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Metal/Prog Metal Interviews

Shadow Gallery

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview With Gary Wehrkamp of Shadow Gallery From 2001


MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Where did the name of the band originate?
Brendt found the name in a comic book "V is for Vendetta" by Alan Moore. It seemed to fit... It definitely has a Progressive rock sound to it.
MSJ: Your music has been called both prog metal and progressive rock, understanding that labels are sort of a necessary evil, where do you see your sound falling on that scale?
I always thought it more of prog rock, leaning towards prog metal. I always heard it that way for the first SG record. The sound became a little heavier, guitar-wise for Carved In Stone and TYRANNY, but always had elements of both. For Legacy, we really wanted to cover more styles... which is what the term "progressive" is all about. I love an album that has jazzy moments, and straight metal riffs, followed by pretty, emotional piano, orchestrated new age sections, leading to catchy pop music chorus's..."twisting and turning, lines intertwining" as Nigel once said.  

MSJ: You worked with Robert Berry on his December People project. How did that come about and how was your experience there?
That was one of the many projects that came about through Magna Carta records. They'll give us a ring and say "Do you fancy doing a vocal", ...actually the wording is more like "Can you get a lead vocal and back-ups for a song... and can you do it ASAP?" I called Robert Berry and he sent me an ADAT tape. Mike will sing, and I will produce and engineer his parts here at my house (9th Street Studios) -then we add some back-ups. I then make him a mix to listen to, and after he leaves, I start adding more back-up harmony tracks. We jumped right on it and were recording within 24 hours of receiving the Fed Ex... and had it back in Fed Ex's hands within 2 days. He liked our track and sent another one, the last one with all the people singing on it and we tackled that one in a similar way.

MSJ: I thought that your new album was quite probably the best Shadow Gallery had done. Was there a sense of that within the band, or do you feel differently?
I don't know if it's the best one. It's a little different. Actually it may have been the first time we DID NOT say, "We HAVE to top ourselves and make an even BETTER record." I wasn't even sure that we could top what we had achieved with TYRANNY... I was a little nervous about that. Honestly, the big "sense" from within the band was more of a concern of making a record in a more timely fashion. We signed an additional contract that said from start to finish of everything (including additional writing) we were to be done to the day no more than 6 months. I know that probably sounds like more than ample time to some people, but we all have other jobs that occupy most of our time, so recording time is very limited sometimes to only a few hours a week. We used 6 studios total including the mixing. I am very happy with the results and glad the stress from it is behind me, still I am very anxious to start the next, although I am fully ensconced in a dozen other musical projects at the moment.
MSJ: What about a tour for the album?
That is not going to happen. We talked about it and at a point it was looking positive, starting with prog power USA, but scheduling became a problem (on our end) and it didn't happen... since then, we have no plans to tour. Sorry!
MSJ: What are your future plans, both personally and for the group?
First, for me, is to get some breakfast... then to finish up the many open ended projects I am working on. I am producing 6 or 7, and contributing parts to others. It was a busy year, which is to say it was a GREAT year! I really want to get back to working on my solo album, which was temporarily put on hold, by myself, in lieu of completing these 12 other records first! My solo record will probably be called "One Hour forever" and should be finished by Feb. Future plans for the group are not totally defined, but it is going to be fun to start writing for SG again soon.
MSJ: Who do you see as your influences, both personally and as a band?
Sometimes you need no influence, your instincts just produce self inspired ideas, other times you are worthless with out an "in your face" inspirational moment. For me, it can be anything. Usually it is just one or two measures of a riff that get you thinking. I remember hearing a one measure 6 note riff from an Ayreon album, and I started envisioning it in a more Shadow Gallery way, I sat down at my sequencer with a guitar in hand, and the result was a 6 minute plus solo section called "The Crusher". Growing up, I was continually inspired by Pink Floyd's originality. Aside from that, it was individuals in bands that fueled my musical endeavors. Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteem to name a few guitarists.... Neil Peart on drums, Geddy Lee and Steve Harris on Bass....Later on, as I became more and more into recording, I started finding my ideals in producers such as Mutt Lange, Bob Ezrin, Trevor Horn and Jim Steinman. Their techniques and productions' approaches became more of an inspiration to me, than the song itself, in that they put the extra life into the song.

As a band we share a common ground of growing up on metal, from Van Halen to Sabbath and Maiden, Priest and Alice Cooper, and old Metallica and Slayer etc... Then there are also the progressive groups like Yes and Rush, ELP and Kansas, Queen and Floyd...and like most bands, we draw from all of that.

MSJ: Are there any musicians with whom you would like to work?.
Mutt Lange... I am working again with Arjen Lucasson from Ayreon, and that is great for me because I have a good deal of respect for him. It would be cool to put down tracks with any of the Floyd guys, although that could get me a bit nervous.
MSJ: How are you going to be spending the holidays?
Hopefully relaxing at home, but probably recording... I am performing new years eve, so that should be fun, in that I have taken the last 5 years New Years off. I will probably be tracking a Floyd medley with drummer Devon Glenn from Buck Cherry the day after Christmas.. We have been trying to get together to record for a while and its probably the best time for both of our schedules.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Oh there are so many: "it's just a short jog", "No, we don't have time for that" "We carried him, They were still booing his act when we took the stage" "It's a big dressing room though", "Oh, bigger than the puppet's??" "We are such big fans of your music and records, not yours personally but...." "Well, what's wrong with being sexy?" Actually, When Chris and I were putting down keyboard tracks for Legacy...We used to start around 10:00 am, and the first thing we would do every day is watch a half hour or so of Spinal Tap to get inspired to work.

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?
I hardly ever buy CD's because I do not have much time to listen to them...I am fortunate in that I have people send me CD's and sampler tapes and I get to them sometimes in the car. Lately I have been playing anything by Steve Vai for guitar inspiration... Skyscraper and Eat 'Em and Smile are great, great guitar records. I had Rush in the other day. Usually I just listen to what I am working on.
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended?
I saw Buck Cherry and my drummer friend Devon Glenn a few months back.... a year and a half before that I went to see Roger Waters and stood outside in pouring rain (outdoor venue) for almost 3 hours... then left. He went on 15 minutes later... after that I wasn't too eager to get to another show. I prefer playing and performing myself... Maybe if there were more days in the week.....?  

 
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