Still there's some awesome guitarplaying going on, some of it even more "shreddy" than on your last album.
Indeed, sometimes I just couldn't resist (laughs).
The intro to the album's opener (Fearmaker) sounds a bit like Paul Gilbert's opening to his track "Get Out of My Yard".
Yeah, more people pointed that out to me. I think speedwise we are doing more or less the same and we are both playing three octave arppegios, but if you listen to the two tracks back to back they're actually quite different.
While the song itself could be interpreted as a shredversion of Zappa's "Peaches en Regalia".
Wow, thanks. Whenever people compare my music to Zappa's I actually get goosebumps (shows arm). In reality the songs have nothing in common, they're in different keys and played in different modes and tempo. Still, the vibe does have some Zappa character. Other songs on the album are really influenced by the master himself, most notably "Reptilian Wifeswap Party" and "PK Donig the Zulu Foxtrot".
The second song (Sewergator) sounds really dark and evil. What scale or mode are you playing there?
That's D Hungarian Minor (D E F G# A Bb C#), allthough I'm tuned a half step lower, so it sounds like C# Hungarian Minor. That's such an evil scale, every metal guitarplayer should have this one in his arsenal. To me it has the same vibe as the intro riff to Slayer's "Raining Blood". They are not identhical, but still, they're both evil in the same sort of way.
Okay, why don't we just go to through the whole album song by song, if that's okay with you. The third song (Horace the Skyfish Catcher) is a bit Satriani-like I would say.
Yep, I would say so to. It was not my intention te sound like him, but when I was adding tracks to the recording I noticed a Satchy vibe setting in. I think it has to do with the fact that the song is uptempo, in a major key, and that the melody consists of syncopated notes.
Talking about the melody, that scale also sounds very exotic.
And it should (laughs). That's the Indian scale in A (A C# D E G), but due to my tuning it sounds like G# Indian. I like to think of it as a mixolydian scale without the 2 and the 6. I like that scale a lot, it has a Bollywood kind of sound to it.
Okay, track number four is "Admiral Byrd's Fantastic Flight". What the hell is that?
That's just a couple of seconds of insanity. The real Admiral Byrd supposedly flew into the center of the earth with his plane in, I believe, 1947. After that he claimed to have met some humanlike creatures there who were much more sophisticated en technically advanced then we are. I don't believe the story, but I'm intrigued by the fact that some people do. In the song I just wanted to write some kind of soundtrack to the whole saga.
Moving on to number five, an ultrashredder if ever you recorded one, "Big Angry Orange Machine". First the title.
Well, nothing special, the song is about the Dutch national soccerteam. They play in orange outfits. When they play really well, they can take on anybody en thus they are becoming a big angry orange machine. Unfortunatly, that's not always the case (makes a sad face).
Some of the riffs are very fast, they're Michael Angelo Battio fast. Any idea how fast they are?
Well, the song clocks in at 260 bpm. The riffs you're talking about are legato runs in 16th, so you do the math! (We did, it turns out that Will is playing at a staggering speed of 17,3 notes per second!)
You still wanted to satisfy the shredfans?
Nope, but in this case it really fitted the song, so I just went for it. I think it's stupid to make speed the goal of your songwriting, speed is just a by-product of playing accurate and in synch. Still, at times it can be a legitimate tool to get your ideas across.
Then we get to song six, "Agartha Shuffle". Now that's a laid back groove.
Well, it does sound laid back, but in fact it's the hardest riff to play on the entire album. The intro riff is a really complicated figure in E major, the positionshifts are almost undoable, they go all the way from the 11th fret on the A string to the 2nd fret on the E string, while sliding on the D string. (Will picks up a guitar and plays the opening riff. It sounds good and looks amazing, almost like a spider caught on a hot plate)
We know number seven "Reptilian Wifeswap Party", because it was allready featured in Interface Magazine, but the main riff is different.
That's right, there are two versions, the Interface version and the album version. The album version is more elaborate, has more soundeffects and a completely different intro riff. The album version has more of a swing to it.
Number eight is "Trenches", I'm, guessing it's an anti war song?
Well, sort of. It's just two minutes of filmscore to a imaginary WWI movie. Because the Netherlands managed to stay out of WWI we were never taught that much about it in school. Later on I read more and more about this war and became almost obsessed with it. This war more or less started for no reason at all and also ended very unexpected and under shady circumstances. Also it was the transition from traditional warfare with horses pulling guns to industrial warfare, with planes, tanks and rockets.
The next song, "PK Doing the Zulu Foxtrot" is one big trubute to Zappa I take it?
Yes, it is. Zulu and Foxtrot are the international callingnames for the letters Z and F, which are the initials of Frank Zappa. PK refers to Patrick Koopman, my good friend and designer and builder of my signature guitar. He's also a big Zappa fan. In one section of the solo I even tried to sound a bit like Zappa.
Yes, I was gonna ask you about that, you do sound like Zappa there, soundwise, but also in your seemingly random choice of notes.
Thanks, mission accomplished then (laughs)!
Song number ten (Finger Pyramid of Evil Contemplation) is H E A V Y !
That's the sevenstring for you! I don't like to use a sevenstring on any song, but in this case it works out really great.
Again, the melody sounds very exotic.
Could be, it starts out in an Arabian mode in B (B C D# E F# G A#), then goes to a Japanese pentatonic in C (C D E G A) and ends in a Phrygian (or Spanish) lick in E (E F G A B C D). Again, all sound a half step lower. So that's a journey through three continents in one melody.
Then the last song (Shamballah Airport), that's quite a soulfull ballad.
Thanks, that's what it's supposed to be.
But where is Shamballah anayway?
It's a city in the middle of the earth, just like Agartha.
Wait a minute, I'm starting to see a theme here. Is this a concept album?
No, not really, but the inner earth theme does pop up in three songs. Again, I don't believe there's an inner earth civilization, but still, the idea is beautiful.
Okay, just a few more questions about the album. You've got a very strong endorsement by Steve Vai regarding this album, he really likes it. How did the two of you meet?
Well first of all, Steve only heard three songs ("Reptilian Wifeswap Party", "Finger Pyramid of Evil Contemplation" and "Shamballah Airport") and those were still in their demo-format, so different from the albumversions.
Steve and I met for the first time in Amsterdam, when I was still playing Ibanez guitars. He took one of my guitars, an uberpimped 550, and said he really liked the custom pickguard. Because I had a similair pickguard as a spare at home I promised to send it to him and I did. Just for the hell of it I included a demo with three songs. To my surprise I got a handwritten letter by Steve, thanking me for the pickguard, but he also had a lot of nice things to say about the demo, and I mean really nice! When I hooked up with Steve in june of this year he told me again that he really liked my music, I was surprised that he still remembered my demo.
Okay, but while we're on the subject, what's the deal with Brian May of Queen?
Well, that was awesome as well. In a review of my "Weapons of Mass Seduction" album the author called me a "Brian May on steroids". When Brian went to google his name one day, he came across the review and decided to check out the album. He liked it so much that he wrote me an e-mail. I was completly starstruck!! I mean, this is one of my heroes, the guitarwizard from Queen! Mailing me!!
Okay, we're gonna wrap this thing up, just one more question, you're working on two covers right now, Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and George Baker's "Little Green Bag". Will they be released?
Yes, those covers are recorded and were due to appear on a charity album, but unfortunatly that album never materialized. Those songs are ready though, so maybe I'm gonna use them for something else. Because they are covers I can't make any money off them, so I will be givng them away for free on the internet or something I guess.
Well, that brings me to yet another question, like the last album, the new album will also be free to download on your site, including the booklet. We've checked, but as far as we know you're the only one who's doing that. Why?
With my former band (Lafordova) we had a record deal and we were depending on them (the record company) to take care of everything, like publicity, distribution and so on. I then decided that, given the chance, I would rather do everything myself and be in total control. Then over the last ten years we've seen a major shift in the whole music industry because of the internet. And as an artist I feel quite fine by these changes. Now I don't have to go to a factory and have them make copies of my album, I just throw the music on the internet and everybody can make their own copy. And I really like it this way. There's no hassle and my number of downloads (approx. 15,000 so far) levels the sales figures of many well known guitarplayers, and they're losing money making an album. Go figure!
I want my music to be out there, to be free and to be enjoyed by everyone. No business related problems for me, no money loss, no financial risks, I'm as free as my music and I like that very, very much!