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Ray Alder (Fates Warning)

Interview with Ray Alder from Fates Warning
by Thodoris Pantazopoulos at 07 February 2005, 4:34 PM

Since I first joined forces with the mighty Metal Temple team, I wasn't exactly the first guy you would think of to have do an interview with any musician. But this time I was dying to do it. I find it difficult to express myself about the way this band makes me feel. A band that steadily ascended progression's steps and with great mastery and a low-profile obligated everyone to take a bow before its genius and the incomparable professionalism. Ladies and gents, the voice of Fates Warning, Ray Alder.

Well Ray, the first question concerns your feelings about the release of your latest album, which was the one that the fans had to wait for the first time for so long to hit the stores.

Yeah, it’s been a long time man, you know we had been working on solo projects and we took way too much time to realize that so many years have passed. Normally it’s about two years and even that’s a long time to put on a record but we were doing our own thing and Jim (Matheos) was doing O.S.I. and right when we began to start writing the new record the Queensryche, Dream Theater tour popped. We put everything on hold for that, and that was another six months and when the tour was over we started writing. I think the greatest thing about the tour was that it carried over I think to the new record. You know we had that feeling of playing live and we played our shortest, upbeat songs  and there was excitement. And so the songs on this record are shorter and probably louder than we normally do.

Yes I think that’s pretty obvious. Do you believe that this is your most demanding record? Have you worked harder than you did in the previous releases, not only as far as time is concerned but also for it’s material?

Yeah, you know most of the records we’ve done before contained 8-minute songs, 12-minute songs, but this time we wanted to do something shorter and it was actually more difficult to come up with something catchy, heavy and to draw the listener in. Also there were 4 years since our latest album, and there was a lot of pressure…

(interrupting) Well, that’s natural after such a masterpiece like Disconnected.

Oh thank you, but you know some people didn’t like it very much but I believe that Jim made some really strong writing in it.

As he always does! Anyway, along with a new album there’s also a new status for the band. A vital member, Mark Zonder, departed after a 15 year collaboration. How does that make you feel?

Well, obviously we’re all friends and it was about time you know…he worked with many bands and eventually he probably isn’t happy anymore with what he’s doing. Mark enjoyed playing in the studio very much but he didn’t like playing live, but when you’re in a working band you must make sacrifices, to be on the road to play for the fans. To me that’s the main thing but unfortunately Mark has his own business and can’t be far from home or something.

 So it wasn’t because he wanted to experiment musically with other stuff, other forms of music.

Well, he does play with other band but the main thing was that he didn’t want to go on the road for like six weeks.

So, do you have in mind any possible replacements for Mark?

I don’t know right know, the main thing is to go on tour and then we’ll worry about the drummer. We’re continuing with a sessions drummer and that’ll probably be Nick Di Virgillio with whom we toured in America. He’s an amazing drummer and amazing guy too. You know, Mark is kind of a jazz drummer but Nick has a completely different sound, he’s more of a Rock drummer.

About your latest work now, I’ve heard it several times until now and I find it much heavier than your two previous releases, though its atmosphere is quite similar to Disconnected. I want you to give your own point of view on ’FWX’s musical nature.

I believe that it’s the kind of music to be played live, it’s more aggressive than anything we’ve done before and carries a lot of energy. It still has the band’s signature, it’s dark and a bit somber. I think that it’s a natural progression for the band.

Speaking of playing live, could you share with us the memories and feelings of your American tour with Dream Theater and Queensryche? You know many people in Europe could sell their souls to the devil to watch such a show!

It was something very special for us first of all because I personally am a fan of Dream Theater and Queensryche and everybody got along and watched each other play…it was really amazing. Surely one of the best times in my life.

It’s a pity these shows don’t happen in Greece or Europe anyway, I bet there would be thousands of crazy fans in the specific show.

Yeah I can imagine it, you know so far any European interviews I’ve done everybody keeps asking: Why didn’t you come to my place? \[Laughs] It isn’t my fault but who knows what might be in the future?

Oh come on! I’m Greek, I can’t be optimistic over such things! Anyway, have you ever pondered the band’s career so far from the commercial point of view? I mean, after so many years of stable career and quality album after quality album are you merely disappointed that still your work isn’t entirely acknowledged?

There’s nothing to bet upset about, I think. The fact that we’re still around is amazing anyway and we surely do hold a stable and loyal fan base. I can’t deny that popularity was one of those things we didn’t really have. We’ve been called many things, like One of the best prog bands or One of the bands that started the whole thing but up to this.

Maybe your material is too complex for most people out there…

I really don’t know, Dream Theater is more complex than we are but they are still huge. It’s maybe the uh…pain of God that touched us! \[Laughs] It doesn’t matter anyway ’cause we’re in this job to play the kind of music we want to and please us. Of course we want our records to make good sales but it’s more important to be satisfied with what you do.

You’re definitely right. What about Engine, Ray? Have you gathered new material? Should we expect a new record?

We all agreed that once the new Fates Warning album is released and we get through the promotion process and live performances, we will take a year off. So there isn’t anything to be done now but eventually we’ll definitely do a new record.

Ok Ray, now there’s something I really wanted to ask you and it’s all about a video clip in your DVD release The View From Here which was recorded at your live show here in Greece. How did you choose to include this specific footage among others?

There’s a part in this video where Jim turns around and talks to the guitar technician, who was already filming, and by shaking his head he’s saying something like Holy God! It was incredible man, amazing! The crowd was so loud it was even hard for us to hear ourselves! Awesome man!

So you’re expecting an even better welcome this time…

Well yeah…I mean this crowd is still great, they know every single word from the songs! I think that when we’ll play in Athens again we’ll record the whole thing.

Wow man this is fuckin’ great!

\[Laughs]Yeah, we are planning to put it in our next DVD release!

You’d better not brake this promise, Ray! I just can’t wait for this! Thanks for your time Ray, it was a real honor.

Take care man, see you in Athens.


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