first off I just want to congratulate you on your new album. To
new fans could your please fill us in on the history behind it
Nicolas - Founding this band was a
matter of good luck.
never gave serious consideration to being a full-time musician; I
embarked on a full-time career as an executive in the
entertainment industry. I had written a lot of music over the
years that I never assumed would see the light of day. One night,
I happened to see Ray Alder at a club show in
, and went over and said hello – just doing the appreciative fan
bit. A few weeks later, at another show, I saw him again and we
struck up a conversation. One thing led to another and we became
good friends. He talked at some point about wanting to do a solo
project, and I played him some of the music I’d written. He
liked one of the riffs enough to use it for one of the songs on
the first Engine CD, but most of what I’d written was more
progressive than the Engine direction that he wanted for his solo
project. So instead, I asked him to help me produce a CD which I
assumed at this point would mostly be for my own enjoyment. I had
met Bernie by this time, and he had a couple of songs that were
pretty different from what he was doing in Agent Steel, and I met
Jason Rullo of Symphony X at the first ProgPower show and asked
him if he’d be available to drum on it. He agreed, and we
tracked everything and hired Rick Mythiasin of Steel Prophet, who
rehearsed at the same studio where we tracked the drums, if he’d
do the vocals. So that basically created the first line-up.
first CD did well enough to secure us an invitation to showcase
our music at ProgPower 4. With
the ProgPower invitation, I realized I needed a stable line-up. I
had hoped to work with Jason Rullo on drums, but Symphony X is an
extremely active band between writing, recording and touring, and
even though Symphony X was going to play at the same festival, the
logistics of rehearsing wouldn’t have worked. I also got some
good advice from my label in the
in terms of locking down a full-time band around me so that we
wouldn’t be perceived as just being a project band. I was
going out to see a local prog metal band called Prymary play so I
could assess their keyboardist as someone that could play with us
live, and I was impressed not only by the keyboards but also by
the drums and bass player. I asked them if they’d be interested
in playing at ProgPower and they were very excited to do so. As
for the vocalist, while Rick’s performance on the first CD is
quite good – in fact, I think it’s some of the best work of
his career – he is really a power metal vocalist at heart, and I
knew I wanted to work with somebody who was more comfortable with
prog metal; who thought in similar ways as I did in terms of
melody and composition. Bernie and I listened to a bunch of CDs
and decided to ask Corey Brown, the outstanding vocalist of
Magnitude 9, to join us in
. He agreed, and that was the line-up that performed at ProgPower.
recording for the new CD commenced, I suppose Corey would have
naturally been our choice for a full-time vocalist, but Ray heard
the pre-production materials and really wanted to sing on it. I
was concerned at first, both because I didn’t want to upset
Corey and also because I wanted to make sure Ray wouldn’t just
treat this as a one-off project but would be able to commit
himself to be Redemption’s full-time vocalist. I have a
tremendous amount of respect for Fates Warning and Engine, and I
wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t be putting Ray in a position
where he couldn’t fulfil his obligations to those bands, but I
also wanted to make sure he’d be able to do what Redemption
needed in terms of recording, press, live performances, etc. We
sorted those issues out and he joined. Now we are, I hope, set
with this line-up!
has your new album been received by the media?
Nicolas - Critical opinions have been
almost universally off the charts. For
example, Rock Hard France gave us CD of the month when we came
out, beating out the new Dream Theater.
I think we’ve started building a nice fan base in
market is tougher, obviously, but so far almost all the reviews
I’ve read have been very positive.
know artists are not happy to categorize their music, but how
would you describe your music to an outsider?
Nicolas - We are prog metal, although
I do think that we are doing something a little different in the
“prog metal” genre – in fact, many people with whom I have
spoken don’t think we fit in that genre. We are certainly
heavier than most prog music, but we combine that heaviness with a
very strong sense of melody and an emphasis on song writing rather
than just being technical for the sake of complexity.
grew up on stuff like Iron Maiden, Priest, Ozzy, Sabbath, and the
like, and was lucky enough to grow up near
when the thrash scene was emerging, so I saw Metallica and
Megadeth play in tiny clubs to 150 people.
I was particularly drawn to the more technical and
“progressive” aspects of early Megadeth.
I also loved a lot of the harder-edged progressive rock
stuff that was big in the 1970s –
, Rush and Genesis being my favourites.
a musical standpoint, I think we don’t particularly sound like
any of these bands – other than perhaps Fates Warning due to
Ray’s voice. But you can
hear influences from all of them.
When asked to describe what we sound like, I tell people to
put Moving Pictures, Peace Sells, Heaven and Hell and Perfect
Symmetry in a blender.
Where does your inspiration come from, both musically and
addition to the bands I mentioned above, I suppose I have to
credit my parents, who insisted from an early age that I take up
classical piano. The transition to aggressive music was one part
appreciation for the compositional integrity of the form (particularly
progressive rock/metal), one part appreciation for the talent of
the players, and one part adolescent frustration. The
rest of my influences I think I described above, although I should
particularly credit Jimi Hendrix for my love of guitar, Ian Gillan
and Ronnie James Dio for my love of heavy metal vocalists, and
Iron Maiden for being Iron Maiden.
lyrics have changed quite a bit from the first album to this one.
The first CD dealt mainly with third-person storytelling,
and while it’s not terrible, it’s also not terribly mature.
Telling a story written by somebody else from the third-person
point of view is very linear, and can real more like a laundry
list of events instead of being able to convey imagery more subtly,
or evoke emotion through introspection rather than just a
plotline. The new record is a big step forward – the lyrics are
much more introspective, and touch on a range of subjects like
loss, fear, hope, love, pain, betrayal and other things that, for
better or worse, impact all of us. It’s a lot easier to
relate to the loss of innocence, say, than it is to relate to
people running from a demon living underground in the desert.
What topics do you deal with in your lyrics and why?
think I just answered that.
has produced and mixed the album, and are you pleased with the end
Newton, known for his work with Conception,
, Elegy, Helloween, UFO and others, did most of the work.
He was fantastic to work with, and we hope to involve him
earlier in the creative process going forward so he can have an
even bigger impact on our sound and musical growth.
has done the artwork? And how important do you feel it is to have
a great cover?
Smith (Devin Townsend, Soilwork, Opeth, many others) did the
think he did amazing work. The
picture of deliverance that is the back of the CD booklet (and on
the CD itself) is, I think, the best work he’s ever done.
It’s beautiful and powerful.
cover art is well done, it makes an artistic contribution to the
CD. And it can significantly
enhance the listening experience, in terms of setting tone or an
you have any touring plans?
are talking right now about doing some shows in the
and potentially in
, but nothing is set at this point.
do you feel about the co-operation with your label, and are you
are on Massacre in Europe (excluding
, where we are with Replica Records), and they are doing a great
job. I hope we have a
long relationship together.
internet is a very important source for many music fans - how do
you use the internet and how important is it for you and other
Internet is both a good tool and a very dangerous medium.
I think the biggest issue is that I believe the owners of
the music should determine which it is.
Some bands (or labels) believe that MP3s promote their
music. They are free
to put them all over the net, for people to listen to in order to
learn about bands. Other
bands believe that MPs mean lost sales.
I think both statements are undeniably true, and it
frustrates me when people believe they have the right to not pay
for something simply because they don’t feel they should have to
far as Redemption goes, we made one full song and clips of several
others available through our website and the website of our
labels, so I appreciate the power of the Internet in spreading the
word about us.
do you see the metal scene at the moment?
Nicolas - The metal scene is healthy
in all respects except commercial success (outside of a few
exceptions, like Stratovarius or Dream Theater).
I know that’s a funny way to look at it, but from the
standpoint of good music being created, I think three things have
happened: (1) the cost of recording has come down, (2) the
Internet has made it possible to make people aware of emerging
bands without requiring major-label marketing spends, and (3) new
up-and-coming musicians are emerging that have grown up on prog
metal, in the same way that people of my generation grew up on
NWOBHM bands and the like. So
I think that contributes to a lot of creativity in song writing.
Unfortunately, mainstream media, particularly in the
, favours much more formulaic music that’s accessible to a broad
demographic. So we
have to be content to be underground.
finish things off - could you pls. make an all-time Top 5 or sort
of the 5 most important albums in your opinion?
and Hell – probably the best Heavy Metal CD of all time. (Black
The Number of the Beast – if it isn’t Heaven and Hell, it’s
this one. (Iron Maiden)
Moving Pictures – The best prog hard rock CD of all time. (Rush)
Images and Words – Defined – or at least redefined – a new
genre in music and set the bar for talent. (Dream Theater)
Perfect Symmetry – probably more ahead of its time than any
other heavy metal CD. Bands
15 years later are still trying to make that CD. (Fates Warning)