Interviu cu Psychotic Waltz!
Interviu cu Psychotic Waltz, Viena 2011!
In Martie 2011, Gabriel Isac s-a aflat la Viena pentru una din datele din urneul “Power Of Metal”. Pe afis erau Nevermore, Symphony X , Psychotic Waltz, Mercenary si Thaurorod.
Dupa concert, Gabi a avut ocazia sa stea de vorba aproape o ora cu cei de la Psychotic Waltz, rezultatul fiind interviul de mai jos.
BB: Hi, guys. Thank you so much for accepting this interview. I wanna say I’m a fan of Psychotic Waltz and the things are a little bit different for me now that I saw you on the stage. I was very very surprised to find out that you’ll be back together, especially in such a great company. So I needed to be here. What can I say?! I love it…
PW: Ha ha, ok.
BB: I’ve heard that Dan won’t be touring with you (because of the job, maybe), but, Dan, here you are…
Dan: Well, not so much the job, actually I have a daughter.
Dan: Yeah. And when they started getting back together it wasn’t really the best communication between us. We were talking about touring or so, but not very clear. So I said I’m gonna make a kid till they make up their minds. Then the baby came out, fine, so I was busy with her. Steve Cox, who played with Psychotic Waltz on the last tour, said he’s taking the job. Then this tour offer came up, for the initial lineup. It’s a very good offer this tour, I wish it was years ago, I think the things would’ve been a lot different. For me too is a good offer.
The new beginning for Psychotic Waltz – The Power of Metal Tour
BB: And how are the things now? Different from fourteen years ago?
Dan: Not so different, except that we got the Internet and the cell phones.
Norm: The thing that is not so different is that we’re in this together. We’ve done a lot of tours in the past but they weren’t organized or we were playing in the middle of nowhere…
Ward: Low budget.
Norm: Yeah, very low budget. This is a tour where we play with incredible bands: Nevermore, who I am a big fan of, and Symphony X, they’re also a great band. This package assures that a lot of people see us. The thing that is different is that there are a lot of new fans that came in this tour and found out about us. They were little when we broke up.
Dan: There’s an 18 years old girl from Mexico, she lives here right now. She came to us and told us she’s so happy we’re back together. And I was like “You were 4 when we broke up!!” That’s crazy the kids remember about us.
Norm: Ya, things like that. The thing that is really really crazy is that we’re playin’ in some different countries and different markets that in the past we either played there or, if we did play there, it was in some tiny place where nobody’ve heard about us or in the public were maybe like… five people, which means three audience and two people working in the club…
Norm: Now we’re playing with this incredible package. Every night the people are coming to us “This is the first time when I’ve heard you, guys”, we got new fans every night. This is the first thing. And another one is that we re-discovered the chemistry between us.
Dan: We’re old.
Ward: We’re not old, we’re mature.
Dan: We’re not mature hahaha.
Norm: Anyway, we kinda forgot how good friends we were. I mean we all grew up with each other. And now when we were playing in front of the people that really love the music, looking on their face, seeing them as happy as we are… it is amazing. Fuck yeah!
Ward: This is definitely worth doing!
BB: Now Devon lives in Vienna…
Ward: Yes, close to Vienna actually.
Dan: Outskirts Vienna.
BB: I mean not in U.S. with you. How’s the communication now that you set up the band?
Ward: E-mail, facebook.
Norm: I can get text, email, phone calls on the Blackberry. We’re in constant communication.
Dan: Modern technology. It’s not a small world anymore.
BB: How is to open for Nevermore and Symphony X? Norm is a big fan of Nevermore, as he said. How is to be the opening act?
Ward: Perfect. It’s right where we should be right now. The people that come to see Nevermore and Symphony X see us also, we’re exposed to a much larger audience this way.
Dan: If we were headlining in this show or so it‘ve been a small show. Even we were playing more than 45 minutes.
BB: I would’ve preferred you to play for two hours…
Brian: We have enough material haha.
BB: Yes, you do.
Ward: It‘ve been a show where we were the headliners, playing together with Mercenary and Thaurorod, without Nevermore and Symphony X. We wouldn’t be winning any new fans.
Dan: Back to those small places. In this tour, Psychotic Waltz is exposed to new people…
Ward: Every night is someone that comes up to me: “Never heard you, never seen you before, but it was amazing, I bought all your stuff”. For me that’s worth doing. Even if they don’t buy much, it’s very valuable to us because every guy that gets an album it’s gonna make like 20 copies for his friends or whatever…
Dan: Oh, no, people don’t do that.
Ward: Oh, absolutely they do.
Dan: Oh, no, no, it would be… illegal. Hahaha
Ward: …and talking about us for a while, starting to be excited about Psychotic Waltz and buy maybe a new album.
BB: What about the setlist in the Power of Metal tour?
Norm: I think it was a pretty good representation of what Psychotic Waltz means. But it was very hard to pick up the songs. I mean we were talking on email, somebody proposing some songs and the others sayin’ “Ya, ya, let’s do it, let’s do it!” “But what about these songs?!” and Devon “Ya, cool, ya!” It took months to set up the fourty five minutes. Haha. I hate to see how two hours would’ve been like. It would’ve took four months of emails rather than two, hahaha.
BB: Nah, I think it would’ve been easier 🙂
Ward: I think it would’ve been easier, too. Like ”Here’s the good stuff. Pff. We’re done.”
A new Psychotic Waltz album?
Norm: Hypothetically, we have a new record and two hours of show…
BB: This was about to be the next question…
Norm: Aha, sorry 🙂
BB: I’ll erase it when editing the recording haha. So, what about the next album? I know you are working… I mean I hear rumours…
Dan (looking at Brian, accusing him): McAlpin!! Hahaha
Brian: Hmmm, well, there’s a lot of stuff being worked on. It’s the same as the first three albums came out: it took a lot of time till we were happy with the music…
BB: But what is going to sound like? I remember the first time when I listened to “Mosquito”, which is my favourite Psychotic Waltz album, I was like shocked. The music was pretty weird. I didn’t know if I could listen to it again the next day. I could, again and again.
PW: Laughing out loud.
BB: It’s a compliment in fact.
Dan: Yeah, I got it. I appreciate it.
BB: The things are ok now, hahaha, but then the music was new, challenging, very very interesting. So, how is going to be?
Norm: It will be heavy metal, hahaha.
BB: What a relief, haha.
Norm: It will be Psychotic Waltz, absolutely. You know, it’s funny you’re saying that your favourite album is “Mosquito”. We all have different opinions.
Dan: Some people hate that album. Some people love the first one.
Ward: It’s my favourite.
BB: “Mosquito” is your favourite?
Norm: Are you serious?!
Norm: It definitely sounds the best, ‘coz we had the time to do everything we wanted in the studio.
Ward: Yeah, it sounds the best, that’s why I like it.
Norm: About what we were talking, if we bring ten fans out of the hallway and ask’em about their favourite album, favourite song, they all gonna have different answers, because all four albums are very different from eachother…
Ward: Even the songs are different.
Norm: … but the common thing is that you know who it is right when you hear it. You know exactly who it is. We can’t say what the album is gonna sound like, we haven’t created it yet, but the one thing that I know that we all agree on is that it’s gonna sound like Psychotic Waltz and it’s gonna come right from the heart. We’re gonna do what we do. To quote the great Brian McAlpin: “Doodlee-do it”.
BB: There are fans that bought tickets for two or three shows of yours, some would like you to play the whole “Everflow”, or the whole “Grace”, I don’t know anybody that wants the whole “Mosquito”, haha. Maybe the first two are the most likeable?
Ward: I saw a guy that wanted us to play whole “Bleeding”.
Dan: We can’t do it.
BB: I was just saying about the different opinions…
Dan: Yeah, exactly. Like Norm said, I think we got a really good mix of all four albums, the best of, for the tour. I wish we gonna play a few more, but we’ve only got fourty five minutes, that’s it.
BB: Too bad Devon is not here. I guess he’s the most active, musically…
Ward: I wonder why is not here right now… (Laughs)
Dan: Norman’s pretty active musically.
Norm: Yeah, Devon had Deadsoul Tribe, now he has The Shadow Theory. I myself have been very musically active. I had a record store for fifteen years, that was my main priority, but I still played music every day and Steve Cox, who replaced Brian for the Bleeding Tour, me and him have done a couple of different bands. One was Teabag. And there’s one more project I had with some guys, that is more metalcore, practically death metal, very challenging music. I really enjoyed it, because I was busy with my store and I didn’t really wanna go try get the record deal or try to go tour, I just played around San Diego, L.A. Then, three years ago, there’s this band from San Diego that comes and tours, a power metal band. When they started, it was around the last year of being a band together. And I’ve got asked to do some touring record. The band is Cage and the last record I did was called “Science of Annihilation”… (Devon enters the room) So, myself and Buddy have been pretty active.
Devon: Devon, not Buddy.
Norm: You know I said Devon every time that you’ve been gone. And I’ve been very good around your children to call you Devon… Coming back to what I was sayin’, I’ve been here two years ago and last year, touring with Cage, so I started being active again. Due to the fact that nobody is buying CD’s, everybody’s downloading, so I closed my record store after fifteen years of good business. So now I own a bunch of cd’s and if anybody in Austria wants to move to San Diego, give me a call, I have a big place to practice.
Devon: You can’t download a place to practice.
Devon: Have I missed the battle?
Norm: No, you’re just in time, we have a couch for you.
BB: I was asking about side projects. And I remember an interview with you, Devon, from around the second Deadsoul Tribe album; you, said you can’t even listen to the first Psychotic Waltz albums. Why?
Devon: Because I couldn’t stand my voice. There were some things about my voice that really bothered me. Probably you and the ones who liked the Psychotic Waltz albums liked my voice for what you’ve heard on those albums, but I always had the frustration that it was not what I wanted. Now I kinda like it again because some of those things I can’t do anymore. Then, I was starting to be happy with it by the time when we did “Bleeding”, but I still haven’t perfected it. Though, I still can listen to “Bleeding” and I like that album, I like the sound of my voice.
BB: Is the only one?
Devon: No, I like “Eveflow” a lot. Although, now and then comes that sound that I… This is why I built a recording studio at home, because now I have enough time to sing it the way I wanted.
BB: So, now, how do you hear yourself on the stage, how does Psychotic Waltz sounds from your point of view?
Devon: It falls very kindly to my ears, especially that setlist. I still have some problems with “Spiral Tower” only because when I wrote that song I was nineteen. Just before I joined this band I wrote six songs and I loved that music so much I couldn’t wait to be in the band so I can play it. If I look back, I liked it really much at the time, but now that I’m older I think that my choices were a bit immature. So now I do it a little different on some part, and some part I leave so that the people that love it can hear it the way they’re used to it. But apart those choices I made, the music that we’re doing, “Into the Everflow” for example, I adore, I’m really happy with my parts and the whole headspace of the songs. I kinda’ve met myself half way. When I was saying that I can’t listen to it anymore… well, I can listen to it again. I had to do it to rehearse for this. When we started the rehearsals, I did realize that I’m a little hard on myself. You have to be in my head to know why. It’s a timberal thing.
BB: The guys told me something about their projects. What about yours? Deadsoul Tribe and The Shadow Theory.
Devon: Deadsoul Tribe is my solo work. When I broke free from this band it was my chance to express myself. You know, get all the equipment I can afford, keyboards and guitars, do anything I want. That was Deadsoul Tribe was about, heaving done five albums. Now I feel like I musically expressed it, got that out of my system, so now I can appreciate being one of five and not heaving that tremendous burden on my shoulders when it’s time to make a new album. It was enjoyable, it was an ambition to do, but once I did it a few times I realized how easy I had it here.
BB: You’re saying that Deadsoul Tribe is… dead?
Devon: No, no. Let’s just say that right now I don’t have much desire to pick up my guitar and start making a bunch of songs. I’m much more looking forward to hearing what these guys do. And this was what The Shadow Theory was all about: me being ready to start working to a group again, start getting some players that play maybe better than I do and could bring something in that I could have never done myself. So I made The Shadow Theory with such players. This was before I knew that we were getting back together. This was gonna be my next move: a new band, a sort of super-group, get the best players I could find. I literally picked my favourite players which I’ve seen on the road with Deadsoul Tribe, like THIS drummer, THAT guitar player, THIS bass player. And in the midst of that, when these guys invited me to come back in, I wanted to make this for a few years. I wanted to do it, so…
BB: Some friends of mine say “Behind the Black Veil” is the best prog album of last year. Just want you to know it…
Devon: Awsome. I’m gonna tell Demi (Scott, n.r.) and Arne (Schuppner, n.r.) that, the guitarist and the keyboardist. They make most of the musical arrangements. I do with The Shadow Theory what I do with this band (Psychotic Waltz), I just put my vocal parts over what they write, but in their case I do tons of arranging. I take the songs they make, pick the ones that I like, cut’em the way that suits me and send them back to them. And they are very happy with them because by the time they get the songs back they don’t remember what they wrote anyway. I take the role of producer and singer and I don’t feel like asking permission for any changes. I just do it. And if anybody would object, i would say “OK, let’s talk about it.” In fact, I take the decision emotionally and there’s no need to discuss it. And they just trust me. And maybe when they hear the songs with vocals they don’t even notice certain changes.
BB: Because you mentioned above, tell us about Buddy Lackey.
Devon: Buddy Lackey is my real name. I’m named after my father. My father is Buddy Lackey. But my father didn’t want that because he always hated that name. And after years of recordings he told me: “Son, you should change your name”. He was a singer and he also changed his name for professional reasons. It was pretty easy for me because I changed it in Devon Graves just when I moved to Austria. When I left Psychotic Waltz I started sending demos with Devon Graves. In Austria I introduced myself to new people as Devon Graves. My wife calls me Devon, my kids also. They know my real name but… they call me Devon. My dad calls me Devon. It’s just hard for these guys because they never did it before. My father visited a few years ago and we had a talk and he told me that my name isn’t really Lackey. Lackey was his stepfather’s name. Lawcey (?) in fact. Anyway, I would legally change it so that my kids can be called Graves instead of Lackey. I named my daughter Anastasia Graves Lackey. What a stage name!!
BB: Before your coming in, I asked the guys about the new album. I’ll ask you too, maybe you know more…
Devon: I know the riffs Brian made. Some of them will be part of what we do, but it’s all a mystery to me. This is what’s funny about my side of being in this band: those guys make the music outside of my presence. There’s no difference now when I’m not with them because they always prepare the new stuff and show it to me as a finished thing. I say “wow”, it’s a surprise every time. I can’t tell you what to expect, but I think we got the chemistry we always got and we we’ll go about the writing process the way we did it in the early days. I’m hoping so. I’m hoping not to go too much into stuff like Cubase, but more like the way it used to be: Dan and Brian get together with the guitars and make the riffs, then give them to Norm with no preconceived ideas about what the drums should be and let him decide; then to Ward and when they’re finished give them to me to do whatever I want over it. It always have been the fun part most of the time.
You cannot download a vinyl or a concert
BB: I still have a lot of questions for you, but it’s 2 a.m. So… one more if you are ok with it.
PW: OK. Sure.
BB: It’s about the going down music industry, illegal downloading. Norm lost his business because of it. How do you see the situation and what is the solution? Is there a good part also?
Norm: It’s a double edge situation. When first Internet came about, I wasn’t threatened by downloading. I remember being interviewed for a local newspaper in San Diego and they were asking about downloading. It’s funny the coincidence. They came into my store an hour before the interview, we opened the doors, do whatever we needed to do, ordering or take care of whatever. And a there was a kid staring in the window, looking like he’s gotta pee, so I opened up a few minutes earlier: “What’s up, bro, what do you need?” and he says “Hey, do you have the last In Flames CD?”. “Ya, just got it.” And he was like “Oh, great! I downloaded a couple of songs off the Internet and I gotta buy it!” A lot of people are doing this, downloading but still buying. The problem is not about the true fans of music, of art, that are steeling this stuff. The problem is with the people that don’t give a shit, they don’t understand this is the way that people like us make a living. The same things went on years ago when the only thing you had was a radio and a cassette deck. When I was a broke kid, I would record songs off the radio and as soon as I had money I would go try to find the album. But there are a lot of people that just download the music, which shortens up the artistic experience. I’ll give you an example: one of my favourite albums is Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman”, another one is “Mob Rules” by Black Sabbath. When I saw the cover of either one of those albums I was like “Oh, I gotta buy it!!” You get the inner sleeve, read the lyrics, looking at the label, try to figure it out who wrote what song, finding all the info… that’s the experience you lose by just downloading.
Dan: Let’s take “The Wall”, Pink Floyd, with the artwork inside. On the vinyl you can see big. On the cd it’s smaller, but at least is there. But with an mp3 what do you get? Nothing but the audio. Audio is cool, but it was a package. It was created as a package and part of it is missing.
Devon: Yea, albums’ covers matter.
Dan: A lot of kids say they don’t know how the cover looks, they just downloaded a couple of songs and they’re missing the cool songs in between the radio hits. Maybe they downloaded a song or two so there are three or four songs they never hear.
Norm: What’s happening it’s like what happened way back in the fifties, when it was all about the single. Now with the iPod it’s all about the single also. The other day we were on the bus and Ward has the iPod with him, was listening to Judas Priest’s “British Steel” and he had it on shuffle. That fucking irated me because I was expecting the songs to be in order the way they are. There’s a reason…
Devon: I had the same thing going when Black Sabbath’s “Sabotage” was playing and I was waiting for “Megalomania” to come on. But it didn’t. I was pissed off.
Ward (coming back from the shower): So you guys hate the shuffle!! Big deal.
Devon: We were talking about the experience of an album, like this is album-oriented rock. And about the mp3 mentality.
Ward: Come on, it’s a simple setting I can change.
Devon: Go ahead and do that!
Dan: To answer your question about how does it affect the industry: for people like Norm is obviously bad. But on websites that sell music you can find recommendations like “Who bought this music also bought Psychotic Waltz” and you’re not going to spend 20 bucks to buy a cd, to try it, so you’ll download a few songs. And maybe you’re like “Fuck, I do like this! I’m gonna go to their show.”
Devon: That’s what I was gonna say. The game field just changes and now it’s more important than ever to be a strong live band because they’ll not be able to download a concert. Maybe a DVD of a concert, but it’s not the same experience.
Norm: And to add to that, it seems that CD sales increase when bands tour because you don’t have to go to the cd store to buy a cd. And now, no matter the level of the artist is, you’ll always see the disk available at the merch. Not to bring up my other band, but with cage I did a small club tour and there were people saying that the only way they can get a new disk is to come to the show. We didn’t even put it out until you came to the show. Prince did that: there’s a different way for selling cds. And another thing: now, more than ever, bands that have longevity or timelessness gotta write really good music and make sure that, even it’s just on a cd, the packaging is something special. Oh, we’re thrilled to see that we have vinyls, because when we first came with the first record it was already starting the time when they were doing less and less vinyls and everybody was doing cds. We put the first cd ourselves, we couldn’t afford the vinyl. Now Century Media is doing such a fine job on the packaging, it’s great!
Devon: LP is also something that people buy, even if they already have the cd. The LP is something so tangible. Norm, having the record store, explained to me the difference between the cd and the LP: an original Beatles record with the Apple label on it, in good condition; its value is up and up and up, but a cd will never raise in value. Cd killed collectability of these things. People in flea markets are like “This Diana Ross album came out in this year and this is the one that bla bla bla, this is rare and it worths that much”. Now we got this vinyl of our band. On one hand there’s this possibility that we have something of physical value and you can’t really download this. On the other hand you got something highly sentimental to us. It’s bringing me to the times when I was learning guitar solos, as a fourteen years old kid, stopping gently the disk then playing a little bit, putting back again and again playing a little bit. It feels so nice! By the time we came out with a cd I was so detached from my roots because the product we were putting out was nothing like the product that I was so in love with.
Norm: You were very upset about that at the time. I remember I was already in the record store business.
Devon: For me it’s a fine medium, but I think it’s nice that the vinyl is coming back.
BB: I was asking the question above also thinking of the profit. A band lives if it sells I mean…
Devon: It’s a sad reality that record advances are going way down, so record companies are going to be broke. But the thing is that we, human beings, adapt. Fortunately, my favourite thing to do isn’t to go on a studio. I enjoy the studio, but the stage is the place where all comes to life. The studio is always like future goal, it’s not happening at the moment; it may be lying on your tracks, the album isn’t finished yet; and when it is finished it’s gonna be sometime before you get it, before it goes out, before you hear any reaction; it’s always this future projection: how’s it gonna sell, how’s gonna be reviewed, what’s gonna sound like. But the concert is happening, it’s in the moment and it’s quite a moment. When people are still coming to concerts, there’s money to be made there. You can sell your t-shirts, you can sell your cds, your vinyls, you can sell your merchandise, you can go on a road, you can hopefully make some money if people like you enough to come see you. So the bands have to be good at performing if they want to make a living.
BB: Thank you very much for the interview, guys! Have a great tour. And I cannot wait to see you again. If you don’t come in Romania, I’ll come see you elsewhere.
Norm: Thank you! We appreciate it!
Ward: I wanna come to Romania. I want to play in Bucharest! See you there.