Carl Begai

Archive for June, 2012

SHADOWSIDE – In The Studio With The Swede Musketeers

by on Jun.30, 2012, under On The Inside

By Carl Begai

During a recent interview with Shadowside vocalist Dani Nolden for BW&BK (found here), it came to light that the band’s new album Inner Monster Out features a decent amount of Swedish input behind the music. Not what you’d expect from a band with Brazilian roots, but Nolden will tell you that the new music is better for it.

Inner Monster Out is most certainly a step up from Shadowside’s previous record, Dare To Dream, largely due to the band being able to deliver the songs on their terms. They chose to hire Gothenburg-based Fredrik Nordström to oversee the production, which proved to be a far better experience to being holed up in the studio with System Of A Down / Audioslave producer Dave Schiffman last time out.

“To be honest, working with Dave taught us a lot about following our instincts,” says Nolden. “Dave is great but he’s certainly not metal; his idea of metal is different than ours. The two words we heard the most during the production of Dare To Dream was ‘too much’ (laughs). Of course, sometimes musicians have to be ‘contained’ a little bit, as we get excited and want to use all our abilities and ideas at once and often need someone to filter that for us. I feel Dave filtered a bit too much, especially when it came to the drums. When you hear Fabio playing on Dare To Dream you might think he’s an average drummer because he did pretty much the basics, but then you hear Inner Monster Out and you’ll understand what Fabio’s identity as a drummer really is. He’s aggressive, extremely energetic, and when you compare both albums you’ll think he improved a lot, but no… he was always like that. He was restricted because Dave felt drums should be kept simple. Maybe it works great for a band like Audioslave, which is supposed to be more commercial, but we felt we could have done more as a metal band. So this time we decided to work with a producer who had a background more similar to what we like and listen to, and that man was Fredrik Nordström. We didn’t have to tell him what we wanted; it was an immediate match.” (continue reading…)

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FRAZE GANG – New Blood, Old School

by on Jun.26, 2012, under The Interviews

By Carl Begai

“In the old days radio wouldn’t be so shy about trying out a new band. They’d give a band a shot. Now, because there’s so much competition, stations are so afraid you’ll change the channel if they try and push something that’s different from everything else on the radio.”

It may sound like bitterness talking, but it’s simply point of fact in the life of Fraze Gang guitarist / vocalist Greg Fraser. He made a name for himself with Brighton Rock in the ‘80s, quietly sat out the grunge era through the ‘90s, returning to the grind in the early 2000′s for the love of making music rather than trying to cash in on past glories. That said, Fraser had no delusions about breaking the bank with Fraze Gang’s self-titled debut in 2006 (issued via Bongo Beat Music in 2008), especially not with the beating the music industry was taking at the time (and continues to endure). For better or worse, however, he has retained an old school way of thinking with regards to marketing and exposure.

“With the internet being what it is you can get some exposure, but you’ll never get the massive exposure that you had in the old days because the record companies don’t have the clout anymore. And there were the magazines like Circus and Hit Parader; bands could get in there and sell records from that exposure alone. Take a band like W.A.S.P.; you’d see them, see Blackie Lawless and his codpiece and go ‘Who the hell are these guys?’ and right away they had your interest, especially of you were a kid. You had to hear them. When I first saw pictures of KISS, I was really young and it was ‘Oh my God, look at this!’ It’s a lot tougher now to get that kind of intense exposure. Then again, bands that don’t have major label deals can still get exposure thanks to the internet, so it’s a 50-50 deal.” (continue reading…)

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ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – Making Changes: Epicloud And Proud

by on Jun.23, 2012, under The Interviews

By Carl Begai

Anneke van Giersbergen is the personification of positive energy.

People that remember her as the vocalist for The Gathering wouldn’t think so given the melancholic nature of the band’s music, but her latest solo album Everything Is Changing is a rock oriented journey fused with generous doses of pop music, light-hearted and almost playful in its execution. It was therefore appropriate that this interview took place on a warm and sunny day outside the venue where she was performing that night, ultimately delivering a show reflecting her upbeat state of mind. It was one of several gigs lined up for the remainder of 2012, and while Anneke refers to her schedule as being “murderous” on occasion, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It looks very busy, and we are very busy, but when I was with The Gathering we toured way more than I do now. Usually I don’t tour more than two weeks at a time. It’s a balancing act. Every Sunday that we’re home, we (Anneke and husband / drummer Rob Snijders) look at this kind of mathematical schedule and try to figure out how the hell we’re going to fit everything we have to do into one week (laughs).”

Although she left The Gathering in 2007 there are plenty of people that only clued into Anneke’s work as a solo artist with the release of Everything Is Changing. She has in fact been quite active since her departure, releasing a total of four albums under the Agua de Annique banner before deciding she wasn’t doing herself any favours using a band name. It turns out that while the group dynamic was a comfort zone for Anneke, it was also something of a crutch and often confusing for the fans.

“That’s exactly why I dropped the band name. Nobody got it. And the thing is, it was only a name because for some reason when I left The Gathering, the first thing I did was come up with a band name even though I was going solo. I think it was just because I was used to being in a band. I hand-picked the people who work with me and it’s my band, but I’m a solo artist, so it’s a curious thing. Maybe it was a case of being a little bit shy at the beginning, because to go out under your own name is tough. I also thought that the name Anneke van Giersbergen would be a tough name for people abroad…” (continue reading…)

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ARJEN LUCASSEN – Reality And The Replicant

by on Jun.13, 2012, under The Interviews

By Carl Begai

Whether or not change is good there’s no escaping the fact it’s inevitable, and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen is no exception to the rule.

As the master(mind) of the Ayreon empire, Star One and Guilt Machine, the towering Dutchman is known for assembling ensemble casts featuring some of the metal world’s finest voices and players – as well as discovering the occasional unknown talent – to create his now trademark epic metal operas. Lucassen composes all the music for all his projects, plays the vast majority of it (with a little help from his friends), arranges the often monstrous vocal parts and does some singing himself, yet in the end he has always been – no matter how important to the proceedings – a cog in the wheel. His latest sci-fi based conceptual outing, on the other hand, puts Lucassen front and center and behind the microphone on his own. A strange place for him to be unaccompanied but as he tells it, a hell of a lot of fun.

“I think everyone is a surprised by that,” Lucassen says of taking on all the vocal duties. “It was a big challenge for me. I’ve always liked singing. The problem was I’ve worked with some of the most amazing singers in the world. When you’ve worked with people like Bruce Dickinson and Jorn Lande, that humbles you. I could never do what those guys do. They’re amazing, having such power and technique, and I don’t have that at all. When I’m in the studio with these guys singing a melody to them you hear my little squeaky voice, and then Russell Allen sings it back like a monster (laughs). I do like the sound of my voice, but technically speaking I’m not a fantastic singer. By this point I know my limitations, though, and these songs were written for my voice so I enjoy singing them.”

As for doing away with the trademark legion of voices in favour of putting himself in the spotlight, Lucassen makes it clear that his ego had nothing to do with the decision.

“I wanted to get back the feeling I had when I started Ayreon. I wanted to make something without anyone’s expectations hanging over me. (continue reading…)

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NIGHTWISH – A Scaretale For Storytime

by on Jun.07, 2012, under The Interviews

By Carl Begai

Finnish bashers Nightwish recently wrapped up the European leg of their ongoing Imaginaerum tour, which will continue for the forseeable future given the impact of the band’s latest album and the forthcoming Imaginaerum-based movie. Prior to one of the final gigs of the European jaunt, keyboardist/found Tuomas Holopainen sat down to discuss the success of the new record and the state of the band.

Last time out Nightwish had unenviable task of promoting their Dark Passion Play album while continuing to defend their decision to bring vocalist Anette Olzon into the fold in 2007 as a replacement for Tarja Turunen. The band had been expecting the inevitable shitstorm long before they hit the road for the album – fan opinion regarding Olzon was widely divided upon Dark Passion Play’s release – but the negativity and tension endured over two years took its toll. Upon meeting Holopainen for this chat it’s immediately clear the strife from the previous tour is a thing of the past. Perhaps the only thing plaguing Nightwish at this point is a collective lack of sleep.

“It’s so much more relaxed, we’re so much more confident because we know that the people know what to expect,” says Holopainen. “They’re coming to see a show, not to judge the ‘new’ vocalist. It’s been so much more relaxed, easygoing and fun.”

YouTube is one public forum offering a resounding show of support for Olzon, who has definitely improved in her role as the band’s voice. Sure, there are the expected debates of whether or not she holds a candle to Turunen, but the fans that stuck around after Dark Passion Play are quick to defend Olzon nowadays and quite vocal about her having cemented a place in Nightwish. (continue reading…)

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THE AGONIST – Music Industry Reality Check For Illegal Downloaders: “Sorry To Shatter The Rockstar Fantasy…”

by on Jun.06, 2012, under Administrivia

Anyone who knows me knows where I stand on the subject of downloading music illegally. In a nutshell, trying to convince me that it’s okay – or even a good thing – is a surefire way to get an invitation to fuck off and die. Painfully. Unfortunately, standing on my iron soapbox yelling “Keyboard Warrior baaaaaaad!” doesn’t really get the message across a lot of the time, probably because I’m a journalist and supposedly we’re all a bunch of spoiled elitist snobs.

That said, Alissa White-Gluz of the Montreal band The Agonist recently posted a breakdown of what bands go through to make a so-called living with their art. I suggest that anyone who claims to be a fan of metal and music in general take a look at her words below. It’s a feast for thought.

For the kiddies, I hope it’s an eye-opener that sticks to the insides of your heads. For the adults that should know better, choke on it and start buying your music, you thieving scum.

“Here’s a little insider info just to clarify, since a lot of people don’t understand how the industry now works. We would feel bad divulging this kind of info and shattering the dream, but a lot of metal musicians seem to be doing it nowadays so I think we’re ok to do so as well.

Why are we asking you to buy the album? We don’t see money from album sales. We have never seen a single royalty penny. But, if your band is known to sell a lot of albums, especially in the first week of release, you get more offers for tours, therefore making it more possible to play to more fans.

Ticket Money: As an opener, we do not see any money from ticket sales or have any control over ticket price. As a headliner we rarely see any money from ticket sales as well.

YouTube: If you think we are making money off of YouTube plays, check out who’s channel our videos are on (Hint: It ain’t our channel!;)) Again, we’ve never seen a penny from YouTube plays. (continue reading…)

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