You're about to release
a new CD entitled Theater Of War through Metal Blade Records. How would you like to
describe it yourself?
Well, it's a CD we're very proud of. We wanted this one
to be a little heavier than the last CD. And I think we've achieved that. We pulled the
guitar synths down into the mix a little more and we brought the rhythm guitar tracks up
in the mix a little bit more. And we think it has a little crunchier sound than the first
one and we're very happy with it. Have you heard it?
Yeah, I've heard it. I was just listening
to it before you called.
And do you like it?
Yeah, I like it. But I don't know the
first album so I can't compare it with that one. Uh, what are the influences that
contributed to the sound of Jacobs Dream?
Well, there are many many influences. We all like heavy
metal music, all different kinds. I'm a big Rush fan and I like Dream Theater. But I have
so many different bands that I like a lot. I think about just any band in the classic or
power metal genre influenced us. Most of the guys in Jacobs Dream grew up in the eighties.
I grew up during the seventies and eighties. So my influences go back a little further
than some of them. Starting with bands like Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath
and Deep Purple. That's the kinda stuff I grew up on. Then we have Derek (Eddleblute) in
the band now and Derek has a very wide variety of influences too. He comes out of a blues
rock type of background. A lot of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn and different things
of that nature. So, actually, Jacobs Dream is influenced from a wide variety of different
types of metal.
And what influences you as a drummer?
What drummer do you like and do you take influences from?
Well, Neil Peart from Rush is probably my favourite
drummer. I've learned more from studying his rhythm patterns than I probably have from
many other sources. I don't really play like Neil Peart. I play like I do. But as far as
song structures and rhythmic composition I really like Neil Peart a lot. I like Mike
Portnoy from Dream Theater. Another drummer I like a lot is Cozy Powell. I like Tommy
Aldridge quite a bit. Then I like a lot of jazz drummers that I'm sure nobody has ever
heard of before. So I have a wide variety of influences in my drumming as well.
I'm a little bit surprised that you don't
mention Lars Ulrich from Metallica. There's a reason why I say that because at the end of
the titlesong of the new album there's the same sort of drum rhythm pattern as the song
One from Metallica. So I was reminded of that song, just by that piece of drumming. That's
why I thought you listened quite intently to Metallica. But that was my idea.
Well, that's quite a compliment. Thank you very much!
Yeah, I do like him. He's a very good drummer. Like I said, there are so many drummers. I
mentioned a few. Yeah, Lars is definitely a good drummer. And I've studied quite a few of
their albums as well. And I was probably influenced by a lot of his rhythm patterns. So,
yeah, I would say that that's probably a very astute observation on your part.
The booklet of the CD states that all
music was written by the band. So how does the band write its music? Is it that someone
makes the skeleton of a song and the rest of the band contributes little bits and pieces?
Or does it start with a lyrical thing or whatever?
Well, it can happen in any way but usually it's John
Berry who has the very first ideas for the songs. And he'll come in and he will either
just play us the riffs he has been working on or he'll record them on a four track at home
and bring the tape in. He'll presents the ideas for songs. We start listening to it and
make suggestions and everybody will offer their opinions and start working on their own
parts. And eventually a song develops. David (Taylor) usually writes the lyrics to the
songs. But, I mean, it can happen in any way. Any of us are capable to bring in ideas for
songs. And sometimes we'll just be jamming. Sometimes somebody will start. And of course,
these are just examples. But James (Evans) might start a really cool bass line and I start
playing to it and then John will do something on top of it. And then we are "hey,
that's pretty cool, we need to remember that. We need to hold on to that. Maybe we can
start working on something there.' So, when it says 'all songs written by Jacobs Dream' it
truly is a collaborative effort. And we all are very comfortable with offering ideas. And
we are all very willing to explore each others ideas. So, it is a very unique process. And
the fact that we are all such very good friends and we all respect each other as musicians
so highly that we all feel honoured to be playing with each other and we are willing to
work on ideas that anybody will submit. It works out really well for us that way.
I'm wondering because songs sometimes
start spontaneously, do you rehearse a lot?
Yeah, actually we do. We rehearse at least three times a
week. And we've been playing a lot of local gigs. And we've been working on our live show.
Sometimes we rehearse three times a week plus play gigs. Like tomorrow we're going to
rehearse in the afternoon and then we're going to play in a club tomorrow night. So, yeah,
we've been working hard. We want people to be impressed with our live show. We know people
work hard for their money. And when they go buy a concert ticket or when they go buy a CD
and they spend that money, we feel that we owe people a very good show and we want to be
able to play the very best we possibly can. So we believe in rehearsing a lot and playing
to the very best of our ability every time we play.
And what is the influence of you as the
drummer on the songs?
Well, that's a good question actually. I play drums a
little more aggressively than the drummer they had on their last CD. So that alone is
going to change the whole feel of the band. Anytime you get a new drummer that's the very
basic part of any song that you play. That's the very core of the rhythm pattern. When I
came in I told them that I'm an aggressive drummer and I play pretty hard and I play
pretty heavy. And they really like it a lot. So that reenergized everybody, you know. And
it kinda excited everybody because they had been looking for a heavy metal drummer. So we
clicked very well from the start. That is a big part of why this CD probably sounds a
little heavier than the first one. Simply because I play a little heavier than the first
When I listen to the album the drum sound
is almost like a live drumming. Just the sound of it. A raw sound. Is that what you set
out to do?
Well, we started experimenting with drum sounds. And I
took in a couple of different kits and worked turning them in different heads. We actually
spent about a week just on the drums. We ended up with the sound that you like. It did
kinda sound like a live drum kit. We kinda liked it. Out of all the things we had worked
with that was the one we thought that would probably sound best in the end. So it was
intentional that we were looking for a good drum sound. But the one we settled for is
basically just one that we kinda ended up with. After all the experimenting with different
kits and different heads and different turnings and things of that nature. So, it's both.
It was on purpose but I can't honestly say that I purposely knew how to get that sound out
of the kit. If just kinda worked out that way. So, we are really happy with it.
Theater Of War is a self produced album.
Why did you decide to produce it yourself rather than getting help from an outside expert?
There are a couple of reasons for that. One was time. We
were just unable to find someone that we were really comfortable with and the time came
upon us when we were supposed to be in the studio. So we thought "we have a pretty
good grip on what we're looking for and what we're hoping to get out of the CD, so why
don't we try producing this one ourselves?" Also, Joe Viers, who is the chief
engineer at John Schwab Studios where we recorded this, gave us a tremendous amount of
help production wise. With all of his knowledge and with the experience that we've been
gaining it worked out pretty well. We may end up with a producer for the next CD. We
haven't really started to think about that aspect of it yet. But, it was both the time
consideration and the fact that we couldn't find anybody else that we were really
comfortable with. And we're all such good friends and we are also open and honest with
each other that it was not a problem to sit down and express our opinions and ideas. We're
very lucky in that respect. So, it worked out well for us this time.
When the band started working on the
album you had prepared several songs including Third Way, Magic Garden and Rotunda Pigs.
These songs will not appear on Theater Of War. Why?
(laughs) Yeah, that was a statement from a member who is
no longer in the band. I don't even know who he originally told that to. But then we saw
that at several places. The reason they didn't end up on the CD is that Rotunda Pigs is
still in the working stage. We never did finish working on that song. Magic Garden is a
song that I wrote a couple of years ago. And Third Way was a song that belonged entirely
to Jonny Noble (former guitarist). So when Jonny Noble and Gary Holtzman left the band we
couldn't put Third Way on our CD of course. Because it was specifically his song. The
other two weren't ready yet. We weren't happy with them. There were parts that we didn't
feel were quality enough. You might also have seen that the name the CD was going to have
was Third Way. And that was something that kind of was in the discussion stage. So, that
was a statement that never should have been made. Because it was not something that was
discussed among the band. It certainly wasn't anything that had been decided upon yet.
So it was premature. Because these songs
were skipped is that the reason you redid two songs that were from the demo CD?
Oh, no, not really! We were going to put those songs on
the CD anyway. We have had a tremendous number of requests to rerecord some of these that
were on the demo. And we couldn't do them all. Otherwise we would just rerecord the demo
again. But those were two songs that we have had a huge number of requests for. So we put
those on this CD. But those were always going to be on the CD. They didn't have anything
to do with the other songs not being on there.
Okay. One of these two songs that were
remade is called Sarah Williams. I'm quite surprised by this lyric as it seems to deal
about something that really happened. What is the story of that song?
Actually, Sarah Williams is a fictional character. But it
is based on true events. I think the statistics are that around 15,000 people a year get
killed in the United States by drunk drivers. And we just kinda thought it was a subject
that we should put out there and try to get people to think about. And especially since
this song is written from the viewpoint of a man who has done something horrible. He
killed someone that he loved and he's going to live with that guilt and pain for the rest
of his life. We just thought that it was the appropriate time to put that song out to the
general public. So hopefully people will listen to it and think about the subject.
Because it was written from the viewpoint
of a drunken driver and the emotions seemed so genuine it almost seemed like it happened
to one of the band members. But that's not the case.
Right. That's not the case. Although it is based on a
combination of several true stories that we know of. Just because it's such a prominent
problem here in the United States it is a subject that we're very concerned about. And
David is capable of singing with a lot of feeling and a lot of emotion. We're quite happy
actually. We think the song turned out real well. And we do hope that it makes people
think about driving drunk.
Okay. Something else now. Earlier this
year two members of Jacobs Dream left the band. You already talked about that. I'm
speaking of Gary Holtzman and Jon Noble. What are the reasons for their departures?
Basically there was just a difference of opinions and
viewpoints and visions about band management and business ideas and things of that nature.
And we were not able to reconcile the differences. So we decided that it would probably be
the best if we just all parted ways. I want to make it clear that we wish Jon and Gary all
the best of luck in everything they do. And we wish them success. We really hope they can
achieve what it is they are after. Those of us who are left in Jacobs Dream really had a
different idea about what Jacobs Dream should be. Therefore we continued as Jacobs Dream
and we hired one new guitarist whose name is Derek Eddleblute, to replace Jonny and Gary.
It's working out very well. Cutting back from three guitars to two guitars is working very
well for us. It was a very good decision on everybody's part.
According to the Jacobs Dream website the
two left the band in January but the band was already recording in November but they
didn't play on the album. Does that also have to do with their departures?
Well, it did take some extra time. We had to go back to
rerecord some of the guitar parts that Jonny Noble had already laid down. Gary had not yet
laid any guitar tracks down. There was some conflict in the band. It is kinda hard to
describe. I just want to say we were friends with Gary and Jonny and it was very painful
for us. Because we've been through a lot together. It was a whole new idea of continuing
Jacobs Dream without them. So it was a little time consuming. But we brought Derek in and
Derek picked right up on everything and did a great job. So it didn't set us back very
far. Jonny had laid down guitar tracks on several of the songs but we were able to go back
and rerecord them without any problems.
I want to talk about the touring. Last
year you played several festival including Wacken Open Air and Bang Your Head in Germany.
You also did a European tour with Armored Saint and Brainstorm. How were these
Well, I tell ya! (laughs). Let me start with the very
first one. The Bang Your Head Festival (laughs). We had a lot of sound problems on stage.
And that was a terrible performance! Nobody could hear the drums and I couldn't hear any
of them and none of them could hear each other. And all we could do was stand on stage and
try and watch each other play so we could stay together in the songs (laughs). And I tell
ya! When we came off stage and looked at each other and we went: "Oh, God, that was
terrible!" (laughs). So we know that was a terrible performance for us. But it was
the very first time we'd ever been in Europe. It was the very first time we had realized
what the European fans expect out of a band. The Wacken Festival was a much better show.
We had a good sound and we came out and were able to be ourselves on stage. We were
energetic and running around. You know, David was sick. David hurt his back terribly
before we did the Bang Your Head Festival and he had just gone to the doctor's office and
they shot him with a bunch of something. I don't know what. Painkillers and all kinds of
stuff. Just so he could even stand up on stage long enough to do that performance. But the
Wacken Festival was much better. The tour with Armored Saint and Brainstorm was just like
any tour. We had some shows that we thought we could have done better. Certain things go
wrong. Strings break. Amplifiers quit working. Chords go bad. Those kind of things happen.
But then some of the shows were really really good. And the biggest thing it did for us
was that it taught us more about what European heavy metal fans expect out of a band. And
it's a little different there than it is here in the United States. But we gained a wealth
of knowledge and experience from it. We fell in love with the guys from Brainstorm. And
they are great. They are great musicians. Great guys. They made us feel very welcome. They
were very friendly. And, of course, Armored Saint was too. Very cordial to us being an
opening band. The biggest we have learned from these trips to Europe is that we absolutely
love the people over there and the culture. The people have been friendly and courteous
and have made us feel welcome and have helped us. And, I tell ya, it has been an
absolutely wonderful experience. We are so thrilled that we got the opportunity to come
over there and meet as many people as we did. And we're really hoping to be able to come
back again soon because we absolutely love it there.
What is the difference of what people
expect in Europe compared to America? Can you tell about that?
Yeah. European fans expect something a little more
visual. Over here in the United States it's more of the audio what people are concerned
with. So, the first we had to do was actually work on our stage presence. Rather than
going out there and play they wanted to see a show. And here in the United States going
out there and playing sometimes is the show. So, how you dress is a little more
important there than it is here. Over here you can go out on stage in jeans and a T-shirt
or shorts or whatever you want to wear. People don't really care what you wear. Whereas
over there it's more the heavy metal look that people are looking for. They want to see
the heavy metal dress. And they want you to project that heavy metal image off the stage.
And that was quite interesting for us and we've been working on that. And I think the next
time we're able to play over there people will definitely see a difference.
And does the difference between the US
and Europe have to do with the fact that metal isn't a trend in your country like it is in
some parts of Europe?
You know, I think that probably has a lot to do with it.
During the 1980's here in the United States there were a lot of the big power metal bands
that were very very popular. And they had the same kind of stage show and the dress and
the look and the attitude and all those kinds of things. But that kind of went by the
wayside here in the States. Of course now the mainstream music is playing nothing but the
Britney Spears, the pop and the boy bands. A lot of rap and hiphop. And the new metal
stuff like Korn and Limp Bizkit and all that kinda stuff. And they are more of a grungy
type of dress. Not that they're associated with the grunge sound which came out of
Seattle. But I'm saying their type of dress is nothing like the typical heavy metal with
the leather and the studs and that kinda stuff. Over there in Europe the first thing we
noticed as soon as we stepped off the plane was that it's kind of like things were here in
the United States during the eighties. And we honestly weren't prepared for that. We had
never been there before. When we came to play the Bang Your Head Festival. The style of
music over here has changed and the style of music that's popular now doesn't really lend
itself to that type of stage show.
Okay. And what are the plans now of doing
tours and festivals and those sort of things?
Metal Blade has not offered us a tour yet. But we've let
them know that we are available and that we want to. They probably won't make any touring
plans until the CD is released. And it's not going to be released here in the United
States until the first part of July. So you're talking about a six week difference there
between the release date in Europe and the release date here. So, they probably won't make
any tour plans for us until the CD was actually released. But, I tell ya, we really want
to come back and play. We are hoping and praying that they do organize a tour over there
for us. Because we enjoy your countries and your fans. And we enjoy meeting the new people
and the new fans so very much. We are just bugging them (Metal Blade) to death: "When
are we going to tour? What are you working on? Are you getting us a tour together
now?" They know we want to and I imagine that we will end up playing over there very
soon. There are not any specific plans made yet. Actually, everybody that wants to see
Jacobs Dream play over there live should probably get a hold of Metal Blade Records and
let them know that they would like to see Jacobs Dream back in Europe.
Well, that's a good idea.
And now Andreas (of Metal Blade Records Europe) is going
to get about a thousand E-mails in his mailbox and he's gonna call me and scream at me:
"Billy, why did you say that? I've been flooded with E-mails!!!" (laughs)
The computer is going to crash with all
those E-mails. Uh, what band would you like to tour with?
Oh, there are so many! There are so many good bands on
Metal Blade's label. And there are so many good bands on the other labels that they
associate with. We don't really care who we play with. We will play for anyone, at any
time. We just wanna play. I would love to tour with Brainstorm again. Like I said, we fell
in love with those guys, man! And they are a great group of guys. I don't know if that'd
be possible 'cause I think they've got another CD coming out of their own pretty soon.
But, we don't really care who it's with. We just want to come back and play again.