Gabe: I moved to Cleveland for grad school in summer 2007 and by fall 2008, I was itching to get into a musical project again. I found a Craiglist ad looking to start a project with musicians interested in prog/metal bands like Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Evergrey, and that’s how I got in touch with Brian. When I answered the ad, I briefly mentioned that I was a grad student at Case Western Reserve University, and I was surprised to learn that Brian was a professor at CWRU. This allowed us to connect on a professional level, and, combined with our common musical interests, laid the groundwork for a collaboration and friendship that’s still going strong.
Brian: I moved to the Cleveland area to begin a new faculty position at a local medical school in 2005, on the heels of releasing an album entitled Fractured under the band name Split Personality with Barry Thompson (now of The Anabasis) on guitar while still in the Boston area. It took me about 3 years to get settled into my new role and had developed a yearning to return to music by the end of the summer of 2008. I had been writing a little on my own and I felt it was time to get someone to do what I can’t – play guitar! So, I put out an ad on Craigslist and the first (and only) person to contact me turned out to be Gabe…and as he said above, we hit it off immediately both personally and musically. I really feel that our writing styles complement each other very well.
Gabe: Prog metal combines many of my favorite elements from distinct genres of music: the heavy, driving guitar and blistering leads of metal, the odd time signatures, tempo changes, and epic song structures of classic prog rock, even some elements of classical music and jazz. It’s a type of music that challenges me both as a listener and musician and always inspires me to improve my craft.
Brian: Prog metal is one manifestation of what I like in music – skill. I find myself drawn to any music that showcases real talent. Prog metal is rich in this, as the mere ability to keep up means that you’re probably pretty darn good, at least as a player. I’m definitely drawn to the virtuosic nature of the genre.
Evolution of the initial musical and thematic elements:
Gabe: Both Brian and I had several songs in various stages of completion when we first started playing and writing together. My pieces tended to be more metal, while Brian’s definitely had a more melodic, classic prog sort of sensibility (for instance, Written in Blood was primarily written by me, while Circadian Rhythm was mainly Brian’s song). The songs we really wrote together began to blend these elements together – see the title track (track 10) for how our different styles really began to fuse. At the outset, we both agreed that we were going to make the music that we wanted, and our sound really just developed as an outgrowth of what came naturally.
Brian: I’d echo what Gabe said above. The initial songs were largely the result of one interpreting the other’s ideas. The title track (track 10) is the only track on the album that emerged truly as a ‘written by both’ song because it evolved from us jamming together. I’d also add that I think Crescendo to Insanity (track 12) is another example of how things began to gel more as time went along.
Ideas about the album:
Gabe: I’m incredibly proud of the songs we wrote, particularly those which we truly collaborated on (Redacted, especially). In the future, I’d like to write more collaboratively. Several of the songs on Redacted were written predominantly by one or the other of us, but if the title track is any indication, our truly collaborative output will be something really special.
Brian: I agree that the more we wrote together, the better the outcome. I love everything about this album. It is my 5th studio album as a bassist and I’m certain that it is my best to date and there’s nothing I’d change about it. That having been said, some of the thoughts I have about a follow up would be maybe a bit more keyboards by a real keyboard player. The analog synth solo in Riffed makes me smile and I’d like more of that here and there.
Gabe:While we haven’t received a ton of feedback so far, everything we’ve heard has been really positive.
Brian: Yeah, it’s early. Most of my friends and family are hearing the album for the first time this week. As Gabe said, those that have heard it seem to really like it. Time will tell, I suppose.
Gabe: I don’t see us doing anything outside of writing and recording more music, honestly. We’re both career scientists, and now we live a few thousand miles apart. In the early days of Asymmetry, we toyed with the idea of playing live shows and even jammed with a drummer, but it never came together the way we wanted.
Brian: Yeah, that’s probably not going to happen. I played the drums and bass, and no matter how much I practice, I can’t do both at the same time on stage!!! LOL
Gabe:Personally, I just want to keep writing complex, heavy music.
Brian: I’d love to do a follow up album under the Asymmetry banner. I’d also love to do it in less than 6 years!
Lyrics, themes and concepts:
Gabe: Redacted is completely instrumental; while we did have certain themes in mind when writing some of the songs, it’s really up to the listener to decide what sorts of feelings and images the music evokes. If we write and record more music in the future, we’d love to have guest vocalists, though.
Brian: Yeah, I don’t have anything to add. With instrumental music, it’s all about emotion, so that’s for the listener to decide.
Preference; live or studio:
Gabe: I’ve played in several live bands (Act of War, Seed of Ignorance, Ashes of Eden), and I have to say that I really enjoy being on stage. I’ve never toured though, so I can’t really say what that would be like for me. However, the freedom of being in the studio with Brian is something that none of my other projects have touched. We are pretty like-minded when it comes to our creative vision, and we decided early on to write the sort of music that we wanted, without thought of appealing to anyone else, really. So, I’d have to say that being in the studio is more my thing.
Brian: While I haven’t been on a stage is a good while, every time I’ve tried, I’ve found it much less satisfying. I think that was in part due to never feeling like the people I was playing with were all 100% on the same page. In the studio, you can work at a pace that is amenable to a separate professional life (and family), and you have total freedom to do whatever pops into your mind without worrying about being able to get audiences to listen. Doing music as a creative outlet rather than as a way of earning money is a truly liberating thing.
Gabe: Both Brian and I contributed to writing the music. I recorded all the guitars, and I have to hand it to Brian, who recorded bass, sequenced keyboard parts, and recorded the drums, in addition to producing the album. Also, Michael Gill wrote and recorded a killer analog synth solo for us, and it can be heard on Riffed. Props to Mike for that!
Brian: Yep, this was a very collaborative effort. Without Gabe’s inspiring guitar abilities, this album would not exist. I can’t touch his ability and speed.
Gabe: We’re both great fans of some of the giants of prog and prog metal like Rush, Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Circus Maximus. I personally get a lot of inspiration from metal bands like Nevermore, Arch Enemy, In Flames, and Children of Bodom. All time, John Petrucci is definitely my favorite guitarist. He’s the reason I wanted to learn how to shred (I spent many hours with Rock Discipline over the years!). I saw Dream Theater live a few months back and they still inspire me. I just picked up his signature 7-string JP7, and it’s a killer guitar!
Brian: I’m actually listening to Circus Maximus’s Nine album as I write this. That album is truly inspiring because it blends the prog metal thing with an almost pop sensibility to melody. Fantastic. And yes, I love the prog metal genre in general. Just to add to the list, I’m a huge fan of Evergrey, Myrath, and many others. On the other hand, my music collection is far more eclectic than just prog metal. I love some of the more traditional prog bands (like Yes, Spock’s Beard, and others). I also am a huge Danny Elfman fan. Some of the old Oingo Boingo stuff is absolutely brilliant in my opinion. Hell, I even get a lot of enjoyment out of the energy and silliness that Green Day brings to the table (gasp!). There are many others – I could write a book about my music tastes!
Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake:
Gabe: I wouldn’t consider myself a professional musician; I make music because I love it, and so I would say that for me personally, music for its own sake is number one.
Brian: That’s easy – my music is all about having a creative outlet. If people like what I do, then fantastic. If not, that’s okay too – I got to make my music and that’s what matters for me.
Gabe: Without a doubt, recording and releasing Redacted with Brian has been the highlight of all my musical endeavors. I’m really proud of this hour of music. It’s heavy, complex, and melodic and it’s something that I will always listen to with a smile.
Brian: I agree – Redacted is a new high for me. I like to think that every album I’ve been a part of has been another step forward. I hope to continue that upward trajectory; after all, writing music is a learned thing for most of us mere mortals. The more you do it, the better you get at it…at least in theory!