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18. Oktober 2017 - Uhr
 
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LEVIATHAN
Herbal Progress
Alexander Meyer
www.leviathanresurrected.com


Bei den Progmetal-Veteranen Leviathan hat sich in letzter Zeit einiges getan. Wie in den News berichtet, hat man mittlerweile neuen Snger am Start. John Lutzow, der Kopf der Band, gab uns ausfhrlich Auskunft ber die aktuellen Entwicklungen. Da John grten Wert auf die Authentizitt seiner Antworten legt, wagen wir von My Revelations zum ersten Mal das Experiment, ein Interview auf Englisch zu verffentlichen. ber Rckmeldungen dazu wrden wir uns sehr freuen!

With "At Long Last, Progress Stopped To Follow" you`ve just released your first Leviathan-album since 1997. How satisfied are you with the result?

Leviathan

I am pretty happy with the album. From a song writing stand point, I am very happy. This album was the product of persistence and evolution for me personally. Many things changed around the time of our reunion show, so for Leviathan, as a band this album marks a transition and is a monument to represent the new era of our music. Many things about this album were done totally different than recordings in the past. It was my intention to have the same band lineup as our past albums. It just didn't work out that way. Trevor began working on the drums but had to drop out due to family issues. Ron Skeen said he was interested and had two songs that he wanted to record. He just could never commit to putting in any time to make it happen. Jeff Ward did the album but shortly after returning to Texas informed us that he wasn't into playing and traveling for shows. Many of these things were heart breaking for me. I felt it was a challenge or quest for me to rebuild the band and prove to the world that we can get back to where we were in the progressive music world. We left a substantial mark during our time in the nineties. It was a call for me to try and get back to that and prove to the world and ourselves that it wasn't our past notoriety wasn't a fluke. I needed to know that all the excellent press and reviews we've received over the years was valid. So the album served a much bigger purpose than just a collection of songs. It was an opportunity to put our best foot forward and let the world know we are back. I know that some people have commented about the production not being that good, but I spent a lot of time going back and forth with mixes and mastering. I listened to it on twenty different systems and tried to balance the recording so that it sounded consistent on every one. I think one thing that could have been better was the low frequencies and bass could be much bigger but on my studio system the bass was there. I just have a fear I guess of making the mixes too boomy or muddy. The thing that I am really proud of about the album is how it came together under such stress and adversity. I wanted to do an album that had diverse guitar tones and with the help of AXE-FX and my midi guitar I think I have achieved that. Most of the keyboards on the album were actually played on the guitar via midi.

Could you please explain the title and its connection to the artwork?

I had the album title a year before we recorded the first notes. I had hoped that a powerful, beautiful project title would inspire and motivate everyone. That alone didn't work for anyone but me. Having a good title before the project begins can create an expectation as to what the album requires; it builds a lofty goal to strive for and asks everyone to deliver their best. Part of the title was inspired by a film called "little man Tate". There was a line in that movie from a George Bernard Shaw quote about all progress being made by unreasonable men. I feel like I have struggled with my whole life. I feel that I am reasonable and do everything by the rules and never get ahead or catch a break. This personal problem is closely related to timing and patience, another lifelong struggle for me I have immortalized in an album title, Braver Since Then's "Short on Patience, Burn in Haste". Maybe I am old fashioned but to me the album title should mean something. All of our albums were named before the songs were even recorded. It really goes back to trying to establish a theme and mood. Not even something related to the music but the culture and relationships within the band at the time. The title,"At long Last, Progress Stopped to Follow" contains many different elements that are significant to my life and the timing surrounding the record. It is very poetic to me. The album and the successful completion of it marked a proud accomplishment. The band had just moved through a lot of conflict and hardships. I felt like with the new members and our new found strength and musical tightness that we finally broke our down cycle and overcame the struggle that was blocking us. So the words "progress stopped to follow" relates to progressive music and the music business as an entity in which we have been fighting. The stars finally aligned so to speak and allowed us to get back on track, specifically finding a place for us again in the progressive metal genre. I now feel that we can begin to be an innovator and leader in this style. That reasoning related to the "stopped to follow" line.

Martin Schrder, the guy in charge of the artwork, comes from Germany and seems to be a friend of the band. How have you met and how does he support you?

Martin has become a very important member of the band. I was first contacted by him in 2007. He was a very devoted Leviathan fan and contacted me because of our other band, "Braver Since Then". Martin had found us on Myspace and emailed to me. That is how our friendship began. We have never met in person yet, we only write to each other via email and communicate that way. Many times through the recording of this album, he was the only other person in the world keeping me motivated and driven. Otherwise I would have given up on music and moved on with my life. He encouraged me to continue because of the notion that at least a few hundred people in the world respect my writing and musicianship. I should continue for myself and for them. Music is still a passion for me. Martin was essential in this album. He reminded me why I write and record. Since then he has always helped out with everything he could, from artwork, designs, logos, marketing etc.. He is the 5th member of Leviathan. In fact, he played some guitar on the album.

The core of the new album is a suite called "THC EMP" consisting of three parts. Could you please explain the concept behind it?

The title THC EMP Trilogy, as I refer to it began out of a simple concept or scientific anomaly. The actual music that makes up these songs is from the modern Leviathan era. All the other songs on the new album were written years before the reunion show was ever thought of. The THC songs are also a departure for me in the style and process of how they were built. Usually I write the lyrics first then put music to the amount of lyrics. This time though all of the new music writing and composing occurred during just recorded jam sessions. These sessions were just me relaxing in my studio, partaking of vaporized herb and playing the guitar. The electronic conflict was that I would always have unexplainable errors or lockups. This common occurrence later became defined as THC EMP. Over the last few months though, my research has revealed that the phenomenon is mostly the result of variations in the perception of time. The full description of THC EMP is a long complicated account which will have to wait for a future date to explain fully. Suffice it to say that all of these songs from the trilogy began as just unrelated music, over 60 minutes to be exact. I later edited down the parts I thought were worthy and transposed, restructured and clocked them differently to become 3 distinct songs. Once the foundation was there I wrote and simplified most of them.

You`ve got a reputation as a great songwriter and texter. What songs and lyrics are the most important ones for you on the new album?

Well I strive to be worthy of people respecting and finding inspiration from my writing. It is the most important thing to me. Music and playing instruments have always come easy to me. Lyrics and singing is the great challenge of my life. My passion is that I can motivate and inspire people the same way my gods have helped me. If it wasn't for writers like Fates Warning, Tori Amos and Black Crowes I wouldn't be here now. So giving perspective through words and showing hardships overcome by the discovery of inner strength is what I hope to provide. I was a depressed teenager growing up. Music and words saved my life. The most meaningful songs on the new album to me are "Distention of Time", "Forsaken", and the political message in "third rail to the third world".

For me you`ve managed to blend the traditional Leviathan sound with some modern elements. In "Burning The Candle At Both Ends" there are even some growling vocals. How would you explain this development?

Leviathan

The growling vocals on the album really only came about because of our desire to work with friends. Martin was in a band that had a singer named Kai Tubbesing. I asked him to lay down a few vocal tidbits and the growls are just what he came up with to add an edge to some of the songs. I liked the energy and did the growls on the piano song "Release of Tears".

You seem to be in charge of the band alone now. You also produced the album. Would you agree that the sound is pretty gutless, especially the bass and the drums? Would it have been better to work with a producer or was that a matter of costs?

Wow, gutless huh? Well before I finish any other albums I will send them to you for your evaluation. Maybe you could give me feedback that will prevent any of my songs from sounding gutless in the future. It was never my choice to be in charge of anything. I only want to write, record and perform my songs. Producing isn't the problem. In all honesty I produced ever album after our EP. Jim Morris taught us so much during the making of the EP that Ron and I had our parts and tones already worked out before he came up to record DSB. From then on I handled most of the writing and structuring of songs. Our pre-production versions of songs from DSB, RQPO and STC didn't change any when recorded for the final album. Of course I would have liked to do the album in a conventional setting. Meaning, that all band members played their rehearsed parts over the course of a few days and not 18 months. I never want to do an album again as a studio project. I liked having the songs down and just blasting them out in the studio. The money factor is very important. Out of all of the albums Leviathan has sold I have still never made dime. Nowdays I spend at least $3000 dollars in studio equipment each project I do. This is the only way it seems worth it to me. Otherwise I couldn't afford to keep playing. I wish I could go back in time and take a few of the record deals that I have turned down. I know the times have changed but we had deals with good labels for $10,000 to $15000 per record and walked away from that. So until I sell enough albums to afford a budget like that, I am forced to do the best on my own.

We have to talk about the current line-up as well. How come the last founding member Ron Skeen and Trevor Helfer are not in the band anymore? Would you please introduce the new band members?

I kind of already explained the departure of Ron and Trevor. I am still hopeful that Ron will contribute songs to our next album, but who knows. Trevor actually is still very supportive of us. He came to our CD release party show the other night. It was great seeing him again. He doesn't play drums anymore but is doing well with his family and seems happy. I wish him the best. The new drummer that came in to finish the album is a kid that moved to Denver to play with us from Wyoming. He is awesome. He grew up playing and performing in Drum corp. competitions. He is the best drummer I have worked with. He is the perfect combination of Ty our first drummer and Trevor. After Jeff decided to bail on the band we weren't very optimistic to find a singer that could replace him. We had planned and made preparations to play our contracted shows with me singing lead vocals. We are lucky to have vocal abilities in Derek and me. We were motivated to keep moving forward with the hopes that if things were meant to be, now would be the time. We weren't going to make excuses and let this chance pass us by. We buckled down for the long haul and pushed forward. I ended up meeting a guy through Craigslist who just moved here from Texas. It all seemed like fate because he is even from close to where Jeff grew up and went to college in Jeff's hometown. The new singer`s name is Brice Cave. It was amazing how much he sounds and even has a lot of the same personality as Jeff. He blew us away at his audition. After hearing over 100 vocalists we knew this had to be the guy for Leviathan's next chapter. We will be releasing some bonus tracks soon featuring Brice on vocals. These songs will mark his official debut and introduction. After that we will be in Europe playing. We have a brand new instrumental and two modern remakes of past Leviathan songs, "Speed Kills" and "Confidence not Arrogance". These songs will showcase Brice and give fans a good chance to compare vocals between all of our past singers.

You`ve been pretty busy since the reunion with an excellent Live-CD/DVD and the re-release of your first EP/album. Can we expect re-releases of further band classics?

I hope to have the demand someday to reissue "Scoring the Chapters". That album never really got the chance it deserved. I put it up in the top ten of most significant progressive metal albums of all time. Unfortunately I must be part of a small minority that cares for that album though. The only other album would be "Riddles, questions, poetry and outrage". I think Century Media flooded the market pretty good with that one. It doesn't seem hard to find so I don't think there will ever be a need to reissue it. I also have two other solo albums that have never been released. One is the first "braver since then" album and is my living biography. The other is an all instrumental album called, "Threading the Stoneneedle". I hope to press these in limited quantities so that they are left behind after I am gone.

Talking about classics. What are your favourite Leviathan songs and albums?

Well, I am very partial to STC. That album contains all of our life force and passion. I think we knew that we were at a crossroads as a band. We were all great friends having fun so to go out on a high note like that album, was a dream for us. It sucks that we broke up after poor sales but we all still have the great memories of making the album and the unique bond we shared. Songs that I co-wrote with Ron are always special also. My lyrics mean more to me coming from Ron. His writing was always a great vehicle that brought my words to life.

Dispite lacking commercial success, what keeps you going and working so hard for the band?

The only thing that keeps me going is the hope that it all will mean something in the end. I pray that my work will make a difference in the world someday. Like I said before, the only thing I can hope for is that my writing will comfort and give someone comfort in their own time of need or weakness. I write about my life's lessons so that others won't have to personally endure the pain and consequences.

What does your life look like apart from the band? What`s living in Colorado like?

My life is actually pretty great. I know that it doesn't seem that way all the time because of my perspective but I am truly living a charmed existence. I have a few great people that care about me. I have an important job that provides me the money I need to pursue my passions. I have a wonderful wife and amazing children. In a few months I will graduate from college again with a second degree. My main hobby is motocross racing. I am on the board of directors for our local racing organization. I began racing again this year. It is awesome for me to have this opportunity. I always wanted to be a pro racer when I was young. Now it feels like I have the best of everything. Colorado is the best. I have traveled all around the US, Mexico and Canada. There are many beautiful places but Colorado has everything that I love. My family and friends spend a lot of time camping out in the mountains riding dirt bikes and boating. That is our escape. Oceans are great but we have lakes close by like Lake Powell that is some of the best in the world.

This summer you will be playing your first gig in Europe, at the Headbangers`s Open Air, in Germany. How much are you looking forward to that and what can your fans expect from your show?

We are very excited. It has been a long time coming to this. It is a great opportunity and one that we hope to repeat every summer for many years to come. Leviathan will play anywhere as long as our travel expenses are covered. We are trying to add as many shows to our trip as possible. One a side note, I had pretty much given up on playing the HOA show when we were struggling to finish the album. Once Fates Warning was added to the bill, again it seemed like a sign. It was fate that we play that show. Fates warning is still my favorite all around band. "Awaken the Guardian" is my favorite metal album. We played with Fates before in 1992 but this time it seems special because both bands have overcome so much to keep going. The fans can expect a powerhouse show. We are inviting fans interested in Leviathan to vote on the songs that we should play at our HOA appearance. Send me an email with song suggestions to inkpenexor@msn.com. We are going to be playing a few songs from every album but mainly focus on the heavier ones. They seem to go over better live than the really complex technical ones.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans for the future are to just play as much as we can as a band and get closer with each other as friends. We hope to keep selling albums and growing our fan base so that our next studio album can have a bigger budget and break through to the next level for us. After Europe we will begin writing for another album we will release next summer in time for festivals. I promise all our fans that if they like the THC EMP songs our whole next album will be like that. That is where my writing is headed.

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