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Kurt Bachman, Jeff King (Believer)

Interview with Kurt Bachman, Jeff King from Believer
by Yiannis Dafopoulos at 24 May 2009, 7:40 PM

I was thrilled to see BELIEVER returning to the Metal scene with a more than good album! I surely wouldn't miss the chance to talk to Kurt Bachman and Jeff King about the band's plans, the new album and of course the time they were musically dead… until now!

Interview with: Kurt Bachman and Jeff King from BELIEVER

Hello there! Congratulations on your new release! How did you decide to reform and release a new album after all these years? How does it feel being back and kicking ass?


Kurt:  It feels amazing to be back and thanks for the congrats!  I relocated back to the area that is closer to Joey (Daub, drums) and the studio and we just decided to get together and jam for fun.  We quickly noticed that the chemistry was still there and it felt more like 15 days rather than 15 years had past.  We never really had a discussion about a BELIEVER reunion, but one thing led to another and we started recording the tunes we wrote.  Some friends of ours told us that we should put the tunes out there into the world, so we started getting a bit more serious about the recording.  The result was Gabriel.

Your sleep lasted for 16 whole years! What were you BELIEVER guys doing during all those years?

Kurt:  After Dimensions I went back to school and earned my Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine from Johns Hopkins and started my own cancer research lab (WOW!).  Joey stayed in music and became a member of FOUNTAIN OF TEARS with Jeff King.  They asked me to provide some fresh ears during the mix of the FOUNTAIN CD and that just helped to fuel the music spark in me once again.

Most bands that reunite usually feature the original line up, but instead you decided to return with a new, renovated line up. Did you want the band to have fresh blood?

Kurt:  After the Sanity Obscure tour, Dave and Wyatt went on to pursue other career interests so it was basically Joey and I with friends for Dimensions.  As we were working on Gabriel, we wanted to, as you said, infuse new blood into BELIEVER to expand our musical diversity.  Jeff and Joey played in FOUNTAIN together, Kevin and Elton are longtime friends, so it was very easy to construct the new line up and bring in their ideas.

Tell us a few things about Gabriel. When were the songs composed, where did you record it?

Jeff: We were fortunate to be able to work in our own studio for this album. Joey has a studio that we built in order to record an album for our other band - FOUNTAIN OF TEARS. We upgraded the studio gear in several stages throughout the BELIEVER project and spent a lot of time setting things up to our liking while we were recording. In terms of the writing, a lot of the material was created at Kurt's house, where our practice studio is located. Some very early rough recordings were made there onto an analog 4-track. We then did pre-production on 5 songs at Joey's studio before the official start of the recording process. We mixed the entire project at Joey's studio and then sent it to Alan Douches at West West Side Music for mastering.

The cover artwork is kind of dark and cold. Who designed it and what does it exactly represent?

Jeff: The cover art was created by Michael Rosner of Eye Level Studio in Sacramento, California. He has a very unique style of body art and we were instantly drawn to the dark mood that his work conveys. There is no specific idea that we wanted the cover to represent. Our intention was for people to look at it and develop their own interpretations.

How are the first reactions from your comeback? I guess the press and the fans (especially the fans) must be ecstatic about your return!

Jeff: Yes, I guess there are many fans who are very happy about BELIEVER putting out another album. It is also great to see lots of new fans, some of whom weren't even alive when the last album came out! Even so, there was a lot of new, creative energy in the studio and we certainly didn't want to rehash the past. Kurt has often said that he sees Gabriel as another first album and during the entire recording process we never viewed this as a comeback album. We were writing music that was fun for us, drawing from bands and art that inspire us right now, and we had no idea if anyone else would like it.   

I would like you to give us some info about the guest appearances on Gabriel. Rico, Miller and Gray give their own touch to your new album. Did you already know these guys or was it something your label helped for? Why did you pick the specific guys?

Jeff: BELIEVER toured with SACRIFICE in the early 90's and stayed friends with the band up through today, so it seemed natural to ask Joe Rico to do a guest solo on the record. Joey and Kurt recorded and produced the LIVING SACRIFICE Inhabit album and stayed friends with those guys ever since. Joey and I hung out with Rocky a couple times while he came through our area with EVANESCENCE and he was also interested in doing a lead. We went to see a LIVING SACRIFICE show in Allentown, PA and drove Rocky back to Joey's place after the show so we could record his part. Deron Miller contacted Roadrunner in order to get in touch with us about the possibility of playing on the album. We were very happy to have him on board as well.

Gabriel is pretty technical and complex album, yet features the classic BELIEVER elements. How would you describe your sound to someone who has never listened to your music?

Jeff: It's very difficult for us to describe the sound, mainly because we're too close to it and we purposely dislike being placed in any kind of a genre-based box. There are elements of Thrash and technical Metal, some parts that people define as progressive, but also some avant-garde and electronic things taking place. A big part of what defines the BELIEVER style is Joey's drumming - heavy use of odd meters and incorporating Jazz techniques, for instance - along with Kurt's insane rhythm playing and lightning-fast picking patterns. Of course, classic BELIEVER incorporated a lot of classical/chamber music elements and they are known for pioneering the use of orchestral instruments in Metal. Kurt and Joey felt that relying on that same formula for Gabriel would be limiting, so we tried to experiment with electronic sounds this time around.

You have a contract with Cesspool Recordings that belongs to KILLSWITCH ENGAGE's Howard Jones. How did you come in contact with him? Do you listen to his band and modern Metal stuff in general?


Jeff: A few years ago someone sent us an interview in which Howard mentioned that he knew BELIEVER was working on new material and that he was a big fan. Kurt and Joey still have friends at Roadrunner and they contacted the label to see if Howard would be interested in making a guest appearance on the album. Of course, he was, and over time we became good friends with him. Before that, however, he had asked us about signing to Cesspool Recordings. He had been talking with Brian Slagel for some time about forming his own imprint under Metal Blade and he told us he wanted BELIEVER to be his first band to join. We listen to a lot of different musical styles, from classical and Jazz to prog, Metal and many more.

What do you think BELIEVER has to offer today?

Jeff: All we can do is to create music that is meaningful to us personally. If someone else likes it or gets something from it then that is all the more reason for us to continue, but it is not the driving force. The motivation has to come from within. If you start by trying to write things you think other people will like, it comes off as dull and lifeless because you are not being true to the source of your own creativity. I think that in terms of music, we've been around for a while and we remember when albums were not compressed to the point where all the dynamics are gone. We know that the kind of sonic perfection that can be achieved by editing your music to death with computer software can actually make it less musical. So we can do what we think sounds good and show people that there is more than one way to do things.

Back to Gabriel… Who wrote the lyrics? Is there a concept behind this album?

Jeff: The lyrics were written mainly by Kurt, with some help from Joey and I. There isn't a concept to the album. We just wrote about things that were on our mind and tried to keep the lyrics open to interpretation so that they could be more personal for our listeners.

Did the new members take any part in the songwriting or did you write all things yourself?

Kurt: Joey and I wrote the core of each tune and then Jeff layered in his key parts.  We then handed over the tunes to Elton and he and Jeff worked to incorporate the industrial touch. Kevin was a huge help in the studio and really helped with guitar production.  It was great to have these guys involved and we are excited to hear how the next 2 records sound.

Are we going to see more things from BELIEVER in the future or it was a kind of hit and run album?

Jeff: This is definitely not a hit and run album! (Laughs) We are committed to working with Cesspool/Metal Blade for at least a couple more albums and are beginning to toss around ideas for the next one.

What are your plans for now? Composing new songs, touring, resting?


Jeff: Right now we are in full rehearsal mode. We plan to do our entire live show without using any DAT tapes or click tracks. Everything you hear will be either played live or triggered in real time from one of the members on stage. There is a lot of work to do learning all the parts and figuring out who is doing what, but we're making progress. We won't be doing any heavy touring. I think we'll probably start by trying to get some opening slots when certain tours come through our general area and then take it from there. Of course we're also busy keeping up with band business in general.

Let's move away from BELIEVER. I guess you don't make enough money to live only by music. Do you have a daily job or something?

Jeff: We all have day jobs. I have my own business and my income is split between recording and producing for other clients on the one hand, and consulting services for web businesses on the other.

How do you see al this revival with bands like CYNIC, PESTILENCE, ATHEIST etc being back on action?

Kurt: This is just a great time and we are truly stoked to see these masters back in the scene.  There must have been some universal or cosmic occurrence that triggered this revival, because I certainly can't explain the why now? question.  It is awesome though and a great time for fans of experimental heavy music.

Thanks a lot for your time and I wish BELIEVER all the best! Is there anything else you would like to add?

Jeff: I'd just like to say thank you for your interest in the band and to your readers for taking the time to read this interview. We have a web site at believerband.net and of course a Myspace page at myspace.com/believerband if anyone is interested in finding out more (Or for drawing their own conclusions about how to describe our music!). We enjoy feedback - positive or negative - so let us know what your thoughts are.

Kurt: Agree with Jeff and thanks very much for your support!  We greatly appreciate it! Cheers.



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