Big Year Nearly Done, Bigger Year Coming Up
As has been the norm around here for a while, it’s been a while between blogs so I thought it was time to fill you all in on what’s been happening and what we have coming up.
We’re on the cusp of redoing the website, especially to make it more mobile-friendly, and we’re migrating our old online store over to Bandcamp so we can offer more options to you in regards to lossless audio or streaming media and things like that. Busy times!
Of course the big news was we finally hit the USA and played at the prestigious ProgPower USA festival in Atlanta. I’m not gonna go on about it much, I think you would understand what a big deal it was, and what an absolute honour it was for us to be invited to play. Damn expensive and tricky to do, mind you, and there were a lot of hoops to jump through from a legal point of view since we did this all legitimately but it was absolutely worth it, and the people we worked with in the PPUSA extended crew, friends and fans we me was just fantastic.
What did we come back with, besides a huge credit card debt? (Yep. Ouch. Welcome back to reality!) We had the show professionally filmed with five HD and 4K cameras, and the audio recorded down to multitrack, so it could be properly mixed later. Being first band on, there were the inevitable tech problems with the audio, so like all live recordings, we’re having to do some patch up work to get it up to a releasable standard, but the goal is to get the show out in one format or another in the near future. Live album? DVD? Streaming HD? We’ll probably be asking you guys a few questions about what you’d prefer, and if we can scrape up enough money to do it, we’ll see what we can make happen.
One thing we’ve learned over the last couple of years of having an incomplete line-up since Damo bowed out is the show must go on. We’ve had guest drummers go out with us, who have done a great job, but either were committed to their own band or not the right fit for us, we had replacements for both Mark and Andy on dates that they couldn’t make it and it was still a LORD show after all was said and done. I’d like to think that if a huge opportunity came along and I wasn’t available, the other guys would still make things happen with a guest singer / guitarist.
As great as it is we can do this, it was nice this year to get some stability back in the band with the addition of our new full-time drummer, Darryl Murphy. Daz completely blew us away when we saw him filling in for our good pals in Carbon Black, we immediately got in touch and offered him a job. We threw him right in the deep end with possibly the worst start to his time in the band when all of our electronics failed mid-show on stage and he had to plow on through the worst kind of circumstances. His next show? ProgPower USA. No pressure! Show three was a support with Queensryche. Welcome to the band! 😉
I’ve already thrown him some pretty high profile session drum work in my studio and, after hearing what he came up with for that, I think the next album is going to work out great. Great sounding drummer and a great sounding kit makes my life easy as engineer/producer!
What’s that? A new album? Yes!
We are full swing into writing the next album. As I write this blog, I have about four or five pretty decent songs sitting in my head, waiting for a break in my schedule to demo up (it’s not uncommon for me to have the bulk of an album pre-written before I even touch an instrument, usually while we’re finishing off the last album), and from the bits I’ve heard him play at rehearsals, Mark is sitting on a few monsters he’s already written that I’m dying to hear.
Of course, there’s riff collections we have still left over from the very beginnings of the band. We don’t throw anything away, in fact some of Andy’s contributions were ideas he had when he first picked up guitar and bass that he recorded and I arranged into songs many years later (Forever and Rain being a couple of notable examples). I have no doubt Daz has some great ideas too. Just from mucking around before we start rehearsing, there were things he played that sparked off a pile of ideas from me, so it’ll be nice to get a fresh perspective in the band to bounce off of.
In a lot of ways, our changing line-up is what’s kept us fresh over the years. Everyone that’s come through the ranks has had their own particular set of influences that either directly have found their way in, or how they play has inspired the rest of us to try something different out, and it’s only made our sound richer and more diverse. I think so long as there’s at least one of us guiding the boat and keeping it sounding like LORD (or Dungeon, depending on what era you hopped onboard with us), all of these new and interesting influences can only be a good thing.
That said, the core members of LORD have been there for a pretty long time now. Andy’s coming up on eleven years with the band this year (equal to only Dale’s time in Dungeon), and Mark joined (unofficially at first) at the start of 2007, so that’ll be ten years for him soon.
So where will we go on the next album?
Two answers: the short one is “Don’t be so damn nosy, be patient!” but the longer one is… it’s complex and simple all at the same time, and I don’t necessarily mean the actual music. I’ll explain!
Every album since we swapped over to LORD has been a “how the hell to we follow that?!” dilemma for us, especially from Set In Stone onwards. With Dungeon, we were always trying to get the balance right, the production better, all with really no money to do it justice. Once we did Ascendence and the production was getting much closer to what we were supposed to sound like, it became all about focusing on just simply writing the best songs we could. No trying to emulate any past albums, not trying to progress without trying to push our boundaries. Set In Stone really became our definitive album, where all of the pieces finally slotted together.
How do you follow that?
Well we did the Return Of The Tyrant EP where we really pushed the limit of any orchestration we’d tried to do in the past, and really tried something a little different with the unplugged versions of some of our songs. The real test though was our next full-length, Digital Lies.
We couldn’t just do another Set In Stone, we couldn’t really push the orchestration or vocal layers much further than we did with Tyrant… what do we do? As luck (not sure that’s exactly the right word) would have it, I was exhausted and disillusioned with everything so by the time we started writing, I was trying to do anything I could to find a way to keep things fresh for myself, and ended up writing the bulk of my contributions on synths first. Funnily enough, this album still has some of our heaviest, most guitar focused material ever despite that, but that different perspective was what made Digital Lies unique (and painful for me, as previous blogs will tell you). It turned out to be our best selling album ever.
So how do we follow that?!
It was time to cast an eye back since it was 25 years since we kicked things off as Dungeon, and we re-recorded our entire Dungeon era back catalogue in a huge box set that took a year of non-stop work to finish. It was an epic undertaking, and fantastic finally being able to do those songs properly. It was the biggest financial risk the band had ever undertaken, but when all was said and done, it was a success and allowed us the freedom to do more ambitious things after that, including giving us enough in the bank to get to the USA for the first time.
So how do you follow that?!
You can’t just do a regular album after a huge multi-album box set, with a 200+ page band history. We had to move on stuff quickly because as good as it was casting an eye back to the Dungeon era, our focus was still LORD as the current incarnation. Luckily, I’d been writing a song in my head during this process which turned out to be the 25+ minute long concept epic, What Tomorrow Brings. Sure, that could have been a song on a new album, but that one song would have overshadowed everything else, so we chose to do it as an EP instead.
So we have Ascendence – an album with great production, followed by an EP – Hear No Evil – with a popular cover, followed by Set In Stone, our definitive album, followed up by Return Of The Tyrant – an EP with crazy orchestration, then our best selling LORD album ever, then a huge box set, and an epic concept EP. The only piece of the puzzle missing was the first LORD album, A Personal Journey, which was the only thing left with zero-budget production, and since the 10 year anniversary of LORD had finally arrived, it was a perfect time to revisit that too.
Right, so… how do you follow all of THAT?!
… dunno. 😐 OK, that’s not really true. The simple answer is we’re just going to do what feels right, as much of a cop-out as that sounds.
It’s been awesome revisiting our past with The Dungeon Era and A Personal Journey: Revisited. Touring behind those albums the last couple of years has given us a new found appreciation of those eras of the band. The Dungeon stuff, particularly the early material, was heavily road-tested back in the day and just simply worked live. We do some pretty elaborate things these days with backing tracks that allows us to do the more layered songs live, but that feeling of just going for it that the early Dungeon material has is exciting and as fresh today as it was back then. We tapped into that with songs like Through The Fire on the Ascendence album, which is why that’s joined a lot of the Dungeon stuff as a live staple – it’s just great fun to rock out to.
It’s no secret I’m a huge 80s pop fan, and a big fan of movie soundtracks, so massive layers of orchestration or synths really speaks to me. As much as I hated making Digital Lies, I listen back to that now and really enjoy the electronic influences we brought into that, and the huge sweeping epic soundtrack-esque stuff like Battle Of Venarium.
And the sense of fun that we always try to bring into whatever we do is such an important element. That was part of the blueprint of the band back before we were even called Dungeon. There were bands like Anthrax and Helloween that looked like they were having the absolute best time on stage and we wanted to do that too. That’s something that’s always stayed with me, and you can definitely see it in our live show, and hear it in songs like Because We Can, and 2D Person In A 3D World.
If I was to take a guess at what I’d see the next album being like, it would be a combination of all of those things. Layered, fun, epic, immediate and exciting, heavy, guitar solos galore…
Looking back at our history, that description more or less sums up the band we are now. What will the next album sound like?
You can’t get much more straightforward that that!
So yes, big things afoot. We won’t be out on the road for a while (well, unless we get sick of writing and recording, or we need some damn money from a short run of shows to pay some bills – hey, at least I’m honest! 😛 ) and the projected release, if all goes well, is “sometime after the middle of 2017” for the next album, but it’ll take as long as it needs to. We really haven’t missed more than 18 months tops between releases over the last ten years so if this has to take a bit longer to get just right, so be it.
Hopefully this next one will be less painful than Digital Lies, and less exhausting than The Dungeon Era was for me, and that’ll allow us to do more updates during the writing and recording process. We love to keep you all involved in what we do if we can, so if we’re not asleep on the studio floor or having an epic meltdown and quitting/rejoining/going AWOL/drunk, we’ll invite you in for a look.
Alright, enough from me! Gotta get back to work! 🙂