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Tourniquet

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Thirteen years have elapsed since Tourniquet's debut release Stop The Bleeding. This has been more than enough time for the band to establish themselves in the high ranks of the ever changing world of metal music. With a new album entitled Where Moth And Rust Destroy coming up, drummer Ted Kirkpatrick has time to explain there's more in this world than the material world that everyone is so familiar with.

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Discography: Stop The Bleeding (1990), Psycho Surgery (1991), Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance (1992), Live EP (1993), Vanishing Lessons (1994), Carry The Wounded (1995), Collected Works (1996), Crawl To China (1997), Acoustic Archives (1998), Microscopic View Of A Telescopic Realm (2000), Where Moth And Rust Destroy (2003).  Available through: Metal Blade Records & Tourniquet.  Interview by: mpo. Date: March 14th 2003

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Tourniquet. FLTR: Steve Andino, bass; Ted Kirkpatrick, drums; Luke Easter, vocals.

You're about to release the follow up to Microscopic View Of A Telescopic Realm which came out three years ago. There was a time when Tourniquet released almost a CD every year. Why took it so long for us to wait for Where Moth And Rust Destroy?

Well, we were kind of working on some other things. We're doing some video things. We came out with this Video Biopsy 2000 and then we came out with a new DVD that we'd been working on. Some of the older albums when we were coming out once a year, you know, one of them was a live EP and one of them was a best of and one of them was an acoustic album. So, I really think only the first three albums that we did were kind of by the year. You know 1990, 91, 92. And then it was quite a while between the studio albums, the full length studio albums like you would consider Microscopic or the new one Where Moth And Rust Destroy.

I was thinking, because you got married two years ago, I think...

Oh, almost five years ago!

Five years ago? Aha, I thought that was one of the reasons...

No, not at all. That's actually given me more free time and so on. Yeah, we had in 1994 Vanishing Lessons and I don't think it wasn't until 1997 till we came out with the next one Crawl To China and then it was 2000 between Crawl To China and Microscopic. So, two or three years is not unusual for us. But maybe the next one, there seems to be such a great excitement, to be honest, almost more than I've ever seen, for this new one, that maybe next time we won't wait so long and get it back down to a year.

I was wondering because you got married, five years ago, did that change your perception of being in a band?

Being married? No, not at all. My wife is very supportive of what we do and what I do. Tourniquet has never been a touring band. People ask us "when are you gonna do a tour?" We've never done tours. We did in the US, once we went for three weeks on the road. But we've always been a band that's done not so many live shows a year and it's mostly been fly-out shows where we play in a weekend or something. So, nothing's changed with that.

A few months ago you communicated to the fans that you're quite pleased with the new album. What makes you so happy about it?

Well, now I'm especially happy because I've probably done 30 or more interviews so far and there's a lot of early reviews coming out that we couldn't be happier with, that are beyond what we were hoping for. I'm happy with a few specific things. I'm very happy with the production. Once again, Bill Metoyer... I told Bill, I said "Bill, I want this record to have a bigger sound to it than the last album, a fuller sound." And Bill definitely accomplished that. But still you can hear all of the notes and all of the things that are going on in the music. And then I'm very happy with Luke's performance. I think this is Luke's best album, without a doubt, that he sounds the best on. Of course, to have Marty and Bruce come in and play guitar solos, I mean, that's more than you could ask for. And I'm also very happy about the way the drum sound came out.

I've got quite a tricky question.

Okay!

Do you actually listen to it at home?

Yes, aha. Yeah, we listen to it. Of course when we are mixing we listen to it in all different formats. But, actually, the best one we're mixing, the way we really mix it, is in my car. That's kind of how we know when the sound is right. I know how things sound in my car. And people might find that surprising that a lot of times that's how we listen to the final mix is in the car.

So, it's especially for in the car to listen to?

Yeah, 'cause I know how things sound. It's one of the European. It's the old German BMW. So it's got a sound system that's very good and you can hear how things are supposed to be.

Aren't you afraid that people on Route 66 are going to drive to fast with this music?

Hahaha! That's right! We test the music sitting so maybe next time we should listen to it going on the autobahn, come over there and test it out.

Okay, next question. In 1990 you were about to join Bruce Franklin's band Trouble as their new drummer, so I understand. For Where Moth And Rust Destroy you invited him to do some of the lead guitar parts. How was it working with him?

It was terrific! Actually, I was in the band Trouble for a time. It was not in 1990. I think it would have been in 1988 or something. I played in the band for a short time. We did a couple of shows and then it was kind of a downtime for the band, tours didn't work out. So, I went back to LA. But I remained friends with Bruce for all these years. And I talk to him and see him once in a while. He lives just a couple of hours from here, down here in Chicago. So I said "Bruce, do you wanna come up and do a couple of songs?" So, he was kind enough to help out a little bit. I've always liked, not only his playing, but also his sound. He's got that great seventies stoner sound going on that I really liked.

Did he also have some kind of impact on the way songs were done?

No, the songs were totally written, all the songs, as they always are with Tourniquet. You know, when I've written a song it's finished. But he definitely wrote his own lead. We got him the rough mix and he, of course, wrote his own lead solo on it.

You also had Marty Friedman, formerly of Megadeth joining you in the studio. You know Marty for quite some years. How did you get to know him actually?

I met Marty years ago when he was doing a guitar clinic with Jason Becker. So I met both of them at that time and kept in touch with Marty and he's very familiar with Tourniquet's music. To have him on the album was really terrific. People that know his playing, you hear two notes of his playing and you know it's him. He just has his own, totally unique style.

There have been rumors saying Marty is going to be the new guitarist as Aaron left last year. This appears not to be true but how is the search for a new guitarist actually going?

The search is, I would say, not going very well. If I would say it would be going great, if we had found the right guitar player, but to be honest that hasn't happened yet. We've had people sending in videos and so on. But the guitar player position is very important. It's not just about how great a lead player you are, but you have to be a terrific rhythm guitarist as well which is almost more important. And be able to play things live. And the guitarist also did a lot of the yelling vocals live, so that's really important too. We're still having people that are interested. At the right time, I feel, we get the right person.

You brought Tourniquet to such a high level that it seems very hard to get a good guitarist?

Well, there's guitarists up there that are good at one thing or another. But to find someone that can do all those things good, and have a certain image that people like to see on stage, not to mention the fact we're a band made up of Christians, so that's an important part as well. It wouldn't make any sense to have someone up there that doesn't believe or doesn't agree with what our lyrics are about.

Ted Kirkpatrick in action

As you have guest appearances on the new album, I started wondering. As you are quite known as a prominent drummer, do you get requests yourself to work on someone else's album?

I've gotten a few. But generally I don't have the time or it hasn't worked out for one reason or another. Most people know that I'm dedicated to Tourniquet. I can pretty much do whatever I want on drums on our albums anyway. Although I do have a whole side to my playing that people haven't seen. When I do this drumming instructional video I think a lot of that's gonna come out. There's very different drumming things that people really haven't heard before. But I would be open if there was something interesting to playing on an album.

You also have wide range of influences. You also said that there's another side of you as a drummer that people mostly don't see. You're also known for being a huge fan of classical music including Bach and Beethoven. Many artists do solo projects. Do you have a desire or even plans of doing something outside of Tourniquet that you couldn't do within the Tourniquet format?

Yeah, I might like to do that sometime. There are, as you said, other kinds of music that I really love that I would maybe interested in doing a solo album some day. So, that would be down the road a way. But it would be interesting.

And Tourniquet's music is a kind of music people listen to and like it. But classical music is some kind of timeless music because it was written hundreds of years ago and people still like it. Do you think that the music of Tourniquet is timeless?

Oh, I would never sit here and presume that 200 years from now someone will be listening to and loving Tourniquet. I don't really know what will happen. I can say that to me good, well written music is always timeless. You could talk about timeless as 200, 300, 400, 500 years ago, or you can talk about timeless like listening to a song like Yesterday by The Beatles. It's only timeless because it's 30 years ago. But maybe in a hundred years people will still be saying "boy, what a beautiful song that is."

Yeah, that's possible.

So, it's possible, sure.

Is it also something, as classical music is timeless, that you want to do something in that kind of direction?

Well, I would love to. I firmly believe that I could really, and I have some of the parts in my head, that I could write a whole symphony. I would really love to do that. But the costs involved, the trials of having a whole symphony learn your music especially when the person writing the music can't write any notes down, is a daunting test to say the least! But I would sure love to. If the situation was right and I had ten million dollars that would be fun to do.

The last few years Tourniquet didn't do a great amount of live shows. You were on some big festivals though. Two weeks ago you released a DVD called Ocular Digital with a show from 2001 at the Flevo Festival and old footage from a show in 1991. This DVD is available through Tourniquet Productions and it's a great opportunity for those fans that didn't have a chance to see you live. My question is, are there plans to release it through a major company?

Well, right now Metal Blade is looking at it. They're interested and they've been having a great success with the label with DVD's. So I think they're interested. They know that Tourniquet has a worldwide fan base. So, we're talking with them and seeing if maybe we can work something out with them. Because it seems a lot of people are really getting DVD's. Like you said, it's great for a band that doesn't play live all the time. And there are two different concerts, ten years apart, so you can see what it's like.

When it's out through Metal Blade it would be easier to get for many people.

I would imagine, yeah. Not to say that it will be out on Metal Blade, just that we're talking and we'll see what happens. Yeah, I would imagine that if it came out on Metal Blade it would be like finding a Six Feet Under or a Gwar DVD, it would be like that.

I haven't seen the DVD but I do recollect that Tourniquet used to work with a pyro technician called Devino in the early days. Some weeks ago there was a disaster at a Great White show killing many people including Great White guitarist Ty Longley. With this in mind, what are your experiences with the use of fire works at a concert?

Yeah, that's a great question. We obviously have seen this terrible, terrible situation. So sad. Not only for the people who passed away. But you can imagine the heartache goes through the families and lives and all the girl friends an all that. It's just horrible. Yeah, we have used pyro stuff before. And Devino did some stuff with flames coming out of his face and things like that. They're mostly outdoor shows where there was lots of air. We never did in a cramped, stuffy place. Just looking at that video of that Great White concert, I mean, it just seems ridiculous when you look at the video and see these sparks slamming into the ceiling. And you just can't imagine what they were possibly thinking. I don't understand how... It was obvious the flames were just... So, not to say who's at fault. But it was obvious that was not appropriate for that venue however the decision was arrived at.

With this in mind, do you think it's not appropriate to do this on a concert?

No, I wouldn't say that at all. It depends on where it is. You know, we've had a couple of concerts that I have on video where Devino did pyro stuff on a huge outdoor stage and there isn't anything around for fifty feet. No, I'd say that's totally fine. I think common sense comes into play and be very careful about things. Just like you take a child to a concert and the band's playing at 120 decibels and you bring your child and don't put earplugs in their ears. I mean, that can be very harmful. A lot of it comes down to common sense. I think there were a couple of clubs early on where we said "the stage is a little too small, we'd better not do this, it's not a good idea," and we ended up not doing it.

When you've filled in the position of a guitarist, are you planning to do some shows?

Yes, we sure would like to. There's so many places. Even in the US, I'm embarrassed to say, we haven't been to some of the major cities. And countries over there, it's awful we haven't been to. We have so many fans. You know, Finland and Sweden and places like that, that we really need to get over there.

And on what does it depend? Are promoters supposed to contact you or is Metal Blade perhaps interested in arranging a tour with one of their bands?

Yeah, all we would have to do is tell Metal Blade we're able to do some shows. They've got so many contacts and bands that are out there and so on, that we can either hook up with one of their bands or... you know, we get e-mails all the time of promoters that want to bring us to different places, different countries. So we just kind of have to put that on a hold for now.

Where Moth And Rust Destroy album cover

Finally I want to go through the entire track listing. I was wondering if you could give a comment on each song? Maybe something about the background, or how it was recorded or some kind of story attached to that specific song?

Yeah, okay.

Where Moth And Rust Destroy

That's the title track and just a great message about whether you're a Christian or you don't have any interest in God at all. It's something we can all relate to. There are things much more important in life than material things. When you pass away you're left with, whether you're rich or a homeless person living on the street, you're left with what you did with your life and with your soul. It's for people to keep that in mind.

Restoring The Locust Years

That's musically a good old metal song. It's greatly influenced by Iron Maiden. I thought their combination of catchy guitar riffs and melody was really great. People have commented that it kind of reminds them of a classic Iron Maiden track.

Drawn And Quartered

If I had to pick one song on the album that would kind of encompass everything that Tourniquet is about, it might be that one. It's a long song, eight minutes or something. It has the classical influence. It's got the very slow to the very fast. It's got some great lead playing from Marty and great vocals from Luke. And also it's got something else Tourniquet is known for, using weird instruments. It's got an instrument called the dulcimer on it, which is a native American, kind of a mountain instrument.

A Ghost At The Wheel

That song has a great guitar solo by Bruce Franklin. You can really hear what I was talking about, that kind of seventies guitar tone in there. It's the kind of song that talks about... Maybe we all have a friend or someone we've known, someone in the family, someone that loses touch with themselves. And we kind of look at them and think "I don't think I know you anymore, what happened?" That's what that song is about.

Architeuthis

Architeuthis is the Latin word for this genus of giant squid. It's one of the last mysteries left on earth as far as the animal world is concerned. They've had a couple of hundred of these things wash up on shores around the world but they've never seen one alive. The song is talking about relating this to how we can't see God doesn't mean he isn't out there. I think musically that song, to a lot of people... They seem to really like it. That song, it's got a real good classical feel to it with a lot of double bass drumming and so on.

Melting The Golden Calf

It's kind of that story of the old testament of Moses that brought the two tablets with the ten commandments down. Now the people didn't want to follow it. It just got a really great groove to it. It's a song you can really rock out to and really feel where the beat is. That's actually one of our favorite tracks.

Convoluted Absolutes

That's another song that Luke wrote the lyrics to. That's just a very heavy, overdriven sound with a lot of groove to it. And it kind of talks about our society how we've, in the last five years even, ... That things seem to be, instead of black and white... How you could say ten years ago "well, that's wrong" and "that's not right to do", that things that seemed definitely wrong ten years ago now we kind of say "well, you know, it might be wrong unless somebody had a rough childhood or this and that." Convoluted is another word for watered down, where things are in the grey area. It's a song about that.

Healing Waters Of The Tigris

Well, that seems to be a lot of people's favorite track on the album. It's a long song. It's got an incredible three minute guitar solo in the middle that Marty did. It's got a very Middle Eastern sound to the whole song. I played on an instrument that's called the bouzouki and it's the national instrument of Greece. It's got a really neat sound to it. That's definitely another song that takes you on all the twists and turns from the very fast to the peaceful.

In Death We Rise

That's definitely the big surprise of the album. Some people don't know what to do with it and other people say "oh, my gosh, I love this song!" It's by far the slowest tempo of any Tourniquet song we've ever done on any of our albums. It's just a very slow, doomy, plodding song. The vocals are practically buried in the mix to accentuate the sound of the guitars. It's a good one to either fall asleep to or meditate or whatever you want to do (laughs).

When you look at the entire track listing, is there any specific song that you can relate to personally best?

Oh, gosh! Let's see. I think maybe the second track, Restoring The Locust Years. It's got a really great message for people. No matter where you are in life, God takes you where you're at. You don't have to clean up your life before you can come to God and say "I've really messed up my life." It takes it all right where we're at. That's really the song that I think has a great message.

Is there a specific song you really want to play live?

Well, I'm sure we'll play the title track live. That's a definite.

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