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- SONS OF APOLLO — the progressive metal supergroup featuring former DREAM THEATER bandmates Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, as well as bassist Billy Sheehan (MR. BIG, THE WINERY DOGS), guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (GUNS N' ROSES) and vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (JOURNEY, TALISMAN, W.E.T.) — has released the official music video for the song "Signs Of The Time". The track is taken from SONS OF APOLLO's debut album "Psychotic Symphony", which came out last October via InsideOut Music. It sold around 5,200 copies in the United States in its first week of release, earning the band the top position on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, which focuses on top-selling albums by new or developing acts, defined as those who have never appeared on the top 100 of the Billboard 200.
Portnoy says: "The 'Signs Of The Time' video was shot on the recent U.S. tour and is a good taste of what the band is like on stage.
"We are about to embark on the band’s first tour of Europe and the U.K. and can't wait to bring this five-headed musical monster to our fans overseas all throughout the summer."
SONS OF APOLLO got together very organically, as Portnoy explains: "Derek and I reunited shortly after I left DREAM THEATER in 2010 and we put together an all-instrumental touring band with he and I, Billy Sheehan, and Tony MacAlpine. That was my first time working with Derek since the '90s when he was in DREAM THEATER and it was just great to be working with him again. Ever since that tour, which was really just a one-off live thing, he has been nudging me to start a real, original, full-time band. The timing just had never been right, because I had too many other things on my plate. Long story short, the time was finally right to take the bait and put together a band."
"Mike and I work at a relentless pace in the studio," continues Sherinian. "The music is modern, but we have an old-school soul. What is unique about SONS OF APOLLO is that we have true rock 'n' roll swagger along with the virtuosity — a lethal combination!"
But what to call the next great supergroup? "Derek was mainly the one behind the name," says Portnoy. "I have a list that I keep on my phone of about a hundred different band names, which I constantly have to refer to every time I have a new band every year. [Laughs] So, I pulled up the list and APOLLO was one of the names on the list. It was a word that both of us really liked. We started fiddling with different variations of the word. One of the original band names we were working with was APOLLO CREED, the character from the 'Rocky' movies, but after lots of different discussions on different variations, Derek suggested SONS OF APOLLO and it seemed to stick. Apollo is the God of music so with that in mind it seemed like a fitting name."
Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinian and Billy Sheehan previously toured together in 2012 and 2013 as PSMS (along with guitarist Tony MacAlpine), playing all instrumental versions from each of their previously recorded music. SONS OF APOLLO is the next logical progression by adding a vocalist and creating all-original material. The band incorporates the progressive style and individual technical prowess that Portnoy and Sherinian shared together in DREAM THEATER combined with the swagger and groove of VAN HALEN, DEEP PURPLE and LED ZEPPELIN.
- Cameron Buchholtz of Rock 100.5 The KATT conducted an interview with GHOST frontman Tobias Forge at last month's Rocklahoma festival, which was held in Pryor, Oklahoma. You can now listen to the chat using the SoundCloud widget below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On performing new songs live before they are officially released:
Tobias: "Yeah, it's always a risk doing that, obviously, because it's like having a trailer for a film that shows too much of the film. And I think also nowadays when studio recordings are not necessarily just a capture of the band playing it, it's obviously quite directed and sort of in place and with a lot of steroids in it, of course, you want people to hear the fully fledged, the best version of it first, so that they fill in the gaps, hearing it live later, rather than the other way around. But I'm also embracive of the old-school way of doing things, so I think that it's worth presenting them in a very live version and then you hear the recording later."
On GHOST's more stripped-down live show:
Tobias: "I wouldn't use the word 'stripped down,' because we actually increased the personnel quite radically. But we have taken off the majority of the so-called backtracks, which means that whereas in the past, where there was only one singer — no one else was singing anything — those harmonies that we're known for needed to come from someplace in order for it sound a certain way. So they were magically in there from a computer. Which was something that bugged the hell out of me — I didn't wanna do that, but that was the only way to do it. And in order to play our songs, you need to have two keyboard players playing at the same time, because there's a lot of multi… you need to have a three-armed keyboard player. So my plan was always — even five or six years ago — to have a band that was eight or nine people. It's very expensive, and the more people you have, the more potential [there is for] not just personal problems, but the more people you are, the harder it gets for everybody to play in unison. So you need to have people that are very used to that and that have a certain mindset. And finally we got to a point where I think we got that. We were able to get rid of… I'm saying a majority of the backtracks, because technically, we're still on… another technical term — it's basically a click track. Just because that's what you do — every band does that nowadays because you have to do that in order to sync certain things. So we have a little bit of an outro… we have outro situations and intro situations and certain things that are technically still on tape. But when the band is playing, that's all live, analog, organic, which feels so much better — it's a major upgrade."
On how long ago he had the concept worked out for GHOST's new album, "Prequelle":
Tobias: "The major foundation of the theme of the record and what was gonna happen, that dates back maybe three or four years. So, definitely, I always try to have that in mind making the record. And a lot the things that you have in store do not materialize; they might materialize later. From my point of view, a lot of the things that we've done over our entire career have always been a big failure, because it was never the way that I planned it. But then there's always upsides with it that turn out to be better or greater than the original plan. And some of the things I just sort of re-forge in a way and just do it at a later date to sort of further underline something."
On whether he already has some vague idea of the next record and the record afer that in his head right now:
Tobias: "I know what we're gonna next time, yes. It will be a work in progress up until the day that I master the album. But I know where the story sort of goes. And with simpe mathematics of how a tour cycle usually pans out — a record comes out, you tour for 18 months, then you go back into the studio, that takes six, seven months, and then it's 18 more months [of touring] — I think we have a five-year plan. And then I have another project at the end of that tunnel that might or might not materialize. It's a little bit of a side thing that takes a ton of collaboration and many stars aligning. And that's been in the works for years. So we will see if that happens. But that is as far as I can see right now."
"Prequelle" landed at position No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. The disc, which arrived on June 1, shifted 66,000 equivalent album units in the week ending June 7. Of that sum, between 61,000 were in traditional album sales.
GHOST's first week benefited from a concert ticket/album sale redemption offer in association with the band's spring U.S. theater tour, as well as a pair of arena dates later this year.
"Prequelle" was tracked last year at Artery studios in Stockholm with producer Tom Dalgety (OPETH, ROYAL BLOOD) and mixed in January at Westlake Studios in West Hollywood, California with Andy Wallace (NIRVANA, SLAYER).
- Original QUEENSRŸCHE singer Geoff Tate was recently interviewed by Rock Titan. You can now watch the chat below.
Asked what advice he would give to his younger self if he could travel back in time, Geoff said: "I would have gotten some sort of business education. I've really been… Hmmm, how do I put it? I don't know anything about business. I've had some pretty tough situations arise from twice record companies going out of business just right after they release a record, with no record company support, no nothing — the record just doesn't sell. Twice that's happened to me. I've had managers embezzle millions of dollars from the band — just all kinds of horror stories. I would have taken some sort of business education early on. Nobody in the band QUEENSRŸCHE, none of us went to college. We started this right out of high school. And [you end up] trusting a lot of people, and a lot of people lead you astray and a lot of people have the best intentions but then get waylaid with their own problems, which affects you, and it's a domino effect."
He continued: "I'm not complaining — I mean, I've had a really good and great life and I'm very happy — but it's been trying at times. But I guess that's part of what makes life interesting too. If it was all so easy, then… I don't know… maybe there wouldn't be the music there is, 'cause that has a lot to do with writing what you feel when you go through experiences you have — it comes out in your music."
Tate also addressed the fact that physical and digital music sales are continuing to fall as the music business inches closer to an access-over-ownership model.
"At some point, in the '90s, I'm thinking that, from my memory, collectively the world just decided that music should be free and people just started taking it," Geoff said. "And nobody did anything about it. Now, what if we do that today — we all decide, 'Hey, automobiles should be free. Let's just all take them and see what happens.' Interesting social experiment, huh? Or how about groceries? Go to the grocery store and fill up your cart and walk away. See who stops you."
Tate went on to praise METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich whose band's image took a tremendous beating in the eyes of music fans after METALLICA launched legal action against the pioneering music file-sharing service Napster in 2000.
"Hats off to him for standing up and saying what he felt, 'cause he was right," Tate said. "I challenge anybody to suffer an 85-percent loss in their income, like musicians did — people that wrote music, that wrote songs. 85-percent loss in income — that's staggering."
Tate is celebrating the 30th anniversary of QUEENSRŸCHE's landmark concept album "Operation: Mindcrime" by performing the LP in its entirety on a U.S. tour, which kicked off on June 7 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
His band features Kieran Robertson from Scotland on guitar, Bruno Sa from Brazil on keyboards, Jack Ross from Scotland on bass, Scott Moughton from Canada on guitar, Josh Watts from England on drums and Geoff Tate's daughter Emily, who is singing the parts of Sister Mary. She's also in the band TIL DEATH DO US PART, who are special guests on this tour.
Tate was replaced in QUEENSRŸCHE by former CRIMSON GLORY singer Todd La Torre.
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