Hi Nick! First of all thanks for answering some questions for our readers of Metalglory! I hope you're doing fine and the reactions to your new album "Snowfall on Judgement Day" have been great this far?
My pleasure! The reactions to the new CD have been really, really good. I think it’s our best reviewed CD to date, and that’s saying something. Hopefully this translates into some growing degree of commercial success – that’s always the hard part.
Well, I certainly dig your album, although I have to admit that I didn't know Redemption before I received "Snowfall on Judgement Day" for a review. For all our readers who are as ignorant as me... hehe... could you please give us a short introduction to the band: Who are you and what's your mission? ;-)
I am actually quite pleased that you are only newly acquainted with us...that means we’re growing! :-)
Redemption was formed in Los Angeles, California in late 2000 by me, Nick van Dyk, guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter. Following a chance meeting at a live show in Hollywood, I became close friends with Ray Alder (legendary vocalist Fates Warning) and eventually I collaborated on a song on Alder's first solo record with his band Engine. I asked Ray to help produce a CD of my more progressive metal music, and we assembled a group of players to record the project, including Bernie Versailles (Agent Steel, Engine) on guitar and Jason Rullo (Symphony X) on drums. Rick Mythiasin (Taraxacum / ex-Steel Prophet) signed on to be the vocalist for the project, and Ray, along with Fates Warning drummer Mark Zonder contributed guest performances. We were signed to Sensory Records and released its self-titled debut in the summer of 2002.
After our CD was well received, we were asked to perform at the Atlanta-based ProgPower festival, the most important progressive metal festival in the United States, in September 2002. Due to scheduling constraints, a different performing lineup was needed and I found drummer Chris Quirarte and bassist James Sherwood of southern California prog-metal act Prymary, along with vocalist Corey Brown (Magnitude 9). Ray also joined us on stage as a guest performer.
When I set to work writing and recording the follow-up, upon hearing the completed music, Ray asked to join the band as its full-time vocalist in the summer of 2004 (in addition to remaining the vocalist for Fates Warning and Engine). We recorded its sophomore release, The Fullness of Time, and we worked with Tommy Newton, known for his production work with such bands as Conception, Ark, Helloween and UFO, to mix and master the record.
Since this time, we added Sean Jennings on bass, and more recently Greg Hosharian on keys, and we have two more studio CDs plus a live DVD out. The most recent release is Snowfall, produced by Tommy Hansen.
What I really like about "Snowfall on Judgement Day" is that the record breathes the air of epic progressive music but still gets to the point without losing itself in wild, irreproducible structures. You managed to create a perfect balance of Prog Rock and Metal. What about your earlier albums? How do you see the predecessors of "Snowfall on Judgement Day" from your perspective today?
First, thank you fort he kind words! I have always tried to avoid being a „typical“ prog band and I’ve tried to avoid a lot of the cliches in the genre. I do think that we emphasize a heavier approach to the music, which sets us apart from a lot of other bands making Progressive Metal. This is something that we have tried to do pretty consistently. All of our CDs with Ray, including 2005’s The Fullness of Time and 2007’s The Origins of Ruin pretty much grab you by the throat from the first note and don’t let go – there’s no obligatory 75 second introduction, for example.
I think our work with Ray has been consistent in its sound but also reflects a good amount of growth and improving songwriting skill. I’m very proud of all of these releases. The self-titled CD, which featured a different singer, was a slightlyh different animal – almost like a demo. It has ist moments but it feels different from the rest of our catalog.
As I already mentioned, your music breathes a lot of progressive creativity but also presents the stirring power of Rock and Metal. I think that I can even hear some Thrash Metal influence in your songs... Am I totally wrong with that or is Thrash Metal actually an important source of inspiration?
Where do your musical roots lie and what is it that fuels your fire and the vision behind Redemption?
You are insightful!! :-) I grew up listening to the NWOBHM and, later, thrash. I grew up new San Francisco as the thrash movement was just forming and I remember seeing bands like Megadeth playing for 50 people before Peace Sells got released. There is an aggressiveness but also a technical aspect to a lot of that music that makes its way into Redemption. The riffs per song of those early Megadeth records were amazing, and that’s the type of thing that definitely influenced me.
The cover artwork for "Snowfall on Judgement Day" is definitely an eyecatcher! What can you tell us about it and is there a direct connection to the lyrics of the album (apart from the snow ;-) )?
By the way: Can you give us a glimpse into the lyrical side of "Snowfall on Judgement Day"?
For the previous two CDs, I had a definite connection between the title and the lyrics. For this CD, there’s no connection at all. The title was something that I liked the cadence of – just the sound of the words and how they flowed together, and it has a kind of mysterious connotation. And it’s consistent with our overall theme of combining darkness and light; our lyrics are melancholy but there is underlying hope.
As for our lyrics, at the highest level of abstraction, they are about human relationships: our relationships with ourselves, with others, and with the world around us. On this CD, for example, Peel is about understanding oneself, Walls is about relating to another person, and Leviathan Rising is about society around us.
I hope I didn't mishear this one but I think you used samples from the movie "V for Vendetta" in your song "Leviathan Rising", didn't you? What can you tell us about the song and the use of these samples? I think the movie was more or less panned in the media but in my opinion there are still a lot of important ideas represented (which mostly trace back to the graphic novel of course...). What are your thoughts about it?
You are correct, that is where some of the samples come from. The others come from news footage of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The movie was actually pretty well reviewed, although there was some controversy, particularly from hardcore fans of the graphic novel on which it was based. I think it’s an extremely compelling story with a very important message about government, which is why I was moved to write about it on this CD. Leviathan Rising is about the role of government in society. The title comes from the book Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes, which is one of the most famous books in political philosophy. It asserts that life without government would be a dangerous place where people’s worst instincts resulted in a great deal of enmity, and as a result we should be glad to surrender a large amount of our freedom to the state in the interest of maintaining order. As you can imagine from the sound bites in the song – which come from the movie V for Vendetta and from news footage of the Tienanmen Square massacre – I don’t agree with this point of view. Government has overstepped its bounds both socially and economically and we are operating, in the US, with fewer freedoms than we have ever had. The package of economic reforms that has been pushed through over the past couple of years is financially disastrous and wrong-headed. Meanwhile the civil liberties that were wiped out with the prior administration moved the country in the wrong direction. What’s saddening is that very few people draw the connection between the two. The problem isn’t the agenda of a President. The problem is the nature of government: the bureaucracy exists to grow, and Guantanamo Bay and the proposed healthcare legislation in the US are just two sides of the same problem.
As progressive music seems to be on the rise these days: What do you think about the "boom" of different kinds of Prog bands and the growth of Prog into other music genres, even as extreme genres as Black and Death Metal? Is this a blessing or a curse for the scene?
I hear about this from a lot of journalists in Europe, which is certainly great, but I don’t see a big change in popularity in the states. Although I suppose there is evidence – the most recent Dream Theater record sold very well. I do think that even in the “popular” branch of heavy music, we have at least returned to a place where there are guitar solos and some emphasis is placed on musicianship, which is a very good thing, and that naturally makes progressive music more cool than it was when grunge was popular, for example.
Ultimately, good technique is a good thing, so I think it is helpful that instrumentalists who appreciate good technique in songwriting and performance are infusing whatever genres in which they work with that type of musicianship. Death Metal isn’t my cup of tea, but it has always had a technical side to it so the evolution of that genre in a slightly more progressive direction isn’t really a surprise. Black Metal isn’t my cup of tea either, but a lot of that is atmosphere and certainly Prog Metal is one of the major forces in contemporary heavy music in terms of atmospheres.
With reference to the previous question: Are there any "new" bands you are fond of or maybe some (old or new) bands that still are insider tips you'd really like to recommend?
Most new bands that I am enjoying are not necessarily metal. My favorite new band of the last couple of years is Fair to Midland, for example. If your readers are open-minded, these guys are awesome. I would call it progressive hard rock, I suppose, but it’s definitely not metal. They remind me a bit of Faith No More.
Finally: What are the odds that we'll get to you see live on stage in Germany? Are there any plans of touring Europe, doing a headlining tour or supporting another band? I read that you supported Dream Theater in 2007 so what would be your favourite touring partner(s) this time?
We are looking into European dates in 2010 right now and I am cautiously optimistic that we may get over there again (we played in Amsterdam in 2007). It’s challenging to make the economics work, as you can imagine. And in today’s economy and with the state of the music business being what it is, it’s harder than ever before. But we would love to do it.
Ultimately, going back to Europe in support of Dream Theater is something we would love to do. But we can also get over there and play smaller venues and perhaps headline or co-headline in that situation and do some festivals. These are the types of things we are looking into.
Nick, thank you again for taking the time and answering my questions! All the best to you, "Snowfall on Judgement Day" and your future work with Redemption! If there's anything you'd like to add please fell free to do so:
This was a great interview with some very insightful questions. Thank you very much for your time, and thanks to your readers for their interest!