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Progressive Rock Interviews

Frame Shift

Interviewed by Josh Turner
Interview with Henning Pauly from 2005


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.


I wanted to start by asking you how ROSfest went, you know, what you thought of it.
Oh, it was way cool. I mean, I really liked the whole atmosphere of just, you know, everyone getting together. None of the artists was just like, you know, we're the musicians, we don't mingle with the people except I think for the Magenta guys. They kind of stuck to themselves. I didn't really see them around. Everyone including Pete Trewavas and everyone was just like, "we're just like those people" and that's really what it is. I mean, just because we're musicians doesn't mean we're better people where we have to sneak away from the crowd. I really just like that atmosphere and some really good bands and I think the whole organization, I mean, George must have totally freaked out. I, I couldn't organize something like this, because I'm, I'm such a control freak. I would die trying to get everything together and the other really cool thing - I'm pretty sure I'm going to go again next year.

MSJ: Is there any chance that you might be performing in one of the future ROSfest festivals?
Um, I highly doubt it. It's simply because, the stuff I do is pretty much me in the studio by myself. And, getting this on stage, it's not like Dream Theater for example. They write the stuff together, each and every one of them knows their own part. In order to play live, all they have to do is play it a couple more times and get it solid. With me, it means finding musicians, teaching them the parts, and it's not a band thing, so there are a lot more parts than a normal band would usually play. So, it's not a matter of five guys on stage; it's more like seven to eight guys on stage. And, one major thing about my stuff are a lot of vocal harmonies and vocal arrangements, so it's not one vocalist. It would be two or three and so it would be a major thing to put on stage and quite frankly, I don't think there is any money in it. That's, that's a big problem, I mean, if you think about putting Chain or Frameshift on stage, we're talking about taking at least three to four weeks out of everyone's schedule who would be involved in order to rehearse it. Just getting together and playing the stuff and getting a show together that's like 90 minutes or 2 hours. And, who is going to pay for seven people to not work for four weeks. I mean, you've got to see it from this point of view. Because, we're not making any money rehearsing. So, that needs to be paid for, so we're talking about salaries and that's, I don't know, 15, 20 thousand bucks. And then you've got to put it on stage and who's going to come and see me on stage. Who, who really gives a s**t? I mean, you can maybe draw several hundred people and that just doesn't pay for it.

MSJ: You've actually got a lot of fans, so would you ever get involved in something that's more band-oriented where you'd actually do some live shows?
Um …I've produced an album for my friend Edward. It's kind of like Sting-type material. He's a very good songwriter and a great vocalist and I co-wrote the album with him and played most of the instruments on it and he wants to put this thing on stage. It's a lot easier to put on stage, because it's more of a band sound and we did a couple rehearsals. I've played in this band and that's fun and playing in that kind of a setting is cool and not that much work, because it's in his head. It's his thing, so I just show up as a guitar player and do my part, but Frameshift… The other thing is even if there was money in it and even if I could find all the musicians to do it and it would be as I said, I'm a control freak, so they would play it the way I want it - it still takes me away from the studio. So, people are like, oh, let's do a tour with this, so we're talking about a couple of months out of my schedule and who's going to write the stuff that I'm supposed to write? I mean, I've got a couple more albums lined up that we already know I have to finish. So until the end of the year, I have to finish Babysteps, I'll tell you about that later. So, you know, someone's got to do that and that someone's me, so if I'm not around to record more albums then who will?

MSJ: I just wanted to talk a little bit about the new album. I recently heard it and it's quite phenomenal. Your music just keeps evolving and that's the best thing that you've done so far. First of all, I'm wondering, how did you get Sebastian Bach involved in this project?
Um, that's one of the media questions I get. I don't know if you know what happened in the last couple of days. Have you followed the whole drama online?
MSJ: No, I haven't, what happened?
Okay, good, maybe we don't talk about that then. (laughter) There was a big thing on his web site, but let me answer your question first and then I'll tell you about that.
MSJ: Okay.
Um, basically, to be quite frankly honest, super honest about it was Shawn Gordon's idea to do this album about the violence and he developed the concept for a couple years and he said, he would like after James, he would like to get Geoff Tate, because he's kind of related sound wise and why not, so he said, write the song about the big epic battle, which is "Blade", and write something about torture, so I did. I wanted to do three songs of kind of a demo to present to Geoff and then I got into it and then there were five, but then I sold it to James first and James said, "ah, he doesn't know about Geoff". I mean, we both love his voice, but we were also thinking that Geoff Tate's voice is kind of like James'. It's very operatic. It's very clean and not aggressive. You know that they both can sing amazingly well, but they both don't have aggressive voices. They have clean voices and James and I agreed that a clean voice is not what this needs and James said he wouldn't be the right guy for it. So we, we both said we need someone with an edge who can scream his balls off, but still sing unless it's some hardcore trash dude. So James said if I could pick from anyone in the world without any restrictions about money or if I could get in touch with him or whatever just taste-wise, who would be my favorite vocalist? And I said, well, it's Sebastian Bach. He said, well, let me give him a call cause they're friends. I didn't know that. So, James gave him a call and he sent him an MP3 and all Sebastian heard was the intro to "Blade" and then he was on-board. So, that was that.

MSJ: Sebastian Bach's a perfect fit for that music and this recent album is just phenomenal. You actually touched upon what the theme is about, but I was hoping you could go into it a little more and tell me kind of what the concept is behind that album?
Well, it's all about violence and people shooting each other and kids shooting teachers in school and, and rape and blood, all these things, and so this guy gets into it and he asks himself, are we just a violent species? Is it just enough, I mean, naturally? And the answer is yes and no and he reads about it. He reads books. He watches movies about serial killers, but it's not enough for him. He really wants to know what's happening in the killer's mind. What's going through them, or the victim for that matter, so one night because of, of him, uh, being so into this, he's so obsessed with it, that he basically just enters into this long, long dream for the whole night in which he jumps from one killer to the next. Basically, he becomes these people in his dream and it is so vivid that it's real and he becomes the serial killer and he sees it from his point of view. He becomes the rapist. He becomes the guy in school, who is so alienated by everyone else that he just wishes he could pull out a gun and shoot, and he really experiences it from this point of view. He becomes the mother who's standing outside of the little cell in a mental institution, looking through the little window at her daughter who was raped and wishes she could connect with her again, but she knows right now she needs to stay away from her, because her daughter is so ashamed. And he goes through all these things, not through reading a newspaper, not through seeing the movie about it. He actually experiences from their point of view and I think one of the key elements is, "This is Gonna Hurt", which is where he tortures a guy and then the songs are grouped in pairs of two. So, there's torture and there's two songs about torture from different points of view. There's two songs about war, two songs about rape, and they're kind of paired in that way. So "This is Gonna Hurt" is the one where he tortures someone and then "When I Look Into My Eyes", he jumps into the guy that he just tortured. So, he looks at himself coming at him and he knows what's going to happen, because earlier on, he was that other guy, you know what I mean?
MSJ: Yeah.
So, he's like, holy s**t that was me before and I know exactly what's going to happen to me, because I did it, so he gets very scared and he asks himself, how could I have done this before? I mean, not that he's in control of these people. He just experiences it, but he's like how could I do this as a human being and so in the last song, he basically wakes up and says, holy s**t, who are we as a species? I mean, why do we do this? What can we do about it? The song starts off with the words "cradle, sleeping, four walls protect my baby", so he looks at his newborn son in the cradle and says, "what kind of world did I put this child in?" There's a line in there that I think is key and it's, "I hope you never meet anyone I've been." And, so he says, "well, what's the solution to this?" It's not in politics - religion does not fix. The thing is, a lot of this doesn't have to happen if we just take care of our kids. Look at the school shooting. If we look at the little f***ers once in awhile, I mean, seriously. I don't have kids, but in most of the school shootings, Columbine, whatever, they happen because no one pays attention to them. You know, no one says, "wait a second, they're wearing weird clothes. They don't have any friends. They only hang out by themselves, hmm, maybe someone should pay attention to that." And it's not just the parents, I mean, the teachers can pick up on that. The friends can pick up on that. And if all of them communicate once in awhile, it's not that hard of thing to say, "well, maybe that guy needs some help, some counseling, maybe just a frigging hug", you know. And in "Outcast", which is a song about the school shooting, I didn't want to push the album far enough to say, these things actually happened. I didn't have that the school shootings happened. Basically, there's a section where the kid freaks out and it sounds as if there is total mayhem happening and he's actually shooting, but after that you hear breathing and then in the last chorus, the lyrics change to where you are supposed to think that actually he didn't do it and it just happened in his head, so the point is, you can still save him. You can still walk up to him and say, "look, it's okay. We're going to make it better". Same thing about the song about rape. The song's called "How Long Can I Resist" and it's the battle in the rapist's head who says " I can't deal with women and I've never really learned how to treat the other sex and, and how to have respect for them or whatever and, and I just want them, but I don't have a girlfriend and they don't want to deal with me, so you know, what's my option? I need to have a woman. I need to take her." And he always sees them from afar and he always watches them and you're supposed to think during the song that he actually does go and rape a woman, but at the very end, I don't know what the lyrics are right now, but it's like, "I see them from afar, but I don't dare approach" is the last line. So, the point is he hasn't done it yet. So, look if we just educate our kids right, well, especially the guys, and say "look, women are not just, you know, sex objects". Like all these things can be, they can be brought up in a way that this doesn't have to happen.

Another pairing of songs is "Blade" and "Push the Button" and both of them are about war and one - "Blade" is about a very personal kind of being there with a sword in your hand, you know, taking lives and you know what you do. You see the blood. You have to make the choice right there, because you see the effect of you killing people, but you also know what you fight for, because it was, you know, back in Scotland and who knows 400 years ago and you believe in what you fight for. You believe in why you kill, because you protect your clan, your family, your village and it makes sense to them. Nowadays, which is "Push the Button", the guy sits in a tank. He doesn't see s**t. He sees dots on a little map. He doesn't really know what he's fighting for. I mean, how many of the guys in Iraq are actually believing in what they are doing, but they're following an order and they just push the button and they don't know where the thing goes, because they were told, this is what you shoot at and it's the enemy. What if it's not the enemy? What if it's an accident and it's women and children. They don't know any more and that's the guy struggling and he's sitting there, what if I'm killing the wrong people and there is a line in there that,

actually Sebastian wrote, the one line that he wrote in that song, which is very good, it's, "army brass breathing down my neck in a think tank life in the abstract." So, it's not concrete things anymore. Everything is abstract. It's blocks, splits on a map. So I would hope that if we raise our kids well, that even though they have to follow orders that if they were in a war situation, if they decide to go to the army, that they have enough morals and ethics and values to say "I'd rather say no to my orders and sit in jail for a couple of years, because I disobeyed an order rather than compromise my morals and shoot at something I don't believe in shooting at." So, bottom line of this whole thing is, do we have the potential to be stupid motherf***ers? Yes, I mean, human beings have done the most horrible things ever, but with the right environment and I'm not in any way talking about a religious environment. I'm just talking about common sense, morals, and values and people that care about their kids. I think a lot of this stuff doesn't have to happen.

MSJ: Yeah, I agree and that's really some concept. It's a lot to get your mind around. I'll just have to look into the lyrics even more and listen to that some more, but it's already had an impact on me.
There was a big problem of people coming up to us and saying, "well, it's just a glorification of violence and all these songs about violence and rape and serial killers and war and there's just, you're doing metal and it's about violence and it's stupid." And yes, that was a big problem, so we had to come up with something that actually, what's the moral of the story. That we're just evil. And, that's not what I wanted to say and I think if anyone will actually look at the CD for half a second and read the quote that's on the cover, which is "violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." That makes it very clear that this is not a glorification of violence. It's a criticism. But, we have to offer a solution. The catch is that we're violent period and I think the solution is in how we are brought up.
MSJ: The one song that you didn't mention is my favorite one on the album, "Miseducation". I'm wondering if you could talk about that one specifically?
This song is not just from one point of view, it goes back and forth. The verses are a teacher and the teacher is an elitist, basically, and I had someone like this, so I know exactly what it's like to be taught in that way. He basically is in a school and he says "I'm only going to pay attention to the smart ones, because I don't care about the stupid people, because they're not supposed to be here. I'm going to take my people in the front row, the nice students and everyone else, you're going to be a garbage man. You can't even read. What, you're going to be a beauty queen. So whatever, shut up and leave school. Get a job at McDonald's or something." He might be a racist, but we didn't really hit on that, but there is one idea, so he's just someone who doesn't pay attention to the people who actually need the attention. And, he even picks on them and teachers are human beings, but that happens and I had a teacher like that and what needs to happen is our kids need to be raised in a way that they don't just follow an authority figure because they're an authority figure. If there's an injustice, even if it's not done to them, but someone next to them on the same bench then speak up. I've always been someone like this. If someone in my class was picked on, I said "look, teacher, you can't do this. It's not fair." So the students stand up on the table and say "no, we're not going to take it anymore. You can't talk to us like that and we have our rights" and that's the chorus. It's the big "we rebel against you, teacher" chorus.
MSJ: Yeah, that's, that's just a really cool song. I've played it so many times. I've played it so much more than the other ones. That one just has a major impact on me, you know. I'm wondering is there any song on the album that you're more proud of than the rest? Do you have a favorite track?
I'm very happy with the fact that this album actually turned out very even in the sense that every song has a good hook line. Every song has something you want to sing along with. Every song's got some kind of gimmick that I like, some kind of production thing I'm proud of and something special. Luckily so far the reviews and the feedback that I'm getting is reflecting that. Everyone's saying that there isn't really anything particular that they dislike. There are songs that they like a little bit more, but it's a very even album. Personally, and I don't know why. I can't really put my finger on it, maybe because it's really cool and heavy I like "Just One More", "Blade" I get a lot of comments about that, you know. B I don't necessarily note it in the songwriting, but I like it because it's just so over-the-top gigantic that it's ridiculous. So, I'm proud of that. I mean, it is just so over-produced and over-arranged. I mean, the a cappella section in the middle is over 180 vocal tracks.
MSJ: That's pretty crazy.
And just, just because of that I like "Blade", but then I also like something like "What Kind of Animal", which is just there's nothing to it. It's a Rhodes, it's a vocal, and some strings and that's it and it's just a decent song that doesn't have any flash around it. It's just a nice song. Actually wait, if I had to point out one thing, that's I'm proud of the fact that I pulled it off to write a song with piano and banjo and vocals and not have people b**ch about it. Cause "In An Empty Room" - one of the main instruments in there from beginning to end is the banjo and no one speaks about it. No one even says, "that's just stupid, you can't do the song with Sebastian Bach and banjo", which is what he said. He's, like, "Oh, you can't do this. People are going to totally laugh about me." And once we recorded it, he was like, "okay, that works."

MSJ: Yeah, that is some accomplishment. I'm wondering if you could describe like your songwriting process - how you actually come up with your ideas, how you lay them down onto tracks, just how you put them together. What's your process just in a nutshell?
I've been asked that on a web site the other day and it really depends. For example, "Push the Button", it's very groove-oriented, and it's an electric guitar song, so I found a cool drum loop that I liked then I started to jam along, and I came up, I think, with a thing, the intro thing and so then I developed it from there to that, recorded it, and then came up with another theme for the chorus - basically, the same groove, Usually then I start programming some drums to get an outline for the song laid out some guitars and then bass and then add in some other elements. It depends on which elements are the most important. Something like "I Killed You", which is really more of a singer-songwriter type thing I would probably write on an acoustic guitar, so I wrote the chorus on acoustic guitar. Other things like "In An Empty Room" or "What Kind of Animal", I would write on piano and starting the song, just playing around, noodling around with it on piano versus acoustic guitar would result in a very different kind of song simply because of the mechanics of the instrument. For example, if you write something on the piano, you might write something where the low notes, the bass line is static and the chords on top change simply because you can just let your left hand rest where it is and change the right hand, so you come up with a different kind of harmonic structure and maybe also melody than when you write on acoustic guitar where just letting a low note sit there is a little bit harder and it just doesn't really flow in your fingers. So, it's a very different approach to songwriting and depending on what instrument you pick up. Electric guitar, you don't write the same material that you would write with acoustic guitar, even if later on the song doesn't have any acoustic guitar in it - if you write it on acoustic guitar, you write a different kind of song. Depends on what instruments come where. Once I've got a riff in mind, it's usually the drums that I'll lay down first. I program them and then I would develop the riff in detail and then add the bass to it and then details come, like the tapping of Warr guitar, banjo, keyboards, whatever else I might put on top of that. And, once all the music's done, then come the lyrics and the melody, which for that part I usually bring in Matt Cash, and we write that stuff together.

MSJ: How did you come up with the name "An Absence of Empathy" for the title of the album?
Originally, the title was "Human Grain" and the first song was entitled "An Absence of Empathy". But, Sebastian didn't like Human Grain for reasons unexplained to us, so, we just said, "hey, why don't we reverse the two?" And he was like, "okay, that's cool." So now the album is a title that's pretty much a mouthful, but it sounds pretty clever.
MSJ: Yeah, it does.
Have you seen the movie "Nuremberg" with Alec Baldwin.
MSJ: No, I haven't sent that.
It's, uh, the trials after World War II. It's about the Nuremburg trials, the war trials. It's about, you know, the Nazis and the death camps and all this stuff and Alec Baldwin's character was a lawyer. He hires this, this American psychologist, to basically do interviews with the Germans that were on trial and find out like what's their problem. I mean, like how could they do the things they did. And at the end of the movie, they sit down in a restaurant and say "so what does he come up with?" And he says, "Well, I've seen the essence of evil and it is an absence of empathy." Because the only way that the Germans in the camps could do what they did to the Jews is to not be able to see it from their point of view and that's pretty much it. I mean, the only way you can go and hurt someone that way or rape someone or, or, you know, dismember someone or whatever is basically not being able to see it from their point of view. And this is what this album is about. Seeing it from a different point of view, either the killer or the victim, so evil is an absence of empathy. If you can't feel for someone else, I mean, my little dog, she's got a broken leg right now. She's got something wrong with it and she hops around on three legs and every time I see it, it hurts me. And most of us feel that way, so, yeah, it's hard for me to understand that there are people who don't and that they just don't have the kind of empathy that we would have.

And people that are not affected by it and, and the media is really dulling it down, that affect on us, which is very sad, but I don't have TV - I don't watch TV. I don't watch news. I don't read newspapers cause I don't want to be dull like that.

MSJ: Speaking of names, how did you come up with the name Frameshift for your band?
Well, the first album was all about evolution and genetics and I wanted to come up with something that was related to that. I had a long list of things and we narrowed it down to Frameshift, because it's a form of genetic mutation. If you take a bit of DNA and it gets actually placed in a different place on the same strand of DNA, so it's shifting the frame I guess - something like that. It's a form of mutation.
MSJ: You've talked about how you met Sebastian Bach, but how did you met the other band members like Matt Cash and the others?
Matt, I produced a band that he was in. They were called "Glow Seven", kind of a pop rock thing. And then I kind of lost track of him for a year or two and then for the first Chain album, we never had a vocalist and I just did all the music on the album. Then I wanted to show this to the guys. It basically was a gift to the guys in Germany that I was in the band with ten years ago. So, I needed a vocalist and I'm like, "hey, Matt, do you want to sing on an album?" Matt doesn't know any prog. He doesn't care about it, which is a great thing, because when he writes with me, he doesn't think prog. He thinks music and that's all that matters, which is why we can come up with, I think, good melodies, because he doesn't try to be overly clever about it. He doesn't try to construct anything that would appeal to a Rush fan or, you know what I mean?
MSJ: Right.
It's just he hears the music and tries to sing whatever comes to his head. Without trying to be clever about it and that's how we can come up with melodies that are very easy to sing along with. So, he sang on the first Chain album and I'm like, "hey, let's continue working with each other", because he's very easy going and he's a great, great writer.
MSJ: It's kind of hard to draw comparisons to your music just by the way it's produced and by the range that it has, but I was hoping that you could describe what your musical influences are?
Well, I just read a review on a German web site and they compared, they compared the album to a mix of Devin Townsend sound with Ayreon - Ayreon melodies. I have a very high respect for Devin Townsend's music although I don't like all of it, but he does something that doesn't sound like anything else. It definitely sounds, completely original production-wise and everything and I have listened to "Into the Electric Castle" from Ayreon a lot. That's a brilliant album. I don't think since then he's done anything quite like it.

But, I thought it was the best thing he's done, but in some way those were my influences, but and I think, I hope that would be audible on the first album and maybe on the second one. I have influences from a lot of places that are not metal, not prog rock at all. In progressive rock, what I like is Spock's Beard a lot cause it's light, it's poppy, and it's got a really good groove to it.

Neal Morse could write his a** off. Spock's Beard hasn't been the same since he left, and he hasn't been the same since he left, so I think the combination of them was the best there was. But I like Spock's Beard, Dream Theater, Transatlantic, which is pretty much the combination of them. But I love Disney music, the songs within the movies cause you've got to see it from this point of view. I don't approach music as a guitar player or as a keyboard player. I approach it as an arranger and for an arranger, Disney music is the playground. Cause it's, basically anything goes. You want an orchestra - fine. You want Scottish KettleDrums - fine. You want a metal band - fine. You know? Anything goes in Disney music and you've got great songs. You've got great melodies, and the combination of any element that you possibly would want is great. Like "Mulan", for example, I don't know if you've seen the movie.

MSJ: I haven't seen that one yet.
So, that's based in China or Mongolia and it's pop music with like Chinese influences, but also orchestral and it's just great stuff. So, I draw a lot of ideas from, the open combination of any style and any kind of instrument, which I think comes across using things like Alvin horns, banjos, French horns, and in weird combinations. I draw ideas from people like Celine Dion, because again, with things that she does or her arrangers do, anything goes. You know, orchestra, band, we're talking about like the best studio place on the planet on these albums. They just get amazing people to play that stuff, which is something. I mean, if you say "Celine Dion" and you're talking to prog people, a lot of people will go like, "ahhh, are you nuts?" But, you put the musicians on these albums in a room. And they could play any prog and I'm thinking, including Dream Theater, against the wall. I mean, you know, the drummers, the bass player, the guitar players, they're not people that you see on stage. They're not people that you know of, but someone like Michael Thompson gets $2,000 bucks a day to play guitar on these albums, so they can play. They can play their a** off. I mean, if I had to give you like probably three of my, my like top three albums of all-time, one would be Zakk Wylde Book of Shadows, you know that one?

MSJ: I don't think so. I probably should.
It's not really heavy, more acoustic and more singer-songwriter approach, which I wish he would get back to. It's a very, very beautiful album, beautifully produced and arranged, great performances. Spock's Beard V, which is brilliant, and one of my favorite albums is Hanson's second It has nothing to do with prog whatsoever.
MSJ: When did your involvement in music begin? How did you decide that you wanted to be involved in music and do what you're doing?
January 1st, 1990.
MSJ: Oh, you know the actual date.
About 9:15 in the morning - big New Years party and I woke up and there was a poster of Gutter Ballet on the wall. There was a nylon guitar leaning against it and my friend played guitar and he said, "Henning pick it up and I'll show you a chord" and he showed me E Minor on the nylon string and then said, "oh, dude, you know, you can learn guitar, but you'll never be as good as me". And he knew like one scale, so, um, I kind of like playing that one chord, E Minor. It's a good chord and you use two fingers for it. So, five days later, January 6th, my mom bought me a nylon-string acoustic guitar and then I started playing around with that and then I bought three months later, an electric and then a better electric and started my first band the same year and, that was pretty much that and then I say, "okay, I'm going to be a professional musician" and never really believed in it myself and did this for, you know, several years and joined different bands. I mean, I played in prog bands, rock bands, country, jazz, tried to do anything that I possibly could, and then I said, "you know, I want to do this professionally." And then my dad said, "well, only if you can show me a school where once you're done, you'd actually be able to make a living with it and not just be a guitar player or something." So, I said, "well, I've heard of this school. I don't know quite where it is and it's called Berklee and that's where the gods come from." Cause all the Dream Theater guys went there, you know. So we checked into it and we applied and they let me in and at this point I was kind of like, "I don't really believe in this, that's, that's too big for me. I can't do this." And I thought I'd go there and they'd kick me out of there the first semester because I suck, but they gave me all straight A's after the first semester. I'm like, "okay, maybe I stay another one." And then I stayed, I think nine or ten semesters and I finished and, I did rather well, which I still don't quite understand. And then my teacher said, "well, don't go back home to Germany. Go to LA and see what you can do. You might have a chance." I'm like "okay" and I never wanted to be an artist myself. That's the funny bit. I see myself more as someone who helps the artist achieve what they want.

I'm an arranger producer, so if I have someone who writes good songs, I'm the guy behind the scenes who helps him to make those songs one step better and play the instruments or something like that, so that's what I wanted to do. I never wanted to be in the spotlight or give interviews or, you know, be the artist myself. So, it just happened by accident that this little prog album I did under the name "Chain" was something that Shawn Gordon from Prog Rock Records liked and he signed it. I'm like, "okay, that's cool. That's a couple hundred CD's online." That I thought was a major achievement for myself and way to go and then he mentioned, "hey, want to work with James LaBrie?" I'm like, "yeah, right." So I wrote two tracks just total long shot and James loved it. So I'm like, "okay, let's do an album with James LaBrie", and there's lots of Dream Theater side projects, which fall through the cracks, so whatever and like the reviews were mind-blowing. I'm like, "okay, that's kind of weird." So, I went on and did the second Chain album kind of like to fill the gap and have another Chain album there, but I thought no one would pay attention to it, because Frameshift was featuring James, so I thought people would pay attention to it because of James and then people listened to Chain.exe and they go like, well, that's even better than Frameshift.

No it ain't, stop saying that, what's wrong with you people, and, um, I was very lucky to have Michael Sadler from Saga sing on it, because Shawn hooked up with him and Michael liked my music and he came out and he's the nicest guy in the world. So, we just had great guests artists on it and people liked the album and so when I mentioned Sebastian to James, I thought, that's not a long shot, that's an impossible shot and all of a sudden, I've got an album with Sebastian Bach on it and I don't know quite how to deal with it.

I mean, we met. I'm not a rock star dude, I'm not. I'm just this guy and it's all kind of weird.

For me, I see it as a job. I go to work. I write music. I get paid for it, so that's all I want for that.

MSJ: You and Shawn Gordon seem to be pranksters, so I'm a little bit curious if you can recall any Spinal Tap moments, just anything in your career as a musician that has happened that's been kind of quirky or funny or just maybe a practical joke or something along those lines?
Um, in prog one thing people appreciate and why people like prog is the musicianship and the skill of the musicians, right?  

MSJ: Right.
So, people don't appreciate anything artificial, correct?
MSJ: Sure.
So, if you go to the Mike Portnoy board, there's a billion people and they just like to hang out because they worship Mike for what he can do. He's a great technical player. He's amazing and that's why we like the music, because we like to identify with the man. I like to go out and play guitar for whoever and just, you know, look up to these people. So, you need to put out an album where people can identify with the musicians?

MSJ: Okay.
Which is why Eddie Marvin is a musician on my albums, so drummers can identify with him. But, Eddie doesn't exist. There is no Eddie Marvin.

Have you seen The Hitchhikers movie yet? Have you read the books?

MSJ: I think I read, just the first one.
Well, Eddie is the ship's onboard computer on the heart of gold and Marvin is the android. They're both artificial. The drums are programmed with a mouse on a computer screen by myself. So, there is no Eddie.

But, the thing is, so far the people I have told, including drummers, are like, "oh, Eddie is great. He is so talented, and I love his playing. I'm trying to play all his parts." I'm like, "oh no, please, people don't. Don't go that far." I'm trying to feel out what's the reactions are and so far no one's really bugged by it too much, because they just like the overall sound of the music. And, no one can really tell.

So, technically, why should it matter, but I think it would matter to some people…that it's not a real drummer.

MSJ: Well, you know what's funny, I mean, isn't a Mellotron supposed to be fake sounds as well, but everybody loves that. It seems fine.
Yes, and Mellotron sounds super-fake. I mean, that's even the point of using it now, but I mean, using synthesized strings is totally okay. If it's all okay doing it, editing and programming some keyboard stuff, absolutely okay now. Drums is still, - it's kind of the territory that you don't go in, and someone on my message board said "well, I'm a drummer and would have a problem with people programming realistic-sounding drums and then claiming it's a real drummer unless", he added, "it's so realistic that I can't tell." And then I told him in a private message and he went like, "oh, well, dude, you've got me convinced. I've got no problem with it, because it's so realistic that I can't tell and I think people have a problem with it if it sounds fake. If you can totally tell that it's not a real drummer behind the kit."

The programming that I do is so close to a real drummer that why would people care, but I think some would.

This, just to let you know, because you will probably read about it very soon, um, Sebastian posted a big thing on his web site saying that we released the CD with incorrect songwriting credits. And we ripped him off.

MSJ: Really?
He's not getting paid for his songwriting contributions. And, had he known that, he would have never worked with us. So there's a big thing about it. All over blabbermouth and metalsludge and everywhere, so…I posted my whole, I talked to blabbermouth. I gave an interview and showed my side of the story and there's tons of posts on my web site. Go to henningpauly.com. Look at the forum, basically Sebastian never said what he thinks he did. And I'm totally convinced that he actually believes in the fact that he co-wrote seven songs. Which is something that we wanted. He said I wrote these songs and then I got on phone with him and we argued about them and I'm like, you know what, it's not worth getting all worked up about it, fine, here, here are the credits. I gave him credit for seven songs and on his web site, he posted a JPEG or an original early cover, uh, early booklet page where it actually shows seven songs with him co-writing them, but he went further. He was publishing for it. He wants his publishing company in there. He wants to get paid for it and I will not do it. I'm sorry. That's just ridiculous.


I mean, he got a huge chunk of money. He's getting a huge percentage. We treated him like a god and when you talk about musicians that you can just approach and talk normally to and they're totally normal guys - he isn't. He truly believes he is better than us. And, that's very sad and he's a great vocalist. He did an amazing job on this album. He posted on his web site; it's the first ever full-length studio solo album he's released. (I laugh) From your laugh, I come to conclusion that you know what the problem with that sentence is.

MSJ: Yeah… well, did he actually write that or is it just the fans are saying that?
No, he wrote that. So, I'm like there's a big misconception here, Mr. Bach. You were paid, hired and paid to sing on my CD. It was a finished work before you came in, everything was written, music, lyrics, melodies, everything, and he came in and he wanted to change some things and that's cool, you know, some things he just stood behind the mike and said, "I'm going to change these lyrics. If I can't change them, I'm not going to sing it period. I don't like this word." For example, in "What Kind of Animal", the original line was, "it's not in politics, religion does not fix, should we turn towards our kids" - which is how the freaking line should be. He's like, "I'm not going to sing kids. That's not metal enough. I'm going to sing 'young'." and I sat there almost in tears. I'm like, "dude, young, you talk to your kids as your young?" You going to say, "hey young, come here. Well, I've got to pick up my young from the school." - come on. He would not sing "kids" - period.

And, I had a deadline. It needed to get done. I had no way to convince him to sing what I wanted, so I said "fine, sing young." Every time I hear it, I almost cry, but okay, we have young. I'm getting used to it, but there are, you know things all over the album like this.

And even if those things, even though I didn't want them, would be enough in the song in terms of changes, he would have gotten credit for it and if you look in the booklet, two songs have his name on it: "Human Grain" where we actually wrote several lines, re-wrote several lines together, and they became better lines. And, "Outcast", where he said, "I don't like the chorus." I said, "you know what dude, let's not argue about, let's trash the chorus we had." So, we completely threw the idea away and we wrote something new together. We re-wrote the whole first verse and it's a true collaboration, so he gets, he got credit on these two songs.

But, he wants credit on five more songs where he changed one word. To "In An Empty Room", he added the word "solace". "There's no solace, no truth." I don't know what it was originally and, at the end where he does the high screams. He just adlibbed that. He basically just adlibbed on the original melody, so he doesn't get a co-write for an adlib.

Well, that's the whole dispute. We're talking about a word here or a word there. In, "I Killed You", there's a line, "blood of the unfaithful" that originally was "unfaithful blood covers my bed." Well to change "unfaithful blood covers my bed" to "blood of the unfaithful", which is not as good as a line, you don't get a credit for that. So, that's what the whole dispute is about and so his people are like, "oh my god, Henning Pauly and Shawn Gordon, they rip him off, those c**ks**kers and you should be ashamed of yourself" and it really bugged me.

Cause my people, I'm sorry, you weren't there, you don't know what we're talking about here and I tried to show my side of the story as best as I could. Shawn did. Matt did. On my board, they posted things and now that people know all sides of the story, even the hardcore Bach fans, they go like, "hmm, maybe Sebastian shouldn't have said this. Maybe he should have kept it behind closed doors and have it be resolved there." So what I did and if you were to go into it, you can on my web site on the, on the forum. There's a post where I show all the lyrics before he came in and after he came in. So, that's the thing that he never talked about, what he actually wanted credit for. And now people go like, "well, he didn't really do too much on there." So, I'm like, "well, that's the whole point."

MSJ: Okay, is this something that you want me to write about or should I keep this out of the article?
If you want to write about it, it's cool. If you read about it on the web, I don't want you to go and say, "okay, well, there's a dispute and we don't really know what's happening." I'd like you to have my side of the story.

SI mean, if you don't want to write about it, that's totally cool, because I'd like to keep this whole thing on the positive and show that we both love the album. He's very proud of it and I think it's a killer CD. I'm very proud of it. If we can leave it out, that's cool, but the bottom line that I want people to know about is that, it's a CD that I wrote. I brought in Matt Cash and Adam Evers to help me write lyrics and melodies and Sebastian came in as a hired gun to sing, just like you hire an actor to perform the script and he did a phenomenal job. People are right in saying in posts online that without him, it wouldn't be the CD that it is and that's absolutely true and it still does not mean that he wrote it and it doesn't mean that it's his solo album.

So, that's what the whole dispute is about and it's, it's calmed down so it's, it's really no big deal anymore.

MSJ: Okay, well, I'm wondering then, is there going to be another Frameshift album and also who's the vocalist going to be or who are you thinking of?
I'm in no way superstitious. But, with the first and second Frameshift album, things have happened that made me not a happy person. First Frameshift album, the mix sessions, we had the fire thing in California and had to evacuate for six weeks and had to live at the studio. While we were mixing it and so, I wasn't in a good place to do this. And it was just; I was not a happy person. I had food poisoning, who knows what and bad things happen. Well, this album we had the rainstorms here and flooding and we were snowed in at home and then we had to you live at the studio and my girlfriend fell and broke half her back. And, I had two dogs die and this whole thing with the credits, so for some reason when I do a Frameshift album, s**t happens.

We end up with great music, but when I think about the experience of making them, there's a lot of negative stuff attached to it.

So, I said on my, my web site, I don't want to do another Frameshift album. Not because I don't like the music, but just when I think Frameshift, I think oh, s**t, you know.

Not because of the music, but simply because just simply because it's, ergh, things have happened during the production of both that weren't pleasant, so I know a way around this. The next album will be called FS3.


It's not going to be called Frameshift. It's going to be FS3 and that's it. It's going to be a Frameshift album, but it doesn't say Frameshift on the CD.

MSJ: Well, hopefully that's enough to exorcise the demons, but I mean, hopefully these are just coincidences that you're talking about.
Yeah, I'm not superstitious in any way, so I'm sure those are absolutely coincidentals, but let's not try it and, and I know after this being received so positively, doing another album in that heavy style with Sebastian singing would be financially positive. But, I don't necessarily, want to go through that again with him.

And, another thing, I've done it now. I mean, I've written an album for that kind of voice. I've done that heavy thing, so where's the challenge, you know what I mean? I'd rather go and do something that I haven't done before, work with someone whose voice I have to explore and find out how to write for - taking a little bit of a different approach in terms of instrumentation and find out how to do that, so something we've tossed around and this is in no way confirmed or anything, but, Michael Sadler is a phenomenal vocalist, great human being, super-nice guy, good songwriter, and what I might want to do, is do an album that is very personal, very quiet, we're talking acoustic guitar, piano, very organic too. This not an organic album, the new one. I mean, it's distorted synthesizers, all this electric wall of sound. Except for the two ballads, it's not an album that's very close to you, you know what I mean.

MSJ: Right.
When the vocalist is sitting right in front of you, telling you a personal story. So, I like to do something that's more of a singer-songwriter type of thing, still keep it prog, but quieter, more acoustic, more organic, and potentially with Michael Sadler. It might turn out to be something completely different, but that's the plan and he lives here in LA and we've become friends. It would be a lot cheaper to do. It would be a lot easier to do the scheduling, because I wouldn't have to fly him in or anything, and I think it would just be a fun thing to do.

MSJ: What's the last CD that you purchased?
The last CD that I bought, I bought at ROSfest and that was two Devin Townsend CD's, and Pain of Salvation's Be, but I got that for my girlfriend. Devin Townsend, it's got some good stuff on it, doesn't, you know, grab me too much, but it's got some good stuff. Let's see, the last CD that really blew me away… I kind of like the new Man on Fire. There's some good stuff on there, but the CD that really grabbed me by the nuts and I just like had to play it over and over and over, the last two CD's were Tesla Into the Now - killer album, production, songwriting, it just hits you so hard when it starts and, the third Hanson album.
MSJ: What's the last concert that you attended as a fan?
ROSfest, um, I don't go out much, um, (he starts talking to his girlfriend) Christy, what was the last concert we've seen, was it Dream Theater? Yes, (he's talking to me again) and primarily because I got it free and I got to meet James again, um, I just, I don't go out much - concerts mean a relatively big investment in time and money. I mean, I live about 90 minutes to three hours, depending on when you go outside of LA and, you know, you get tickets, you add gas, I mean, half a day's gone and for two people, we're talking about over 100 bucks. That's a lot and some of the bands I want to see, I've seen. I really wanted to see Deep Purple with Steve Morse. That would have been fun, but, I missed that, but we're really very quiet and boring. I go down to the studio and I work and I come home and I play video games, watch movies, and play with the dog. I mean, I'm not outgoing. Sebastian says he can't relate to me, because I don't go out and party with the rockers at the rainbow. I'm like, dude, what kind of a statement is that, you know, he can't talk to me? He can't relate to me anymore. I'm not like, you know, a rock star.
I'm like, "okay, fine. That's, that's cool, way to go."


One thing I have to add, which I hinted at earlier is Babysteps, which is what I will spending the rest of the year with. It's something that originally I had intended maybe for James to sing. It was a rock opera that I had written about ten years ago, but then I trashed the idea of James doing it, because it's lots of different characters and it just wouldn't have been right for him and so I wrote the first Frameshift album instead, but now I have access to a whole series of great vocalists and the possibility arose to do Babysteps the way that it was originally intended, so it was supposed to actually come out last summer. I promised everyone that it would come out, but that wasn't happening, so I said till the end of the year, I'm not doing s**t other than Babysteps. Cause it's going to be a double CD with over 140 minutes of music and that just takes some time and just to drop some names, James LaBrie is singing three songs as the evil doctor. Jody Ashworth from Transiberian Orchestra is singing one of the main roles. Matt Cash is singing one of the main roles, uh, Maya Haddi who sang some backing vocals on some albums, is doing a lead character. As of now, Jill Joya from TSO is doing one of the main characters. Haven't talked to her in awhile, but I think she's still on. Al Pitrelli is going to play some guitars. Devin Townsend, TSO, Michael Sadler is singing. He's the good doctor. We've got Jim Gilmour, Ian Crichton from Saga playing solos. Alan Morse, Spock's Beard is going to play some cello. And, not confirmed yet, but I think David Ragsdale will play some violin. What's his name, John Zahner, who plays with Cryptic Vision and John may do a keyboard solo. So there will be a long list of some very nice names on this album.

It's a rock opera. It's definitely a concept album about a couple patients in a rehabilitation center. Becoming friends because the families can't really deal with them being handicapped in their situations so all they have to go on is each other. So they form a group of friends to help each get back on their feet and motivate each other and they go through their own doubts and depression, fighting a doctor that doesn't understand them, who is James, who is a bastard on this album, and it is stylistically I would say along the lines of TSO, so it's more like orchestral with metal influences, but more complexity is all in terms of arrangements and all sorts. The music is a little bit more in depth, I would say.

MSJ: I look forward to hearing that one.
Well I hope I can pull it off in six months, because the next couple of weeks I'm going to spend with Matt Cash producing his country album.
MSJ: That's a change of pace.
He's written some killer country material, modern country stuff, pop country, and I'm, I'm going to produce that and from then on, everyone can just shove off and leave me alone cause I need to get this thing out.
MSJ: What's your favorite movie?
Favorite movie? Does porn count? (laughter) I'm kidding. Wh***s n' sluts 7 - no, (laughter) Um seriously, favorite movie, that's tough, um…
MSJ: Or is there a certain genre that you like over the other ones?
Uh, sci-fi probably, but there's, there's other stuff that just like blows me away that's not sci-fi. Boy, I can't say, but let me think, maybe something pops up…
MSJ: Well, you're probably seeing the Star Wars this month as well as The Hitchhiker
Yeah, I saw The Hitchhiker movie yesterday.
MSJ: How was that?
Well, the Hitchhiker for me is something very, very personal. I mean, for people who are religious, it's the bible. For me, it's The Hitchhiker's Guide. It is something that's for me; it's kind of like a philosophy of life. Slartibartfast said, "I'd rather be happy than right any day." That's kind of like one of my philosophies. I take a lot of guidance from it. There's a lot of philosophy in there, a lot of like little lines that people just chuckle at and say, "oh, that's funny" And for me I actually like take it to heart and try to live by it. I know that might sound weird, but there's a lot of good stuff in there, so seeing The Hitchhiker movie for me was something very, very personal and they did an okay job. If you know the book, you can get a lot more out of the movie than just seeing the movie, but when it comes to books, it's anything Douglas Adams ever wrote, - probably "Last Chance to See" being my favorite book. Which is actually song on Chain.exe, which is about Douglas Adams dying and me dealing with it.

Favorite TV show I can tell you. That would be "Stargate".

MSJ: You know, it's actually easy to interview you, because you answer all my questions before I even ask them. So that's the majority of them, but you said you had pets, right? What kind of pets do you have?
I have three dogs now. I've got, uh, Fenni, she's a little Chow something mix. She looks like a tiny Chow and she jumps very high when her leg's not broken. She's a dumba**. That's pretty much what she is. Up 'til January I had her and Boo, who died in January and now I've got her. We've got Fon-Yu - that's F O N dash Y U, which apparently in Chinese might mean fish food. Christy found her and she brought her in and said "can we keep her?" I looked at her and said, oh, "we found you, we phone you, fun yu", and then all of a sudden it became "fon yu". So, it's short for found you and then we have Congo who is more of a tiny little horse than a dog. She's a Weimaraner, a pure breed and when she walks or does anything, it's more like a horse, you know, like the whole mannerisms and her, and she just stomps around like a horse rather than a dog kind of floating. Yeah, that's those three. And for, for me, they're very, very, very important. Cause, um, you know, you come home. It doesn't matter how crappy your day was or that they were out in the cold for 12 hours. They come in and they're happy. They just, they're like a source of energy and defined relaxation and if the world was mean to you and evil, you come home and the dogs just - they still love you. And, you hang out with them and they're just happy for who you are. They don't ask questions and they don't care what you make. They don't care if you're pretty or if your hair's straight. They just, "hey Henning, it's you, cool, let's, let's roll around on the floor." And getting that from a human being is very, very hard.
MSJ: Is there anything that you'd like to say to your fans at this time?
Well, I'm glad I have them. I'm someone who never went for a record contract. I never thought my own music would be something that people would want to hear and not just something that people want to hear, it's something that people call amazing, and that just freaks me out. I would want my fans to know if there's a point where I'm not there for them anymore, where I think I'm too good for them, track me down and shoot me. I spend two to three hours every morning going through my emails and I get emails from my fans, because my email address is right there on my web site. At the point where I think I'm too good to do that …why do it, I mean, it takes away time now, but, you know, I owe that to people who pay me. I mean, they hire me to do this. Basically, without my fans, I do not have a job. So, I just want to say "write me emails, go to my message board, ask me questions, and at, at the moment where I'm too good to pay attention to you, just don't buy my s**t anymore." Cause I'm in their service really. I mean, that's really what it is.
MSJ: That's a very gracious and humble way of putting it.
It's honest way. They pay my salary, you know, they buy the CD, so that Prog Rock Records can pay me, so that I can make more CD's. If I just go like, "oh, I'm the big Henning Pauly, I'm too good. I'm a rock star. I cannot talk to you. I will maybe post something once on my message board a month and grace you with my presence." I'm like, "what? That's bulls**t". You ask me something, I'm a guy, I will answer. It might take a day or two until I get to it. I'm very, very happy that people like it, so anyone who reads this, go to my message board, write me emails, and let me know what you think of it, because it's the best thing ever to wake up in the morning, get an email, and someone says, dude, I totally dig this s**t. That's why I do it, for that, it's not for me.
 
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