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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Engine

Interviewed by Arnold Hablewitz
Interview With Engine's Bernie Versailles from 2002
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

First off, let's set the record straight. When this band was first forming, there was talk that this would be a "Ray Alder solo project." Is this a solo project, or is this a fully-fledged band?
At first it really was a solo project. Without Ray this never would have happened. I was out of the music scene for like a good ten years, maybe twelve years, and nobody knew who I was. So it was definitely his solo thing, but to me it is now a full-fledged band. We've taken it way more seriously instead of writing a bunch of songs in my room and then recording it. We've spent a lot more time writing it up and recording, and everybody put their two cents in. We let Joey and Pete be way more creative on this album than on the first.
MSJ: I, for one, found the debut to be rather enjoyable. How would you say this release is different from the previous one? Faster? Slower? Heavier? More melodic?
I think this one's a little angrier and darker. It just kinda reflects what we go through in life, especially with Ray's lyrics. He mostly writes about things that he goes through, just personal issues.
MSJ: When this band first came out, it was well publicized as to who was in this band. Do you think that might have led people to believe that this might have been just another classic metal project, and that it might have been misunderstood when it first came out?
Absolutely, I think it was mostly a marketing thing. We were all on the label at the time in various bands that were more traditional or progressive metal bands. It was totally a misunderstanding I think. Speaking as an outsider, I would have totally thought that it would have sounded like a combination of all three of those bands (Agent Steel, Fates Warning, Armored Saint).
MSJ: It seems fairly obvious how three of you might hook up from touring together or just being part of the same scene really, but how did Pete Parada find his way into the band?
Pete was a friend of our who was rehearsing at Mark Zonder's studio with different bands. When I first met him he was playing with World of Pain, who I guess their singer's now in Diesel Machine, and I just realized it, but he played on a Steel Prophet album that I actually did a guest solo on, which I thought was kind of neat that him and I were on the same album together before hooking up in a band. So we were just all hanging out at the same studio and we were all friends, and we just thought that he'd make a really good drummer for us.
MSJ: Joey seems to have a lot going for him in terms of musical projects. Does this ever cause a problem for Engine?
We only really played three shows for the first album, and Joey was able to make all three of them, so we don't really have a problem with him. Pete, constantly being on tour was only able to play one of them, so really we have more of a problem with Pete's schedule. Joey just seems to work it out and make time.
MSJ: I know Joey produced the first Engine release, did he produce the new one as well?
Well, in a sense. I guess it just depends it just depends on your definition of producing. To me, making it sound the way it does, not just mixing it but the arrangements and the intros and all the weird sounds and all the cool effects you hear - all of that is pretty much just done in pre-production between me and Ray. He does mix it and makes it sound the way it does, but all the weird and cool stuff you hear is already done between me and Ray. I think that's why it was put down that me and Ray co-produced the album as we did on the first album.
MSJ: This is a question which simply must be asked. This isn't going to become another Soil is it, where members of underground metal bands get together, play more mainstream-sounding heavy rock, and then break off from their #1 bands to make this one a priority? Has there been talk of that happening with this project?
Oh yeah, absolutely. It just really boils down to whatever people are going to take more seriously. Obviously, if we were in these projects that weren't worth our while, and then all of a sudden Engine is this big, important band that's actually gonna support us and pay our bills, and at the same time is going to make our creative side happy, then I think it's a definite possibility.
MSJ: Would you still probably do the other bands on the side at least, were that to happen?
Yeah, exactly. Life isn't just black and white. I think that right now all the bands we're in right now would realize that's a possibility and they would understand and support it [were it to happen].
MSJ: Being that you come from the background of playing the more power metal and heavy metal variety, and then you turn to Engine, which in my opinion sounds quite a bit more like the Deftones, was this an easy transition or was this something you've been wanting to do for a while.
Actually it was totally natural, it didn't even feel like I was doing something different. I think in '96, I formed a band called Pain Corps., which was that whole down-tuned thing. It didn't sound like Deftones, but it was that whole heavy, Meshuggah-style of playing, so when Ray and I started writing the Engine material, I was already in that mode, it wasn't anything new for me. It was a nice change to try and meld a melodic songwriting thing with that heavier down-tuned chug. It was a very nice thing for me, it came very easily.
MSJ: This is a question we ask quite a few people. What was the last CD you got that you thoroughly enjoyed?
It was a band called Darkane on Century Media. I just really, really dug it!
MSJ: "Insanity"?
Um, I'm not sure of the name of the album, but it was the one they released last year. I believe they are from Sweden.
MSJ: This is kind of an odd question. Would you have a Spinal Tap moment?
(laughs) Yes I do, actually! Agent Steel played at L'amours, opening for Exodus, back in '85. I think we went on about twenty minutes late because of some technical problems, so in the middle of our set, they told us "last song," but we just kept playing. The soundman shut off our PA, but we just kept going, still had the pit going and screamin', and then they lowered this video screen in front of us, but we still kept playing, and then they shut off the lights, but we still kept playing in pitch black. And when they realized we weren't going to stop playing they shut off the power to the whole club.
 
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