I N T E R V I E W
Thanks a lot for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine http://www.auxportesdumetal.com/
Cool, The Gates Of Metal Ooohh, cool, it sounds fine...
First of all, I'd like to ask how did you select the songs to cover on your solo album "The Road Home" ? Why did you choose to cover Genesis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson songs ? Does it come from your teenager period ?
It was the period when I first left the Juilliard School of Music and when I was just discovering some of this very important rock music, the progressive style. And these are the songs who really influenced me the most. Each one that I chose got a special impact in my life. "Tarkus" was a great piece of music to me and represented the power that a keyboard player could have in the rock world, taking the advanced harmonies, using some jazz and giving some real strength and might, that was very educational and very inspiring for me. And then I chose the Genesis piece because I'm a big fan of Genesis, I love their harmonies, the melodic rock, Genesis' sound. And Gentle Giant I chose because they taught me a lot about rhythm, counterpoints, they had very interesting technics and compositions. I would listen to that song over and over again. And then the Yes song "Soundchaser", I picked this one because I think it's a little bit unusual for Yes and it has the amazing harmonies and there's an incredible keyboard lead.
How long ago did you think about such a project, a cover album of progressive songs ?
I thought about it for a little while. When I realised it was time to think about my next solo album, I had to figure "What am I gonna do ?". A concept album ? And then, why wouldn't I go back with my own version of "Tarkus" ? The album is mostly covers and I also did one song "Piece of a II" on road which is my own original song. The focus is on covers, that's the plan. I think that everbody is enjoying it. Very good response to this album. I wanted to take the music for the people who hadn't heard it and also to people who had heard it and who grew up with it. I wanted to make this album enjoyable for the new listeners so that they try to go back and say "Whaoo..that's interesting !". According to the new listeners and to the original composers like Keith Emerson, he loved my "Tarkus" so I'm happy !
What do the other original composers think about your covers ?
On my website, there's a link to come comments of Keith Emerson, of Tony Banks who is the keyboardist in Genesis, Jon Anderson who is the vocalist in Yes and also Derek Shulman who is the singer for Gentle Giant. They all posted positive comments about my music. Very nice. That was one of the thing I wanted to know, to send my music to these people, and to ask them to do their comments.
When I listen to "Dance Of A Volcano", it seems that you "Dream Theater-ised" the song. Even the guitar solo seems to be "Petrucci-sed".
Marco Sfogli, the guitar player, is incredible. He plays cool rock songs like Petrucci, like Steve Morse, he plays very melodic, in the spirit of John Petrucci. He's a big fan of John Petrucci also ! I discovered him thanks to James Labrie who used him on his solo albums.
Why didn't you cover any Rush song ?
Because as much as I like Rush, they were not as big an influence in my life. I'm a keyboardist you know... But I do like Rush.
Which song do you prefer on this new album and why ?
That's an interesting question... All my favorite songs in the whole world are on "The Road Home". The other day, I hadn't heard the Road Home album for a cupple of months and I said to me "I'm gonna listen myself". And I realised "Ouahh.. I like this album, this is some good songs". So I don't know what to say exactly. "Tarkus" is of course the biggest song, I also like the piano thing because playing piano is very close to my heart. I feel very expressive, that's maybe my favorite one.
The names of your guests are very prestigious : Ron Thal, people of Porcupine Tree...
You know, the MVP, the Most Valuable Player is Rod Morgenstein, the drummer, an incredible drummer. I called Rod when I was sure that it was gonna be exactly the way it should be. Because the root of this music, the core of the sound you hear is keyboard and drums. The guitar players are fantastic but they're just playing small guitar solos. There's no rhythm guitar on this album, and no bass. There's keyboard, drums, singing and in guests guitar in the places you hear it. Of course, the guests are very special : Ron Thal is fantastic, he's a legend in the pop/metal, you know it's him when you hear a solo, he's Bumblefoot, out of control. Marco as I mentioned earlier and then Ricky Garcia from Germany. On vocals we have Kip Winger, an old friend of mine, Neal Morse that everyone knows (the classic progressive rock guy) and Nick D'Virgilio who's now the singer of Spock's Beard, an incredible talented drummer and singer, and Steven Wilson, my friend from Porcupine Tree. And also I forgot the incredible Ozric Tentacles guitar player Ed Wynne, he played some great stuff. I think I mentioned everybody.
Until today you try a lot of instrumental projects. What are your future plans ?
I'm very interested in electronic music. I like artists like FxTwin, Voice Of Canada, people who are working with futuristic cool electronic sound. I think I'd like to get into that.
Let's now talk about your "Liquid Trio Experiment" project. Don't you think it can be risky to release an album without guitars ?
There's no much guitar on my solo album either. I have no problem with that. Did you hear the Rod Morgenstein Experiment ? There's no guitar at all. I think it's great, like Emerson, Lake & Palmer. I think it's really rock, we were in a studio in a very special time and place, I'm happy that it came out.
Just before finishing this interview, I'd like to mention that I have an online education resource, it's called the Jordan Rudess online conservatory, the website is http://www.jroc.us/, it's a place where people can learn some music from me, especially if they're interested in the Dream Theater riffs. Students should like it.
Thanks a lot for your time.