Thought Chamber is a new American band founded by Michael Harris and Ted
Leonard. Their debut album will be unleashed onto the metal community shortly;
we have put together a few questions for them…|
Perceptions" is your first album, but it’s not like you are total newcomers to
the scene; maybe you could start off and tell us a bit about the background for
Thought Chamber –
The members of Thought Chamber (www.myspace.com/thoughtchamber)
are Ted Leonard from Enchant on vocals; drummer Rob Stankiewicz & bassist Derek
Blakley both from Haji’s Kitchen / Somsara; Michael Harris on guitar, guitar
synth, piano, and keyboards; Bobby Williamson from Outworld on keyboards.
The original idea for the band was planted by my manager, John Purdom, back in
the late 90s. John felt I should put together a progressive "supergroup" to
exploit both great musicianship and vocals, which could bring more attention to
my music, having been mostly instrumental. Eventually I put an ad out on the
internet which Ted Leonard responded to. I immediately went out and bought an
Enchant CD and loved Teds’ vocals. In spite of the logistical limitations (Ted
in CA and myself in TX), and of us both being involved in other bands /
projects, we continued to send demos back & forth for several years until we had
a record’s worth of material. At that point I called up my friends, Derek & Rob,
and found they were interested in being a part of the band as well. And their
contributions were, well, stellar.
the reception been so far – have you been overwhelmed and surprised?
– People seem to love the stuff........no surprise to me though, I loved
it too when I first heard it in the beginning stages!
initial response has been really fantastic from the few who have heard the
record. The official release is April 3rd (2007).
should choose one song, which represents the essence of Thought Chamber on the
album, which one would that be and why? I would pick "A Mind Beyond", because I
think captures your style in one song pretty good, but also displays a lot of
that’s very insightful of you to pick the closing song, thank you. I would pick
the same song, because I feel it shows originality, dynamics, chops, melody, all
the strongpoints of TC. "AMB" was actually the first demo Ted & I completed.
in various parts of the US, how does that fit into the mould of being a band?
Band practise, writing songs etc. must be very hard…
It's true that
the situation could be more ideal, but when you find the right people for the
job it's just something you have to deal with.
Believe it or not, we have never even all stood in the same room together. But,
although this fact surprises people, it’s not that unusual in today’s recording
community to record in home studios, send stuff back and forth, and communicate
via phone or E mail.
important is the lyrically side of Thought Chamber – and what has inspired you
on the album?
I spend many
many hours on lyrics. You can ruin an intense piece of music with a tacky lyric.
At the same time, even in prog you can be too technical with the lyrics, so it’s
finding that balance that is really challenging. It’s the same with the music as
well. I hear way too much prog that is technical at the expense of melody. You
can’t lose sight of what a "song" is supposed to be in the first place. I’d say
the lyrics to "Balance of One" are my favorite on the record. Ted is going to
co-write some lyrics with me on the 2nd record.
had to describe your music to a complete musical ignorant – what would you tell
difficult. I tell people "progressive", but no one seems to really be able to
define it. I would more specifically explain that Thought Chamber is a
combination of rock, metal, jazz fusion, and classical, all combined with
technical elements and melody.
Leonard has a very unique and emotional voice, how important was it for you to
have a vocalist, who brings this sort of contrast to the music? And how did you
get him into the band?
I hooked up
with Ted by simply putting an ad out on the internet. Great vocals are probably
the most important ingredient to the identity of a band. I don’t even think the
listeners realize how important vocals are, but they would if they heard their
fave bands with different vocalists. Ted is just incredibly perfect for Thought
Chamber. He does it all without being derivative of anyone.
Tell us a
bit about the album art work.
We were lucky
enough to work with John Holland, a fabulous graphic artist who, only a few
months ago had done my instrumental CD, "Orchestrate". His work was so
impressive, we just had to work with him again on "Angular Perceptions". He
really works with you and listens to your ideas. Having said that though, I
totally turned him loose on the Thought Chamber art. It was his baby all the
way. All I did was explain my lyrics and he ran with it. He also designed the
very clever logo.
JOHN HOLLAND –
– The name of the band is in itself a metaphor for the human mind --
intelligence, imagination, creativity. Lyrically some of the songs deal with
ancient cultures and mythology. The complexity of the music inherently deals
with a lot of math. So I tried to bring all these elements together in the cover
art -- music, math, and mythology -- and still convey some idea that the music
is aggressive and heavy. Some references are obvious, others are subtle
metaphors. All of this information is being funneled through this weird eyeball
machine, and in turn passed on to the Egyptian girl in the center. Whether the
machine's ultimate intentions are benevolent or malicious is left up to the
you consider to be the biggest accomplishment for you and Thought Chamber, not
necessarily sales wise?
– Just getting a CD finished that we're all pretty darn happy with was a
personally, it's been quite an accomplishment to have some of my keyboard work
end up on insideout/spv. That's the biggest label any of my musical effort has
been involved with.
Well, first of all that we rose above logistical adversity and completed our
record. And secondly, that we feel good about the record!
the strengths and where can Thought Chamber improve?
I am personally
always striving to write better songs on every record, and to say more with
less. But at the same time, this is prog. The technical elements are what makes
prog fun and challenging, so they will always be there in my compositions, and
my bandmates always display incredible chops.
was written some time ago, and you must have a bundle of songs ready for the
next album. Which direction do you think the next Thought Chamber will take, and
when will you start dealing with the new songs?
have already started on it, and although there are always commitments and
intangibles in a band, we want to have it out in late 2007; 2008 at the very
latest. I don’t have anything completed yet, but several songs are close, and
several I have a good head start on. Here are some things I want to try
on the 2nd TC record: 1) A Sci-Fi epic that will be 15 minutes or
longer; 2) several simpler songs that still have as much or more impact & power
that a more technical song does; 3) More jazz fusion influence in the breaks; 4)
Continuing to exploit what we call "ensemble licks", which are licks that are
rapidly split up between several instruments (examples on the first record can
be found all through "Sacred Treasure"; middle of "Balance of One"; the 2 main
instrumental tunes, etc)
you get the name Thought Chamber, and is there a story behind it?
It was a phrase
I used in the title of my 2001 CD, "Sketches From the Thought Chamber". We had
the longest "name game" ever in trying to come up with this name, and that is
what we settled on. It just seemed to fit.
have any touring plans for 2007?
but we hope to perform live if not now, then after the 2nd record,
when we will have more material, etc.
wondering – could you name an album, person or event that has had a huge
influence on your life - and why?
DT's Images &
Words. It reminded me that I should be striving for more musically than I was at
that particular time.
Yngwie Malmsteen's "Marching Out". To me, that was the one album and particular
musical style that grabbed my attention and still to this day hasn't left my
clenches. I remember seeing Yngwie live for the first time when he opened for
AC/ DC here in Houston.......after seeing Yngwie play I was mesmerized.
saw that same tour actually! OK,I would say the band RUSH had the hugest musical
impact on me. I bought every RUSH record and watched the band evolve over the
years. I like everything up through "Presto", and am still blown away by all
those great records. And as good of players as they are, it was the music that
rose above it all to me. If I had to reduce that to one single record, it would
five albums would you bring on your iPod to a deserted island?
Unit – In A Perfect World; Bozzio/Levin/Stevens – Black Light
Syndrome; Dream Theater – Scenes From A Memory; Simon Phillips –
Out Of The Blue (Live); T-Ride – T-Ride
ELP – Brain Salad Surgery; Rush – Hemispheres; Captain Beyond –
Captain Beyond; Kansas – Masque; The Beatles –
Magical Mystery Tour
album(s) have put a big smile on you face and has made you bang your head in
Ghost Reveries special edition; Meshuggah – Nothing remix/reissue;
Strapping Young Lad – The New Black
Mercenary – 11 Dreams; Iommi / Hughes - Fused; Sleepytime Gorilla Museum – Of
you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information
and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final
words you would like to round off with?
Thought Chamber –
Music can heal
Interviewed by Kenn.