We just recorded the whole debut album and that was it. The material for the debut album was fairly new before the record came out. We had material which was 10yrs old but we felt some of it wasn't worth using on the debut album."

How did the deal come about with Sensory/ Laser's Edge Records?

"Well when the album was finished I sent it to a couple of small labels in the USA, like Inside Out, Sensory and Metal Blade because of Ray been so close to them. Ken at Sensory is very good about working with some small bands and see in them grow. We are still working with Ken in the USA and in Europe we are signed to Massacre Records." 

So how well is the album sales for the 2 albums? Also how long is the contract with Sensory?

"There actually doing really well, especially in the USA. Europe as always has been a big market for the style of music we are playing, so we hope to play some US and European dates in the near future. The deal with Sensory is for 1 album with options to record another album, which in a way is a good thing as we & Ken know if things are working out between us."

Ok Nick, let's talk about the debut album, do you also think it is hard to do a concept album?

"Well the debut record is based on 2 books, the 1st been 'Desperation' by Steven King and the second book is called 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'. (ED:) What is the Steve King book about? It's a typical Steve King book, where people are stranded in a town in the desert were there is a dark force. I think he wrote the book after a near death experience. I guess it's about good and evil and your believes. The 2nd book is about the becoming of age story which is set amongst the sinister carnival. I think the concept could of turned out better, but saying that it was my 1st attempt. I don't think however, that the lyrics were as mature as they could of been. I wanted to write lyrics that were more directed towards the Fates Warning type of subjects that they write about.

Ray Alder from Fates Warning sang on 1 song, would you of liked him to sing on more than just the 1 song? 

"Well Ray was a guest singer on the debut album, before he actually became the singer on the new record. I was not sure if Ray wanted to sing on more than just the 1 song, because he was not sure how it would turn out and I'm sure he didn't feel that he could give the band 100% commitment. So for an experiment I think he wanted to help me out a little bit. Also on the album I had Mark & Joey from Fates Warning playing on the album, so I didn't want it to be another Fates Warning album playing strange songs by a stranger, if you know what I mean?"

As the debut album featured so many guest, was the album recorded over a long period of time?

"It was because we had some stops and starts, here & there which made it a lengthy album to record. Also other musicians and singer had other things going on around them so it did take a while to get together."

"OK Nick, let's talk about the new album 'The Fullness Of Time', why didn't Rick Mythiasin didn't get involved on this record?

"Well Rick is mainly a Power Metal vocalist and he is a great singer and at that time he was busy with Steel Prophet, but I wanted somebody who was more tuned into the Progressive Metal sound to their voice. So when we did our debut live show we got Corey Brown from 'Magnitude 9', who is also now in 'Balance Of Power', so Corey was our vocalist for our debut live show. I would of probably worked with Corey as he is a great singer and a nice guy too, but when Ray heard the pre-production for the new album is pretty much insisted on doing the vocal on the record. So I wasn't going to turn him down by no means!! So I told Corey that I loved his voice, but it's not every day that you get the chance to have Ray Alder singing on your album, he understood."

Why did you decide to call the album 'The Fullness Of Time', also did you have any other titles?

"Well when I was doing my day job I was going through a bad experience and I felt that I had been stabbed in the back with betrayal and I felt angry at that time and saddened. So that is why the album is dark and aggressive, but I would like to think that the album finishes on a positive note. 

So Nick, where was the album recorded this time? In the same studio? Was it also hard to record the album in 2 places?

"Well Jason, it was recorded in a couple of places. Some of it was recorded in my house, the drums were done at 'Bill's Place', where Mark Zonder works. We ended up recording the guitars in Germany, as our producer Tommy Newton said he had only 2 more days to record so I finished my guitars off in Germany. No not really, I was pretty excited to be recording the album here in the US and also Germany"

So how did you hook up with the new drummer and bassist?

"Well they were the same guys who played with the band on the 'ProgPower' festival, so I knew they could do the old songs really well so I asked them if they wanted to join the band, and they were happy to help out. They played in a band together called 'Prymary', and they have released 1 album to date. SO when they heard the new material, they pretty much liked the songs and immediately joined the band."

So are the lyrics & music wrote as a team effort?

"Well I actually pretty much wrote everything. Ray loved my melodies, and he also changed some of them, but most of them are mine. I would say it took about 6-12 months of writing the music and lyrics."

Tell me a little bit about the album cover please..

"OK, the artwork was done by Travis Smith, known for his work with Death, Psychotic Waltz among others, and he is also a great guy to work with. So I told him about the film 'The Shawshank Redemption', and there is a scene in there were the hero has tunneled through the sewer and escaped from prison. As he looks up to the sky it is raining and he this transcendence. I loved that part of the film and I knew I wanted that to be the back of the album. So I told Travis that I needed a picture of somebody who is in anguish and that is all I gave him and he came back with this person huddled over and is in torment. it is hard for me to explain unless you have the full artwork."

Briefly could you tell me what the songs are about, or is it too much of the lengthy subject to go into?

"Well the 1st song 'Threads', is about a failed relationship. I would say the songs on the album are about feelings that we all have. They are not personal to me as such, but we all share emotions and feelings. I would be here all day if I was to explain what each song is about. it's a shame you only have a promo as the lyrics will help you if you were to read them."

Is everybody in the band committed to the band 100%?

"Yes everybody is committed to the band 100% and we all work well together, and we all have our separate lives, but when it comes to been together for rehearsals and recording we all work very well together.

So what bands if any would you like to either play with or tour with?

"I'm good friends with the Evergrey guys, so it would be cool to tour with them. So Symphony X, Zero Hour. There are a ton of bands I'd like to either play with or tour with.

Well Nick, thanks for your time, best of luck with the band and the album sales, do you have anything to ad before we come to a close?

"Yes I do, I would first of all like to thank our royal fans for their support. I trust you will enjoy the new album and I hope to see you all on tour in the near future. It was also a pleasure speaking to you Jason, take care bro!"

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