Jim Reindel: Science Fiction - The dominant theme ?

DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean


Why is science fiction the dominant theme?

In our case, science fiction has always been a fascinating, boundless resource for our imaginations. No limits or rules of engagement. In science it seems, the more you learn, the more questions arise. In fiction, anything can happen at any time. So, for this CD we wanted to create a collection of songs encompassing two of our favorite things....progressive rock and science fiction. They blend quite well. Each lends itself to the other. Most of the tracks on this album are based on science fiction stories or ideas. It is a concept album of sorts, but instead of one long, continuous story, it is made up of a number of short stories based on science fiction themes which led to the title... The Dominant Theme.

What kind of art is most important for science fiction - literature, movies, comics, music---?

All of the above! They are all unique avenues of expression. They can plot a specific path of their own in the telling of a story. Usually when one reads a well written book, the minds eye paints a vivid picture derived from the words of the story. And that book becomes a very personal experience because no two people will share the same "picture" in their minds. So, literature is usually the basis or starting point from which a film and the music that supports it emerges. The movie becomes one mans vision or interpretation of that book, ultimately shared by all who see it. For us, a good sci-fi movie invokes many musical ideas. Many times I will sit down to watch a movie and before I know it, I'm bombarded with all kinds of ideas for music and lyrics. The downside to this is that I rarely get to see the whole movie!!! I have to get those "sounds" out of my head and on to tape before they're forgotten.

Your songs are going well on the mp3 charts - a kind replacement for top 100?

We have been fortunate. Our music has been very well received. Having people listen to and enjoy your music is the ultimate reward. I think most artists and musicians would agree. Especially when it's a genre (like progrock) that you hold dear to your heart. We are very grateful for the support we have received. Mp3.com and sites like Durp are a blessing for all of us out here looking for a way to reach the world with our music. It has opened doors previously closed and locked with the key held by only a chosen few. And there is a tremendous amount of "unsigned" talent out there worthy of success on any level. We recently signed with a label...Fossil Records. It is a fairly new label and the artists are all at the top of their game. Along with us, there are bands like The Franklin~Nuemann Project, Inner Resonance, Jeffrey Ryan Smoots (JRS) to name a few. We have all become aquainted online out of mutual respect for each other. This promises to be a very strong coalition, and we are very excited to be a part of it.

How would you describe your music?

Our music is progressive rock as defined by groups like Rush, Genesis and Dream Theater, blended with science fiction themes and lyrics. It tends to be very aggressive and heavy most times. It is a combination of all who have influenced us from the beginning in one form or another. We strive to keep the music interesting using time changes and textures to create vivid moods and atmospheres which support the theme of each song. Setting the mood with music is very important to us. We especially favor the "epic" sound...the larger than life approach...creating an image in the listeners mind using music and lyrics to create that picture. We try to keep it progressive and interesting but not too "over the top," giving it a longevity as well as an immediate appeal.

What about the influence of other artists to you?

Early "concept albums" sparked our interests initially. Rush did that very well for a time. We were encouraged and influenced by their ability to make you picture the drama as it unfolded. Likewise, Genesis revealed unique uses of keyboards to create that drama, though with different themes. They and others like them helped shape our interests not only with well thought out instrumentation, but with lyrical and emotional content conducive to any type of storyline.

How are the reactions of the people in your surrounding to your music?

The reaction has been very positive. The more it is heard, the more it is liked. We've had very good response from those who have listened to the entire CD. Those who share similar musical taste love it! Those who don't share that same taste still appreciate its design. We always welcome feedback from listeners.

Tell me something about the concept of the record!

The CD is composed of a number of science fiction concepts much like a book of short stories. Each of the sci-fi themed songs is it's own story or concept, beginning to end. Mankind as merely an alien experiment, technology taking over the human race and an asteroid headed for a populated planet are a few of the sci-fi concepts explored on this CD. No love songs here, just the imaginations of two people being played out in musical form. But not all of the songs on the album are sci- fi themed. Songs like "Vanity & Ego" and "Feed the Fire" touch upon some of the social issues of our time. Tim often taunts me by saying "...you don't give the human race a break in your lyrics!" I guess that's true, in social as well as sci-fi themed songs. Mankind has made tremendous strides over the years, I just think we can all do so much better as a whole.

Do you think that your kind of music fits your kind of lyrics best?

Yes, these are science fiction adventures that require a power and intensity that we enjoy producing with our instruments. It blends quite well with the lyrical content. It is always our goal to have the intensity of the music compliment the lyrical content of the piece. This provides a much greater impact for the listener. We use the "goose bump" factor as well. If we can honestly sit back and listen to a song while viewing the lyrics and get goose bumps, then we know we've achieved our goal. But one must have an open mind and be receptive to the blend of lyrics and music. For some, this requires repeated listens. Others get it right away.

How would you like to develop in the future? Do you think about changing your style?

Good question! That path is still largely undecided. Our style evolves (sometimes mutates) continuously. You can even hear that change occur within The Dominant Theme. I think our style will change...or not change over time based on our interests, influences, experiences and interactions with each other. Even though this is our first CD made available, we have written over four albums previously with many, many other musical ideas that never made it to press. The previous albums were recorded on analog mediums, and the sound is just not on a level we would feel comfortable showing the world. It's a shame because there are a great deal of ideas and concepts that may never be heard. But looking back, our style and approach has not changed that dramatically over the years. From the instrument standpoint, you can expect to hear more guitar on upcoming releases. There is plenty of guitar on The Dominant Theme, but it plays more of a supporting role. It blends with the other instruments to create a greater impact. No one instrument stands out on this CD. That is by design. They are all "team players," working toward the scope of the "whole picture" rather than spotlighting or singling out one instrument. Certainly the guitar takes the front on solos and on some songs it sings a melody throughout. This will be the case in albums to come. We always liked the whole band/whole song approach rather than spotlighting one individual. But as it is being written right now, the guitar will have a more aggressive role on our next offering.

What do you think about the situation of your musical genre in the presence and what will change in the future?

Another great question. To be honest, until our exposure to mp3.com and the internet, we didn't realize how popular our style of music was world wide. We just assumed that what we liked had dissolved into obscurity. The past decade has to have been the worst 10 years that we can recall in music. It seemed to all break down to it's lowest common denominator. Of course I'm speaking in general terms here. Certainly there were groups still keeping the fire of their passions going. Some very good groups have emerged in the progressive genre over the past ten years. But the mainstream market... at least here in America was pretty lacking in imagination and technical skills. It's as if things got too technical at the end of the eighties and it all kind of overloaded...then it broke down completely. But now that seems to be changing. The future is looking more promising than ever....especially in progressive music. There are a lot of very good acts coming up like those I mentioned earlier. Progressive rock webrings, radio stations, and magazines are popping up all over the place. People like Jon P.Yarger, founder of the Progressive Rock Radio Network (PRRN) provide an excellent opportunity for up and coming prog artists to display their music and bands on the web. This service, and the one Durp provides is extremely valuable to new and established prog artists alike. People seem genuinely receptive and excited to be exposed to this style of music. It's as if they've had enough of the 90's music and are ready to move on. This is most promising for musicians like us, and we are thrilled to be a part of the resurgence!

Can you tell me something of the process of creating the record? Were there any problems or went everything well?

Well, we're brothers! Other than arguing and fighting like animals, what problems could there be? (laughing) But seriously, no...most of the problems we run into are the limitations that we have with equipment. There is always one more thing we'd like to add here and there but find that we're out of tracks to record on. In the end, it's probably better that way. If we had too many tracks to work with things might get too busy in the music. When we listen to this CD, we don't really long for anything that is not there. We are both pretty satisfied with the entire CD.

Where did you get your inspiration? "Only" the artists mentioned on the booklet?

There have been many musical influences ....Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart of course, Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Shenker, Jimmy Page, Al Dimeola, Steve Morse, Alan Holdsworth, Joe Satriani, Chad Wackerman, Rod Morganstein, Bill Bruford to name a few. Basically, anyone who was or is striving to take their instrument to new levels... past and present.

How would you describe your relation to new media as internet, virtual reality, mp3...

At this time, limited but growing fast. We were a little slower in realizing it than a lot of others, but now are becoming more and more intrigued with its potential and power. It's only going to get bigger and better. As technology advances, things will be come instantaneous. No more long downloads, no waiting. Internet radio will become crystal clear...some of it is approaching that now for those with high speed data lines and modems. It's just a matter of time until all of that becomes the norm rather than the exception. And that will spell good things for the musician of today and tomorrow.

So you could have the possibility to make this record again. Would you change anything?

The only thing that we might change is the number of songs. By that I mean...there are two short pieces "Dreams to Nightmares" and "Samplescore" which were never meant to be individual pieces. They were meant to be intro's for "Pressure" and "Time-warp Finale" respectively. Somehow, in my infinite stupidity I overlooked this when mastering. Sometimes we get so caught up in all the details that we fail to catch the obvious. That was the case here. It's doesn't take away from the listening experience, because each of those short pieces precedes the song it was intended to intro. But on paper it annoys me that I let this get by. And people have commented that they wish those short pieces were longer. But in reality, they were never meant to be individual pieces anyway.

Other than that, sure there is always something you wished you would have done after the fact. Maybe a few things inside the songs themselves. Hind sight is always 20/20. I like to think that is a sign of progressing...of maturing. We are never satisfied. We are always looking forward. Always trying to improve. That is part of the driving force. It's what keeps us chasing the rainbow. We are in competition with only ourselves. I'm not sure we'll ever completely satisfy ourselves, but we'll continue to make a lot of exciting, beautiful music along the way. We thank all those who have taken the time to really listen to what we have to offer. Without your support we would remain unknown. There is much more to come. Stay tuned!

© 07/2000 Renald Mienert
DURP - eZine from the progressive ocean