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Ron Jarzombek (Blotted Science)

Interview with Ron Jarzombek from Blotted Science
by Yiannis Dafopoulos at 28 March 2008, 2:31 AM

The chance of interviewing a legend like Ron Jarzombek even via mail was something that made me shake. There is no other feeling towards this man than respect. So, I wanted to thank Ron for his incredible work with his new project/band BLOTTED SCIENCE and learn if there are any news at the SPASTIC INK and WATCHTOWER camps. I suppose you really want to know what he had to say to me…

Hello Ron! It is my honor to interview a living legend like you. Where do I find you now? Home resting I suppose…

Thanks, a living legend, huh? I’m blushing. LOL. I’m just taking it easy at 1:30 in the morning after a day of teaching, and the usual daily stuff like running to the post office with CD orders earlier, doing some BLOTTED accounting, practicing a bit, setting some presets on my new preamp, etc I talked to Alex an hour or so ago about BLOTTED rehearsals and possible gigs later on it the year. We also chatted about a concept for a possible BLOTTED SCIENCE II CD.

Tell us a few things about how the whole BLOTTED SCIENCE idea started.

I got the idea to form a real band with a normal line-up of a vocalist, maybe 2 guitarists, bassist and drummer when I realized that SPASTIC INK was over (or is on hiatus until further notice). Originally, I was going for something more extreme or heavy, but wanted to round up guys from different metal genres and come up with a combination/mix of a few different styles. First on board was Chris Adler (drums), then Alex (Webster - bass) was in, and neither of them really wanted to have vocals, so we began writing for the music to be instrumental. I had done quite a few prog/tech Metal CDs in the past (most of them instrumental) and wanted to do something else. I was also rather disgusted with the road that prog metal was taking, evolving into cheesy keyboard metal, so I chose to go heavier but keep lots of the tech elements.

Even though the band just released its debut album, you have already changed your drummer two times! How come?

Chris Adler was out first drummer and was with us for nearly a year. He basically didn’t work out because LAMB OF GOD’s schedule was a bit too hectic, and we also ran into problems trying to communicate musically long distance. I really wish Chris would have worked out. We did manage to record a track for the ’Drum Nation Vol.3’ compilation on Magna Carta that turned out pretty cool, but we didn’t have enough time to work out material for a full album of techy metal. Derek was with us for about 6 months and things maybe would have worked out with him if he would have been with us from the beginning and he could have contributed to the writing. We ran into problems because when he came into the picture all of the songs were written and his drumming style just wasn’t meshing with the tunes. Alex and I wrote the songs with Chris’ style in mind, and it seemed like Derek was being forced to play a certain way, which wasn’t cool for him to have to do. He didn’t want to change his style, and we didn’t want the songs to change, so we decided it wasn’t going to work out.

Was the collaboration with Alex Webster your idea or were you searching for musicians and he responded? If I am not mistaken you are good friends with him.

I had never met or had any contact with Alex before all this BLOTTED stuff started happening. Chris was first on board then I watched a video of CANNIBAL CORPSE playing Frantic Disembowelment and saw Alex shredding his ass off, so I put up a message of the SPASTIC INK/WATCHTOWER forum if anybody knew how I could get a hold of him. Within a week or so, Alex sent me an e-mail while he was on tour with CANNIBAL in Europe, and when he got back home we started writing. And, hell yeah, we’re pretty damn good friends right now.

Who wrote the music in the album? Was it all your work or did the other members contribute to the songs?

Alex and I wrote the whole thing by sending sheet music and mp3s back and forth via e-mail attachments. For the first few months that we were writing, it was non-stop tunes going back and forth, but once CANNIBAL started writing for Kill, I was pretty much on my own.  Charlie didn’t get a chance to write with us because by the time he came on board, all of the songs were written. Actually, Alex was nearly done recording his final bass tracks when Charlie popped in.

Are you planning to do any live performances to promote the album? I am damn sure that there are many people who would like to see you tearing the stage apart along with Alex here in Greece!

Yeah, we’ve got some rehearsals coming up in a few weeks. We are looking at possible playing some summer dates, but more likely we’ll shoot for festivals late this year. With Alex and Charlie’s touring and recording schedules, we don’t have much of a window to work in anything BLOTTED. That’s something that I knew from the very start. CANNIBAL is Alex’s baby and I never get in the way of what they’re doing, whether it’s rehearsing for a tour, recording, or whatever they need to do as a band. We’re already picking which songs we’re going to do at the rehearsals and likely to play at gigs.

You always had strange names in your bands. How did you come up with BLOTTED SCIENCE?

It took a while before we came up with that, and to tell you the truth I still don’t think it’s the right band name! LOL. I like the SCIENCE part, but the BLOTTED isn’t quite right. We wanted to have a band/project name that could work with various themes and concepts should we decided to do another record. Of course the Science ties into the techy side of things, and the Blotted refers to where Alex and I came from, the ink blots from SPASTIC INK, and CANNIBAL CD covers usually being full of blood splatters. When Chris was in the band we called it CORPSE OF INK for the hell of it.

The first name of the band was supposed to be Machinations Of Dementia, something that you decided to be the name of your debut album. Why did you change it?

Alex came up with Machinations Of Dementia and it was the band name for a while, but it seemed like whenever I’d run into people and tell then the name, it was too involved and I had to explain too many things. Since Machinations Of Dementia has a brain reference, and that’s what the songs were about, it only made more sense to call the album that. With a band name having science in it, we have a lot more options of concepts to write about on future albums.

Is BLOTTED SCIENCE a project or a normal band? Can we expect any future releases or was it something you just wanted to release and it didn’t fit your other bands?

When we started writing, Alex and I never defined exactly what it was. We both just wanted to write and record some heavy technical music and release it. I think Alex wanted to branch out a bit from the Death Metal world, and I was a bit tired of being Mr. Techy Guitarist and wanted to go in a different musical direction. I’ve always said that if all that comes from this collaboration is a killer recording - that’s fine. And even better if there are gigs and another CD - all the better. Of course it would be great if we could play these tunes for all of the people who have supported us. The 3 of us just met for the first time at the NAMM show out in California this past January. The album was written, recorded and released four months before we were all in the same room together! We’ll have to see what happens in the next few weeks, and I’ll be able to give you a better answer. So all I can say right now is stay tuned.

Even though I enjoyed every single second of this album, don’t you think that 57 minutes is a big duration for such kind of music? Didn’t you fear that listeners could get tired while listening to the album?

I don’t really think about the length of my albums when I work on a new CD. I know, too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing but The Machinations Of Dementia is as long as it needs to be - no more, no less. It’s a little bit like the movies - some are shorter than others but the story has to unfold properly whether that takes 90 minutes or 3 hours.  If people are suffering from sensory overload and getting mentally tired listening to Machinations in one sitting - there’s always the OFF button, you know.  Take a break and then tackle the rest if you have to.

Talking about your other bands, are there any news behind WATCHTOWER and SPASTIC INK? Regarding WATCHTOWER, you said that the possibilities of finishing the recordings you left in the middle are at this point very slim. Why is that?

WATCHTOWER has enough material written for another album for about 2 years now, but nobody is motivated enough to get it completed. For me, that material was written so long ago, and it doesn’t really represent what I’m about now, and so I don’t have much of an urgency to get it out there. The writing of the material started back in 1990 and I don’t think putting something out 15 years after the fact has much of a point. It’s almost like someone else wrote it and why should I put my name on it.  But just to make things clear:  I’ve done what I was supposed to do get the recordings done - it’s out of my hands now. As far as SPASTIC INK is concerned, I probably will never rule out writing and recording another CD with my brother. However, Bobby now lives in California and is pretty busy playing with Halford, Sebastian Bach and FATES WARNING.

I was a bit confused regarding the release of this album. Machinations Of Dementia was released by Spastic Music Publishing (at least that’s what the album I got in my hands says), but some other sites on the net mention your EclecticElectric as the label that released it. Can you please help clear things out because I still haven’t understood what’s happening?

My manager came up with the name EclecticElectric when we re-issued Ink Complete back in 2000 and that’s the label that the BLOTTED CD is released on as well. Spastic Music Publishing is the name of the publishing company that was set up back in the early SPASTIC INK days. I don’t really understand why people would think the label name is Spastic Music Publishing because when you look on the back of the CD it has the EclecticElectric logo and on the spine it says EE2007, which is the catalog number.

The album was produced and mixed by you, and mastered by Jacob Hansen. Why did you decide to be the man behind the console and how was it working with an acclaimed producer like Jacob Hansen?

Alex, Charlie and I all have our own recording setups and to be straight up we just didn’t need anybody else to get the job done. Charlie recorded his drum tracks in New York, Alex recorded in Tampa, and I recorded guitars and put it all together here in San Antonio. After the final mixes were completed we looked around for someone to master it and my manager knew of Jacob, so we gave him a shot. He gave me two mastered mixes to listen to - both of them were killer and I picked one. He just nailed it. I barely had to give him any direction at all. That’s what I totally dug about Jacob. No bullshit. I just sent him the tracks and he knew exactly what to do to bring them to life. Same thing with Anthony Alanis who did the digital work on the front cover. I gave him two pics of a bunch of brains and a skull and he put it all together from there. Again, no bullshit. Just fired it up.

Really, how would you describe BLOTTED SCIENCE’s music? It is definitely not so close to what you have recorded in the past.

Yeah, let’s just say I did my share of listening to CANNIBAL CORPSE and LAMB OF GOD CDs to get there. I learned a lot by doing that. All of the triple picking or Death Metal picking, grasping blastbeats, and basically the brutality of it all. There are death music elements to it, lots of techy things thrown it, extreme metal here and there, and even a bit of jazz/fusion that ended up like that by accident (probably because of Charlie’s versatility). Again, since there are no vocals, I think it gives the listener more options of how he/she wants to classify it.

Let’s leave the BLOTTED SCIENCE oriented questions now. During 2007 you toured with Marty Friedman on his ’Loudspeaker’ European Tour. Tell me a few things about that. Have you ever played together in the past or was it your first collaboration ever with Friedman?

We did 4 different outings: The first was the ’Guitarevolution’ mini-tour through the US Southwest in 2003, a Baltimore gig shortly after, and last spring we did the European tour, followed by a show in Tokyo, Japan. From the European tour Marty released the ’Live in Europe - Exhibit A’ CD, and from the Japan show he released the ’Live in Japan - Exhibit B’ DVD. Playing alongside Marty was great. Very cool guy and great player. We had never even met prior to the ’Guitarevolution’ tour and only met up a few days before the first show so we could run through and fine tune the set.

I was wondering, what bands or musicians did influence you when you were younger and you decided to play this kind of music?

The first album that I listened to near religiously was Kiss Alive, then came RUSH’s 2112. Once RUSH came into the picture, things would never be the same. From then on it was mostly influence by the more progressive artists, although I did grow up listening to quite a few Metal/Hard Rock guitarists including Glenn Tipton, Michael Schenker, Randy Rhoads, and Uli Roth. I think all of the film scores and cartoon music that I’ve listened to play a huge part in my writing. I’m pretty sure that that’s where all the comical stuff comes from. That stuff is all over the SPASTIC INK and solo CDs, but not too much on the BLOTTED. My favourite film composer is Danny Elfman and of course for cartoons Carl Stalling.

Is there any chance we may ever see you playing something different than Progressive Metal?

Probably not - unless someone offered me a well playing session or touring gig. My own music is just naturally progressive and I see no reason to force anything else.  Right now I’m putting together two guitar instructional DVDs, which will cover LOTS of material from both SPASTIC INK CDs, both solo CDs and the BLOTTED SCIENCE CDs. A bunch of cool theoretical things too like the Circle of 12 Tones, 12-tone sets, normal scale use and abuse, the chromatic alphabet, etc. and more useful writing tools will be explained in depth. Should be really interesting. After the guitar instructional DVDs I may write and record a multimedia CD, with a bunch of animated characters. I’ve got a spider, two ferrets, a happy bunny, an evil bat, and a gay Chinese foofoo dog. If that happens the music will be more along the lines of my solo CDs.

Do you have any regular job apart from music or have you managed to live with the money you get from playing?

I’ve supported myself for the past couple of decades mainly by teaching guitar/music here in San Antonio. CD sales and gigging (locally) also help out, but I’ve been teaching 5-6 days a week since I was 19.

 Since you are a respected and experienced member of the Metal scene, what advice would you give to people that want to form a Metal band?

Don’t be a copycat. Do your own thing.  

That’s all I wanted to ask you Ron. Thank you for your time and I wish you all the best. Anything last you’d like to add?

Just keep your fingers crossed and hope that I can make it over to Greece one of these days.  The fans there have always been really supportive of my music as has the press. Thank you for that. I’m outta here!


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