Thursday, January 2, 2014

Leviathan Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
After the completion of the album, the permanent members of Leviathan slowly returned to our normal day to day lives.  Jeff Ward lives in Texas, so he flew home after finishing the vocals.  Derek Blake and I still hang out and work on music occasionally.  We keep busy by performing with our acoustic group. 

We are very excited about the new album and hope that with proper promotion this time, we can get back to the sales numbers we had in the 90's.  We want to be able to earn our old fans back.  I am confident in this album; I want it to be our greatest work yet.  I felt less than happy with the last album we released. So it was vital for me to redeem myself.  I spent over two years and 2000 hours working on "Beholden to Nothing, Braver Since Then."  I hope the passion and effort is recognized and well received. 

2.How would you describe the musical sound of the new album and also how does it differ from previous releases?
I think the musical sound of this album is a perfect blend of old and new.  Point in fact; some of the songs were created from pieces I wrote when I was a teenager.  Some of the songs were written only months ago.  The album is a musical journey taking the listener through all possible genres and styles.   Some songs have very heavy sections while others are mellow.  From a lyrical stand point, I am very proud of the writing. 
All of the guys in the band and friends that contributed musical pieces did outstanding jobs. 

3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
About half the album is a conceptual set dealing with my life long struggle with religion.   I tried to write from many different perspectives and not be biased.   The other half of the album relates to topics such as the daily hardships humans face with poverty.  Material possessions, government control, corporate deceit, environmental disasters and the general human condition. 

4.The band was broken up for a long time, what was the cause of the split and also the decision to reform?
The band broke up in 1998 over financial issues regarding the album we had just finished, "Scoring the Chapters."  It was a terrible experience and really tore us apart.  It was so sad because the whole writing/ recording experience making that album was the greatest time of my life.  We were all such close friends and touched on magic in the Morrisound.   It is rather typical and clich√© to say but money ripped us apart.  We financed the album ourselves and when Century Media blocked us by pressuring distributors to not buy from us, the sales never happened. 
The decision to reform was an easy one, Derek Blake, Trevor Helfer and I had got back together a few years after Leviathan disbanded.  We formed a band called, "Braver Since Then".  This was the plan all along if something happened to Leviathan.  Jeff Ward, had moved back to Texas so he was the hardest person to bring back on board because of the Geographic obstacles.  We all got along great so that wasn't a problem.  Convincing Ron Skeen to reunite was a different story.  He had pretty much quit playing music and had a successful business and growing family.  After a few phone calls he thought he would give it a shot.  
He participated in the Live Reunion DVD set but didn't want to make any more albums.   I am still hopeful that he will rejoin us someday.  He has a few great tunes left in his catalog.  

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name Leviathan?
The origins and inspiration of the name comes from Ron Skeen.  He used to practice next to Satan's Host and at the time, Harry Conklin (Jag Panzer, Titan Force, Etc.) was the singer going by the name Leviathan.  Ron really liked it and thought it created a powerful vision.  He trademarked the name in 1989.  Since then the official world wide ownership has changed hands a few times.  I hired a lawyer and have successfully obtained rights to it through the US patent office.  To all the other bands in the world using "Leviathan" not cool!

6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
The most memorable shows for me have been opening up for my idols, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, and Savatage.  Our show at the 2011 HOA festival was incredible.   Our stage performance is energetic and focuses on reproducing the albums accurately live.  Jeff Ward is an incredible singer and has only gotten better with age.  Derek Blake is solid and a monster on stage.  We used to run around a lot more on stage.  Gone are the days of serious head banging, hair twirls and back flips off the drum risers.  I am more conservative now I guess. :) 

7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?
As always, we are ready and willing to play anywhere.  We are hoping that the new album will generate enough sales that we can finance a European tour ourselves.  Otherwise, we are waiting to hear from Festivals and other opportunities to get us back to Europe.  So anyone out there who might need a band, Email me, Leviathan will be there. 

8.The new album came out on Stonefellowship Recordings, can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
Stonefellowship Recordings was a label I started back in 1994.  It was a simple thing to just have a home for my solo stuff, (which later became, "Braver Since Then" music) Now days, the necessity of having a label is over.   Distribution has always been the requirement.  Anyone can record and album, form an independent label and start selling their music. 

9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your reunion by fans of power and progressive metal?
Overall, it has been great.  All of the fans that remember us and are aware that we are still alive are very supportive.  The problem is that we haven't been able to really reach our former fan base.  We know the numbers of CD's we sold throughout the 90's.   Like every artist, you just hope to keep building that fan base and creating new supporters.  We are far from where I want to be. So that gives me something to strive for. 

10.What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
To tell you the truth,  I can't really think about another Leviathan album yet.  I put so much of myself into "Beholden" Any future Leviathan albums really depend on how this one is received.  Don't get me wrong, I am already working on another album.  This is my passion right now.  It is going to be collaboration with two of the best guitarists in the world; Chris Lasegue and Jason Boudreau.  They both contributed solos for the B2N, BST album.  This project is going to be a modern guitar shredding album.  The whole concept is to be able to begin tapping into a great market here in Colorado, where we live.  The music is a blend of Classical, Flamenco, folk, Jazz, blues and world sounds, all with foundations using acoustic guitars.  We will have the album finished by December 2014.

11.What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Lately all I have been listening to is Jazz. Stuff like Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk.  That is what has been inspiring me for this new guitar trio.  There are quite a few jazz clubs opening up in Denver.  I am confident that this new project will bring some much needed recognition to the talents of Chris Lasegue and Jason Boudreau.   If you knew the history of these guys you would be blown away.  It is strange, I consider myself to be a pretty good guitarist.  I never thought that I would find relief in working with two guys that put me to shame.   I am confident as a song writer and lyricist so my self-esteem isn't challenged in that regard, I just think it is great and my honor to work with these guys.  Obviously I am very excited about this project. 

12.Outside of music what are some of your interests?
Movies have always been a huge part of my life.  My day job as a computer systems administrator keeps me pretty busy and submersed in technology.  I ride bicycles, motorcycles and race motocross as my main physical outlet.  I spend a fair amount of time volunteering for the Denver City parks.  Derek and I also Snowboard every chance we get. 

13.Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to answer some questions and give potential fans some insight into Leviathan.  I really appreciate all the help and support.  To anyone that has bought the album, Thank you.  To everyone else, please check it out and if you like it, buy it.   

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