|Heavy Metal is truly an international forum of musicians and fans. For this interview Maximum Metal's connection from the Phillipines, Miguel Blardony, was able to disolve the thousands of miles of physical distance and chat with Guatemala-based guitarist Mauricio Liborio and American vocalist Gordon Tittsworth both of Dread the Forsaken about their new CD collaberation. |
"MM" (Maximum Metal)
"ML" (Mauricio Liborio)
"GT" (Gordon Tittsworth)
MM: Hello Dread The Forsaken! How are things going down in Guatemala?
ML: Everything is going well. Staying focused on the band, and the opportunities coming our way.
|People who go to bars want to hear shit they know and really don't give a fuck about original music...to market an original act, it takes a different approach|
MM: What brought Gordon to your attention? Being so far apart, who contacted whom?
ML: Well when I first started recording the album I did not have a band, the bassist and drummer were hired musicians, and I realized it was time to find a vocalist. I started looking online, asking some musicians here in Guatemala, posting ads, etc. but I never found the right man for the job. One day I was with a friend and we were doing a search on Google, we were typing stuff like "Metal Vocalist Available" or "Singer seeks metal band" but it wasn't working, then my friend says: "Try typing Metal/Hard Rock Vocalist for hire", so I did and that's how I found Gordon's MySpace site. That same day I contacted him.
MM: So you were already familiar with his work in Images of Eden before you first got in touch?
ML: I wasn't, it was after I found Gordon's MySpace site that I learned he had a band named Images of Eden, I listened to a few Images of Eden songs and realized that Gordon wasn't the type of singer I was looking for, then I started reading on the site some of the bands he liked and in the middle of a lot of bands that I had never heard of, there was Disturbed. And that's when I contacted him, a few e-mails after that I sent him an instrumental version of Darkest Days, he sent it back to me with vocals and it was just amazing, he pulled off the style that I was looking for better than I expected.
MM: How much of a contribution did Gordon make to the songwriting and composition of the album?
ML: He wrote the lyrics for Roses Are Burning, he came up with the vocal melody lines and he fixed the lyrics that I had written for the rest of the songs. The issue was that the songs had too many words in certain parts so he was able to trim them and still convey the message.
MM: Gordon, at what point in your life did you decide that singing was to become a career?
GT: I'd have to say around age 5 when I first started listening to Kiss, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.... even through the barrage of discouragement from my family always saying that, "This is just a phase." or that I "would need to get a 'real' job". Well, the drive and motivation has only increased over time. It's still not a full-time career but hopefully one day it will be.
MM: Your vocals remind me of Dream Theater's James Labrie and Control Denied's Tim Ayman. Were you ever professionally trained or schooled? What do you remember of your first gigs with a band?
GT: Yes, actually. I took formal lessons from a trained opera singer when I was 18. The lessons were short lived (a few months) but very informative. I was given all of the tools and instruction during that time but I worked hard on my own to develop my skills.
My first gigs with a band were really fun (and with no pressure or expectations). They were nothing glamorous at all, though--just some loud all night drunken parties where everyone got sauced and was stumbling around, spilling beer everywhere. One of the first (and most memorable) was at a college party. You could hear the noise from the band and the drunks nearly a half mile away. The best part was that we played in an apartment building with neighbors all around but the cops were never called and no one complained. Those were the good ole days! This could never happen today. We'd all be at the police station sleeping in the drunk tank.
MM: How did the band, well, bond while working on the album? What did you guys do for fun while not doing music?
ML: I would drink beer and make fun of Ed's adventures. We didn't really have a lot of time, when we were not at the studio recording, Gordon and I were going over the songs and thinking about the things that we wanted to fix. It was until the last day that we were able to have fun, we went to some awesome places in Antigua, and well I personally had a lot of fun watching Gordon turn pale after visiting an underground Mayan altar.
GT: I think we basically bonded immediately. We kinda knew each other from the 2 months of emails back and forth so it was really cool to meet these guys in person. As soon as I met Mauricio and Eduardo, I immediately felt 100% at ease. Mauricio and I really utilized a lot of time to go over arrangements and vocal lines but I really think the whole trip was a bonding experience. What better way to bond than to do 6-8 hour days in the studio then hang out afterwards. It was a total surreal experience. Mauricio and I felt like brothers by the time I left. It's funny how we are both so similar in many ways but live in totally different countries.
That Mayan altar was brutal! I walked up to it and got dizzy as hell with (what felt like) something very uninviting telling me to GET OUT as if I was intruding!!! I took a snap shot and there were a ton of energy orbs all over the place. I probably looked like I saw a ghost when I got out of there. Well, something like that.
MM: Some of the heavier songs on your demo come in near the end such as "Roses are Burning" and "Dead Chances." Who are your major influences when it comes to the heavy shit?
ML: Megadeth, Slayer, Children of Bodom, In Flames, and Sepultura are mine.
GT: Primarily Pantera and Slayer but also many of my 80's metal thrash roots.
MM: The album finishes with a soothing piano driven instrumental. Do you find these types of compositions harder to write?
GT: Piano/string-oriented tunes seem to flow out naturally for me for some reason. I just get in a different mental "zone" when writing this type of stuff. It's a different mood and mindset than the heavy stuff. I tend to write these type of tunes when I'm in a mellow mood, looking outside on a day off from work. This one was written on a day off when it was pouring rain outside and I was looking out my window over the field in my backyard. I was actually reflecting on the entire experience so it came out the way it was intended.
MM: I've listened to the demo album the two of you collaborated on for a good number of times already. It isn't the final mix yet, right? What else needs improving in the songs?
GT: This is entirely a demo recording. The overall production needs tweaking. The entire thing was recorded in several different places with different settings, instruments, etc. then all uploaded into the same session, then mixed. Eduardo really had a mountain to climb to get everything fairly consistent and seamless so I commend him for that. This was not intended to be the final product, but rather to get us out there with the intention of adding some tunes and doing the full length CD a little while down the road. We're not sure what that means yet but there are several irons in the fire now and we'll need to see how things turn out. Hopefully the full length will be sooner rather than later. One day at a time, I guess.
MM: Despite the unfinished mixing the songs inside the album posses an excellent balance of softness, melody, and well, the epic stuff everyone likes. None of you had any differences writing and recording the stuff? Do the both of you really, really like Iron Maiden? It shows on "Darkest Days."
ML: We definitely have different influences, we agree on just a few. Iron Maiden being the greatest I think.
GT: Actually, we have more than that. I like all of the bands that Mauricio listens to but my main influence is progressive metal. However, I can listen to anything from Thrash Metal to Celtic/ Renaissance music, and everything in between.
MM: Have you already decided on the other details for the album when it's released? Like the cover art, inlay, the size of the first pressing, etc.?
GT: This will all be decided upon completion of the final recording. We have a few ideas but will definitely be revisiting when the time comes. As far as the pressing, who knows? This will depend on who is releasing it. I plan on doing about 600, possibly 700+ in promo alone when the time comes.
MM: It might be too early to ask this, but which songs on the album have a good chance of becoming a permanent part of Dread The Forsaken's set list? My vote still goes to "Darkest Days."
ML: Darkest Days, Give Me Wounds, Walk With Me, Wasted Youth.
GT: Yeah, I would agree.
MM: This whole Dread The Forsaken project, do you want it to endure past one album? How would you iron out the distance between the band and its singer?
GT: This is long winded so I apologize up front...
We fully tend to give it an indefinite effort. Mauricio and I really saw eye to eye immediately and this has been the best musical experience I've had to date so we intend on taking it as far as possible. Funny thing, because I went into this thinking it would be another vocal for hire thing, but it turned out to be a full time gig and I wouldn't want it any other way. I stepped out of my comfort zone and really found a project that I can have 100% fun with. Images of Eden has been my baby for years but vocally, it is much different. With Dread, I don't have to "think" too much when delivering. I can relax a bit more and actually get into it and rock like a motherfucker!
As far as ironing our any distance, well... there is no issue other than the fact that we cannot gig regularly, but seriously, that is not a bad thing. As an original band, there is no real "local" market, but only a national/international market. I learned this in MD/PA. Original bands don't play out every weekend at bars/clubs and expect to get anywhere. It's useless, and it takes a long time to produce the final result, if you can hang in there long enough. People who go to bars want to hear shit they know and really don't give a fuck about original music. From what Mauricio says, there's not too much support in Guatemala either. Most people want to hear cover bands. SO...to market an original act, it takes a different approach- national/international networking, mass promotion, advertising, interviews, CD reviews, then ideally, festivals and tours.
This all being said, we have no limitations that any band has where all members live close by each other. We communicate regularly (phone, email, etc.) and send files back and forth for each other to upload/ edit in our respective PC recording applications then send back. So, we're very productive. AND... when the time comes, we will hit the road.
MM: Do you have a good idea of how much touring the band is willing to put in for the album?
GT: We'll do what "needs" to be done. By that, I mean we will do everything possible to tour as much as we realistically can when the time comes. This will depend on who is releasing the CD and what kind of support we get. I'm 36 but if we have the means to pick up and do a massive tour, bring it on!
MM: Mauricio, let's delve into your past now. What made you want to pick up guitar and become a musician?
ML: Dave Mustaine was my initial drive to become a guitar player. My brother gave me some money to buy my first electric guitar when I was 15 years old, soon after that I met a guy in high school named Gary, he was a huge Guns N´Roses fan and a great guitarist and he taught me a few things and then introduced me to a metal band named Stratovarius. I made it my mission to become a great guitarist, I'm not there yet.
MM: For how long have you been collaborating with Eduardo Santella?
ML: This is the first time I work with Ed. He's very famous in the music scene down here in Guatemala and a great producer so he works with a lot of bands. Although I was recording at his studio, Ed being very busy at the time was not involved on the project at first, a few months later he took over the project and made things happen.
MM: How did you learn the finer points of sound engineering and producing?
GT: A lot of years beginning with trial and error, then research.
MM: Care to name some of your favorite albums? How about the musicians you admire the most?
ML: Senderos de Traición - Héroes del Silencio
Believe - Disturbed
Brave New World - Iron Maiden
Somewhere in Time - Iron Maiden
Visions - Stratovarius
Wishmaster - Nightwish
Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? - Megadeth
Musicians: Steve Harris, Dave Mustaine, Zakk Wylde, Timo Tolkki, Ronnie James Dio and Alexi Laiho to name a few.
GT: Fates Warning- Awaken The Guardian, No Exit
Type O Negative- October Rust
Badlands- Voodoo Highway, Dusk
Black Sabbath- Everything through Mob Rules
Iron Maiden- The Number of the Beast, Self Titled
Running Wild- Port Royal, Death or Glory, Black Hand Inn
Blind Guardian- A Twist In the Myth
Musicians- Ray Gillen John Arch, Geoff Tate, Peter Steele, Ray Alder, Bruce Dickinson, Hansi Kurch, Zakk Wylde, Dimebag!
MM: What kind of music scene does Guatemala have? Do you play gigs often?
ML: There is a good amount of metal bands but there's very little support. Unfortunately I do not play gigs down here because of the lineup. I'm looking forward to the Images Of Eden concert in Guatemala late this year, we're planning to do a few gigs in Guatemala and El Salvador right after it.
GT: I can't wait to hit the stage in Guatemala and El Salvador and go ape shit, belting out these tunes and not giving a fuck if I blow out my cords doing it because after this trip (providing it goes as we are planning), nothing could possibly top it other than a full blown world tour...nice run-on sentence.
MM: How big are your music collections at home?
ML: Mine is in the hundreds.
GT: Hundreds for me as well.
MM: Isn't a big music festival coming up late this year with Images of Eden headlining? Mauricio, can you tell us about this event? Have you played in it before?
ML: This event takes place every year; it is organized by a band named Viernes Verde who's had a long successful career here in Guatemala. I have never played in it. Last year was actually the first time I went to this festival, it was great. I heard from the organizers that this year the festival will be on a different level. Ed Santella is the man responsible for getting Images of Eden on the show, and they are along with Viernes Verde that headlining bands.
GT: Yeah... Eduardo really made this all possible for us!!! Thanks again, Ed!
MM: We've reached the end here, Dread the Forsaken.. Any last words?
ML: Thank you for this opportunity.
GT: Hopefully no last words for another 50 years or so.