Fates Warning
with RayAlder and Jim Matheos on Nov 16, 2007

On November 16th Fates Warning had a show in the Bosuil at Weert. A band with great albums but they havenít got a new record now. Time to ask some questions to RayAlder (Singer) and Jim Matheos (guitar player) before their show.

Four years of silence with Fates Warning, what is going on?
Well almost 4 years, to be precisely 3,5 years. We did the Redemption record (The Origins Of Ruin) and we have our own side projects. Actually we are quite busy.

Before a Pleasant Shape of Grey you released a record almost every year, after this album there were three years between the next albums. What is the reason of this long time gaps?
It actually started a little earlier than that. Partly because we toured the Pleasant Shade of Grey tour like 4 tours, it got harder and harder to write new songs, the ideas became less. We were only touring, we didnít have any time and new ideas.

When will the new album be released?
We have no plans right now. We have lots of ideas but we havenít decided yet what we are going to do; we have got nothing on paper. First we have to get things clear what we actually want. We donít know what direction we will go before we start to write. I naturally will do something but we I havenít worked out any partitures yet; I have all in my mind. It all will come together when we start writing. We write songs together. Jim normally writes the music and I (Ray) take care of the lyrics.

  Is Mark Winter definitely out of Fates Warning?
Yes, he said he want to do something different. Right now he is substituted by Bobby, an absolutely great drummer. I donít imagine we will ever have another permanent drummer. When Joe DiBiase left the band we had each time new drum players. Itís hard for the band, because each drum player will have to learn the songs. Itís hard to get a permanent drummer now because we release every 3 of 4 years an album and we are occasionally on tour. So youíre in the band but we donít offer him a fulltime job with Fates Warning. Now we have Bobby, heís such a pro. He writes all stuff out and plays the songs within a weeks matter of time. Heís a real professional drummer. Give him 10 songs to learn them all. Then he does something different out of Fates Warning and when he comes back he can play the songs in a very short time.

We canít operate like a normal band; it would be a schedule nightmare. We tour a period all over the world, we write songs and then we record them to go on tour again. It would be nightmare. We operate best when everyone is free to do his own thing.

  Last DVD (live in Athens) Nick from Spocks Beard was behind the drum kid, how was that?
Nick is a great guy and a great drummer. He couldnít get in this tour because we had 2 or 3 things to do and he had no commitment to us. Besides that he was very busy with Spocks Beard. Itís a pity he canít be with us this tour. We went to look for another drummer, Bobby was he first choice, thereís no doubt about that.

  In the eighties Fates Warning started with progressive metal, actually before Dream Theater. Why did Dream Theater did break through and Fates Warning didnít become that great? Is there an explanation for that?
Well, so many people already asked that. The main question that people have asked us was: Arenít you jealous of bands like Dream Theater?Ē. The answer is: No we arenít, but I canít explain why we havenít break through like Dream Theater. Fact is that they are very consistent in releasing records and we arenít. They are very good in the things they do, writing great songs. People are impressed by the things the do. Actually we are 2 different bands, we play different; you canít compare the two bands, Dream Theater is progressive metal, actually the biggest progressive band. We never compared us with other bands till people asked why they made it and we donít. I guess that people like them better then us whatever the reason is. If you compare the number of cdís that they have sold, it is 10 times more records than we do.

  Perhaps because they release more frequent records than you do?
No I disagree, the fact that they up with records or frequently release more records than we do doesnít make that difference. It has to be their magic appeal.

  Nowadays the volume of the shows is quite loud, Fates Warning is one of the few bands that plays less loud. Why is that?
I (Jim) hate loud music, our songs have a lot of subtle elements that are better audible when the volume is less loud.

  What is the set list tonight (show starts over 2 hours) and who decides what songs Fates Warning is going to play?
We donít know the set list yet. Last few shows we changed a couple of songs. Normally I (Jim) decide what songs we will play. I asked Ray but he never answered on it, we mostly agree on the songs we play. I spent some time to figure what songs go well together, that are the songs that we might play on stage. If there is someone of the band who donít want to play a special song, we donít play it.

  Isnít it difficult to go on tour without a new album?
Yes, it is very hard, but we actually never came over for the last record which come out in 2004. The only exception of this was the Pleasant Shade of Gray-tour.

  In your point of view how is the progressive metal scene nowadays?
I donít know, we donít listen to that kind of music. We listen to different kind of music like Opeth and Porcupine Tree. Any way nothing that would be considered progressive metal for sure.

  What is you favourite Fates Warning album?
A Pleasant Shade of Gray and Parallels. Parallels was hard to make, the writing process took over 6 month. In the end is was one of the best albums because we all collaborated so much in the studio. Pleasant Shade of Grey was Jimís idea. We didnít write for the record company or for any radio station just only for us. After recording A Pleasant Shade of Gray, the album came out and then we became aware of the quality of the album. For us it was like ďWhamĒ, we were very satisfied and proud of the album.

  Do you have any pressure of Metal Blade?
No we never have, itís great working with Metal Blade. They are not the biggest label on the world and the support has not always been the way we like it to be. On the other hand they let us do what we want us to do from the first record on. They have their own opinion of Fates Warning but they have never involved in that. David of Metal Blade was interested in the band, that is why he signed us in the first place. On A Pleasant Shade of Gray we said we want to record a one long song, they thought is was a great idea. Itís great working with them.

  Suppose every musician was available, what shout be the most favourite line up of Fates Warning?
I donít know, we are very lucky with the line right now. Just because I think is my favourite guitar or bass guitar player doesnít mean he fits in the band. This line up fits very well so we are very satisfied.

  Donít you miss any keyboard player?
Yes we do. Itís always tough when we have a keyboard player we miss the second guitar player and vice versa. To be honest we canít afford to get them both. It should be frat to have someone that could play both instruments. In the studio I can play guitar as well keyboards, live on stage I canít; itís going to fast. Now we have a great guitar player but it means you just have to adjust the set list to the line up on stage. We like the line up with 2 guitar players most, it sounds heavier; although the keyboards of Kevin Moore were fantastic.

  Have you never thought of a radio minded song or a song that puts you more in the commerce?
On Parallels we had several songs, that wasnít really a conscious decision. Apparently the songs werenít that great enough for playing on the radio. The result wasnít that successful. Most metal shows are broadcasted on a very awkward moment during the day, somewhere in the night. I donít know why.

  How do you feel about downloading stuff you wrote?
I think it is just steeling. You can try to justify but there is no justification. On the other hand there is no stopping at now; there is nowhere around it . Itís gonna get worse; itís just steeling. Record companies canít do anything about it. You simply cannot compete with free even if a record company charge E 0,10 a record. The experiment of Radiohead proves that most people just want something only for free. People could decide what price they would pay for the record, over half of the downloads werenít paid at all. They didnít want to pay at all. Iím glad Iím not coming into the business right now, itís very hard.

  What will we expert from Fates Warning in the future?
I donít know. I hope I can write songs and play on stage with this line up for a long time. We make music for ourselves; we donít have to prove us anymore. Shows like this (with Paganís Mind in the Bosuil in Weert) are great. We donít want to be the biggest band in the world, we knew this already in the 90th of last century. As long as we have a good tie, itís alright.

  How is touring with Paganís Mind?
Itís very cool; we have only played with them about 5 times so we havenít hang out with them. But they are nice guys. We saw them in the States with Prog Power, they played a great show.

Thank you for the interview and have a great time on stage. I wish you the best in future. Thanks you, it was great talking to you.

(Ralph Vermeere)

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