Derek Sherinian Interview

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Derek Sherinian Interview

Postby Tim_DJ » Mon Mar 14, 2005 10:06 pm

Tim Blake - How are you doing Derek?
Derek Sherinian - I'm doing fine Tim, thanks for calling today.
TB - Thanks for taking some time out with us. You recently released your latest CD Mythology. Talk about where the title of the album came from, and where the inspiration for the album came from.
DS - Well, I was down to the wire with my record label. They were like like "Derek...we need a title so we can start getting the ads ready!" And, I didn't have a name for it, so the drummer uh, Brian Tichy, who cowrote 3 of the songs with me and plays drums on 4 of the songs says "Derek you should name the album Mythology"--because that's a term that we would always use about our musical heros like when we were kids...we would hear about the mythology...the stories about Yngwie, or uh...Van Halen, and Al Dimeola, and so now that we are actually playing with these people, and, Not Edward Van Halen, but like Holdsworth, and Dimeola, are playing on our records, and Simon and Lukather, its like the mythology is coming to real life.
TB - Oh that's cool!
DS - Yeah!
TB - This is your third album you have released on Inside Out. Are you please with what they have done for you?
DS - I think they're doing a great job...you know...every time I travel I go into record stores to see if my record is in there to see if the distribution is working, and I'd say its in maybe 60-70% of the stores that I go in. And that's like...well, its pretty good, it could be better, but I think that they have been very supportive of me and provided me with creative control on the releases...so...its a good relationship.
TB - That's awesome. Are you under a contract with them for a certain number of albums?
DS - No. It's album by album.
TB - Cool. Once again, you've assembled an allstar cast of musicians. Along with those who are new to your solo work, you brought in Steve Stevens and Allen Holdsworth. What's it like working with them?
DS - Well, Steve STevens and I have working together for several years in Billy Idol's band, and Mythology was the first opportunity to work together. I think He's great. He's a primarly rock player but he has some experience playing flaminco music and fusion...and he has a really good Jeff Beck style feel...and I'm really happy with the results of the stuff that I did with Steve on Mythology.
TB - What about Holdsworth?
DS - That's like a huge milestone to have Holdsworth on my record...I've been a fan of his since I was 16...and I have all of his, or most of his releases I would say. Its very sureal every time hear the song Day of the Dead when he goes into that solo in the middle...its like WOW...that's HIM!
TB - That's pretty amazing! Do you ever look around and say...man...I'm looking at some of the greatest names in music?
DS - Absolutely...I'm kind of used to it now, 'cause I've been doing it for a few years, but sometimes I sit back and go "wow!"
TB - There are times when listening to Mythology that someone who is not familiar with your work would not even guess this is a solo album from a keyboardist. Is it hard for you to sit back and play less on the keys while the guitars are featured so prominently?
DS - Absolutely not, because, my primary, at this point in the game, I'm much more interested in creating and originating a new sound...an overall production than promoting or showing off my keyboard abilities and being in the spotlight.
TB - Right
DS - Bottom line is everyone knows I can play...there's a lot of albums that have a million keyboard notes on it or whatever...I want to play appropriately for the music.
TB - Do you write these songs with big holes where you aren't doing anything and you just figure someone is going to fill that in with the guitar?
DS - Or whatever instrument.
TB - For example...You write Day of the Dead...that song opens up and just has this powerful guitar riff going. Was that the original intent when you started that song or did you say "I don't know what I want to put there?"
DS - No, I knew it was going to be guitar driven. You just visualize it, work it out, and that i just assign the different parts or roles or whatever like a casting agent would in Hollywood. There's certain actors that are better in certain roles and because my music has so many different styles and shades I have to tap into a bunch of different players. So anything that is really heavy I think that Zakk plays that style better than anyone on the planet so naturally I'm gonna go to him. And then for melody and melody lines and sweet style playing I go to Luke because I think he has a great style.
TB - Once again, you have written another album that has a very dark vibe to it. In fact the first track, Day of the Dead, is both dark in feel and name. Is this a continuation of a direction you want to go in or is this just who you are now?
DS - No not really, because there's also a track on the album called El Flaminco Suave that has nothing to do with darkness what so ever (laughs)...its just different shades, different, you know, emotions, being worked into songs..that's what my album is basically, my way of tapping in to all my influences and you know, its theraputic for me.
TB - All right...As with the last album...Brian Tichy is a part of many of the songs on this album. What role does he play in the whole writing process?
DS - He plays a very big role...because he is just very talented...he comes up with great riffs and he sparks a lot of...uh...ideas that we turn into songs. He's powerful because he plays drums, and guitars and bass. All the instruments...Two of us...you know...You can get a lot of stuff done.
TB - When you and I last talked you were telling me that Simon Phillips was your go to guy when it comes to drums...
DS - yeah
TB - But with this album, Brian takes the drum duties for four of the ten songs...why was that?
DS - Well, because he cowrote most of those songs that he played drums on ....and honestly, as great as Simon is, Brian, as far as the heavy metal, Ozzy influenced... metal stuff...that's the stuff that Brian really grew with and really has in his blood...and I figured its only fair to let him play it...A-he cowrote it, and B-he plays that shit great...it sounds amazing! And so, that's what I do...I try to give the part to the person who is going to play that part best.
TB - Speaking of Simon did he coproduce this album with you?
DS - Yes, along with Brian Tichy and myself.
TB - Do you plan on doing any touring? Or is it hard doing with all these different musicians?
DS - It really is...my problem that I run into is finding a guitar player that is able to cover all the different styles and be able to do it, because the album covers such a wide range. And its hard to tour, it really is, playing instrumental music...its hard to uh...get enough people in there, its a massive expense to tour, because its very expensive to go out...sometimes opportunities arise when there's festivals that happen...you know things happen...so I could easily turn up playing dates...you never know!
TB - Let's change gears here. 2004 was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for Planet X. When I spoke to you back in March of 2004 you told me you were getting some new material together for a new album and getting ready for a DVD shoot at NEARfest. Then it seems that everything got turned upside down. Talk about Tony MacAlpine's departure and where you went from there.
DS - Well, Tony got an offer to go play with Steve Vai for a long period of time. And the bottom line is...as much as Tony, Virgil and I love doing Planet X its not our main source of income...we all have financial responsibilities(laughs)
TB - sure(laughs)
DS - So...we've always had it where we would do Planet X as much as we could, but there was an understanding with the three of us that if something came along where, you know, it was lucrative, we'd have to go take it. I go and play with Billy Idol, Virgil went out and played with Steve Vai for a while, before Tony was in there...actually Tony was in there when Virgil was in there...So Tony went to go play with Steve, and he did what he had to do, and we had obligations to go play NEARfest and a couple of other shows...so we did what he had to do so we got a replacement player - T.J. Helmerich who played NEARfest with us and in Italy and Poland and he did a good job. His style, though, just wasn't the ultimate style that we sought for replacing someone as strong as Tony MacAlpine...so Virgil and I are going to do another album this year and its most likely going to feature Alen Holdsworth on guitar.
TB - Is that right???
DS - Yeah, he'll cover the guitar duties. Now as far as playing shows...thats a whole different deal, but we are...we have talked to Allen and he seems interested in working with us...so we are trying to make that happen-that's our ultimate choice.
TB - So now...T J was just a hired gun...is that correct?
DS - Yeah, it was like...he was a hired gun and we are trying to feel it out and see how it felt with him.
TB - When do you see yourselves writing new material?
DS - We've already started...we are going to record a few tunes in Simon's studio.
TB - How does that work with Virgil working with Sould Sirkus?
DS - Well, he joined them and I'm going to be doing some dates with Billy Idol in the new couple of months...its all about time management. Virgil and I really want to get out a new record this year...so we just make it happen.
TB - Now...you mentioned that you are going to be working with Holdsworth on the new album...what about Rufus Philpot? Is he still going to be around?
DS - Yeah...we love Rufus...we had a great time touring with him, and ....he just nailed all the lines and you know, the croud really likes him when we play...so Rufus is invited to stick around as long as he wants! Rufus can play can play..that was a really great find!
TB - How did you find him?
DS - He came in on the recommendation of of friend of mine...and Rufus just came in and nailed it.
TB - Where do you do most of your recording at?
DS - I do most of it at my house, and at Beachwood Manor Studios, and then I go record drums at other players.
TB - So then how does it work presenting your material to Inside Out...what's that process?
DS - They just send me the money, and I send them the recording when I am done, and then they send me the rest of the money.
TB - So basically, they give you an up front, you go and you do your recording. So you go, do the recording, get it mixed and mastered and present them with the final project?
DS - Yes.
TB - I see. Back in 2004, you had listed on your website and mentioned in an interview that you and Brian Tichy had planned to put together a new progmetal band.
DS - Yes.
TB - Whatever happenned to that?
DS - Actually, we have finished a 3 songs master, and we found a singer from Ohio, and recorded the three songs and I am going to be presenting it to the labels pretty soon. I think its pretty good. I've never done a vocal project before, post Dream Theater...so...we put some time into this and I think its very good. Its really heavy and its sounds like the stuff like what Brian and I wrote for my solo records, except with vocals.
TB - So its still gonna have some progressive elements, some odd times and stuff?
DS - There'll be some odd times and its gonna be really heavy!
TB - Awesome! Is that kind of your thing? I mean I know your solo projects are kind of wide ranging as far as their content, but where is Derek Sherinian's heart at? Is it in heavy music?
DS - My heart is in heaviness, and my heart is in sick fusion...you know what..I like different elements of a lot of different styles of music and my sound and my records represent me taking the inspiration that I get from my favorite parts of these different styles and throwing it into my own stew, and that's pretty much what it is. If you listen to Day of the Dead, that epitomizes what I'm trying to say...it goes from really really heavy and then goes to the spacey middle section with the Holdsworth, then back to heaviness, but Holdsworth soloing over the heaviness...that metal fusion right there.
TB - Well that's sort of like the Sons of Anu right there
DS - Exactly! but instead of the Holdsworthian influence it had the Yngwie, its like neoclassical, then with Di Meola. That's the fusion....that's what separates me from everyone else. Its the art of the synergy, and its the art of creating and revolutionizing the sound.
TB - Thanks for taking out some time with us!
DS - Thank you so much for all your support..you guys have been very supportive to me over the years and I appriciate it!
Tim Blake
VP, Research Director, All Around Good Guy
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Postby Buglunch » Sat Mar 19, 2005 9:34 pm

Great stuff: I just bought the double- live DT DVD set with Sherinian.
\o/
I've only seen Jordan Rudess live with Dream Theatre in front the Yes last August, poor me! Both were fabulous.
Sherinian plays very interesting choices, from what I've seen; another prog genius, John Myung aside... ;)
Thanks to Tim for DJing us.
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