BW&BK Interview: JAMES LABRIE – A Second Round Of Static

By Carl Begai

Bad news for Dream Theater fans that were put off by frontman James LaBrie’s 2010 solo album, Static Impulse:

Yep, he did it again. With the same cast of characters backing him up.

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You have to have a certain amount of sympathy for the folks that ran for cover when Static Impulse was released, however. It was the highly anticipated follow-up to LaBrie’s critically acclaimed Elements Of Persuasion album from 2005, which finally put his solo career on track in the wake of two somewhat confusing Mullmuzzler records. And yet he’d seemingly chucked the possibility of any future accolades in favour of Swedish death metal-inspired aggression, courtesy of drummer Peter Wildoer (Darkane) coughing up blastbeats and growls as required. It was an experiment of sorts concocted by LaBrie, long time collaborator/keyboardist Matt Guillory and producer Jens Bogren that took them as far away from Dream Theater’s prog metal shadow as possible, and for all the bitching and moaning from some scandalized fans Static Impulse was a success.

The new album, Impermanent Resonance, picks up where Static Impulse left off. The tear-your-head-off aggression of some of the songs has been toned down while the melodic aspects of the music have been turned up, but it’s definitely the same creative team behind the metal. And metal it is, with nary a prog-ism to be heard. Just like last time out, the only similarity between this new album and Dream Theater is the guy standing behind the microphone.

BW&BK: Was it clear from the beginning that Impermanent Resonance was going to follow in Static Impulse’s footsteps rather than experimenting with a new musical direction, like you did from going from Elements Of Persuasion to Static Impulse? There are similarities between those records, sure, but Static Impulse ripped the doors off the car you guys built with Elements….

Matt: “I think Elements Of Persuasion was the turning point, or at least a new chapter for us. We’d established ourselves as having a metal foundation within our music so we didn’t want to abandon that at all, especially coming off Static Impulse. We defintely wanted to keep that foundation for Impermanent Resonance but take it a step further, especially with the melodies and the hooks in the music. Also, the atmospheric perspective wasn’t emphasized on Static Impulse, so we wanted to bring that out on the new record.”

BW&BK: Static Impulse is a more aggressive record in comparison to Impermanent Resonance. In fact, if you were to dump the guitars and change the production on Impermanent Resonance you’d have some great pop songs.

James: “Absolutely, no doubt about it. They’re pretty damn pop-ish even as they stand now (laughs) but I get what you’re saying. You could come at some of these songs as a piano/vocal rendition, and ‘Say You’re Still Mine’ is pretty much in that vein as it is. I think Matt put some amazing songs together, like ‘Back On The Ground’ and ‘Holding On’. A song like ‘Back On The Ground’ definitely deserves to be in amongst the songs being played on radio these days, and it stands up against any one of them. For me a song is either song or it’s not good, and what’s important is what it conveys to me regardless of whether it’s a metal song or a pop song or a jazz piece. There are songs on Impermanent Resonance that definitely have that pop sensibility to them.”

“Given where Matt and I are coming from, it’s safe to say that every album you’re going to get from us and this band is going to be diverse. It’s not something where you hear the first song and that’s what the album is going to sound like from beginning to end. This album starts off ball to the wall with ‘Agony’, but when you hear ‘Holding On’ or ‘Lost In The Fire’ you get a completely different impression of what the whole thing is going to sound like.”

BW&BK: It isn’t accurate calling this a solo album, is it? Second record in with Peter Wildoer, Marco Sfogli (guitars) and Ray Riendeau (bass), having the “James LaBrie” name slapped on the cover is good marketing more than anything.

James: “That’s all it’s ever been. Is it fair to call it a band or a solo thing? It’s always been a band. It’s just a name known around the world and it helps sell albums. It helps bring somebody in that wouldn’t necessarily take the time to listen because of that familiarity. It’s always been our vision, me and Matt, to create this. It’s our band; Peter, Ray and Marco are integral to the end result and our continued efforts to make this bigger and better each time out. It could easily be called the Matt Guillory Band because it’s not about me. The picture is much bigger and much broader than that.”

Go to this location for the complete interview.

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Check out two of LaBrie’s new songs via the links below:

‘Back On The Ground’