|Recently, Maximum metal had a chance to chat again with Gordon Tittsworth from Images of Eden, one of the premiere progressive bands in the Eastern U.S., about the band's upcoming CD and his opportunity to record vocals in another country where the brotherhood of metal is as strong a bond as it is in the more well-known parts of the world. |
MM- Hey Gordon, how did 2008 treat you?
GT- 2008 was a great year! I wrote a ton of brand new material for Images of Eden and began tracking the follow up CD. I revamped the lineup as well. I have also been doing some side vocal projects which have really been keeping me busy.
MM- Your main band is named "Images of Eden" and you were able to get some label action with the last IOE cd "Sunlight of the Spirit" on Nightmare Records. Have you started on the follow up cd?
|It also taught me not to brush off anything that seems too good to be true, and to look at each individual opportunity with an open mind.|
GT- Yes, I have actually been working on the next 2 follow-ups simultaneously, "Rebuilding The Ruins" (tentatively scheduled for a later 2009 release) and "Nightfall In Avalon" EP (to be released approx. 6-9 months after "RTR").
Until our drummer, Matt Kaiser, left the band in November of 2007, most of the writing had been halted due to various disagreements in the direction/concept. This presented some very unhealthy lack of inspiration, which resulted in very sporadic writing on my part. I didn't want to spend a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears on something, only for it to be torn apart or reworked and rearranged by the band to become something that I didn't want it to be. I had seen it happen and did not want to go down that road again. I knew something dramatic had to change the way things were but I did not know how to combat the stagnant lack of inspiration. Matt's departure sort of made the decision for me. This changed the IOE formula completely and I felt a new "rebirth", so to speak. At this time, I found the inspirational flood gates opening, pouring out a TON of material, as if it were fulfilling some sort of back log. Hey, whatever works, right?!?!? After discussions with the remaining band members of the direction of IOE, we came to an agreement that the future of the band was specifically to record, release and tour.
It was at this time where I formed the concept of the next 2 releases and started tracking demos, which I laid down in record time. Right now, Chris Lucci (drums) is knee deep in tracking "Rebuilding The Ruins", which he hopes to complete over the next couple of weeks. The goal is to get the CD completely tracked, mixed and mastered by the end of the summer. In between "Ruins" sessions, Chris and I will be working on the follow up release, "Nightfall In Avalon".
MM- Is it going to have a similar progressive rock sound?
GT- Rebuilding The Ruins", is much more dynamic and a lot heavier (comparatively speaking) than "Sunlight of the Spirit" (SotS). This is due to multiple factors. First off, there are 3 additional members that will appear on it- drummer, Chris Lucci (from TX- based progressive metal band, All Too Human), classically trained piano player/keyboardist, Dean Harris (from the local prog-metal band, Awaken) and bassist Bryan Wierman (current IOE member but he did not play on SotS). Secondly, half of the CD is tuned down to a 7-string drop-A tuning which gives the sound much more lower-end power and "balls". I will be playing rhythm guitar on this release and, although I'm not as nearly as an accomplished player as Dennis Mullin, my rhythm guitar style is 100% metal, rather than rock.
I think that with the evolution of my writing, a technical "powerhouse" drummer, amazing key player, a metal guitar sound, more seasoned vocals, and MUCH better production, you'll definitely hear a heavier, more evolved CD than SotS. Also, I was not 100% pleased with SotS and, in retrospect, would have spent more time tracking/mixing it, but it took 3 years to record and release so I definitely "settled" on a lot of stuff that I would not have, if we had more time and patience.
Regarding a "progressive rock" sound, that was something that was always unsettling to me because I did not like being lumped into a "progressive rock" category with bands like Rush, Yes, Spock's Beard, etc. Don't get me wrong, these are amazingly talented bands that I have tremendous respect for, but my passion lies more along the lines of metal, rather than rock. I always felt the "prog-rock" stamp labeled me as something that I was not, therefore being pushed to an audience that I couldn't identify as much with. That being said, I have taken the necessary measures in making sure that does not happen with "Rebuilding The Ruins".
MM- We hear you're also doing vocal work outside of IOE, correct?
GT- Yes, I am. A few years back, I was approached by a couple of bands who needed studio vocals done for their CDs, one of which needed a full time vocalist. I turned them down because I was still under the "old school" mentality of only working with one band. It was just after this when I realized that I was limiting myself and that I could possibly miss out on some great opportunities and adventures (talk about "foreshadowing"). By working with other bands, I thought that I could really branch out and expand my limits, and style for that matter. Not only this, but I'd gain contacts, comrades, and more notoriety through others doing promotion and distribution, so it was a no-brainer. Since then I have done work for multiple bands such as "Galexia" (featuring Arjen Lucassen/Damian Wilson), "Shadow of Creation", "Machine's Fall" (still pending) and most recently, "Dread The Forsaken". My experiences with other bands have been absolutely amazing so far. I have been (and still am) fortunate enough to work with some excellent musicians and great people in the business. In some instances, doing "side" work has been more rewarding than my experiences with Images of Eden (to date).
MM- You were really flown from the U.S. to Guatemala just to record? Any worries beforehand?
GT- I could write a book on this one so I apologize if this is a long-winded answer (as if the others weren't)...
The short answer is "yes", I was flown just to record... and "yes", I was nervous, and the anxiety multiplied exponentially over time with everyone I talked to. It got to the point where I was scaring myself so much with what "could" happen, that I decided to stop talking to people about it. This just goes to show how disillusioned the American vision is regarding Central America (something I learned while being there). For an outsider looking in, the basic facts were- a) I am an American citizen flying to a foreign country in Central (Latin) America, b) I do not speak a word of Spanish, and c) I have never met the people that I would be working with. Also, d) a quick Google search of crime in Guatemala City did not help matters at all. But, I had been in constant communication with Mauricio Liborio (DTF band leader/guitarist), sending a lot of audio files back and forth along with the recording game plan, pictures of the studio, contact info, flight/hotel itineraries, etc. so my gut told me this was 100% legit. He also thoroughly explained all of the crime info I'd been reading about. I also had an approx. 40 minute conversation with the producer, Eduardo Santella, before leaving, so that eased things a bit.
Even after going the extra mile to validate everything, the main thing that still made me nervous was that I had people try to scam me in the past, and all potential scams have 2 things in common- a) They seem too good to be true and b) They fall in your lap way too easily. This opportunity met both of those criteria. BUT, I did my homework and asked all of the right questions up front so I guess it was time to gamble a bit, and I'll always be glad that I did because it was the most amazing experience I've ever had. It also taught me not to brush off anything that seems too good to be true, and to look at each individual opportunity with an open mind. The fact that a lot of time and money was invested in getting me over there to record was extremely flattering, yet very humbling to me at the same time. It made everything I have done to date completely worthwhile.
MM- Why didn't the band have you do vocal at home and send the digitally?
GT- There was a window of time where it didn't look like the trip was going to be do-able and that I was going to have to record at home and send digital files. However, some details were ironed out and Mauricio was able to make the trip happen. All I can say is that after doing the vocals there, the end result would have only been a fraction of what is was if I had done them at home. All of the ideas being thrown around, along with the obvious difference in styles, really morphed into a nice hybrid of sub genres. I just hope the listener believes this to be true. Had I not been there, the vocals would have sounded like my "Images of Eden" style, with slight deviations, at best. I can definitely see why they wanted me there.
MM- How well did you get along with DTF once you got there?
GT- I worked primarily with Mauricio (guitarist) and Eduardo (producer) and we immediately connected. They picked me up at the airport and made me feel 100% at ease. We immediately saw eye to eye on everything and within hours of working together, I felt like we were long time friends. When I arrived at the airport to fly back to the US, I felt like I was leaving 2 brothers behind. It was a very powerful time spent.
MM- How is Dread The Forsaken's music different than Images of Eden?
GT- The music of DTF is more along the lines of guitar/drum-driven Nu-Metal (for lack of a better term). It is straight forward chunk with some unexpected arrangements/changes off the beaten path, whereas IOE is more progressive in nature. My innate vocal style is more of a higher-end clean prog-metal style, but Mauricio was looking for a vocal style along the lines of Disturbed meets Soil, with some lower-end clean but definitely a good amount of harsh. I even told him that I wasn't sure if I was the man for the job but I wanted to give it a try. That said, I did a test recording of a song called "Darkest Days" and, well....say no more. I have to say that I really enjoyed doing this project, more so than others because the style allowed me to simply have fun and (vocally) get dirty. I didn't have to focus entirely on trying to multi-layer a bunch of high end wails, creating an over the top "choir" of vocals on top of guitar harmony/keyboard-layered odd time signatures. Hey, I love that stuff too, but this was very refreshing and a great departure from the prog-style that I'm used to.
MM- How did the experience affect your way of recording?
GT- I definitely tapped into some vocal tones/styles during that session that I did not know I could pull off, so I feel like I have expanded my ability (which would not have happened if I tracked back home). Working with the producer and arranging things as we tracked, really brought out new ideas (both for them and for me). They really pushed me to think outside of the box and deliver vocal tones that I've never done before- everything from low-end rasp and even harsh (Pantera-like) vocals, to higher end harsh stuff (Disturbed-ish), to my natural clean sound. This will definitely come in handy during the vocal tracking for the next Images of Eden and will lend to the broader dynamic of the release.
MM- Images of Eden has now been booked to play the annual "Garra Chapina" festival in Guatemala from your trip down?
GT- I file this under a "WTF" type of experience. Okay, we were completely finished tracking and it was my last night in Guatemala, so Ed, Mauricio and I went out for a while. Ed suggested that IOE come to play at the "Garra Chapina" and that he could get us in. I originally thought, "Okay, yeah, I've heard this before. I'll believe it when I see it." Long story short, Ed made it happen and we'll be playing the slot just before the headliner, Viernes Verde, next December. There will be a total of 7-10 bands and approx. 10,000 people (give or take a few). This was #2 on the "too good to be true" list for the trip. So... we will need to have our next CD completely finished and with several hundred copies to take with us. From what I understand, the show is going to be promoted as "...Viernes Verde with special guests from the USA, Images of Eden..." We're all excited about this, needless to say. I'm hoping to gauge this trip so that I can do a few shows with Dread The Forsaken after the festival. Ideally, we could play a few shows in different places- Guatemala, El Salvador, etc. We have a year to plan so I know we can make it happen.
MM- You're doing something with an Iron Maiden tribute band as well?
GT- Yep, Seventh Son. This is what I call my "low-maintenance-local-gigging-money-maker-to-keep-the-chops-and-stage-performance-up-while-I-prepare-for-what-I-really-want-to-do, project" and really nothing more. This project stemmed from years of frustration trying to do well as an original band in a town where no one gives a f*** about original music. Also, I did not want to start a cover band because it takes a long time to get a following as a cover band as well. Since there are only a limited number of hours in the week where I can devote to music, I knew I would need to maximize them. Since the years have soured me to the point of being disgruntled over the local scene, my solution was an Iron Maiden tribute. I figured that there are a lot of Maiden fans out there but not many bands who attempt to do it, much less, a whole night of it. The goal is to book a show or so a month and play to an established audience. We don't need to "hit the streets" and promote profusely to sell ourselves. Iron Maiden has already done that for us. We just need to deliver and make the audience come back for more. So far.... So good!
MM- So, basically, you had a good metal year and you've got big plans set for 2009. Any last words?
GT- Yes, 2009 is looking to be an amazing year. I have multiple CDs being released (Images of Eden as well as other projects) and I'll be flying overseas again for a major festival/hopefully a few shows. Visit our site, www.imagesofeden.com for more info and updates.