Sunlight of the Spirit & Chapter I
For past CD REVIEWS, click HERE.
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2/2006: Streaming Audio- Derric Miller (Hard Rock Haven www.hardrockhaven.net)
4/21/2006: Matthew Bankes (Rising Forces USA)
10/2006: Matthew Bankes (Rising Forces USA) on CD Release
11/29/2006: Neal Woodall (Detritus Zine)
12/2006: Streaming Audio- Derric Miller (Hard Rock Haven www.hardrockhaven.net)
Review by Neal Woodall, (Detritus Zine):
Periodically a disc comes along that keeps finding its way back into your CD player, one of those gems rewarding repeated listens with
enjoyable music and stimulating lyrical content. Images Of Eden's SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRIT is just such an album, a captivating portion of
prog metal undiluted by the showy meanderings so often common to such releases. Recently, Images Of Eden mastermind Gordon Tittsworth was
kind enough to answer some questions about the band and their stellar new release...
DETRITUS: Images Of Eden have been around since 1999 but many of our
readers may not be familiar with the band. Can you give us a little
background on the group?
GORDON TITTSWORTH: I had been in and out of bands since I was 16 years
old but never really found anyone who shared the same vision,
direction and dream that I had. I always seemed to find non-motivated
band members and/or "dictators," inexperienced musicians, and
conflicts with the other writers in various bands. Finally, after
parting ways in 1998 with a band called Out Of Nowhere, I decided that
it was time to bring my vision to life without having it diluted or
compromised. In September 1999, I went into the studio with a session
drummer to record the debut CD, CHAPTER I. My goal was to fully
produce a CD with my own original material, playing all of the
instruments myself -- except drums -- as well as design the artwork.
The final product would then be used to carefully select musicians to
complete the full-time lineup. Once the CD was finished in spring of
2001, I began searching for musicians to complete the full-time
lineup. It didn't take long to get the band together, but the lineup
would change significantly over the next four years -- for the better.
Over that period, we played out on a regular basis. In summer of 2004,
we were a strong three-piece -- with myself on vocals, bass guitar,
and keys, Dennis Mullin on lead guitar, and Matt Kaiser on drums --
and decided it was time to record SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRIT. However,
being a three-piece was not without its limitations so we added
bassist Bryan Wierman to the mix just after the recording. We're also
currently auditioning keyboard players.
D: SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRIT has been getting a good number of positive
reviews -- are you happy with the way it turned out and the response
it has received?
GT: For the most part, I'm very pleased with how it has been received.
The reviews have been surprisingly good, and have ranged anywhere from
good to phenomenal -- 5 out of 5 stars. We've had a lot of compliments
on the songwriting, technical musical ability, delivery of the
material, and definitely the passion and sincerity of that delivery.
With that said, I'm very pleased. Funny thing, the best reviews I've
read are where the reviewer listened to the CD multiple times and
really dug into the story. I had one reviewer tell me it didn't leave
his player for a month because he would not have been able to take it
all in and write a thorough review, otherwise. (Thanks to Derric
Miller of Hard Rock Haven.) I would venture to say that the CD has
great appeal at face value, but it will definitely go in deeper if one
really "listens" to it.
D: In addition to the obvious progressive elements I seem to detect a
New Wave Of British Heavy Metal flavor in some of the songs; who were
some of your main influences?
GT: Hmm, interesting detection. I would say that most of my influences
are more prog-metal or "old school" British Metal rather than new.
However, I actually have some old thrash influences as well. They
range from Fates Warning (all, but more specifically the John Arch
era), Queensryche, Badlands, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath,
Dream Theater, Type O Negative to Slayer, Running Wild, Motorhead and
various European Metal, among many others. I'm sure you can imagine
that my writing should be a bit heavier than it is, but the influences
of the rest of the band are more on the prog-rock side -- bands like
Rush, Kansas, ELP, Genesis, Marillion, Porcupine Tree, etc. These
influences added more dimension and melody to an initial heavier
sound, but the chemistry really worked well, I think.
D: The album sounds great; how was it recorded?
GT: It was recorded in several phases: The CD was tracked using a mix
between Pro-Tools and Sonar, the mixed and mastered in Pro-Tools.
(Thanks to Dave Lemme and Mike Donoghue of Shadow Recording Studios
and Dean Morekas of B.U.D. Productions -- plug, plug!)
D: Do you prefer to produce on your own or would you like to bring in
an outside producer on the next album?
GT: I'm on the fence with that one. We would rather produce our own CD
so we get it exactly the way we want, but the help of a seasoned
producer would always take things to the next level. The down side is
that a great producer costs a lot of money and anything less than a
professional is just a waste of time and money. For the next CD, I'd
like to be able to get someone to "assist" us in producing, but we'll
cross that bridge when the time comes.
D: Your lyrics strike me as pragmatic but optimistic -- what would you
say is the overall theme in your music?
GT: Images Of Eden began as a description of a new found perfect world
that I had attained after going through some very rough times. This
was the basis of the debut CD, CHAPTER I. However, this concept
evolved into a theme and story, where each CD picks up where the
previous one ends. This wasn't something that I meant to do. It's just
something that started with the CHAPTER I/SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRIT
transition so I'm running with it. SPIRIT formed a natural progression
as I wrote it, continuing the ongoing "story" through life, told in a
positive and uplifting way. The first album began as thematic. It's
about putting the past behind and starting brand new, finding this
"estranged," peaceful world...after the "demons" have all gone away.
The ending of CHAPTER I, "Autumn's End," is actually a transition into
this second chapter, if you will, which is called SUNLIGHT OF THE
SPIRIT. If you listen to "Autumn's End," it is a bit of a reflection
on a new inner peace, knowing that life will go on and the sun will
rise again tomorrow. This metaphor of "The End" is actually a
transition that leads into the first track on SPIRIT, "Ascension"
(into "Eden"), which then leads into "Kaleidoscope," being in this
"perfect world." I've always looked at Eden not as a physical place,
but more of a metaphor, like an internal peace. "Kaleidoscope" is kind
of secluding yourself in your own perfect world, whether it is mental
or physical...whatever you want to call it. A perfect world can exist
but it definitely isn't on this earth, it has to be emotional.
"Sunlight Of The Spirit" is an actual spiritual phrase. It is
basically living your life the best you can, seizing the day, making
it happen and seeing the reward, or "sunlight," in return. The theme
of "Beyond The Horizon" is more of a new found spirituality --
whatever brings you an inner peace and makes your world better. People
have asked me if Images Of Eden is "White Metal" or "Christian." The
message is not specifically Christianity, but the same uplifting,
positive spiritual vibe is there and can be applied to Christianity
very well. With that said, we've actually had great feedback and
acceptance from the Christian community so far.
D: How is it working out being on Lance King's label Nightmare
GT: When I was on the search for a label to release SPIRIT, everyone
that I spoke to in the progressive metal world suggested Lance King
and Nightmare Records, so I sent him a press kit. In my search, I
coincidentally found Silent Planet Promotions, who handles the
Nightmare promotion/booking end. Mark Blair Glunt of Silent Planet
Promotions (plug) and I had an immediate spiritual bond when it came
to the music and story and I decided at that moment that I wanted to
work with him. He actually got in touch with Lance and solidified the
deal for us. (Thanks again Mark!) From there, we all worked together
to get a massive campaign together and now our CD is going into main
chain retail stores. It's definitely a dream come true for any
musician. Lance has been awesome to work with and he makes himself
very accessible to his bands. He goes out of his way very much to make
sure they have the tools they need to make it all happen. He and Mark
are definitely a rare breed in this industry.
D: Do you have plans to play any live dates outside of your area in
the near future?
GT: Since everything is just now about to happen, it's hard to say.
Most of my time has been spent doing solidifying the distribution and
doing promotion. I would say the next six months or so will tell where
we stand regarding a tour. Truth be told, my goal is to get to see the
world with Images Of Eden and I won't stop until that happens. One day
long ago I had a dream of forming a band and releasing a CD to the
world and that is now reality, so a tour will definitely be happening.
It's just a matter of when.
D: Do you prefer to play live or work in the studio?
GT: I think they're both equally important elements in the mix and
deliver different kinds of satisfaction. They're very different
experiences also. I love the studio for the simple art of musical
creation. It is extremely fulfilling to write and record my own
original music and would do it full time if I could. Live performances
are much different. To me, they are a major adrenaline rush. I express
myself in more of a passionate way live, because looking face to face
with everyone in the crowd brings the self expression to a more
personal level. After a really awesome show, it takes me a day or two
to come down from the rush.
D: Have you started working on any new material? If so, how does the
music compare with SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRIT?
GT: Absolutely! The new CD is well on its way. I have about 95% of the
lyrics (story) written and about three songs complete with music so
far. Anything that hasn't been written has been loosely mapped out.
The third CD takes the band and message to an entirely new level. It's
definitely a major progression from SPIRIT, and is more intense,
lyrically and musically. The finale on the next chapter will sum up
all three CDs in a very unpredictable and surprising way. I've also
been able to pay some homage to two of my fallen heroes -- Ray Gillen
and "Dimebag" Darrell Lance Abbott -- in a small tribute on the next
CD. I haven't had the chance to really give them a proper "thank you"
until now. As far as the third chapter...I can't wait to unleash it.
D: Will you be writing most of the songs for the next album or will
the band co-write with you?
GT: I will be writing the lyrics and also be the predominant writer
musically, but the band will definitely be doing arrangements and
taking the songs many levels higher. They may possibly contribute in
the writing of the music as well. I'm leaving that wide open. Dennis
Mullin already has on "Emerald Rain" off of SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRIT.
D: There are a lot of bands these days -- do you get frustrated at
having to compete with so many other groups for exposure?
GT: Not at all. I really look at other bands as allies, rather than
competition. We all do. Well, most of us do -- it's not 1986 anymore.
The only real "Us and Them" attitude that exists is between the
artists and the labels who try to exploit them. The one thing that I
really liked from day one about the music biz is that we have made so
many friends with so many bands, even outside our own style and genre,
and we all support each other, watch each others' backs, and help each
other out. We promote each other, play shows together, and sometimes,
even help out with exposing one another to our own audiences. I feel a
massive amount of camaraderie, even if we don't even speak the same
language. I feel that the musical bonds that we all share worldwide is
a priceless thing, and this form of art has been the only means to
breaking down barriers such as race, religion, sex, etc. If only the
rest of our lives were the same.
D: You're indictment of the music industry is apparent in the liner
notes; do you see things getting better due to the Internet and
perhaps a greater degree of band autonomy from large record labels?
GT: First of all, I'm glad that my rant against the corporate
exploitation of artists was visible enough for you to mention it, so I
thank you for that. Yes, I feel that with the Internet age, we as
artists can expose our music to masses very readily. Because of the
Internet era, we have gained fans from all over the world, most of
which could never have heard of us before. I think that worldwide
marketing and distribution of independent music is very do-able now,
where it would not have been 20, even 10 years ago. You see more
artists staying independent now rather than signing with a label,
because they can. They know that if they sign with a major label, they
are no longer calling the shots and have allowed themselves to be
molded into what the record wants them to be. I have a massive problem
D: Do you think the music scene in the US is improving for bands like
Images Of Eden?
GT: Unfortunately, I feel it is getting worse rather than better. I
feel like the US for the most part does not appreciate the more
intellectual side of music -- intelligent, thought provoking lyrics,
technical musicianship, concept albums, etc. -- compared to other
parts of the world, but prefers a more "remedial" style that is less
technical with minor enthusiasm and ability. If this were not the
case, I would not be hearing The White Stripes, The Strokes, Panic At
The Disco, and The Killers every time I turn on a local rock radio
station. The stations would be playing Dream Theater, Pyramaze, Fates
Warning, Queensryche and Symphony-X instead. I'm not saying that there
are no fans that appreciate the more technical, theatric side of music
here in the USA, but the music industry/radio has programmed the
masses to "dumb-down," unfortunately. Many people think because
something is being played on the radio that "It must be good and I
must like it." With this said, I feel we may have a larger audience
overseas -- Europe, Asia, and South America. I'm cool with that.
D: Thanks for your time Gordon. Is there anything you would like to
say in closing?
GT: I really appreciate you giving me this opportunity and for the
great write-up you did for SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRIT. I encourage
everyone to check out the CD. For more info, visit us at
http://www.imagesofeden.com/ and http://www.myspace.com/imagesofeden
or feel free to e-mail me directly at Gordon@... if you
have any thoughts or questions. Keep the metal scene alive and spread
Review by Matthew Bankes- Rising Forces USA, www.risingforcesusa.com:
On a Friday in late April, Matt made the trip to Gordon’s home in Red Lion, Pennsylvania to interview the Images Of Eden (sometimes referred to throughout the following interviews as IOE) front man. Matt was fighting a cold but managed to gut it out! Gordon is a class act all the way down the line. In this interview, we go inside the mind of the front man of one of Prog Metal’s great “rising forces”. Enjoy!
Matt Bankes (MB): When did you start to get into Rock and Metal music?
Gordon Tittsworth (GT): As far back as I can ever remember. I remember probably being like three or four years old, and whenever we would go visit my grandmother, my uncle, who lived with her still, he had a whole record collection. Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith…everything. I just took to it immediately, and my mom even told me I was probably even as young as two playing his records on the record player. It’s been as far back as I can remember, and it’s just been in the blood ever since.
MB: What made you decide to want to be a musician?
GT: I was probably about five- or six-years-old when I got my first real rock record which was Kiss Alive!. My cousin gave it to me, and I was five-years-old and I was just a Kiss freak by then. I would probably say I was six or seven when I said “I want to be a lead singer in a band”. As much discouragement as there was at the time, and even still today, I’ll never stop.
MB: What was the first band you performed in?
GT: It was in 1988, and we were called Burning Ambition. We were kind of like a less polished Images Of Eden, and a little more of the core 80s sound. Think hair metal with a hint of prog. Take a very early Queensryche meets very early Fates Warning and not quite as polished.
MB: How did you decide on the name for your current band Images Of Eden?
GT: To take you there, I am going to have to take you back a little bit further. I’ve always wanted to be in a band and I’d been in different bands over the years through the late 80s and early 90s. In every band I was in, as fulfilling as it may have been, there was always some kind of element that it was lacking. Whether it was butting heads with other musicians or somebody not being up to par, or dealing with arrogant assholes and just basic bullshit artists. Because of that I was like, it’s time now. I was in this one band called Out Of Nowhere just before IOE. It was a decent bunch of musicians but there was a non-motivated guitarist who just tried to run things. He had no knowledge or no means to even think he should have been running anything. We really butted heads. I had kind of had my fill with non-hackers over the years. It’s kind of funny…ironic actually, the guitarist (of Out Of Nowhere) I guess could sense I was trying to run the show a little bit, so he sent the bass player out to fire me.
MB: How unprofessional.
GT: So the bass player fires me, and at the time I was pretty fed up with the band. It wasn’t doing what I wanted so I was thinking of a reason to quit, so it just kind of worked out perfectly. Right when that happened I still had a couple of songs together from my previous band which was called Midnight’s Tide. That band was actually with a good friend of mine on drums, Ryan Day. I actually sang lead and played lead guitar and we went through a couple of bass players. That was really the first band where I could open up my full creativity to its full potential. I was only in Out Of Nowhere a couple of months. After Out Of Nowhere, I pulled six of the best Midnight’s Tide tunes and decided, “Alright…I’m going to do an album with me playing everything” and I had a friend of mine at the time who was a drummer who said, “Dude, I’ll play drums for you, no problem, let‘s do this thing, let‘s get you jump started” (Steve Kilgallon). I took the six best Midnight’s Tide tunes which were “Stealth“, “September”, “Brave Horse”, “Only In My World”, “Dawn (Another Sunrise)”. All the songs sort of had a theme going and I just let the creativity go. I finished the other six songs and then I had twelve songs. They all had a theme. At the time I was actually going to call the album “Images Of Eden” so I had the album title, but I didn’t have the band name. So I was like, “Alright, I got an album called Images Of Eden”, I didn’t know what band name I was going to use. I was going to use my old band name Midnight’s Tide, but I thought Midnight’s Tide stood for something back then…it’s time to start brand new. I was talking to my wife one night and we were talking about it. She knew most of the tunes and the themes. She said, “You know what, why don’t you call the band Images Of Eden? It totally goes with what you’re trying to say and it totally goes with the uplifting, spiritual theme that there is.” I was like, that’s it. It’s done. I recorded the album and strategically placed the songs to show an entrance into an Eden or a perfect world. The theme of Chapter 1 was just all the elements of a new found perfect world that I kind of came in to, so, there you are.
MB: About Chapter 1, you recorded that album almost completely by yourself (with a session drummer) to use it as a basis for forming the new band. What was it like to record an entire album by yourself? What kind of experience was that, was it a tough experience?
GT: It was probably the best recording experience I’ve ever had in my life. The reason I say that is because I was going through a lot at the time. I was in the process of getting married, and in the process of just starting a whole new life and kind of leaving the past behind. It was the first time where I had free reign to do anything I wanted with no prior expectations of me, and no standards that I had to hit. It was just pure uncensored creativity. It was probably the only time in my life I ever had that. I didn’t have that with Spirit, I probably wouldn’t have had that with Spirit, and I wouldn’t trade Spirit for what it is. Basically it was pretty cool as far as the recording process. I gave Steve Kilgallon (session drummer) a demo tape of the songs in a really rough form. He learned the drums in a couple of weeks, we went into the studio, he recorded all the drums in a matter of about two days, and then I spent the next year and a half piecing it together. I would do all the guitars, all the heavy guitars, all the acoustic guitars, all the bass guitars, all the keyboards, all the lead guitars, some little sound effects and then I did the vocal tracks and then we mixed it down. It was great, it was nice to see that album piece itself together. Took a long time on it, and of course I funded it myself. Right when it was done, it was just like climbing Everest. The best part about it was there was no more compromising. It was, this is what I’m doing, here it is. If you like it, let’s talk, if not, sorry.
MB: How quickly did interested musicians come forward to join up with you after you finished Chapter 1, and was it a tough process to choose the right musicians?
GT: Yeah, very tough to choose. I had a drummer who I worked with who was on board and ready to go as soon as we could get the rest of the musicians. I had a keyboard player who I worked with who was also on board. I put an ad on BaltimoreBands.com (http://www.baltimorebands.com) and I immediately got a response from a guitarist named Dennis Mullin. He shot me an e-mail and we talked for a while on the phone and things worked out. He sent me a copy of his Illuvatar album Story 3 Days Wide and I sent him Chapter 1, and as soon as I heard his guitar playing, I said, "This is the guy for the job as long as he wants it." I knew that we were done. The initial bass player was someone that Dennis knew. We all kind of got together for the first couple practices, and they were rough. The drummer couldn’t hack it so we had to get rid of him. I put in another ad for another drummer, got him. The keyboard player couldn’t do it, he left, so I started playing keyboards. The bass player left. So here we are, we’re a three-piece. Dennis Mullin, Bobby Minter playing drums and me singing lead, playing bass and playing keys. The simple Rush thing, only I didn’t really want it to turn out that way! It kind of worked out that way for a little while. It ended up not working out with Bobby, and right around the same time Matt Kaiser came on board, who I also found through BaltimoreBands.com. That was about three years ago, so we played as a three-piece for awhile. Then Brian Gulin from Hyperchild joined for a little while (on bass guitar). He left, we recorded Spirit, and then a friend of mine named Bryan Wierman who I had been in touch with and had known for eleven years shot me an e-mail from out of the blue. He was a phenomenal guitarist turned bass player and as soon as we jammed with him it was like the fourth piece of the puzzle. I took about four and a half years to form the unit as it is right now, so let’s hope it doesn’t change anymore, man!
MB: Dennis Mullin, Matt Kaiser and Bryan Wierman seem to compliment you perfectly. What is like to work with them in the studio and on stage?
GT: It’s nice to be able to work with phenomenal musicians who are probably the best musicians I have ever jammed with, and to know that no matter what we attempt to do, they can pull it off, and pull it off well. So I never feel limited at all, and I don’t think any of us do. So when we all piece everything together there’s this magic that happens, and it can’t be compromised.
MB: Have you considered hiring a permanent keyboardist?
GT: Yes, we want a full-time keyboard player. Finding a full-time keyboard player is, I’m sure, going to be rough, and I have got so many other things on my plate that it’s not the first and foremost thing, although it would be nice. Our songs take a little bit of a different turn live because not all the keyboard parts are there, but I think that our live show has gotten a little bit more punch, a little more drive. With that said, I’d love to have a full-time keyboard player. So, anybody who reads this, if you’re interested, come find us!
MB: Yes, e-mail Gordon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Free advertising!
MB: The latest record, Sunlight of the Spirit, I think is a great record. When did you start writing for this album and how long did it take from start to finish?
GT: It was kind of wild, the actual writing process for Spirit. I actually enjoyed writing Spirit more than Chapter 1, just because I really felt like things were coming out quickly and in abundance. Right when Chapter 1 was in the process of being recorded and I was finishing up the recording of Chapter 1, “Dream-Catcher” was actually the first song that I wrote. I liked it so much I would have wanted to put it on Chapter 1 but it was kind of too late. It’s kind of a good thing because it really worked out on Spirit. I wrote “Dream-Catcher” and then some time went by and I would piece a couple of songs together and have some parts done. I had about four or five songs done, and then there was a couple of weeks where I was in between jobs and I had a lot of spare time. I had all the notes made, I had a lot of lyrics done and I had a lot of general notes on how I wanted some songs to be. I actually knocked out close to half the album within a week's time, so all in all, it took probably a process of a year and a half, but not full-time. The way I write, I never make time to write. Inspiration finds me and I capture it at the time. So I could be anywhere, in traffic, in the shower, sleeping, and I always got a notepad and I am always writing stuff down and it just so happened that in that couple-of-week period is the time I took my collection of notes and I actually formed the songs. Another thing about writing Spirit, if I actually sit down and try to write something, and try to think about something and make something happen, it doesn’t work. There are actual times when I’ve either sat down with my guitar or in front of the keyboard and you just get in to this consciousness, you feel there’s this mental and emotional gate that’s open, and this inspiration just kind of flows through you. It’s almost kind of creepy. There have been times where I’ve sat down and I started playing stuff and I get into this zone and I can’t really describe it, but a musician who writes will know what I’m talking about. “I Remember When” for example is a song where I just sat down and within about an hour and a half time I had a four-track recording of the entire song, completely finished, and when I listened to it back I was like, “Where did that come from?" It’s almost as if you’re this medium of a higher being channeling the song through you. It’s almost kind of scary because I’ve had a couple of other instances of that happening. Once was with ‘Dream-Catcher”, another one was with “Brave Horse” and “Stealth” off of Chapter 1, and even parts of “Beyond The Horizon” .
MB: I think the production on Sunlight of the Spirit is really great. Did you have access to Pro-Tools?
GT: Yeah, as a matter of fact, a friend of mine, Dave Lemme and Mike Donoghue from Shadow Recording Studio did the recording. We’re friends with them. Dave was in a band called Cycle Of 3 that we played with so it was cool, it was like fellow musicians and friends. He actually used a 36 tracker, Pro-Tools. Dave Lemme actually started the recording, we did the drums and the guitars over there and due to cost, he actually did the rest of the recording at Illuvatar bass player Dean Morekas’ place. He actually used SONAR, so it’s a mix between Pro-Tools and SONAR, but it was actually fully mixed and mastered in Pro-Tools. We spent a lot of time on it. We had six sets of ears just listening to it and tweaking it out. The experience of the people involved, they just had phenomenal ears and all of us really made that production happen.
MB: Can you give us a brief description of the album and what it’s about?
GT: The one thing about Images Of Eden, and this wasn’t something that I meant to do, it’s just something that kind of started so I’m running with it...each album starts where the last one leaves off. It’s like an ongoing story and progression through life, told in a positive and uplifting way. The first album began as thematic. It’s about putting the past behind and starting brand new, finding this “estranged”, peaceful world...after the “demons” have all gone away. The ending of Chapter 1 is “Autumn’s End” and is actually a transition into this second chapter, if you will, which is called Sunlight of the Spirit. If you listen to “Autumn’s End” it's almost a little bit of a reflection on a new inner peace, knowing that life will go on and the sun will rise again tomorrow. This metaphor of “The End” is actually a transition that leads into the first track on Spirit which is “Ascension” (into “Eden”), which then leads into ‘Kaleidoscope” which is being in this “perfect world”. I’ve always looked at Eden not as a physical place, but more of a metaphor, like an internal peace. “Kaleidoscope” is kind of secluding yourself in your own perfect world, whether it is mental or physical…whatever you want to call it. A perfect world can exist but it definitely isn’t on this earth, it has to be emotional. Sunlight of the Spirit is an actual spiritual phrase. It is basically living your life the best you can, seizing the day, making it happen and you’ll see this reward come in turn. The theme of “Beyond The Horizon”, I look at it as more of a found spirituality, whatever brings you an inner peace, whatever makes your world better, use it that way. If it happens to be Christianity, then so be it. The whole theme of the actual song “Sunlight of the Spirit” is kind of like going through anything that has totally changed your world, and turning something negative into a positive. The first part, “Emerald Rain”, is about any kind of change, whether it’s something bad, whether it’s not there anymore, any kind of loss. It’s about working through that and working into a better place, getting yourself into a better place and just kind of holding on to the memories, and knowing everything bad that’s happening is really making you stronger, which is the whole point of that song. At the end of the album, you’ll notice there’s a lot more in between, but it all takes place in this “Eden”…the very last song “Midnight’s Tide” is a major reflection on life and beating yourself up and having regret, being sorry for the things you have done, the negative things. It’s about redemption, about forgiving yourself for the mistakes you have made in the past and knowing you can’t change the past, but we’re going to go on from here and make it the best we can. The end of “Midnight’s Tide” leaves a wide open door for the beginning of the third CD.
MB: I went through an experience like that, and I could share it with you after this interview.
GT: I think it’s relatable for everybody. When I write, it’s not specific enough where you know exactly what’s happened to me, I make it general so that you can relate it to your own life but it’s based on something specific for me.
MB: I think you write some really awesome lyrics. They have that ability to take me away from my troubles. What experiences influence your lyrics?
GT: Nothing influences my lyrics except life experience. Somebody had told me one time that it really feels like I generally live what I’m writing about, and that’s the absolute truth. I think if you don’t live and feel 110 percent what you are writing about, it doesn’t come across as genuine. Anytime something extremely positive or negative happens, I capture the opinion that I have in my lyrics. I let the lyrics kind of form themselves and then I piece the lyrics together to form the album later in a way that kind of tells a story. I don’t know what the next album is going to be about until I write it. I didn’t know what Spirit was going to be about until it pieced itself together.
MB: What singers have influenced you the most? You put me in mind of a few people but you have your own flavor.
GT: I would have to say there are four that are the major ones. First it was Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden, then I found Geoff Tate from Queensryche right when The Warning came out and I was twelve-years-old. I was twelve-years-old and I knew that this is one of the best singers on the face of the earth, so I was fairly smart for my age, at least I think! (laughs) After that, I found what I would say are my two favorite singers now. John Arch, the former singer of Fates Warning. He writes in a way that his albums, specifically Awaken The Guardian, just take me totally out of the world I’m in and place me where I want to be, in that “Eden”. To date, my favorite singer of all time, who I haven’t kind of listened to in a while, I don’t know why, but I just recently picked up their old albums is Ray Gillen from Badlands…
MB: May he rest in peace.
GT: Yes, may he rest in peace. I have the first two Badlands albums. I have just recently acquired Dusk, and I listened to Dusk, and this guy has everything. He’s got the most phenomenal voice and he’s got this soul sound to his voice that nobody else has. As phenomenal as Tate is in a textbook sense, Ray’s just got this emotion that grabs you a little more. He was in my opinion the best vocalist.
MB: You do have great stage presence. Is stage presence an important part of a live performance to you?
GT: It’s about 50 percent of it as far as I’m concerned. As a musician I can stand there and watch people stand there like logs and bang out the most phenomenal music in the world and be fine with it, but not everybody is a musician, and the non-musicians want to see you move, they want to see you get into it. Even the musicians do too. I mean, if the band is awful, but they are just really phenomenal on stage, I still might actually see them again if it was a high energy performance. As far as us, we try to put as much stage presence into everything. Sometimes it’s a little difficult when you’re playing something a little more on the technical side , it’s hard to do back flips. I try to lay into it, I try to make you see and feel that I’m giving 110 percent and I always feel like that If I’m not borderline being carried out on a stretcher at the end of the show, I didn’t put my full into it and I feel almost like I did an injustice and a disservice to everybody.
MB: What in your opinion was your best live gig so far?
GT: I would say our CD release party (at Mac’s The Club in Essex, Maryland) back in November of ‘05, only because there were so many factors to getting Sunlight of the Spirit recorded and released. I think the stars had to line up perfectly in so many ways. I was actually shocked that we got it finished, and I was actually shocked that we had got copies made. There were so many obstacles working against us that my goal was to get to that CD release. We had practiced and rehearsed for that release party and it had been a year and a half since we had played a live show. I was actually fighting off a cold that week, I fought it off long enough to get that show done, and I almost completely lost my voice for the next couple of days and I lost a couple of days of work because that cold finally knocked me on my ass. So, with the full energy and every ounce of spirit, that was my favorite show because of what it stood for and it was like I almost climbed Everest twice for that show to happen.
MB: Your worst show?
GT: I’m glad you brought this up because this is a fun story to tell. We had a “Spinal Tap” moment a couple of years back when we had our old drummer Bobby Minter. We had played a great gig this one weekend at a place called The Vault, had a ton of people show up, really cleaned house financially and did a great show. The very next week we had a gig at the now defunct Eight By Ten in Baltimore, although I think it’s back now. We were the headlining band and everybody came out the week before, so…we got there that night and the first band was a five-piece ska/funk/jazz/pseudo something or other from Boston.
MB: Like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones?
GT: A bit like the Bosstones but put a little more funk in it. They all had three-piece suits on and they came out and played. It was almost like a comedy routine. After that, the second band was a hip-hop band. We had brass and funk and hip-hop, and here we go…I was like, “We are going to scare these people to death!” So we get out on stage and it’s midnight. We already had beer spilled down a big stack of our equipment because there was only a couple of feet to get in. We started playing, and in the middle of the second song the place was completely empty except for Dennis’s brother, and the bartender. We played five songs and then they cut us off, then they gave us five bucks and said, “Have a nice day." The drummer was all pissed off, and I was like, “You know, this is a Spinal Tap moment."
MB: Do you have any upcoming plans for shows and places you want to play?
GT: London, Berlin, Rome…
MB: New York, London, Paris, Munich?
GT: Exactly. That would be the long-term goal, yes. Whatever it takes to get there, it’s not going to happen tomorrow. The first thing is to stir up enough buzz and what not. We have no problem with touring but we have to tour within our means. We’d definitely like to branch out,. Since I just moved to Pennsylvania, we’d definitely like to do York, Harrisburg, Lancaster and Baltimore, which is what we know. Maybe even get out to Delaware, down to Virginia…start out regionally.
MB: You just picked up a distribution deal in France and Germany! How do you feel about that?
GT: God, I’m loving this. It actually feels like things are starting to happen. First thing we secured was Hellion Records in Germany, who’s going to do some promos and get the word out and sell our CD. Then just recently Brennis Music in France who are actually going to put it in all the retail stores across France, so you could go into Paris and go into a music store and find Spirit. I had been sending out a lot of press kits to a lot of prog labels all over the world, I’ve been doing a lot of networking, radio, promo, the whole nine yards, just throwing it out there. They say the more shit you keep throwing at the wall, the better the chances of having it stick. Now we are talking to Perris Records in Texas, we're actually going to be on a compilation that’s going to be distributed nationwide and in some case worldwide. I’ve looked at InsideOut, sent them something, Magna Carta…it takes time.
MB: Have you written any new material yet, and when can we expect a new Images Of Eden record?
GT: I wish I had the next one in my hand right now! This clown gave me advice years ago and I’m so glad that he did because I so didn’t take his advice. This guy gave me bad advice when he said, “When you write your albums, write it but don’t shoot your load on each album. Save some for the next album." I said that’s the worst advice, man, because the only way you are going to improve is if you totally outdo yourself on an album and be like, “What the hell am I going to do now?” , because there is nothing left in the vault. That’s what I did with Chapter 1, and I said, “Oh my God, how am I going to do another album, I don’t have anything left,” and then I started writing and inspiration came through and I started writing Spirit, and then after Spirit I was like, “You know, I’m tapped out but at least I know it’s not over,” because I know more stuff will come. What’s happening now is I’ve got about 90 percent of the lyrics done for the next album and I’ve got the whole concept, and it picks up in the exact place where Spirit leaves off. On both Chapter 1 and Spirit, each album had kind of a finale at the end of the album that really summed it up, then the next one will pick up from there. That’s how I like it. At the end of an album, I want the last thing you hear to be kind of mind-blowing. This next album is a major progression, lyrically, from Spirit, and it has the ultimate finale that actually sums up all three albums, not just itself. I can’t wait to unleash that, as far as when it will be, I don’t know. I don’t even want to project a date. The one thing I know is it’s definitely a departure from Spirit almost in an opposite direction but turns around and does a full 180 in the end. There are several surprises that take everything to the next level, even higher.
MB: Do you have any closing thoughts?
GT: Definitely check us out at http://www.imagesofeden.com. I appreciate you doing this, Matt. My whole thought is that it’s give and take in this business. It’s great to have people who will spread the word of your band, so I appreciate you doing this and we will definitely help you guys out anyway we can, it’s great. To everybody who is reading this definitely check us out, probably unlike any other band you’ll really hear today especially from a local standpoint. We hope you like what you hear, and stay tuned. There’s always more coming.
Thank you, Gordon! You are definitely a class act all the way. The progressive metal world needs to be prepared for Images Of Eden, as they have re-written the rulebook with their latest record Sunlight of the Spirit. Be sure to go to their official website at http://www.imagesofeden.com and pick up a copy of both Chapter 1 and Sunlight of the Spirit today!
Review by Matthew Bankes- Rising Forces USA, www.risingforcesusa.com:
Many new and exciting developments have happened with Images Of Eden in the last few months. First off, Images Of Eden was taken under the umbrella of Silent Planet Promotions. Then, the band was picked up by Nightmare Records for a worldwide distribution deal! You can imagine how excited that makes us here!
Being that Images Of Eden is the subject of our Spotlight section, we felt the need to conduct a follow-up interview to bring you fans up-to-date on the exciting times surrounding this up-and-coming progressive metal force! So, we asked front man Gordon Tittsworth about all the great events that have happened to Images Of Eden as of late.
Matt Bankes (MB): Well, Gordon, many big things have happened since we last spoke! First off, you hooked up with the promotional company Silent Planet Promotions...how did that come about?
Gordon Tittsworth (GT): Back in April/May of this year , I was in the process of shopping many labels, distributors, promoters, webzines, etc. searching for distribution/promotion. I received many favorable responses, more than I actually had anticipated. One of which was Mark Blair Glunt of Silent Planet Promotions [SPP], so I sent him a copy of Sunlight of the Spirit. He e-mailed me back stating that we were exactly the type of band he wanted to work with: Progressive Hard Rock with an uplifting spiritual vibe. We spoke for about an hour on the phone talking about both SPP and IOE. I had previously been in contact with about five or six promoters but I knew just after our conversation that SPP was the promotion company I wanted to work with. I got an immediate sense that Mark was 100 percent genuine and he is totally dedicated to his bands. This is not the type of person you run into every day in this business. For every genuine person I’ve met, I had to go through about 25 crooks to get to them. In the last six months, Mark has turned into more than just a promoter. He has become a friend and someone I can count on for direction and inspiration in this “most rewarding yet frustrating business in the world”.
MB: And the biggest news of all...you got a worldwide distribution deal with Nightmare Records! We here are very excited about that! How did that come to pass?
GT: As soon as I started shopping for labels/distributors, I had sought out advice from some colleagues in the business (specifically Frank Hill/Eric Compton from Maximum Metal, Maurice Taylor from All Too Human, Chris Lotesto from Ion Vein, Trey Gadler from Azrael’s Bane, Johnny Lokke, Tom Argo from Progman Records, and several others) and many of which had suggested to contact Lance King at Nightmare. Well, after my first conversation with Mark at Silent Planet, he decided to contact Lance directly to have him personally check us out. At the same time, I sent him a copy of Sunlight of the Spirit. About a week or two after that, I got a voice mail from Mark stating that Lance was ready to do a full, worldwide distribution of the CD. Needless to say, I was very pleased. Now I have a dedicated promoter and a well-respected label in the metal industry. Life had gone from good to great!
MB: Do you feel any added pressure on you and the band because of the fact you now have a worldwide deal?
GT: Taking this next step and exploring new waters not knowing what to expect is always a bit of added pressure, but it’s a “problem” that I’ve wanted to deal with my whole life, so I welcome and embrace any new “pressure”. I’m a lot busier now with many more opportunities coming down the pipeline, but I really feel that IOE is finally moving in the forward direction. There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling stagnant. The pressure I feel now is, “What more can I do to get the name out there and get people prepared for the release?” I know a lot of it is timing and because of that, I’m also in the process of writing the next CD. I figure if I start now, it should be ready to release when the time is right. I’ve really learned a lot about how the music biz works and how one goes about getting a CD distributed worldwide. There’s no one single way to do it. It’s a combination of a lot of things. All we can do is get the name out here, drop the record, cross our fingers, and pray.
MB: Do you think offers for national tours or opening slots for national headliners are possibilities now?
GT: I really do believe that many more doors will open (and are already opening). With Lance’s support and Mark’s worldwide contacts/promotion, etc., we have a much better than average chance of things happening. I’ve seen first-hand what Lance and Mark are capable of, and with that, I know we have all of the resources to get overseas and do a tour. We really can’t beat having our name next to Nightmare and SPP. I know the first step is to get the CD out there (Nov 21st) then we’ll talk about the next step. The goal is to get to Europe, South America, Japan, etc. and live the dream. Nothing will stop us. It’s just a matter of “when” and not “if”.
MB: The worldwide release date for Sunlight Of The Spirit is November 21, 2006. What are you doing to gear up for it? (Thank you for using a quote from us in your ad campaign!)
GT: No problem, brother. Thanks for the quote! Yes, Mark has already launched a worldwide promotion/radio campaign. This consists of webzines, magazines (print and otherwise) and many radio stations including Internet. I’m also in the process of saturating the cyber landscape with our logos and advertisements. The goal is to get people so sick of seeing our info that they feel compelled to check us out.
MB: Is there a possibility that Chapter 1 will be re-released, or re-recorded with the whole band or re-mastered?
GT: Absolutely. I’m going to wait about a year to 18 months before tackling that. Since Chapter 1 was never officially released in retail, I’m going to take some time to really think about the approach. Lance already said he’d pick up Chapter 1 and release it for us. I just don’t know when yet, but I’ll know when the time is right. It will be the same recording but I will definitely be re-mastering it before releasing it. Also, some of the internal artwork will be changing. I will be thinking more of how I want to market it also. I don’t want people to think it is a “post-Spirit” release. It will be made clear that it is before the fact... basically the beginning “solo album”, if you will. I may even put a bonus track or two on it. Who knows?
MB: Do you fear that a worldwide deal will cause you to lose touch with the following you have earned in the Baltimore area? Do you fear it will cause you to change as a person?
GT: Not at all. I really feel that this is something that we (IOE) needed to progress and go further as a band. We weren’t getting the recognition I feel we deserved in Baltimore. I feel extremely grateful for our fans and to local bands that we’ve become friends with over the years for supporting us, but personally, I have no loyalty at all to the Baltimore club scene. Frankly, I’d be grateful to be able to get the hell out of the Baltimore scene altogether. Bands are treated as second rate citizens and basically have to beg to play, then the club owners want you to sell tickets to promote their club, which is something they should be doing anyway. If you don’t sell “enough” tickets, the club won’t have you back. Also, if you don’t play covers, they don’t want you because you won’t “draw”. It’s a double-edged sword that only benefits the owners and screws the bands. The only thing that the Baltimore scene has done for us is make us realize that our true destiny lies outside of the town. Unless you’re a “modern rock cover band”, you are not appreciated in Baltimore and in a lot of cases, not welcome. On the other side of that coin, we’ve experience a whole new attitude here in York, Pennsylvania. The club owners have been wonderful so far and very willing to help us out. They also appreciate original music more. For example, we had a club owner call us and offer us a major gig with a national act on New Year’s Eve, giving us the 10:00 p.m. slot just to “help us out” because he really liked our music. On top of that he insisted we play our originals. That kind of offer would NEVER happen in a million years in Baltimore. Do I sound sour? Nah!
As far as changing as a person due to any success, I only see myself becoming more peaceful, and more appreciative of the things that come. When I got into this business, I realized right away that more bad things will happen than good, and to really appreciate the good. I think that money and success only enhances the current attributes of a person. If you’re a genuine person, you will only become a more genuine person, and if you’re an a-hole by nature, you’ll only be a bigger a-hole with money and fame.
MB: On a separate note, you are offering your services as a session vocalist. Can you tell us more about it?
GT: This is something that I refused to even consider awhile ago, but then it hit me all of a sudden... why would I limit myself when I could contribute to other projects and possibly learn something by exploring different styles and expanding my limits? I have been approached to join a few different bands over the years to do studio work (or more) but I never could at the time. My services are more for studio session vocals. If there is a project that is ready to go, but just needs the vocal tracks, I’m available. I haven’t even thought of what I would charge yet. It would depend on where the band is located, whether they are paying major $$$ for studio time vs. recording it themselves. I’m not about to bankrupt anyone. If a band really liked my style and really wanted me to sing on their record, I’d work with them and find a way to make it happen.
MB: It's been an honor getting to know you and Images Of Eden. We wish you the best! Can you say a few kind words about our crew at Rising Forces USA (RFUSA)?
GT: Matt, it’s been an honor getting to know great people like you, Andrea, Keith and all of RFUSA. You have really done some great things for us and other local/regional bands. Anyone reading this should really get to know you and your work because you really stand behind the bands you cover, not just review the material then move on.