REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1 of 2
SETH MAJKA Interview 2 of 2
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles)

J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
MATTHEW MEADOWS ..... (Rango The Dog, Somewhat Seven)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1 of 2
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
"METAL" DAN SORBER ..... (Thy Kingdom Done, Ferox Canorus)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1 of 2
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz)
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas, Place Called Rage)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Retribution, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 1 of 2
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 2 of 2
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Kings Of Christmas)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2 of 2
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1 of 2
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 2 of 2

SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault Las Vegas Revue)

CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)


RODNEY MILES & ALISON TAYLOR ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)
SEVEN (aka ALAN SCOTT PLOTKIN) ..... (Exile In Rosedale author, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes)
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

January 15, 2018

"Jordan Rudess With Dave Mustaine Live On Stage" An Interview With "METAL" DAN SORBER

Click here to visit the official website of Ferox Canorus.

July 2011 (live podcast)

New Jersey band Ferox Canorus is a progressive-power heavy metal band with an emphasis on melody that formed in 2004. They are fronted by guitarist "Metal" Dan Sorber, who is also a music teacher and music writer for various online educational sites. A year after this interview the band renamed themselves Thy Kingdom Done. While Dan has since moved to South Carolina and as a real estate uses what he discusses in this interview about the business-side of music.

I'd stumbled upon Ferox Canorus while writing my blog of music reviews & contacted Dan. I not just liked the music but came to appreciate his point of view that was honest with the realities of the hassle of playing music. I asked him on my Roman Midnight Music Radio Show to discuss this aspect of music particularly to have a more educational interview.

* * * * *

AJ: Dan, we've talked a lot on e-mail. It is a pleasure to finally get a chance to sit & talk with you for an hour.

DAN: The pleasure is all mine, Aaron. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity.

AJ: Sharing music with with folks like yourself who are struggling or just starting out, personally, is some of the most enlightening talks that I get to have. So, it's more my pleasure than you may realize to have you here.

DAN: Alright, let's see where this goes.

AJ: Dan, you've gigged in N.J. & you've been doing stuff for a while, but folks outside of the region aren't necessarily going to be so familiar with your group. Would you mind just giving me a little insight into who is FEROX CANORUS?

DAN: We're a 5 piece from N.J.. We gig pretty extensively within the tri-state area, but like you said, we haven't really done much outside of the region. So, I guess for people who are new to us, maybe the closest comparison I can make is IRON MAIDEN meets DREAM THEATER, might be somewhat in the right ball park. We tend to have this sound where we draw from a lot of influences, so we kind of sound like everybody but nobody at the same time. If that makes sense to you? This songs sounds like IRON MAIDEN or this sounds like METALLICA, but you can't really ... I don't really think there's anybody that quite sounds like us. I mean, I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but this is something I've purposely set out to do. Familiar, yet unfamiliar.

AJ: Dan, you're the guitar player, but are you also a songwriter or do backup vocals or anything else in the band?

DAN: Primary songwriter. I'm not the only one. I mean, pretty much everybody has input into how a song goes & ultimately turns out, but as far as generating probably most of the ideas that actually end up being a song, I guess I would say I'm the primary songwriter.

AJ: You get the burden on your shoulders.

DAN: It's the fun burden, though. It's the marketing-business aspect that's more frustrating than writing the music.

AJ: Before we go any further there's 2 things I have to ask you. A very very important question. One is, can you tell us where people can go online to find out about FEROX CANORUS. The second question is, what does the name mean?

DAN: Right ... right ... that's a difficult question.

AJ: You knew it was coming.

DAN: I knew it was coming, of course. First, we've got a couple of sites. Facebook & Reverb Nation would be our primary sites. On the Reverb Nation page you can actually stream songs. When I made this interview an event on Facebook I kinda mentioned there would be a little bit of a surprise for the listeners. One of the surprises is our songs have been streamed only, ever since we released the demo, but I've made everything for download now. If you go to that Reverb Nation page you can download everything. That's both demos & live tracks. A little something for people to get their teeth into.

AJ: Excellent. So they can actually get the music & come back to it on their own time.

DAN: Get the music & spread it around. You know, they are demos & that's something I really need to point out. We've had some line-up changes, so while the spirit is the same, the outcome is going to be different when we finally get our first full-length album out. The demos are gonna go bye-bye once that is done, so get them while you can.

AJ: Goodbye to the past.

DAN: Goodbye to the past. We're just going to rip those those chapters out & keep writing.

AJ: We're going to talk about what you're doing now a little bit later in this hour. For now, tell me, when did FEROX CANORUS get started & how did it get started?

DAN: Before I answer that, let me go back & answer what does the name mean.

AJ: I'm sorry, I jumped ahead.

DAN: FEROX CANORUS is a phrase derived from Latin. Ferox being the word for spirited or warlike & wild. Canorus is the word for harmony. The name quite literally translates to wild & harmonious, which i think is a pretty good description of what we do.

AJ: Alright. Now, how did what you do get started?

DAN: The band started as a 3 piece in 2004. I actually wasn't involved at that point. The 3 original members were knocking around N.J. for a while & ultimately parted ways. About 2 years ago they decided to reform & that's when I came on board. We kinda began re-writing old material & writing new material. It was about that time I brought a keyboard player into the game. My drummer came on then, as the original one had left for personal reasons. While the other vocalist & guitarist was originally the bassist. We just keep adding instrumentation. I felt the early stuff was kind of limited. I do have demos from that really early period & I'd be embarrassed to show them to you. One mic in the middle of the room.

AJ: You e-mailed me about those. We'll do a trade of the demos from my band where those recordings will really make you shriek with a mic ... on the side of the room.

DAN: You ever hear of the band 3 INCHES OF BLOOD?

AJ: I have.

DAN: Our original singer sounded like that guy. It was just a completely different feel from what we do now. We're going in a different direction, but the heart is still there.

AJ: Is going in a new direction a deliberate decision or did it come through line-up change or is it a natural progression of what you were doing?

DAN: I would say it's more of a natural progression. It's funny, because we haven't really released anything, yet this band has expanded so much since it started. Originally, the songs were a lot shorter & not nearly as complex as they are now. We just kept expanding naturally. We've never tried to force anything. We've come a long way. I've been through more singers & guitar players than I care to remember. It's tough, man, especially when you've got the kinda of music we do, because in N.J. the real popular stuff is death metal & technical death metal & some of the hardcore stuff. We're in the opposite end of the spectrum from that. Even just trying to find people who want to do this style of music is tough. It's been hard getting the right match.

AJ: Plus, location, time & commitment & all those other wonderful things that come into play.

DAN: Running a rock band is probably the best exercise in frustration that you can ever have. It's rough, because you're working with so many different personalities & music being an art. Everybody has their own take on this art. Really, to be successful as a rock band you need to pull together & be able to work toward a common goal. I've seen so many people that just ... I don't know ... almost refuse to do that & it just becomes impossible for the band to work on a fundamental level, let alone releasing an album & touring & doing all that fun stuff that's associated with it.

AJ: I know from my own personal experience exactly what you're talking about. I was working with a singer in a band who could sing & write competently, but wanted the feeling of being in a band more & didn't actually want to write or rehearse or even ever sing. He didn't come to work. He thought the party would just be there waiting because he was in a band & being in a band made him special. He didn't realize that the reason we never got beyond the rehearsal room & found those parties was partly because of him.

DAN: That's exactly it. They are so against doing anything they actually drag the rest of the band down with them, so you never get anything done. FEROX CANORUS isn't the only band I've been in. I've been knocking around the N.J. scene for awhile & I tend to find 2 types of musicians. One is the person that really means well & is really willing to work hard to make the band work, but unfortunately doesn't have the talent for at all. On the other end is the person who is just so full of themselves they need it done their way. It's really hard finding that right person willing to work at the talent & isn't even gonna butt heads with everybody too much.

AJ: I want to talk about one of your songs for a moment. The demos you have are now about a year old &, as you said, will pop out of existence hopefully in the near future. One of my favorites is the song "Dark Night."

DAN: That's a popular one.

AJ: Is it?

DAN: That tends to be our opener during live shows & it gets a pretty good response. I think it's us in a nutshell.

AJ: The Batman title also draws one's attention.

DAN: It draws attention, but believe it or not, it's not about Batman.

AJ: There's 3 things that really stand out to me & they stood out to me when I first heard it a year ago. It's that riffing on guitar that you're doing. That IRON MAIDEN riff against those DREAM THEATER keyboard runs, to quote you, alongside this unique angular singing style. Angular is the only word I can think of. It's 3 incredibly contrasting approaches all slammed together. That's what just jumps right out at me when I hear your stuff.

DAN: That's an example of everybody's different influences within the band just sort of pulling together, you know, to create a whole that's greater than the sum. I love working with these guys. All of them are fantastic musicians. We pull influences from from everywhere & somehow we just make it work. I mean, there's a certain magic to it I will never be able to describe.

AJ: So, how different is "Dark Night" from what you're working on now?

DAN: I think we get a little bit more ambitious in terms of song structure. One of the things, a common theme that runs through the songs, is just they're all kinda energetic. They have their slow parts & things like that, but generally they're usually high-energy. We've kicked that up a notch with a few of the newer songs. One of the things I've always tried to do with the band is to be sort of borderline progressive. Get as close to that line as I can without really crossing over it & getting to the point where some bands get very over indulgent, like long extended solo sections. That's not what we're trying to go for, but we definitely get a little bit more ambitious with song structure. We got a new one we're working on that ... This is funny. Every time we go to practice we can't remember the arrangement, so it gets like re-written all the time.

AJ: I"ve been a prog-rock fan for half my life from the day I heard YES. I had never heard so many sounds & layers in one song, but I do know what you mean by over indulgent. I've noticed as I've gotten older too many bands aim for a 20 minute song, even if after 3 minutes the thing falls apart & could happily end. They don't have enough to say for 20 minutes, but are trying to be proggy for the sake of it.

DAN: Yeah, that's exactly what we try to avoid. You've heard the band DRAGONFORCE?

AJ: I've actually seen them a couple times.

DAN: I get a kick out of them. I like the band, but sometimes I'll be listening to the song & I'll forget which one I'm listening to. They go into those heavy solo sections & you lose the song. You have to wait for the vocals to kick back in.

AJ: Absolutely. They're all into the guitar flash, but sometimes to the detriment of the song itself & the uniqueness of the song.

DAN: We want every song to have its own personality, it's own individualism. At the same time, I want you to listen to it & know it's FEROX CANORUS, just like when you hear an IRON MAIDEN song. From the first few notes off the guitar you know who it is. We want the songs to stand apart, too. I think this is one thing that we tend to do that a lot of metal bands don't do so well. People who are not musicians may not be able to follow me on this next thing, but we write in different keys. You, as a musician, understand this.

AJ: Rock & metal has a comfort zone when it comes to just using a handful of keys & little else. Stuff easy to play on guitar. But, its interesting that in other interviews I've had, musicians mention how they hear the same thing over & over on the same album.

DAN: Look at AC/DC. It's the same thing over & over. It's like 3 keys & 4 chords. They do more with those 4 chords than most bands, though. They raised the bar.

AJ: A bass line for them is like 4 notes per song just repeated & all the bass lines are the same.

DAN: I don't think I could write decades worth of songs based on only that. We try to go for different keys in every song, keys you don't generally hear metal songs in. That's part of what I think makes each song stand apart from some other things that are in the same genre. We're all over the place. Each key sounds a little bit different. It's about trying to capture what that key is giving you.

AJ: & where you can take it.

DAN: Exactly, exactly. I'll experiment with different risks & different ideas in every single key, just to see what it sounds like. Sometimes the original was better, but sometimes you hit on something & it sounds way better.

AJ: Before FEROX CANORUS were you playing this style of music or were you doing other things? What's your musical background?

DAN: Not really. The band is almost an entity unto its own, at this point. My style has developed as I've been in this band. When I came into the band they taught me what songs they had & I began working with them & just really kind of absorbed what they had. I was like, let me see where I can take this. The longer I worked on it the more it started to become my style. I started incorporating a lot of the elements that made them what they were back in 2004 into my own style. This band has possessed me. Before that I played in a lot of thrash metal bands.

AJ: This certainly is not thrash.

DAN: This ain't thrash, nope.

AJ: Its the DREAM THEATER version of thrash. Jordan Rudess with Dave Mustaine live on stage.

DAN: That is something I would pay to see.

AJ: I'm sure a lot of people would. The big 5. This may seem like an obvious question to you, but there's a lot of people partaking this interview spread out across the globe. When they look at our part of the country here, the N.Y. & N.J. area, they likely think all the music is the same across the area. But, for you & I, we know that to talk about about the N.Y. music scene is not necessarily to talk about N.J. scene. The N.J. music scene is very different from Brooklyn, but the farther you get from our region then those distinctions blur. Can you tell me a little bit about how you see the N.J. music scene where you are? You hinted at it earlier.

DAN: It could be better. There's very few venues out there anymore & I feel there are very few promoters that really put in the effort into reviving the music scene in this area. There's only a handful of venues I play at & even less promoters that I'd work with. It's a very it's a tough scene. Everybody is pointing their fingers at everybody else to get the work done & promoters act more like bookers.

AJ: What about musically?

DAN: Musically FEROX CANORUS would not be a good example of what the N.J. music scene is, as I said. I really do think we're coming from more of a European metal sort of background.

AJ: What do you mean by European metal?

DAN: The way I distinguish it is in a way a lot of people distinguish it. A lot of European stuff is like BLIND GUARDIAN, EVERGREY, those kinds of bands. While in America you'll have bands that sort of lean more to the style of LAMB OF GOD, the harsher sort of death thrash metal sort of thing. That's kinda what's going on here. Sort of a death metal meets thrash metal kind of thing. We're not in that vein.

AJ: A lot of people I know think of N.J. as the home of SKID ROW & BON JOVI & Bruce Springsteen, more bar band type stuff.

DAN: It is, but its not like that anymore.

AJ: That's even farther from you than the thrash metal.

DAN: Different planet. It's more thrash metal revival thing going on right now. I've seen a lot of bands come out that are a more of the old school 80's thrash. A lot of bands that we play with. Thrash metal seems to be making a comeback, at least here.

AJ: Dan, as you've been with this band now for a few years you've really sculpted it &, I should say, it has sculpted you. You've had people come & go & come & go. It's really become ... how might we say it ... it's definitely your your child, without question.

DAN: Yes.

AJ: What is the biggest challenge in fatherhood?

DAN: The biggest challenge for me has probably been getting everybody on the same page. It's something we touched on a little earlier. Getting everybody in the band just sort of on the same wave length & to work together. That's the sort of the reason why we've been around for a while, but nobody's heard of us. Everybody is just not quite on the same page yet. My keyboard player has been taking 25 credits a semester trying to finish up school, so he's been immensely busy. He's a very very key part of this sound, so we certainly don't want to penalize him for that. For some of the others, we just had personal things to work out over the past year or so. It's just getting everybody on that same page & sometimes you've got to let people go when it doesn't work. No matter how good they are or how well you get along, if they just don't want to work for it, then sometimes you just have to let a band member go. That's probably the toughest thing to do is just getting everybody to work together, because when one person doesn't pull their weight, you're done, you're dead, that's it. You're either going to be the only guy in your band, re-hiring people with a rotating door, or you try to work with certain members that aren't being cooperative & you go nowhere. That's got to be the hardest part.

AJ: You wrote to me recently, & I warned you I would quote this as its great, you said that "someone has to be a leader & more often than not I am forced to choose between being a friend & being a businessman."

DAN: Go ahead & quote me on that as it's very true. That's one of the things with forming a band with all your friends. When it comes time to make a decision they don't always take it the right way.

AJ: You're lucky if you still have a friendship after the fact.

DAN: Egos get very easily hurt in these situations. I'm not necessarily talking about the guys I'm with now. I just meant in general.

AJ: I understand.

DAN: It's an art & a lot of musicians take their art very seriously. When something is not going their way they take offense at it more than they probably should. You have to learn to separate your emotions from what you're doing sometimes. You have to look at it from a logical standpoint to figure out how to get things done & get this music somewhere as otherwise nobody will hear it.

AJ: Then you have to re-evaluate why you are doing it, if nobody is going to hear it.

DAN: Exactly. Why are you wasting your time?

AJ: I know a guy who has been playing in a band for at least 2 years now. They have never performed outside the rehearsal studio & have no intention of leaving. They write songs & rehearse them once a week & that's it. I don't quite understand the purpose.

DAN: That would be terribly frustrating.

AJ: He has a couple other bands that perform & this group plays a different style of music & provides some creative outlet, though many of us want to hear the music.

DAN: I can understand that. He's looking for an outlet & wants to play without pressure. For me, I'm too ambitious. I've got to get this music out there & we've certainly played our fair share of live shows. But, I think we took the wrong tactic & we didn't quite build a fan base as we thought we might.

AJ: What do you mean?

DAN: We had the assumption that if you play live a lot then people are going to hear you & they'll come to see your shows. The logic makes sense, but around here its the same people that show up every time. Everybody in the scene has seen & heard you. You're seeing the same faces at every show. The live shows thus aren't promoting you at all, as you're not introducing your music to new people. We've spent a lot of time playing live. Now we're planning on just focusing on this album & getting that out & being able to distribute it digitally, hopefully build some sort of buzz & then make a return to playing live.

AJ: Speaking of your songs, the simply titled demo "Tomorrow" is a favorite of mine.

DAN: "Tomorrow" is actually one of the first songs that I wrote. It's actually very personal to me as it addresses the death of my sister.

AJ: That is very personal. I know some musicians that like to disguise things a bit.

DAN: I'm not like that. I'm like a nudist. Look at it all. Music is emotion & I really feel that content is very important in building a following. People should connect with your music & take something away from it. It's not just a good dance beat, but can actually mean something.

AJ: I want to ask you, before I forget, about a day gig that you've had. You've worked as a guitar teacher. I'm curious, does the teaching you do effect what you do with the band?

DAN: It certainly does. I've heard many teachers mentioned before that they can learn as much from their students as their students learn from them. That's certainly something I agree with. There's a lot of my students that have taught me some things about the guitar, like an interesting viewpoint that I never quite put into that perspective. A lot of my growth as a player actually occurred when I became a guitar teacher. I think from a standpoint where you got to know your stuff inside & out in order to teach it properly, so that really drilled fundamentals in my head. Then you get your students & their enthusiasm in music. Sometimes they will introduce you to band you've never heard of, so it's fun. I think its definitely a give & take relationship.

AJ: Let's talk about what you're doing right now with FEROX CANORUS & where you're going with it. Can you tell me a little bit about the album you're working on?

DAN: Like I said, we've been spinning our wheels in the dirt for a while now. Now it's really time to put in the work & get the music out there. We've taken a hiatus for a while. We're going on almost a year since the last time we played out. We tried booking a couple of live gigs since then. Unfortunately, they didn't pan out due to some personal problems of some of the band members. We kind of decided to let everybody take a break & we'll get back to this later. We had actually started recording the album during this time period around last winter & the whole thing got scrapped. We were rushing it & it just wasn't coming out ... you know, it wasn't really coming out any better than the demos. We decided to take a break. My keyboard player, as well as my bass player, were doing school. Let them finish up. Let everybody work with their personal problems. Actually, for the past 3 weeks we started rehearsals again. It's fun. It's almost like we never took a break. During that time period my bass player made the decision to switch from bass to lead vocals & rhythm guitar. On the song "Tomorrow" he's the one that sings the chorus & he wouldn't have in the past. He's going to take over more of the lead duties. My keyboard player is the one who has been singing lead for the past 2 years now. He is going to continue to do backing vocals & some of the vocals on the softer sections. We added a new bassist. Everybody is a college music graduate except for me. I didn't like the curriculum & restrictions. I probably would have done well, but I have family obligations & couldn't go running off to Boston to study music.

AJ: I've known many music college students who didn't finish as they found they learned more in playing in the rehearsal studio than in the classroom.

DAN: I agree. So, what we're doing now is rehearsing with this new line-up. Everybody is getting used to the new roles. I've been the only guitarist in the band for a long time, so now that I've got a 2nd guitarist I can start doing those dueling IRON MAIDEN harmonies again. We've got to work some of that stuff out. That's got to be in there. That stuff is fun. We're going to start recording the album very soon.

AJ: Do you have all the songs for the album written? How's that part of the process?

DAN: We're always writing stuff. The gears are always turning. We have at least 6 half finished songs. What you see on the Reverb Nation page is pretty much our live set. We're going to be adding another song to that list. That's the one I was telling you about before, that we can never remember the arrangement. It'll be about an hour of music total. We've got a couple longer songs, like 8 minutes or so. We don't set restrictions. The music writes itself & takes us places sometimes.

AJ: Dan, we're coming to the end of this interview. I'm very appreciative of having you talk with me.

DAN: I have to return that appreciation. You've interviewed guys like Graham Bonnet, yet you still give the chance to us smaller guys to have our voice heard. If more people did that it would certainly be easier to get our music out there.

AJ: I might talk to big folks, but we're all facing the same struggles. Graham even asked me if I had work. There's no hierarchy. Is there anything more you want to share?

DAN: For some of the other bands that might be struggling, a couple of take home tips. As we mentioned before, somebody needs to be the band leader. If one is not willing to steer it's not going to go any place. One of the things that irks me about some musicians is they aren't interested in the marketing & business aspect of it. I think that is almost more important than the music itself, I hate to say it. In a perfect world we could let the music speak for itself, but it's far from being a perfect world. You really need to learn the music business if you want your music to read a wider audience. Those that don't want to mess with that & are just here for the art are the ones who often fail the fastest.

AJ: That's probably the thing I've seen more than anything. I think I work harder as a promoter & with a bedroom label than I ever did with a band. I've seen so many bands that don't want to do the work & yet think they'll be touring with MEGADETH.

DAN: Sometimes you hear of these overnight successes. But, those are usually bands that have been banging around for years, but you just never heard of them. There is no overnight success. Things won't fall into your lap. You have to do your homework. That's what it comes down to.

January 2, 2018

"I Wanted To Keep Breaking The Rules" An Interview With STEFAN KLEIN (Interview 2 of 2)

Click here to visit official facebook of Dethcentrik.

November 2017 (e-mail)

Stefan Klein of Colorado is the leader of the avant-garde industrial group Dethcentrik, has a solo career under the name Dod Beverte, is a member of f.k.k.d. & runs Dod Incarnate Records that releases both his & others music. Terrorizer mag described Dethcentrik's music as "black horrormetal" not long after their formation in 2009. A decade later hindsight shows this to be a poor label that only scratches the surface. Stefan has made a conscious effort to prove his critics wrong by actively expanding his musical palette. Today, his musical outpourings are far from metal or black as he fuses the atmosphere of Pink Floyd with the experimentation of Throbbing Gristle with the anger of Nine Inch Nails. His forthcoming April 2018 release, Polarination, is a haunting instrumental album with more in common with Pink Floyd's abstract soundscapes than anything one might know Dethcentrik for.

My relationship with Stefan began in 2012 when I came across the Dethcentrik albums & I was both impressed & fascinated by the amount of negativity to music. A friendship would develop after I reviewed one of his albums, leading me to remix some of his music & making new music with him in a joint release as Dethcentrik & Blank Faced Prophet, while also being an ear as he developed other stuff. I can vouch for encouraging him to change a drum track on Polarination. Of all the musicians I've known Stefan has probably progressed musically more than anyone else & its been a pleasure & a learning experience. I have a new appreciation of Nine Inch Nails because of our talks. In April 2012 I did a telephone interview with him that was broadcast on my Roman Midnight Music podcast & is transcribed on this blog. At that time we discussed some of the negative response to his music, including the false claims of Satanism. If anti-Trump lyrics are considered Satanist than surprise on us that he's actually a Satanist after all, along with a good chunk of the country ... & we're surprisingly wrong in thinking those claims & others like them are actually just a gut response to hearing lots of distortion & screamed lyrics & not exploring anything further. I like to tell the story that when I went to edit the recording to play on my show I discovered 12 minutes missing of the hour talk. Technical glitches do happen, but the irony was that the missing part was almost entirely focused on discussing Satanism in music! Maybe there is things going on after all! Considering how different his new album sounds to his past work, that just might be the case. Enough time had passed that it seemed time to talk with Stefan again about his new musical directions.

* * * *

AJ: Over the past decade your music has morphed along different experimental-industrial-metal avenues to a point where the simple mesmerizing lines of your latest release are barely recognizable as being from the same creator of the ultra distorted cacophony of DETHCENTRIK. What have been the influences that you feel have directly impacted your growth as a composer over the last few years & influenced this stylistic development?

STEFAN: I think I’ve learned to appreciate my own compositions more & began relying less of effects to make my sound. I’ve been more patient with my art & myself & have found the confidence to address criticisms of my work. I think the biggest influences recently have been NINE INCH NAILS, MINISTRY, PINK FLOYD, VOICES OF DESTRUCTION & a lot of soundtrack composers like Clint Mansell, Hans Zimmer & the like.

AJ: Along the same lines, what musicians or music styles are the biggest influences on your music in general?

STEFAN: I’d say I’m most influenced by rock, metal included,, industrial music & classical. Anything I like tends to rub off on me.

AJ: You’ve had the opportunity to connect with some musicians on the bigger stage, I believe members of industrial groups SKINNY PUPPY & NINE INCH NAILS have come into your circle & heard your music? Can you tell me more about who & what of those encounters?

STEFAN: I have run-ins with people in the scene from time to time. The most bizarre incident may be when a Trump supporter friend of mine kept arguing with Tom Shear of Seattle industrial outing ASSEMBLAGE 23 on my Facebook. I’ve actually asked a few of my connections to listen to my music & critique it. One person who took to time to listen was Nivek Ogre, a founding member of SKINNY PUPPY, & he was actually able to tell I had only taken & used one sample for "The Big Clang". I’m assuming Chris Vrenna is the NINE INCH NAILS member you’d be referring to. He was also in MARILYN MANSON. He actually did a remix of "If Only", which I had produced as DETHCENTRIK. It’s on the bonus track edition of Electronic Saviors Volume 3: Remission.

AJ: In the beginning there was a lot of animosity against you, being called Satanic &the worst music of the year, often without any cause other than your music was heavily distorted & seemingly angry. This is something we spoke extensively about in our 2012 interview. What’s the state of response to your music today? Are there still the haters?

STEFAN: There are still a lot of haters. They just don’t bother me as much.

AJ: Working with others has also helped temper that mood against you, I'm sure.

STEFAN: Working with other artists gets you constructive criticism. People may tell you they don’t like something, but they can also tell you why. As an artist that helps you grow.

AJ: I believe you’ve also had some trouble with distribution in the past?

STEFAN: I’ve been known to be a bit provocative with album art & lyrical content. Album covers I design have been banned numerous times. The most recent controversy is that Amazon wouldn’t give away Red, White, & F*ck You!. The reason they gave me was the distortion, but I know they’ve sold much noisier music of mine.

AJ: Your music has also appeared on some compilations. Can you tell me about these & how did you find yourself included? I mean, here’s a guy once pushed away for Satanism, which actually didn't exist in your music, & now is on compilations.

STEFAN: I won’t tell anyone there’s a straightforward way to get on a compilation. There have been some we’ve been rejected from during auditions, that is you essentially send a demo & they give a yes or a no, & others that have been as simple as sending an email. I think reaching out more, in general, tends to land you in more places & I think that’s partly why we’ve gotten beyond the barrier typically associated with black metal: Satanism & loud music. I think becoming more musically open-minded got me a little more accepted.

AJ: What is the biggest hurdle you’ve found when reaching out to people with your music? Is it distribution or is it getting listeners in general, as most musicians face, or is it breaking down stereotypes about what your music is/isn’t?

STEFAN: I think finding the right crowd has been a hurdle. We don’t conform enough to any given genre to really be able to know our niche or what is our scene. So, I think we have had to break stereotypes first, then find our listeners, whereas a lot of artists who just copy a generic formula tend to have media outlets specifically for reaching the people who like their genre.

AJ: How do you define the style of your music?

STEFAN: It’s still hard to define. I guess if I had to label it I would call it industrial music, simply because that’s such a broad umbrella term.

AJ: You also have your own label that has expanded beyond just your own music. Who are the musicians you work with?

STEFAN: Most recently it’s been EXHALED LIFE, a black metal project from Texas, & DISTURBING TAXIDERMY. Romero from DISTURBING TAXIDERMY & I often frequent the same club here in town. Our first collaboration was through Vivi Vex’s project THE RUST PUNK TRIBE. Vivi was having artists produce stems for the project & would mix them together. We then collaborated on "I Don’t Want To Live This Li(f)e" & Romero joined DETHCENTRIK.

AJ: Part of the changes that I know have effected your music is that you’ve had your stuff remixed by others & you’ve done collaborative work with others, such as this work with Romeo or what you & did as DETHCENTRIK & BLANK FACED PROPHET. When we did an interview years ago I asked what it was like hear these tracks sent back to you & the response was surprise. But, now years later, how has this work had an impact on your own creations?

STEFAN: That’s actually quite an interesting question. I do think I can safely say that the remixes certainly helped me realize how much more possibility there was for DETHCENTRIK. Being able to hear different mixes of one track allows you the hear improvements made the original that perhaps you’d like to apply to future tracks.

AJ: Long overdue question I've wanted: how do you make your music? I always have envisioned you recording some sound effect, like thunder, & running it through some mixing program & then having someone plug a guitar or drum over it. Or, taking a guitar line & looping it around to a distorting level. What do you actually play? Is there others involved? How do you make your sounds?

STEFAN: It depends on the song really, & the approach has certainly changed. I used to write lyrics & the music was honestly somewhat of an afterthought. Now, what I typically do is improvise a riff, practice it a few times, record it, repeat until my guitars are completed, then mess around with effects & pitches, etc. Then, program drums & keyboards, manipulate, then finally add samples. Obviously, I didn’t sample Donald Trump or the Charlottesville protests, but objects I can sample I do, like banging things together, machines, etc. I often feel my brain is on a different wavelength for composing than it is for writing, hence why I tend to predominantly either make very noisy music with lyrics or instrumental music. On Polarination it’s just the samples I collected & me. Romero & I have gone out & recorded samples for our collaborative work before. It’s quite fun!

AJ: Going back too what you just said about lyrics. Your music has included its share of shouted undiscernible lyrics, but the current work is more instrumental. You have albums that have lyrics & others that use lyrics as more background sounds & others that are more instrumental. What’s your view on lyrics in your music in general?

STEFAN: I do think lyricism is its own art form, it’s not music alone, but it is an art form. There’s nothing wrong with combining the 2, however I personally think that my soul certainly pours more through sound than words. There’s nothing wrong with lyrics, but I feel they actually serve a separate purpose than music. Whether I write lyrics or not really comes down to the message I want to send.

AJ: What is that message? What are you trying to do with your music? Or, where are you trying to take it?

STEFAN: It tends to go with however I’m feeling. My emotions drive me to make music I tend to feel an urge or a craving to make it. I can’t predict exactly how it will evolve over time, but I’d like to think it’s maturing with me, that as I improve myself it too will improve.

AJ: All this talk leads to the new album, which we've been touching on lightly, can you tell a little bit about this new effort? Its so very different than past music you’ve created that there’s obviously some vision behind it.

STEFAN: I think that the upcoming DETHCENTRIK album has been influencing my next solo album, & I’m actually hoping to apply some elements from this album on that DETHCENTRIK album. I’ve decided to take more time & be more proper from a musicology perspective. I wanted to keep breaking the rules, while also demonstrating maturity, discipline & a knowledge of music theory while still being unconventional in many ways. I wanted more familiarity at the music’s core rather than vague influences from other genres. This began as composing dark ambient. One of the tracks on this album, "Holding Onto The Pieces", was originally composed for soundtrack use. This album essentially grew as a soundtrack of the modern political climate. It’s kind of slowly taken the place of working class American atmospherically as that has taken on a new atmosphere of its own.

AJ: Tell me about the composing behind this new album.

STEFAN: My primary focus became instrumentals & atmosphere on this album, while before the themes were the most important thing, as I mentioned earlier. I let my subconscious drive me more here & have certainly put more focus into the individuals pieces, rather than rushing the pieces into the whole. I’m staying more in line with consistent time signatures & more conventional instrumentation & having the noise simply add more atmosphere over dominating the instrumentation.

AJ: I believe you also have a new name you are making music under, in addition to DETHCENTRIK & your solo work as Dod Beverte?

STEFAN: f.kk.d was the most recent new band I was in. I’m not sure what’s happening long run with that project, but I have also been collaborating with other industrial & electronic artists. Jeremiah & Romero are new to DETHCENTRIK & collaborating with them I think has helped me grow personally as an artist. Polarination is just me with the samples, guitar, drum machine & MIDI controller, but I have had many recent collaborations that have improved my musicianship, production skills, & given me a new perspective & influence on my own style.

November 11, 2017

"An Addict Of The Music Industry" An Interview With SEVEN (formerly ALAN SCOTT PLOTKIN)

Click here to visit the official website of Seven.

February 2015 (skype)

When thinking of the most under-rated people in the music world the joke usually turns to rock keyboardists or maybe bassists, both suffering with non-glamorous instruments usually out of the spotlight. But, when it comes to the most under-rated we really need to move beyond the musicians themselves, which then offers up the question: can you name a famous engineer? Don't spend too much time thinking about that, which you probably will, instead know that when you finish reading this interview you'll have an answer. Seven, formerly known as Alan Scott Plotkin, has spent his entire life in the music industry, now over 4 decades. He has played in numerous bands as a guitarist & drummer, while also composing, but his legacy largely rests on his under-rated behind the scenes work as an engineer & co-producer working for all the top NYC studios. His credits are countless & include a diverse array of musicians as Public Enemy, Vanessa Williams, Busta Rhymes, Virgin Steele, actor Philip Michael Thomas of the original Miami Vice & he was heavily involved in the pre-gangsta' rap scene. Since taking a normal day job some years ago & working through health problems, Seven hasn't spent as much time in the studio but instead refocused his energy on spreading the zaniness of his extroverted personality. He can be found via crazy youtube videos, radio interviews & live video broadcasts via his own Seven's Nuts. More importantly, in 2010 he published Exile In Rosedale: The Musical Life Of Seven 1963-2009 an 800 plus page no-holds bar look at his life covering everything from trying to make it as a musician, working in studios as an engineer, drugs, family life, ups & downs, pleasures & discoveries. This interview focuses primarily on his work as an author & response to the book, leaving his musical legacy to the book & its accompanying online virtual box set of over 300 songs & memorabilia, which is one of the first of its kind.

I love reading music biographies. I've even read biographies on musicians I didn't know, who I came to become a fan of. I met Seven through a friend & ordered his book & couldn't put it down. Because I read so much I've become somewhat critical of music biographies books, seeing too many musicians throw away an opportunity to share their innermost thoughts or answer fan questions or discuss making music, to instead focus on how much sex they have or shallow party stories which is as clich├ęd as writing a rock ballad about sex. After struggling through an 800 page book, which I never do outside of Ayn Rand novels, its easy to say it was a good read, just in honor of the effort. But, those who have read my other reviews blog know I'm not good at bluffing. Thus, I mean it when I say this really is a good read. This is the book I've wanted to see from far more famous writers who I have had higher expectations for. Seven writes the cliched rock stories, but then goes the next step & discusses his feelings & the experience of a struggling musician & industry professional. Its one of the best books I've read about the music business, away from the million dollar limo rides & MTV, about what life was like for many of those working in music. It's honest & scandalous, apologetic yet celebratory. It took awhile, but it was a pleasure to finally sit down with Seven over a few hours via Skype between Maine & NYC to discuss the book.

Special thanks to Maxx Mann who introduced me to Seven.

This interview is dedicated to Seven's father Mitchell Plotkin, an under-rated engineer in his own right, who died before this could be posted.

* * * * *

AJ: Let me start with the basics. What does your name, Seven, mean? Why did you choose Seven?

SEVEN: I never liked my name. Besides the fact that I just never felt comfortable with the name Alan. I would always fuck with it. I was Alan Scott. The rappers used to call me Money Al or A.P.. I've had all these different names through out time, but it was always like a glove that never fit. When I wrote the book I said I'd make the change. So, I was working for a computer company at the time. I never thought about what I was going to change my name to. That's the funny part about it. I thought the first thing I have to do is go to work & I have to tell them that I'm going to change my name. So, I walked into the HR lady's office. She asked if I lost my name badge again. I told her I was changing my name. She thought it was a joke, because I'm always horsing around. She said "What are you changing your name to?" Then I just thought: Seven. I just pulled it out of thin air. She said to me "You can't fuck around with the name database. If you don't stop horsing around, you're probably going to get fired, no matter how many computers you sell or no matter how much you've accomplished here." I said okay. But, it was just like that. It was Seven. I didn't even flinch. So, it went into the database. I just wanted it to be Seven. No last name, no middle name, no first name. At first it wouldn't let me, so I was Seven Plotkin. Then when facebook came along I didn't have a last name, but it also wouldn't let me not have a last name, so I picked Istheman [note: pronounced 'is the man']. It's so funny because people look at Seven Istheman and ask what the origin of that name is. I tell them it's Nordic.

AJ: I always thought it was Viking. Jewish Viking.

SEVEN: Jewish Viking? I don't think there were any Jews that were Vikings.

AJ: That's why nobody else has that name. You're the first, or the seventh.

SEVEN: They say we're going to conquer with gefilte fish ... So, it's from that day at work I became Seven. The funny thing is, of all the things I am - everything is based on this wacky history of music, my father, Mitch, and all this stuff - the name has no meaning whatsoever. But, it makes me feel so good when people use that name. Almost nobody except some family members & a few old friends refuse to go along with the program. A couple of times my girlfriend will slip & then she gets a look, but she's cool with it.

AJ: It's easy to play with, too. You can do so much with Seven.

SEVEN: It's great when I talk to people. They'll ask what's your name & I'll go Seven. They'll go 'Okay, Steven'. Also, the reason I wanted to change my name, besides not liking it, is if you look on all my album credits on the internet it'll take years, because they could never spell Alan Scott Plotkin right.

AJ: Then you get your bands like J.J./SCOTT with a variation on your name.

SEVEN: That was named after J.J. [Jennifer Jean], who was the singer, & Alan Scott, who didn't have a good name at the time.

AJ: That's your name & it doesn't mean anything.

SEVEN: Exactly.

AJ: Even before getting a better name, you have over 30 years of professional music work.

SEVEN: Officially, I started at Mediasound Recording in 1981. But, I was doing it longer than that. I was editing tape at 7 years old. It wasn't professional, but I was doing recording.

AJ: Stuff for your dad, like you share in the book, & having your own little bands. The question is ... suddenly after so long, you change your name. Did you wonder how people were going to relate to this person who has 30 years of music under a very different name and with a reputation under that name?

SEVEN: I didn't care. I can just tell you if you ask what have I done & I always say the same thing: PUBLIC ENEMY, AEROSMITH, Vanessa Williams, Ice Cube, all that stuff. In a professional setting no one will question it. But, I don't care, because people spelled it wrong so many times it's like I'm a guy who worked on 3 albums his whole life. So, it really doesn't matter. For those 3 albums I'd rather be something I like. It's like, if people believe about what I've done, then they believe me; if they don't, then it doesn't matter.

AJ: If they really want to know your music you can tell them where to go to find it.

SEVEN: They can buy the big fat book.

AJ: Then they can actually read the thing, which you know I did, though it took awhile.

SEVEN: They can also smack an intruder with it.

AJ: Multi-purpose publishing! Or, they can look at your online box set, the Exile Box Set, which might be the only online box set in existence.

SEVEN: There's other people that have done it since I've done it.

AJ: But, it looks like you have nearly everything in it.

SEVEN: It's got a lot, but it's not everything. In my house there's a wall of digital back-ups, multi-tracks, craziness. I've worked on so many projects over the years you couldn't put them all in. It's like Mitch Diamond, a guitarist I've worked with a lot, he thought the book was 25% of the excitement in my life. When you tell a person you wrote a book they ask how long is it. I say it's 819 pages. Again, I get the same look as when I say my name is Seven. 'Oh, Steven wrote a 619 page book.' No, Seven wrote a 819 page book.

AJ: Mitch has been with you forever, too. He's one of your all time guitar buddies.

SEVEN: He's one of my favorite guitar players in the world. He was a client, then he became a best friend. We do almost everything together.

AJ: So, if he says it's 25% he's the expert. I have to ask, you spent all your life writing music. You have composed music & written lyrics. Now you attempt an 800 page book.

SEVEN: Right.

AJ: This means you've gone from writing a song lyric that takes up a notebook page to 800 notebook pages. That's 2 different forms of writing and 2 different approaches. My first thought is: what went through your mind? Here you are stepping out of your comfort zone to experiment with this new form of writing & you even finish the project & its massive no less. Many people never finish their projects, let alone 819 pages.

SEVEN: The way the book started wasn't as a book. When my daughter, Lindsay, was born in 1994 I was so fed up with music & I had my ex-wife breathing down my back. We were split up for the 1st or 2nd time. My ex-wife wanted more money & I was done. I needed to get a regular job. I mention this in the book. I thought, before I get a regular job why don't I take all this music that I've worked on, or the favorite parts of my music, & put it into a box set. I'll give it to my friends & family & I'll have closure. So, once I decided that, I assembled all the music. Then I was like, I can't just hand this stuff to people. Some people won't know the history of the music. So, let me start writing some notes. I started writing some notes about some of the songs & then it started to look like a book. Then I thought I'd horse around with this. But, I never wrote anything but songs. English was the only thing in school I passed. I failed gym.

AJ: Do you really want to say you failed gym in public?

SEVEN: I wouldn't wear gym sweats, so the teacher would fail me. He's the only guy who would really call me Alan. He would call me Al Plotkin. I'd say rockers don't wear gym shorts. He'd go 'Rockers don't pass gym either.' I was like fuck it then. But, what was the original point I was making?

AJ: You were writing the song descriptions essentially.

SEVEN: So, I'm writing these little things & then it started to take shape as a book. I wrote about 8 chapters. Then, you know from the book, I got back with my ex-wife & ... I don't know, something happened. My ex-wife would suck all the creativity out of the room. So, I put the book away for a number of years. Then, I think about 8 years later I'd separated from my wife for the final time & I took it out & tried to write, but it wasn't right & it went back in the drawer. In 2009 my pancreas broke. Basically, I was out for year. Actually, right before I broke my pancreas I'd pulled the book out & was like 'Wow, this actually reads kinda cool.' So, when I worked at the computer store one of my associates was a very brilliant woman named Laura Leitman. I had said to Laura, 'I wrote something a long time ago. Would you take a look at it? It's just a gift to my friends & family, along with some music, but I want to see what you think. It's nothing I'm going to sell. No one is going to put this on the market. It'll never be public. It's going to be short & simple.' She read it & came back to me the next week. She looked at me & said 'You're out of your fucking mind. You can't give this away.' I asked if it was that bad. She said it was that good. She said it was fucking brilliant & I had to finish it. She said 'You have to sell this. Your speaking voice comes out in the book. I can't believe it. You said you didn't go to college.' I said a got a very high score G.E.D. So, that's it. I worked on the book. I finished the book. It was an incredible process. I was in an apartment that had a load bearing beams. You know, those beams in the basement? So, I put sticky notes on the beams to create the chapters, which gave me the framing of the story. The entire book was written with about 3000 sticky notes.

AJ: How was this writing process for someone who was going from a lyric writer to a non-fiction writer?

SEVEN: Just imagine, if you will, I put up sticky notes asking myself what are the main things I want to talk about. Then I wrote down about my life. I just wrote. I wrote my story, so it wasn't hard. I wasn't going to gloss it up or make it any more crazier. You couldn't make the story any crazier.

AJ: That's true.

SEVEN: I couldn't imagine it any crazier without being psycho. I just wrote my story & framed it with these sticky notes on this beam. My biggest problem was time frame, what sequence things happened it. Luckily, I still have a lot of my friends still around who I could call to kinda double check time frames. I did the best that I could. I mention at the beginning of the book that if something wasn't correct or that my memory wasn't clear on I would change it. I did plan on doing an appendum.

AJ: It is your life history, a vivid life history, but on some level it also feels like its more than that. It feels like there's an apology to some people underneath it all. It's a confessional more than a glamorous story at times.

SEVEN: It's definitely a confessional, an apology. Not only did I use this book to apologize to people for my behavior ... I think in life we don't get a chance ... Look, nobody is perfect & I'm certainly as far from it as you can imagine. By telling my story I have the chance to kinda say I'm sorry, you know. At times when I was so young & working with my dad in the studio I fucked up. It was a chance for me to not only ask forgiveness from others, but it was an opportunity to forgive myself.

AJ: The stories you tell about you & your dad & just about fucking up as much as you can ... not deliberately, not always deliberately, that is ... in the book you're really just super humble about all that.

SEVEN: You got to remember I was in a recording studio as a child. I was 3 machine mixing with analog tape when I was 9 years old. I mean, I could edit with a razor blade pretty good at 9. I was doing it on my own at 7. I was stealing my dad's razor blade late at night, because he wouldn't let me use a razor blade at 7 years old. But, I could do it, so once he wasn't around ... I started editing on my own & then dad taught me how to do it correctly at 8 years old. I wasn't a spoiled child. I earned every bit of it. I fucked up in school. I went to summer school. But, even being 16 years old ... You're not a man at 16 years old, but I was pushing around microphones for the ROMANTICS. I was around when SOFT CELL was in the studio & the GRATEFUL DEAD were in the studio. I was hanging out, right before I got hired, when I was 15 or whatever it was, & Peter Frampton was working on Breaking All The Rules with producer Harvey Goldberg at Mediasound. I'm hanging out at the studio & I'm sitting there & Peter Frampton just sits down right next to me. I had my Sony cassette walkman on. He's like "What are you listening to?" "Oh, a song I'm working on." "Kid, can I listen?" Just imagine Peter Frampton takes my headphones & he's listening to my song all the way through from beginning to end. It was that kinda of ... it was too much too soon for a young person. Even though I started washing toilets & stuff like that, I was assisting sessions the whole time. My first session was with Art Garfunkel & he was a scumbag, by the way, just for the record.

AJ: I've heard that before.

SEVEN: My dad worked with Paul Simon. He was the nice guy. I got the scumbag.

AJ: You were young. You had to start from the bottom.

SEVEN: That's another thing. People were very tough on me, so I reacted very cordially to them. Tough love. My father was out of control. He would lean on me so hard. I couldn't call him dad. I had to call him Mitch. Even if I fucked that up he'd look at me. You know what I mean? He was very hard on me & showed me no favoritism, which was a good thing. I worked very hard, but it was just a lot. I was too young. I was too immature. I was too A.D.D., at an age where they didn't know what A.D.D. was. So, yeah, there were a lot of screw-ups in the beginning. Then, of course, you know from reading the book, there was drugs later on & all that stuff.

AJ: You detail quite a few falls from drugs, alcohol, depression & all those good things.

SEVEN: I write about it real honestly.

AJ: Incredibly so. You detail that almost too well. But, I want to ask, you've put these details out there & there's nothing bad with it. You're not like trying to shit on people. You're very honest & confessional & it's not like one of these tell all pointy finger books.

SEVEN: In the book I'm way more hard on myself than I am with anybody else. Even the people that really legitimately fucked me over. A lot of times it was just the music industry being the music industry. So, what happens is your reaction creates another bad reaction on the other end, so all I was doing was setting the domino effect.

AJ: You add to that the drugs, the money & all that & it's just one long domino effect. But, being so honest & printing this book up & selling it, is there any point where you said to yourself that maybe it was too much & maybe you didn't want to share this much? That it's too public? You know what I'm saying?

SEVEN: I've always said, I get a zit on my ass just like everybody else, but I'll show it to you & we can pop it together. ... I'll tell you the truth. It's like, I don't know, there was something very liberating about telling the pure exact truth & putting it out there. Was I worried about what people were going to think? For about 10 minutes. Then I was like fuck them. I'm not that person anymore. I grew up & changed.

AJ: While maybe you hope some people have grown & changed enough, too, so they don't care anymore.

SEVEN: The people I wrote about in the book ... like producer & songwriter Jerry Ragovoy. I discussed it with Jerry & got to kinda make up with him before he died. Who else? Jenny, the singer J.J./SCOTT, my ex-fiancee. I talk about that brutally in that book. You know what she said to me? She said, "Thanks for not painting me in a bad light." I told her, I'm sorry, I just wanted to tell the truth. She's a psychologist now, a social worker, & she said it was very honest & she wouldn't change a thing.

AJ: Did your daughter or your ex-wife read the book?

SEVEN: My ex-wife read it. Actually, she stole my first printed copy of it from my possession. She changed the cover. She scotch-taped a different cover on the front & back. She actually re-wrote a good portion of the book. She made changes. She x'd things out. She said where things were true & things weren't true or things like 'I didn't know that' or stuff like that. Yeah, she certainly read the book!

AJ: Wow. She doesn't necessarily get painted in the best light. It's not the happiest point in your life.

SEVEN: I definitely paint her out as the devil. Basically, a wart remover.

AJ: Pretty much.

SEVEN: Right in the picture section.

AJ: There's not a good picture of her in there.

SEVEN: There is actually a picture ...

AJ: I'm not saying she's an ugly woman. She's actually very attractive, but the pictures you have of her are dark & moody.

SEVEN: She's a very attractive woman with a big nose & I didn't mind the big nose. But, under our picture it says: 'the day the music died.' That's really true. 10 minutes after we were married she looked at me straight in the face & basically asked if I was going to get a real job now. As for my daughter, she has not read it yet. I told her she wasn't allowed to read it as a child. But, now as an adult she's so busy with college. She's just glossed through it. My father read it.

AJ: What did he think?

SEVEN: He was destroyed in his trust. He didn't know a lot of stuff that was going on. I talk about in the book how I desperately wanted to tell my father how fucked I was on drugs. But, every chance that I had to say 'Dad, I'm fucked up, I need to go to rehab or something,' I couldn't do it. So, with the book, you know, he said 'Holy shit, you did a lot of drugs.' Then he cried. A lot of it made him cry. Like when I said I would have followed my dad through anything. If he was a baker I would have made croissants for a living.

AJ: How old is dad now?

SEVEN: He is going to be 80. [Note: He died in 2016.]

AJ: So, I guess from what you're saying there's nothing in the book you regret putting in there.

SEVEN: Believe it or not, in the editing process only 2 stories got cut out. One was a very very dark story with a famous person & the other was just a sex story with some girl.

AJ: You know, I've read a lot of music autobiographies & many are just 'look at how many chicks I banged.' That's the whole point of the book it seems. Bragging rights. You don't write about your excursions like that, which is the difference & makes your book more interesting. You're not showing off. You're like 'I had a good time, but that was a really bad mistake.' You don't hide from sharing these private moments, but you're not bragging or taking joy in them, but showing how they don't mean anything.

SEVEN: I definetly talk about my mistakes in the book, especially with women.

AJ: You don't glorify, like 'I was a musician & I had this & I partied & I had fun & did this great thing or that great thing.'

SEVEN: A lot of people said, as I'm so in your face as a person, that they thought the book was going to be a look at how cool my life has been. Even with my dad. It wasn't a look how cool my dad is, but it was more like 'isn't my dad cool?' I share him. One of my focus groups said she loved how I shared my father with the world in the book. The big part of the book is you can see that thread of respect & love. I worshiped my father.

AJ: Is there anything looking back, being its been a couple years since you wrote it, is there anything you wish you hadn't put in?

SEVEN: Yes, yes. The one thing I regret putting in it is I accidentally outed one of my lesbian friends. She read the book & I get a phone call & I'm like 'Hey, what's going on?' She goes 'I couldn't believe what you did.' I'm like 'What did I do now?' 'You outed me.' I'm like holy shit & 'You're not out?'

AJ: My next question is, what did Seven learn about himself after he wrote the book & after people started reading about his life?

SEVEN: I really thought a lot more people were angry. My life was like a snowball going down a mountain. A mix between a snowball & the Pied Piper, where I had no problem rallying people for my cause to do things with me that we wanted to do. You see in the book I've always been pretty much a team player. I've always enjoyed & loved team play. So, that was in the book that in that team play when things didn't go right people got hurt. I thought people were a lot more angry than they were. I think the one thing is that the people that I talked about in the book really appreciated the journey more than I thought they did, if that makes sense. It's like taking people on a trip with you. Sometimes you don't know if they wanted to go with you through that journey or not.

AJ: Exactly. You bristle people the wrong way but not deliberately & they don't understand your best intentions are there. I understand. Is there any surprise response you got that was negative? Other than your ex-wife? That's very interesting how she did her own version. Is there anyone who responded who really blew you away?

SEVEN: Recently someone told me there were a couple of things that were different, but other than outing my lesbian friend, no there wasn't. Like I said, I really didn't bash too many people in the book that hard. I bashed Busta Rhymes in the book, but I don't even know if he can read a book. I bashed him pretty hard, but I just told the story. Then there was an engineer who I kinda took a shot at because he was such a jerk. But, other than that I really haven't had anyone come out & attack me about the book. Even JAY & THE AMERICANS, who I slammed pretty hard. I didn't even hear from them. One guy who I wasn't writing about threatened me with a lawsuit if I wrote about him at all in the book. Johnny Blaze from SCARECROW, the hair metal band founded by TWISTED SISTER guitarist Eddie Ojeda. I was like 'Don't flatter yourself Johnny. You're not in the book.'

AJ: Sorry, buddy, & that threat isn't going to get you your own chapter, either.

SEVEN: In the food chain of people who took a bite out of my ass he didn't even take a bite. So, he didn't make it into the book. So, no, no one attacked me.

AJ: I ask only because attacking is a typical response when you get very personal like you did.

SEVEN: It's a valid question. One of the other people in my focus group was my friend Terry Collura Van Bellinghen who I wrote about in the book. An ex-girlfriend. She said she felt like she was reading my most intimate diaries & there where times when she felt embarrassed a little bit for me. I said it's okay. If I wrote it in the book I felt like I had to talk about it.

AJ: I totally agree with her. There were times when I was reading that I felt I shouldn't be privvy to what you were sharing. There were other times, particularly when I was reading about your ex-wife, when I couldn't read fast enough because I wanted to know what was happening next. I wanted to make sure you were okay.

SEVEN: How do you like that sword fight? She was coming at me with a knife. I was like Sparticus.

AJ: I'm sure her version is very different. I literally read parts of it wanting to know if you got out okay. It's like a novel at times. You forget that it's a real person. It's just so gripping & you're so honest & its all so crazy that it almost doesn't seem real.

SEVEN: The funny thing about it ... There was one thing I thought when I finished the book. I thought people wouldn't believe the story. But, because I was so honest ... you can't make this shit up. People don't say things about themselves, like they don't paint themselves in that type of picture. So, no one ever question the veracity of the book.

AJ: It's too honest to be faked. You mentioned in the book & you've mentioned a few times here about this focus group. Can you clarify what you are referencing?

SEVEN: Absolutely. When I wrote the book I wanted there to be people who were reading it. I wanted instant feedback. In the digital age I can do that. As I wrote a few chapters or if I wrote a big heavy duty chapter I would send it out to the people I had in a focus group. They would read it & get back to me. Most of the time, I'd say 99% of the time, all I got was 'holy shit.' It was great. It was almost like having a support group. It was supposed to be a sounding board group, you know, instead it was basically like an at the moment audience for the book.

AJ: Were these friends or strangers or writers?

SEVEN: Some of them were acquaintances & some of them were ... like my editor. She didn't edit till the book was done. The first editor didn't really work out, so I didn't really end up using her edits. Then the second editor was fantastic, but it wasn't very thorough. The third editor was just quick on-the-fly help at the end. So, the book could actually use one more editing to be tighter. I'll probably update the book sometime. There's a couple of things that I would change time frame-wise. For example, the one chapter about the kid who inspired me to play who was actually younger than me & remembers how I got thrown out of my first band. ... Its interesting, later on when I worked with his group I thought he knew about my drug addiction and I write that. After he read the book he said he never knew. We were kinda mad at each other for a long time for no reason other than the fact that he didn't know I was sick, but I thought he did. Believe me, I was sick from the drugs.

AJ: I do believe you, from first hand observation of drug addicts & just normal medical drug usage.

SEVEN: It's all about survival when you get down to it. It's really a book about survival. Can I survive myself?

AJ: Speaking of surviving, how's your health?

SEVEN: I injured a disc in my back. They operated on it. It's day to day. I may need some additional surgery.

AJ: That's laid you up for awhile.

SEVEN: For over a year.

AJ: Let's talk about what Seven is doing these days post-writing. That is, what Seven does best ... making music.

SEVEN: Yeah, it's making music. It's so funny. My favorite instrument is the guitar. No, I go back & forth between guitar & drums. But, I think my best instrument really is the console.

AJ: You started as an engineer & that's what you always come back to. I met you via singer Maxx Mann, formerly of TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA & 12/24, as you were doing some things with him.

SEVEN: Maxx was singing on my album The End Of The World. Unfortunately, other things got in the way of finishing it.

AJ: Where are you now with music? That may not be the best question given your health & restricted activity.

SEVEN: It's a good question.

AJ: Where are you about to go might be the better question.

SEVEN: I have my album The End Of The World. I also have a movie I've been working on called The End Of The World. Most of it kinda got put on the shelf, not because of my health so much as I've been trying to find a singer for the album. It just seems for one reason or another I can't find a singer. So, I'm probably just going to wind up singing it myself. It's too bad, as I'm not a good singer.

AJ: Tell me about the album.

SEVEN: I can't find a singer for the album. It's hilarious. It's just a wacky place I'm in. I've gotten good feedback on the album. I had a major label listen & tell me to get a singer. I said to the guy from the record label 'You're a powerful player. Why don't you help me get a singer. I'm having trouble.' He said they didn't do that. There's no more A&R in the industry. There's no more artist development. It's over. They basically want it ready to go & they want to be able to put it out or they'll mix it for you & then put it out. So, I may end up singing it myself, then finishing it & mixing it. After the vocals are done I'm going to finish the overdubs. Some additional guitars & keyboards & production. Then mix it & put it out.

AJ: So it's all written?

SEVEN: I left some of it open for a singer. I'd say it's 80% written. The music is there for the entire album, just lyrically there's stuff that needs to be done.

AJ: You've got 3 or 4 songs up on youtube with Maxx singing so folks can get a preview. What's the story behind the making of this album?

SEVEN: That's a great question. About 3 years ago my daughter & my ex-wife just worked me over one weekend really bad. My daughter was about 17 years old & she was just in a real ... you know how kids hit that fuck you stage. She was leaning on me. My ex-wife was leaning on me. Plus my health was wacky.

AJ: I think we should clarify about your ex-wife that she was doing what she does best to you.

SEVEN: Basically, yes, giving me brain tumors, effectively. So, after they worked over me one weekend I wrote a tune called "Enough Of Me". It felt so good to be writing again I started writing more. I was in a car accident. I passed out from diabetes, not knowing I had it. I guess it wasn't my time as I turned & hit a tree instead of going on to the parkway & getting struck dead. I wrote a song called "Medicine". That song was written in 45 minutes.

AJ: So is it a biographical album?

SEVEN: I think it's me getting my anger out. It's a pretty angry record. It's me purging.

AJ: Listening to the tracks on youtube I saw that both you & Maxx are singing, but also you're not doing all the instruments. You have folks like Mitch Diamond contributing.

SEVEN: Mitch Diamond plays lead guitar on some tracks & some rhythm. He's my go-to guy for most of my leads. I've got a bunch of great musicians: Joe Cortese, Tommy "Thunder" Semioli, Anthony Lombardo.

AJ: You've got a movie that's going with this, too.

SEVEN: A mockumentary. It includes a lot of my history & stuff like that. Like in one part of the movie I show all the different locations I had my studios in. I visit like 12 different places. It's very funny & crazy, like me. It shows the recording of the album, writing & producing it & stuff like that.

AJ: So that movie won't be finished until the album is?

SEVEN: It can't be.

AJ: What else do you have in the mix?

SEVEN: A second book. I look forward to writing the next book.

AJ: Do you mean an update to your autobiography or a true second book?

SEVEN: A true second book.

AJ: About what?

SEVEN: The continuation. Filling in the holes. There's a lot of stuff I didn't discuss in the first book.

AJ: You say that having written 800 pages.

SEVEN: The next one won't be so long. But, you never know with me. I involve so many people. I have 5-6 pages of special thanks to all the people who were a part of my life. I don't think I have to thank them all in the second book, do I?

AJ: I don't think so.

SEVEN: I think being associated with me once is enough.

AJ: Depends who you're talking to. Your ex-wife might say that's too much.

SEVEN: Right, exactly. I think she probably deserves special thanks.

AJ: She deserves something for all the stories she spawned. She also gave you a daughter. She did something good for you.

SEVEN: Yeah, she did. What am I going to say? She gave me my daughter. You're right.

AJ: Was there any musical heritage that continued down?

SEVEN: She tried a little music, but it wasn't her path. I discouraged her as much as possible.

AJ: For someone not related to you who might want to pursue music, would you discourage them also or encourage them? What advice would you give?

SEVEN: I always think of this kid when I worked at the computer store. This kid came in with his family to buy a computer. This kid was 6'2", good looking, real smart. He said he was looking for a Mac for a music set-up. I could just tell this kid was as bright as anything. I looked at him & said 'How are your grades?' I just knew it when he said straight A's, 4.0 kinda stuff. I said 'You want to go into music?' He said yeah. I looked at him & said 'You know, kid, I'll make you a deal. I'll tell you, my father was in the music business & I have been in it since I was a baby. The day I was born was my father's first day in recording. I had every opportunity possible in the music business to make it & it's super tough & it's super unforgiving. Why don't you go to medical school? Why don't you just take a day or 2 & really think about this purchase, because I'm 46 years old & I work in a computer store, yet I engineered one of 'Rolling Stone' magazine's top 500 albums of all time. So, why don't you go home & think about that & if you want to still be in the music business I'll sell you a computer.' He never came back.

AJ: There goes that commission, but you may have done better, in another way.

SEVEN: I never made commission. I didn't care about commission anyway. If I had made commission I would have had 6 figures in my bank account.

AJ: So, here you go recommending to someone to not go into music & you say that as someone whose spent 5 decades working in music. You have played in bands, but many of us know you as an engineer, a producer, a composer before anything else. The old theory is that the musicians aren't making money. It's the ones behind the scenes who make money. But, that's not necessarily true either.

SEVEN: Recording engineers very rarely make money. You didn't get points on the record. You get paid by the hour.

AJ: People in your field don't really get enough credit, let alone money. Nobody ever talks about the engineer or the guy who mastered the album or numerous other console jobs. Even the cover artists suffer. People who don't know music don't know what you do. I mean, aren't you, Seven, just the guy that sets the microphone up?

SEVEN: I'm an addict. I am an addict of the music industry. My thing is, when I was a kid I was always setting goals. I wanted to be an assistant engineer & when I was there then I wanted to be an engineer, & from there I wanted to be a producer. Through that there's a sidebar where I'm a musician the whole way through. I was worst musician in the world. I really was. It was true for a long time & then something happened. A friend gave me a Strat guitar & it changed the way I played. It just created magic. I can't explain it. ... So, I was lucky & could experiment & discover, but I wouldn't recommend the music industry to anyone. Its a very unforgiving drug. It's not only cost me relationships, but it's cost me ...

AJ: Sanity?

SEVEN: I willingly gave up sanity.

AJ: I think part of it is when you were young & your father was still working it was a slightly different world.

SEVEN: Phil Ramone, Bob Ludwig, Elliot Scheiner, all the behind the scenes gods of NY all came from A&R Recordings, my dad's studio. It was a different world. It used to be fun. In the old days you got signed because you were different. Then the BEATLES & all that stuff kinda changed it where the music industry realized 'Fuck it, they have the BEATLES, let's get HERMAN'S HERMITS, which will be our own version of the BEATLES.' You know what I mean? That cloning. Then disco came. Disco was like 'Not only are we going to sound like the last artist that played, but we're going to do it at the exact same tempo.' Everything had to have that boring double high-hat. I hated disco. Hated it.

AJ: Disco was just a music factory churning out the exact same song over & over until trends changed.

SEVEN: Look at these new bands. Look at alternative music. How many of these are same sounding bands? By the way, why even play in tempo? Let's play behind the beat. STONE TEMPLE PILOTS were great for that shit. It's like being in the RAMONES, '1, 2, 3, rest'.

AJ: I find the RAMONES & the SEX PISTOLS obnoxious for that reason.


AJ: I grew up on YES & prog rock. After YES guitarist Steve Howe's classical weavings how can I turn to the RAMONES?

SEVEN: RUSH was a big influence in my life for many years.

AJ: Are you a music cynic, Seven? Do you believe there's no more good music? No more guitar heroes? No more Steve Howes? That the young music sucks such as folks like to say in the media?

SEVEN: Nope. I'm not like that. I will say, people say that disco really hurt the music industry & maybe it did, but it actually kept a good portion of the industry alive. Rap music was phenomenal until it lost its path. Rap music used to be a way for the people who listened to it to get information with great beats & stuff behind it. Now its just guns, fucking bitches, how much can I drink. Kanye West ... Sorry, I'm not supposed to mention him.

AJ: You created a No Kanye Zone on facebook. You can't break it now.

SEVEN: That's right, I created a No Kanye Zone. But, its unbelievable. The bad thing about hip-hop was there was no publishing. No one covers hip-hop songs, so the publishing industry took a very big hit. No muzak is hip-hop. That music rarely plays on the radio.

AJ: I never really thought of that.

SEVEN: That's why the publishing industry was in such a panic & in such a bad way. There's no covers of rap songs.

AJ: While you have contributed to countless rap albums, like PUBLIC ENEMY, so you are very familiar with that world.

SEVEN: I did PUBLIC ENEMY's Fear Of A Black Planet. I worked on Ice Cube's solo debut Ameri-ka-ka-ka's Most Wanted. I worked with ROCK MASTER SCOTT & THE DYNAMIC 3. You remember those guys? "The Roof Is On Fire."

AJ: That was the good old days of rap.

SEVEN: I did their next record or a couple of records after that. I worked with Terminator X. There were so many rap groups that I worked with. But, look at LEADERS OF THE NEW SCHOOL with Busta Rhymes. They pretty much put the nail in the coffin for me with rap music, because when they did their second & last album T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye) it didn't make sense. The way they put the record together just wouldn't work, so they came to me & they said 'You're the guy that helped with all those inserts on the PUBLIC ENEMY album.' Yeah, I came up with a lot of shit. So, they asked if I could help them. I said, 'Okay, here's the deal. I gotta get writing credit. I want a producer credit.' He guaranteed it to me. It was the kinda thing where they were very much in a rush to do it. We shook hands on it & made a deal. Then when the album came out there was no production credit whatsoever & Charlie Brown said those were all his ideas. After that point I was pretty much fried. Then you read about what I went through with Busta Rhymes, in my book. He's a real narcissist. What can I tell you? They're the reason why rap music is so fucked up. They don't want to share the credit.

AJ: Is he the one in your book, I remember one story all too well, where this guy was listening back to the music in the studio & it was so loud it almost made your eardrums bleed?

SEVEN: That was Hank Shocklee of the BOMB SQUAD. I was doing, I think it was, "Joy & Pain" the Frankie Beverly remix. He was listening so loud. He turned the knob on the console all the way up & then kept turning it until it broke its threading. It was just spinning. So, I said to Hank, 'Listen, I gotta work in the morning. I need my ears. You're hurting me.' He just looked at me & said, 'What's your problem?' I said, 'Nothing, but you're hurting my ears. I need my ears. It's really violently loud.' He goes, 'Just keep working.' So, I actually put earplugs in & I put headphones on that weren't plugged in. It was still blasting loud. The next day Hank went to the owner of the studio & said he didn't want to work with me anymore. The owner asked why? Hank really said, 'Alan doesn't like black people.' I don't like black people? Just because I didn't want to listen so loud that my ears bleed? That's the story of hip-hop, really, when you think about it.

AJ: That was one of my favorite stories from the book. So, now I have to ask, who was the best person you worked with over the years, either as a fellow musician or engineer?

SEVEN: I worked with Ronnie Ventura, who produced the JACKSONS, Gloria Estefan. I did dance music for him & rock & pop music. He's phenomenal. He's one of my top clients. He's one of my favorite people to work with. I loved working with Chuck D. I really did love working with him. He was a lot of fun to work with back then, as he was pure art. The reason that Chuck D loved me was not only did I get everything really clean & present, but there was nothing he couldn't dream up that I couldn't bring to life sonically. My big thing in audio is depth of field. I love painting this 3 dimensional picture that comes out of 2 speakers. I'm not a 5.1 surround sound guy. I'm an old guy. I believe that if you can't make it come out of these 2 speakers then god bless you. But, a lot of people are making a lot of money remixing the music for surround sound where you need 40 speakers to listen. But, Chuck D was great. Though, when it was time to do his solo album he went to the studio I was working at & they're like 'You're gonna work with Alan, right?' He's like 'Nah, Alan is about cigarettes. He smokes too many cigarettes.' That's why he didn't want to work with me, instead of just saying 'hey, can you not smoke in the control room.' For the creative process: Ronnie Ventura, Chuck D. These are some of my favorite people that I worked with. Recently I worked for the organization C.O.P.S. or Concerns Of Police Survivors. They're doing like a tribute album for cops. But, that's been on hold since my back has been bad. The very top of the list is guitarist Mitch Diamond, as I've said. Working on his Diamond album was really incredible. I wish I hadn't been so fucked up at the time. It could have sounded a lot better.

AJ: To return to something you just said about the sound mix. The majority of people that are listening to music are not listening to it on surround sound. We're listening to music on our phones & small headphones & things as far from surround sound as you can get. So, you were mixing really for the way most people listen to music.

SEVEN: I'm so glad we work hard on these mixes so you can listen on your phone. The hard part is, & you can quote me, if I connect a positive & negative lead to my anus it'll sound just like an iphone speaker. So, I'm so glad the entire world is listening so critically to these incredible mixes through my anus.

AJ: What's even better is if the internet connection isn't good the music stops streaming midway through.

SEVEN: On youtube I click on that little icon that says HD, you know to get the better quality of the video, but I really just want to hear the audio the best it can be. Than I look at the original upload quality of some of this stuff & I just want to jump out the window. What are you going to do? There's a great story from the book I'll tell you. When I was a kid & had my vinyl records ... I still listen to vinyl, by the way. I think that its the truest, most delicious media ... You know STEELY DAN's Aja was mixed at my father's studio. Elliot Scheiner, who was a good friend of my father, mixed that album. When Aja came out in 1977 I used to lay in bed at night & listen to that album & go 'One day, I'm not going to work with STEELY DAN's producer Gary Katz & I'm going to be the guy.' When it came time to work with JAY & THE AMERICANS, sure enough, when I got there to work with the co-producer with the new Jay, Jay Black, as Jay Traynor lost his name in bankruptcy court, he said to me they were thinking of bringing Gary Katz in to work with me & would I be cool with that? Of course! It would be great to work with him. It was my dream. The first time he comes to the studio I'm giving him the tour of the big room explaining the set-up. I'm telling him how we're using Japanese wiring for the multi-tracks to get a great warm sound on digital. He just goes 'No one cares.' If Gary Katz says no one cares that hurts, you know what I mean? But, the thing is, it's true. If you guys are listening to these songs on those tiny little speakers ... there's a saying in Yiddish: go with God Or, there's fuck you.

AJ: That's the state of the record industry.

SEVEN: The music industry set itself up for failure, putting a noose around their own neck, by not investing in new artists & not adopting mp3 technology when it happened. No, they said, 'Fuck that, we're going to squash it. We're going to sue them & sue their kids & this mp3 thing will go away. We're going to keep selling our $22 CD's & keep giving the artist fuck all. We'll still be fat pigs.' What they failed to realize was you can only starve people for so long. It hurt. But, finally they figured out where the food was, that is online, & guess what, they were going to eat. But, really it hurt music sales. It hurt all the artists as they weren't getting paid all the royalties anymore. I gotta say, U2 I think is brilliant, giving away their album Songs Of Innocence on iTunes free like that. They said fuck it. They decided their fans were so awesome they were going to give them all the album for free. Let them pay for concert tickets. Right?

AJ: I haven't heard the album, as I don't have itunes, but it was actually pretty genius, I'll agree. I don't know why so many were upset. Who doesn't like free stuff? I didn't quite get the backlash.

SEVEN: You know the story of LINKIN PARK? They were getting no push from their label. They uploaded their album to & at every gig they did they said you could go to & download the whole album for free. They did this without the record company's permission nor knowledge. They said if you like the album than go buy the real thing. Next thing you know their album is selling really well. Brilliant. They taught the music industry a lesson & the industry still said fuck you.

AJ: The music industry didn't fix the problem or deal with it early on & now its too late. Now they can't & they are upset the problem can't be fixed their way. Even if they sue people it's still too late.

SEVEN: They're suing a lady because her kid downloaded music.

AJ: That's going to have about as much effect as Gene Simmons of KISS getting into the news & shitting on something, like he does. It'll only make more people upset, not stop the problem.

SEVEN: Talk about building a brand. Look at Gene.

AJ: I think he's a jerk & I'm not a KISS fan, but Paul & Gene created an industry & brand that is undeniably untouchable. I will give them credit for working hard for a long time to build that brand.

SEVEN: But, they've hurt the brand so badly.

AJ: It's not about the music anymore though, it's about the experience & these more-than-human participants.

SEVEN: I was a huge KISS fan as a child. Dressed To Kill was one of my favorite albums.

AJ: Speaking of favorite albums, when Seven the music guy likes to relax & just enjoy music, plain & simple, what does he listen to? What's his musical sweet tooth?

SEVEN: Everything from like Paul McCartney's Ram & John Lennon's Imagine. I like Mozart & Bach. I like METALLICA ... but, the later METALLICA. I'm the opposite of all the METALLICA fans that like the early stuff. For me, its the black album on.

AJ: Did you like the Lulu album with Lou Reed?

SEVEN: That was horrid. That was a really bizarre.

AJ: I'm a big Lou Reed fan, so for me it was METALLICA that failed, not him. He did what he always does. Though, his poetry was more bizarre than usual.

SEVEN: I love Lou, too, but that's a bad Lou Reed album.

AJ: He makes plenty of bad albums.

SEVEN: It's horrible. My favorite METALLICA album is S&M when they're with the symphony. Just hearing those old songs done new with that symphony orchestra just gives it so much power. It's funny. I love bands like TONIC. I think they were really great. Since I met Mitch Diamond I've been a gigantic DEEP PURPLE & RAINBOW fan, even though he would laugh at me because I'm a newer DEEP PURPLE & RAINBOW fan. My old keyboard player John Ruotolo used to beg me to listen to RAINBOW. I'd be like 'Not on your life.' I was too young. I was too into RUSH & KISS & stuff like that. It was just too above my head at the time, but now one of my favorite albums is DEEP PURPLE's Burn.

AJ: I love that album with David Coverdale & Glenn Hughes. "Stormbringer", "Burn", I love those songs.

SEVEN: I can play "Burn" on drums. It's a fun tune.

AJ: Richie Blackmore is one of my guys. He's my Hendrix. ... Seven, I have no more prepared questions. Is there any more you want to talk about that we haven't?

SEVEN: There are some things I want to express that I think are really important. I think in this day of Pro Tools every kid goes to audio school & he walks out saying he wants to be a producer. Then he takes dad's credit card & he goes to the store & buys padding for the walls & then he goes to the guitar store & buys Pro Tools & microphones, whatever. He opens up a studio & sells studio time for $10 an hour. I have a very important message. Just because you can buy a scalpel doesn't make you a surgeon. Just because you can cut open a frog & you can cut a steak, I don't think you want to remove a heart in an operating room. I think if people realize that then the music industry will come back. I truly believe the music industry can come back. The recording industry can come back when people realize they're not doing themselves any justice by making their own albums. It's cool once in awhile. I mean, BOSTON did it. The first BOSTON album was done in a house. A-HA "Take On Me" is another one. There are exceptions to the rule where people will make their own albums & it will work.

AJ: But, also many of those people kinda knew what they are doing.

SEVEN: Either that or they were just so super gifted. In this Pro Tools world bands are cheating themselves. That's something I really want to get the word out on. Don't cheat yourself. Why would you produce your own album if you can afford to hire a producer? You're really cheating your own dreams. The art of recording is in a coma. It's not dead. It's just in a coma & its waiting to wake up & its waiting to come back. There are guys like myself who are waiting. We are waiting for that time when people come back & want that craft & that art. They just want to make records for people who appreciate having records made for them. Just do what you do & get paid for it &do it right. But, that's not happening, because these guys aren't recording engineers. They went & bought ProTools & some great speakers, but do you know what it costs to build a proper studio to get a recording environment neutral so you can hear properly or track or to mix properly? People are missing that. Plug-ins. That's a great thing to talk about.

AJ: The floor is yours. Go ahead.

SEVEN: You know when you go to a bar & you get a soda, right? You notice that the ginger ale takes like Coke & the Coke tastes like 7-Up? They all have the same kind of taste? Welcome to digital recording. One of the things that made audio so incredible & special was plugging into compressors, limiters, etc. All these things had different sounds. It was almost like cooking. You know in a good Italian sauce you can taste the oregano, garlic, tomatoes, yet they work in this wonderful synchronicity where everything is working together, helping each other to tasting great. In digital everything is going in & out the same way & it all tastes the same. All these records have such a similar sound to them. People aren't using different recording consoles, different compressors, different wire. When I master with Greg Calbi - this is very important - he even uses different types of wire to see how it'll sound. Wire has a sound. Like we talk about albums & that terrific sound of vinyl. Now it's gone. Now you're listening to it through an inadequate speaker. Or, how about this, remember when you still bought records you'd put the needle down on track one & listen to the entire record. Then you'd flip it over & listen to side 2. Then you looked at the album cover & read the credits. It was all very tangible. It was a very physical experience. You invited your friends over & you all listened to this record. It was an experience. That's fucking gone. We have to bring that experience back. In the end it's a soundtrack to your life.

AJ: I remember the the first time I heard YES's Close To The Edge, I literally sat on my bed & listened to the vinyl while pouring through the liner notes & investigating the cover, which was made of a particular paper to have a unique rough feel. I was reading the lyrics & had them nearly memorized by the time I was done listening the first time through.

SEVEN: I would sit on my parents carpet with headphones on & my father would put on a record & we'd sit together & read the lyrics to BEATLES songs. I fell in love with music. That love in me is still alive. Loving music is a great engineer's life. Jay Messina ... 2 albums he did were nominated for Grammys. Jim is coming over to my house this weekend. I still see these guys. My father's studio friends come & visit every few months. I love it. It brings my childhood right back.

AJ: I'm always telling my girlfriend about liner notes & whose who. I've read liner notes like they are novels & learned so much. I want to know who is who. But, that's a lost art.

SEVEN: That's all very important to me. I think that covers it. I said what I wanted to say. It's really important that people need to realize the need to rediscover the value of an engineer & a producer & the whole process. Even going to a studio, not your home. There is a music industry that wants that, but people have to want that again. There's more to it than basements & Pro Tools. There's an art. I lean on an old school mentality as a engineer in a new digital world. I think that makes real rich & interesting productions. There is a sonic experience that is lacking. That's super important to me. I think that's my final message.