The biography we got from European distributor Rock Inc. Learns us that Cea Serin was started by multi-instrumentalist/composer, Jim Lamm, who was soon joined by guitarist/sound engineer, Keith Warman, but regretfully we didn’t get a time frame on that. Could you give us like a little ‘history of the band’?
J. Lamm – Okay, first of all, my name is J. not Jim, but good guess. Back in 1994 Keith Warman and a drummer answered an ad that I had placed in a music store. I had stated that I, a bass player, was seeking a singer and a drummer to start up a progressive metal band in the vein of Pantera meets Dream Theater. When Keith answered the ad he called up my other guitarist I was with at the time and told him that he was a lead guitarist but had a really good drummer. So, if we were looking to do a two guitar player prog band we could do that. So that’s how I met Keith. That band would eventually become Ashen Dawn abut it only lasted for about three years.
While Ashen Dawn was kicking around we eventually constructed our own studio/practice room that took us about half a year to build. In the time that Ashen Dawn existed we eventually found a singer who was really good. However, this singer eventually began to have some problems with some of the lyrical content I was writing about. I wasn’t writing anything over the top; nothing that you’re probably thinking about. I wasn’t writing about horror, politics, or anti-religious remarks, he was just interpreting the lyrics in a different way than I was intending. I was also getting frustrated with the way the songs were going in Ashen Dawn. Everyone in the band was really into stuff like Conception, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, and things like that. However, I was getting into stuff like Carcass, At The Gates, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir – quite the opposite of what they were wanting to do. So a lot of my material was falling on deaf ears because there were people that either couldn’t or wouldn’t want to play it.
Around this time Keith and I went in financially together and bought a keyboard/sequencer. He showed me how to use it and how to program drums. The purchase of this keyboard, the difference in musical direction, and the need to write lyrics for myself without worrying about offending anybody in the band was really the catalyst for Cea Serin’s beginning.
I remember one night we were all going to go out and see some band. Keith dropped by the studio where i was working on a song called “By My Side” (then it was called Dead, By My Side) and I showed him a little bit of what I was working on. He was immediately drawn in and wanted me to show him what I was playing. In a couple of minutes he and i were jamming to this new Cea Serin material and were really excited about it. As the weeks and months went on I started writing and just working on songs without anyone knowing about it. Keith again approached me and wanted me to play him some new stuff. It was at this point where I played him some parts to “Raze and Defile of Beauty,” “By My Side,” and “The Illumination Mask.” I had some other parts as well to some songs that would be a part of Ashen Dawn but these proved either too difficult for the remaining members of Ashen Dawn or they didn’t show any interest in it.
Ashen Dawn was fading away with apathy and Cea Serin was growing with interest. Keith eventually asked me if I wanted to do a project with Cea Serin: record three songs and see what happens. And that’s exactly what we did. It was 1997 and we recorded our first demo tape and I sent it off to magazines and webzine thinking that people would absolutely hate it. I was surprised to see that it was very well received. I wouldn’t even play these old songs for people if they asked me. I mean, as the years went on everything just got way better than I imagined: I did all the drums with a sequencer back then because I couldn’t find a live drummer to record these parts, I did the bass and the keyboards, and Keith did all the guitars and backing vocals. It was a huge learning process for both of us. As we recorded demo after demo, Keith got better at recording and engineering and as time went on I got better at song writing and singing. True, when we started singing I knew full well that it was going to be a death metal, black metal, and progressive metal hybrid. I knew I was going to sing the way I did (and still do) because when I sang along to Dream Theater I never sang the really aggressive parts the same as on the CD. I never bought that whole side of melodic vocals. If the music is all aggressive, the vocals should compliment that.
So that was the beginning of Cea Serin.
In how far did his entry change the music or compositions that had already been worked on? Or were you two completely on the same wavelength?
Keith and I have a strange musical relationship. I write the songs on my own. I work out all the structures and arrangements and when I’m done I bring it to him and say, ‘okay, here’s what I have.” He then takes that and builds on it. So I’ll have the guitar parts, the bass, drums, and keys all ready to go – he then puts his own spin on it. We both have very different backgrounds when it comes to music though. He grew up on a lot of Journey and Crimson Glory. He has a very melodic past not to mention a background in artists like Joe Satriani and Vinnie Moore. I’m more of an aggressive song writer and rooted in early Megadeth, Testament, Anacrusis, and Yngwie Malmsteen. We meet in certain areas though: Yanni, Dream Theater, Conception, etc.
So, it’s not really about being on the same wave length or anything like that. In some respects we are because we’ve none each other for so long we have a great rapport with each other. He knows exactly what I like as far as progressions go and as far as solos go. He really understands what I’m going after. But as far as lyrics go and how I write songs and come up with stuff, he’s not really that involved with that. His role really comes in with engineering, lead and rhythm guitar, as well as an outside ear. A lot of times I’ll be working on a song and he’ll hear it and give his thoughts on it. I usually don’t ever listen to anyone when it comes to advice on music, but I respect Keith very much and I listen to what he has to say.
How long did it take for you two to compose enough songs for you to feel the itch to bring the music in a live environment (I happen to know from the bio that you were able to play some gigs before entering the studio!)? Which people helped you out at that moment, and what criteria did you maintain choosing those musicians? You must’ve needed at least 3 (assuming that J. did the keyboards & samples): a drummer, a bassist, and a 2nd guitarist!? Tell us a bit more about them, if you will?
We eventually uploaded our songs to Mp3.com and that was a good move on our part because we made our music available on a huge worldwide scale for anyone anywhere to check out. Mp3.com offered a deal to the artists on their site. This deal was that Mp3.com would help us make CDs for our fans. The way it worked was very easy: upload your songs to mp3.com, select the songs you wanted on CD, upload cover art and inside jacket art, set a price and that was it. Whenever a fan ordered a CD Mp3.com would then make ONE CD (or however many they ordered) and then ship it to them. So that was pretty cool. It was a marketing tool for them and a useful aid to us.
Chiaroscuro was the result of this Mp3.com union and we probably didn’t sell many CDs. I remember being worried from looking at the sales that no label would want us from how we were doing. However, Heavencross Records got in touch with us soon after. Now that the CD has come out I’m pleased to see that its doing much better than I thought.
I disappeared for about a year and when I came back I got an email from Shane Dubose of Z-Lot-Z wanting me to sing for Z-Lot-Z. I liked that band but I didn’t want to sing for them. Not only that but I told Shane up front that I wasn’t going to be as good as the singer they currently had. However, I told him that whenever Cea Serin gets ready to play live that I would like him to play bass for us. So that planted a seed in Shane’s head. A couple of months later he gave me a call wanting to know if Cea Serin would be interested in playing at the Prog Power festival as a pre show warm up. He said that he would find a good drummer and that he would take care of the bass playing parts. So I said sure and that’s what started the Cea Serin live experience. I trusted Shane to find a good drummer that could play with a click track and it took some time but he did. I then asked a really good friend of mine and guitarist, Forrest Osterman, to join us and that was that. We played some shows and I did the vocals and the keyboards and then there was Keith and Forrest on guitar, Shane on bass, and Darren Davis on drums. It didn’t last but maybe half a year with that particular rhythm section though.
I’m gonna go on a limb now, and assume that the album was released in the US some time ago, so please tell us something about that?
Actually it was released in Europe first and only recently has it been available in the US. Nightmare Records is taking care of the US distribution and Heavencross is our main label when it comes to Europe and elsewhere. I still haven’t seen it in any stores yet but I know that its available through Nightmare Records and The End Records is carrying some copies too, so that’s cool. I got hooked up with Nightmare Records when I was sending off the third demo to people. I had been talking to Luis since the second demo came out but when the third demo was done I really wanted to test the waters and see what was out there. It came to pass that the two people that believed in me most were Luis and Lance from Heavencross and Nightmare Records, respectively. That goes a long way with me and I am happy with where I am at today.
Somehow I got it in my mind the label that released the album in the US is HeavenCross, but how did you get in contact with ’em? Like, did you send out demos to labels, or did they simply happen to see you play live…and consequently took contact with you? Did they somehow get a copy of “Chiaroscuro”? What are the specifications of your deal with the label? Like, do you have a contract for several records, or is it an option-by-option deal? Will (have) the label in the US help(ed) you in getting concert possibilities? How well did the album do up to now?
Heavencross Records got in touch with me around the time when the second demo came out, like I said. I think he heard about us through some European magazine reviews and then mailed me wanting a demo. After he heard our second demo he wanted to work with us. I had never heard of Heavencross at the time but I eventually saw some of their CDs available at a Prog Power Festival vendor stand. However, even after Luis at Heavencross got in touch with me I still wanted to do a third demo because I felt that I had some better songs in me and I didn’t want to release the older stuff as an album.
The specifications of our contract with Heavencross is for one record. I’m working finishing up material for the second album now. Luis has told me that he would love to work with more Cea Serin material in the future so I’m pretty sure have a home there if and when the second album is ever done. I would love to stay with Heavencross though since there has been such a show of trust and faith in Cea Serin. I have yet to see that from many other people. And as far as I’m concerned the “bigger” labels have had their chance and blown it with me.
How long did the recordings for the album take, and was everything completely finished when you went into the studio?
The songs are always finished when we get ready to record. The arrangements are always set and the drums and keyboards are already pre-recorded before we even sit down to track. There are a couple of things that aren’t concrete though. I know what all the songs are about lyrically, but sometimes I don’t have all the lyrics penned yet. I like to wait for Keith to do whatever it is he wants to add to things before I sit down and really try to put things into words. Also, I’m not the most disciplined bass player, I don’t ever play the same thing over and over again. I like to improvise and change things up to keep myself interested in the song. So when I get ready to do my bass parts I like to do a couple of takes with different things to see what works best. With that the vocals are also not really finished. I have melody ideas and a little bit of lyrics when we start but Keith and I really work on the vocals together; Keith has a lot of ideas when it comes to melodies and harmonies so he’s really good in that area too.
The actual recording of the album took a long time. Like I said, I was gone for about a year and I only came home once a month or so. When I did come home Keith and I only had a little while to work on stuff. There were also some software problems. There were times that I got home and later found out that the drums or the bass parts had disappeared from the computer so we would have to redo a lot of things. Keith probably rerecorded his rhythm guitar parts 4 or more times I think. Every time he got finished recording his guitars he would come up with a better rhythm guitar sound so he would go back and rerecord them. This is the way we have always done things. Problems always arose and we would have to redo things, however, this actually has always made things sound better. I remember when we did our second demo, we were borrowing a friends 8 track digital recorder and halfway through the hard drive quit working on us. Everything got erased and we had to start over.
So coupled with the fact that I was hardly ever home, software problems, and rerecording things, I also wasn’t happy with my first draft of lyrics and choruses. I remember video taping Keith and I getting ready to record vocals and i just hated everything I was doing. I hated the way the lyrics were working and the hooks weren’t as good as they could have been. I took some time and rewrote a lot of stuff and got a couple of different ideas to work with. So it took quite some time.
When and where did you record? Did anything unusual happen during recordings (perhaps a ‘Spinal Tap’ moment)? The booklet of the album mentions Forrest Osterman as a third man…and meanwhile I’ve been able to find out that he’s the 2nd guitarist now? Was he also one of the people helping you out live, perhaps? Or how/ where else did you find him? Just when did he come into the picture? Did he also work on the recording on this album?
We recorded the album in two different places: at Keith’s home and at my home. Everything that could be recorded direct was recorded at Keith’s home; when it came to the vocals we went to my house since there is no one else around to be disturbed by my vocal performance. We also recorded the tap dance section at the Louisiana School of Performance Art. Actually, the songs were recorded over vast amounts of time. The original vocals were used for “Into The Vivid Cherishing” that was recorded in the year of 1999. We rerecorded the drums, keys, bass and guitars though. So the vocals for that particular song were recorded at our first studio/practice room that we built for Ashen Dawn. “The Surface of All Things” was recorded prior to hooking up with Shane and Darren and half a year later Keith and I recorded “Scripted Suffering.”
There were a couple of interesting things that happened while recording the debut. We recorded the “TV Break” part for “The End of Silence” at my house after doing the vocals so that was fun. We have pictures of the process. I took an old TV and put it in my bathroom and microphoned the room. That whole process required a crowbar, some goggles, and a couple of wacks. It represents the death of media and widespread information and the actual sound is a combination of three different crashes and hits that I took on it. Recording the tap dance section was a labor in itself. The particular place it was recorded at was being renovated and the AC was out, plus there were bad paint fumes, and the dancer we used had no idea what to do over that kind of music. So I’m beating on the floor with my hands trying to choreograph to her what I want her to do, but it was very difficult to get across. What we ended up doing was just taking a lot of different takes and Keith then went home and spliced them all together to construct the tap dance solo from a series of outtakes. I had some crazy idea that I wanted to sing the first word of “brazen and benighted” backwards. So the first time you hear me sing “…brazen…brazen…” it’s me actually singing it backwards. We did that by doing a take of me singing it forwards, then we took that take and reversed the audio to hear it backwards. I then learned to say it perfectly backwards and sang it just like it sounded. We recorded that and then reversed THAT so it sounded right forwards. So it has this strange backwards warping quality to it, a la Twin Peaks effect.
One more memorable moment was when we were trying to come up with a good chorus for “The End of Silence.” The time for that chorus is kind of weird and it always screwed with me and challenged me in not only coming up with a good lyrics but also a supportive melody to it. I had three ideas for it and the first one just wasn’t working. Finally I gave and recorded the second idea and it was okay but not great. So we kept that second idea and we recorded a third idea for it. Same thing, it was okay but not terribly great. Well, I took a bit of a break and was talking about it with Keith when, just for fun, he played both tracks together. That is, he unmuted both the second and third idea and played them both at the same time along with the music. We both looked at each other and were convinced that the two ideas together was what we were looking. It was just one of those things; I added some backing vocals to it and that was that.
As an added side note, we actually have a version of “Scripted Suffering” with different verses. I wrote some lyrics that were supposed to be the first draft of the song. I later rewrote the lyrics and redid the verses. I think Keith still has that other version of the song with the different verses.
Cea Serin…sounds weird…what made you chose that as a band name? And why the album title “Where Memories Combine”?
A lot of journalists, fans, and musicians a like talk about how there is a lot of copying going on in music today. When it comes to metal, if you’re a progressive metal band, you more than likely going to be compared to Dream Theater. If you’re in a melodic death metal band you’re bound to be compared to At The Gates. But aside from the sound of the bands, the image of the band is also in contest to be copied. Most black metal bands copy each other and do the corpse paint, spiked arm bands, black leather pants, and carry axes, for example. If you’re in a power metal bands you probably will wear some nice fluffy shirt, black leather pants, sport a cape, and then have someone carry a sword…or an axe. If you’re in a prog metal band just lose the cape and the sword. There is an image prescribed to each genre and the copying continues. Not only that but there is a subconscious need to copy what we grew up listening to. There is a reason why most metal bands, and other artists, write songs in the four minute area. This is what we’re used to hearing on TV and radio. Whether you grew up listening to songs like “The Final Countdown” by Europe, or “In The Mirror” by Loudness, it’s all pop based.
My point to all this is that I want to consciously get away from pop standards and brainwashing. This spills over into band names as well. I didn’t want a band name that was derivative of any particular genre. If you name the band Ashen Dawn you immediately think prog metal band. If the name of the band is Emerald Oracle you immediately think of power metal. If you call yourself Throwdown you will probably think of a hardcore band. I didn’t want any kind of prejudice when it came to Cea Serin. This is one of the reasons I don’t want band photos. I want people to come into our world not fully knowing what to expect.
At first I considered the name Animus but I found out it was taken by some reggae band or something. I then even toyed around with the idea of the name Hell Awaits but that’s just too over the top and presumptuous. I eventually came to the conclusion that if I wanted to pick a name for that band that directly represented what we stood for musically, lyrically, and ideally, I would have to create it the same way I create my music. The name would have to just come to me after careful consideration and many thoughts on what I was trying to accomplish. After mulling over what I was trying to do with the band’s music and lyrics, and what exactly I wanted to accomplish in the future, the name “Cea Serin” just popped into my head. It sounded good, looked good on paper, and was different than anything else I had heard or seen before.
Many people are confused by this kind of explanation. They think that, “well, the name doesn’t mean anything then?” No, it does. It means exactly what I just said. A band always tries to pick a name for themselves that is an accurate depiction of their sound and their focus. However, they always fall short in adequately supplying a name for the collective as well as for the auditory and visual representation. The name “Cea Serin” eliminates that inadequacy by conjuring up a name whose origin is directly intended to not only represent the band as a whole but also stand as a crest and a symbol for the music, lyrics and philosophy that we’re trying to get across.
And that brings us to the name “…where memories combine…”
As you can see the title is actually in quotes and in between ellipses. The entire name for the album is actually, Embracing the absence where memories combine, that the tongue will incite for the days left behind.
Why such a long name? I use “…where memories combine…” as a condensed version for reviewers and for fans to identify with. But for those in the know realize that the name on the cover of the CD is the entire title. Again, I wanted to do something different with the album title. I hate it when bands just pick a song name and slap it on the cover and that’s what they call the album. That’s the easy way out. So I thought it would be a cool idea if I took a line from four of the separate songs on the album and constructed a new type of verse to be the album name. The lyrics are a big part of Cea Serin so I thought I would construct a separate verse to stand alone as the album name, and each line would be a line from one of the songs. So the album name, in a way, is trying to represent the entirety by pulling together certain song lines.
In my review of the album, I surmised that the first 4 songs on the album might be connected conceptually, linked as they are by the samples you use. Was that a correct assumption?
I’m glad you caught that. That’s one of the reasons why I used certain movie samples throughout so that you would get that feeling. Yes, the first four songs are indeed connected and as a whole they are called “The Surface of All Things.” Individually they are represented as, “The Fracture in Forever,” “Embracing the Absence,” “Meridian’s Tear,” and “The End of Silence.”
Is the whole album conceptual, perhaps? If so, tell us the story in general, if you please! If not, tell us what made you connect those 4 songs through the use of those samples?
The whole albums is not a concept though. The first four songs are connected and the rest of the songs stand alone with their own meanings. Let me explain first “The Surface of All Things.”
What if we – and by we I mean every person next to you of ever creed, color, race, and religion – suddenly knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt as if hit by the knowledge of the fact that God has ceased to be. And much like a flower withers from the ground to the vase, and how a baby will wrinkle into an old man, we will walk outside as one and stare up at the sky and witness it tear itself apart. And just how we watch how the heavens decay and how time warps in around itself we’ll see how the death of God – whether by some accident, suicide, or natural cause of things – affects us all.
And on the inverse of that lies the singularity side of the songs. Either you can read it from the view of the masses or you can experience it in the form of one man’s plight against himself and outer forces. Imagine yourself in a room, beaten down by the world around you and questioning your own judgements. If you so choose to lay it all to rest you’ll in effect bring to fruition the demise of all your internal ideas, concepts, notions, values, and etc.
About those samples…you’ve sure used quite a bit of ’em, and not only in the ‘instrumental’ tracks!
[How do/ did you go about selecting the samples you needed? Do you go out on the Internet to get ’em, or what?
And, by the way…mega-congratulations for making the ‘instrumental’ tracks sound almost like songs!]
Yes, I’ve used quite a bit of samples for various reasons. I don’t want to give away my philosophy on things but I feel that the use of a certain sample in a certain place in a song makes the song, which is quite long, feel like its shorter. I use a variety of techniques, samples being only one of them, to make it feel like the song isn’t as long as it really is. It’s all about dynamics, ups and downs, and different intensities and different moments.
The samples, to me, are important. It gives the listener a feeling that they’re not only listening to music but they’re also getting into someones head, or getting a glimpse at a moment in someone’s life. It goes a bit outside the world of just the musicians who are performing at the moment. I get these samples from various places. Whenever I hear something or read something and it goes perfectly with a topic of a certain song I do what I can to get it. I remember seeing a news documentary on TV and there was a snippet of a man’s plea for help and it was perfect. I waited months for it to come back on so i could tape it and get a sample of it. So I get these samples from TV, movies, and sometimes there is a line in a book that I’ll see – I’ll just put that in a text-to-speech and lift it that way. Don’t confuse these quotes on the CD with the quotes in the CD jacket. The quotes in print on the CD are actually all from me.
Sometimes I’ll look all over the internet for certain movies I have seen before but I’ll go through them and look for quotes that are appropriate for a certain song. I remember for the intro to “The End of Silence” i was looking for a very specific sample and it was extremely hard to find. I was looking for an old man reading Shakespeare through a phonograph. I can’t believe I actually found it but I did from some University’s website. It worked beautifully for that one section.
I don’t use musical samples though. Don’t confuse movie samples with music samples. All the music you hear on Cea Serin’s debut was written and performed by us. I don’t lift melodies in any way. Even if a certain part sounds remotely like something else, I’ll change it. I don’t want to have anything to do with someone else’s musical idea.
Weird thing, that tap dancer in the song “The End Of Silence”…what brought that about?
You think it’s weird, huh? I’ve always been a big fan of stuff like Lord of the Dance and Riverdance. I went out and got the soundtracks to these programs and I found that they took out the tap dancing for the CD. I thought this was really weird since the tap dancing acted like a drummer would act in that scenario. It was missing a vital part for me. I bought the CDs because I wanted to hear the tap dancing with the music…that was the cool part. I had to resort to getting Forrest to transfer the entire movie onto his computer and burn me a copy of the entire performance as an mp3.
That being said, when it around to me writing the music for “The End of Silence” I wanted to have a section that represent the death of everything. Hence the title of the song. I wanted to represent the death of our recorded culture by the sound of a record skipping, the death of widespread knowledge by me exploding TV, the death of language by me ripping up pieces of paper, and the death of art by the tap dancer….all coming to an end when the TV blows up. All those parts were performed and not sampled.
That was one of those cross-that-bridge-when-we-get-there things. I wrote the music to specifically have a tap dancer over it. I knew that if I couldn’t get a tap dancer that whole section was going to sound very empty. I absolutely had to get a tap dancer for that part. When it came time to record that section I called around different places to find a dancer that would do that, to get prices, to see who was good and was in to the idea. It was quite hard to find someone in town that was eager to do it. Finally, I went to the place I used to take singing lessons and asked the dance instructor there if she wanted to do it. She immediately said she would. Months later we actually got around to doing it. This is the part I mentioned before. I called her up again and said we were ready to record and whenever she was ready we could do it. We took a small 8-track recorder and microphoned the stage and showed her what she would be dancing over.
What gave you the idea to use a tap dancer in that song, eh? And why chose Nanette Egros to do that? She a friend of one of you? How did you make it clear to her what you expected from her at that point in the song? Did it take long at all for her to put her contribution ‘on tape’?
Nanette was, I believe, the owner of the Baton Rouge School for Performing Arts and she mainly took care of the dance classes there. They also taught music and voice lessons as well. After showing her the piece that she would be dancing over she was quite confused at what we wanted her to do. I tried to pound out on the stage with my hands what I had in mind but the whole piece is in a weird time. It’s not in any odd meter or anything but there are some instruments playing in the background that make it sound like its thrown off. So the whole section was a bit awkward for anyone not familiar to metal to tap dance over. So after many tries of me pounding out what I had in my head we just decided to have her do several takes and create our own solo. We all had headphones on so we could hear what she was doing along with the music. Keith was the one responsible for taking what she had done and manipulating it into a solo.
We were probably there for about an hour or so. Like I said before, it was so hot in there with no air conditioning and the paint fumes were causing us grief. I had an appointment to keep that day too so we were sort of rushed. However, when I got back from doing what I had to do I was pleased to see that Keith did a great job making a solo out of all her attempts.
The vocalist (and again I’m assuming it’s J. Lamm) sure seems to have no trouble at all in changing his style from melodic normal to Blackened, from whispered to (Glenn) Hughes-high…did he have singing lessons, by any chance?
That would be me, and yes, I am the vocalist. My style of singing is a difficult one indeed. There are many changes in throat positions and little nuances that I have to keep in mind to do what I do. This proved difficult live as well. For instance to go from a death metal growl into a very clean high note it requires to stop closing off your throat, opening it up, stop using a lot of force to give the death metal growl its force, and just use my breath and my sinus cavities to make a powerful and clean sung note. It’s much more than just switching gears. I try to use a less over-the-top death metal singing style for this because I don’t want to overdo things so I won’t be able to sing. Currently, I can practice and do this style of music, whether at band practice or gigs, without any problem at all. While the backing vocalists can’t speak anymore after a practice, I can talk fine without a hitch. However, this wasn’t an overnight thing. When I first started recording and singing like this it would cause me hell. I couldn’t imagine ever done a Cea Serin show night after night…I didn’t think I could ever pull it off. But now, years later, I have no problem at all keeping my voice in shape and not hurting it.
Yes, I took a lot of different vocal lessons and I’ve never been satisfied with them. I took lessons from a guy in town and all he taught me was breathing exercises. However, when I asked him about vibrato he said that it was a very subjective thing and everyone does it differently. I wanted to know the definitive answer though in how it should be done. When I was in college I took vocal lessons with a group of people but again, I had more unanswered questions. When I went to the school of performing arts I had a much better teacher but still my questions of vibrato were never answered. I’ve read books and watched tapes on it; I’ve asked other singers for pointers. The learning process never ends. I’m pretty happy with the way I sound these days but I’m far from being satisfied with where I’m at. I’m far from my peak performance but I don’t see myself changing my style.
I’ve been asked before if one day I’ll choose one way or the other. Will I go strictly as an extreme vocalist and be more over the top, or will I be strictly a clean and melodic singer? Not only that but will my recent infatuation with Devil Doll cause me to be more of an avant-garde actor in my singing? Who knows. The next album will definitely be in the same vein as the debut though.
He sure seems to be able to control his voice admirably, no kidding now! Did he just copy several vocal stylings from bands that influenced him as a musician and vocalist? Or did he really have some lessons?
I don’t think I’ve ever copied a favorite group of singers to arrive at where I’m at today though. Of course, it’s impossible to dismiss your roots and your influences. Obviously without Carcass and At The Gates I wold do the higher pitched death growls, without Anacrusis and Cradle of Filth I would never have come across the high pitched screams, without Morbid Angel I would have never thought to do the lower stuff, and without Dream Theater I wouldn’t even want to sing high. However, I don’t think that I’m an impersonator like most metal singers these days. One example is if you hear the singer of Creed and listen to him talk, its like hearing two different people. He’s obviously doing an impression of someone and changing the natural timbre of his voice to get that particular tone. If you hear me talk and hear me sing you’ll immediately recognize me. One time when I was at work, a Cea Serin song came on the radio and someone who I rarely talked to came up to me and said, “J., that sounds like you, man.” Good, I’m glad it does, I don’t want to be a singing impressionist.
Influence is one thing, impersonation is another.
Rock Inc. is now distributing the album in the Benelux. How did that come about?
That would go into the label’s department. Before Cea Serin got signed I was the one taking care of sending the demo CDs off and trying to market us and get our name out. Now that we got signed I don’t have to do that kind of thing anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still work hard and try to get the name out there and I try to get the word spread on Cea Serin. However, Heavencross and Nightmare are the ones who are the ones with the contacts with magazines and distributors.
It’s my understanding that around February of 2004 Luis, of Heavencross, went to a thing called MIDEM which was like a festival where people can shop albums around for distribution. I don’t really know much about this but I know that due to the MIDEM event Luis got some good contacts and that’s probably how we’re distributed in the countries we’re in now. I was the one that sent the CD to Lance at Nightmare Records though. Lance and Luis know each other but Lance was unaware that I had already signed to Heavencross. It’s my understanding that each country has its own distributor. For instance,I know that our German distro is called Just For Kicks. They’ve been doing a good job apparently because I’ve been sending a lot of T-shirts over there and getting a lot of interview requests.
Hey, maybe you know something about the sales figures for the US already? This is a nice spot to mention something about that…if you know about it, of course, hahah! ‘The Benelux’, by the way, is the tri-country area of Belgium, Holland (The Netherlands), and Luxembourg. It’s well possible that the distribution goes even wider. If you know anything about that at all, and want to correct my ‘Benelux’ thing inthe question, feel free to do that! But, I’m also interested in knowing how Rock Inc. came about distributing your album over here, right? Maybe the album was even licensed to other distributors for other parts of Europe as well? (God knows it surely deserves it!).
I’m not sure what the sales have been though. I’ve been getting a sort of impression of how things are going when I secretly look at message boards and discussion forums regarding recent releases. I know that there have been a lot of people in the U.S. scrambling to find where to get a copy when The End Records ran out of their first shipment. But I have no clue as far as actual units sold. I’m glad to see that it’s being distributed in Benelux. I’m always glad to see it reaching people who want to hear it. It’s the best compliment to hear someone who likes it so much that it will be a part of their lives for a very long time. It fulfills my greatest wish to have affected someones life in a positive way and to know that there are people out there that listen to Cea Serin over and over again. To finally know that there are people out there that play Cea Serin in their rooms, and in their cars, and to have a 40 minute section of their day reserved for Cea Serin to speak and move them.
Say, the promo copy we got didn’t have a track listing…mind enlightening us, and while you’re at it, how comes track 7 on our promo does not have the lyrics included in the booklet, even though all other songs do?
You must be talking about Sudden Faith pt. 1 and 2. That was meant as a bonus track for the digipack version. The complete track listing is:
1) A Fracture in Forever
2) Embracing the Absence
3) Meridian’s Tear
4) The End of Silence
5) Scripted Suffering: Within and Without
6) Into The Vivid Cherishing
7) Sudden Faith pt. 1 (bonus track for digipack)
8) Sudden Faith pt. 2 (bonus track for digipack)
9) An Evening at the Suicide Cafe (general bonus track)
When it comes to the track 7 question, I guess that’s on the digipack. But I’m a bit confused here because the lyrics to that song are actually printed on the digipack itself. Where as the other song lyrics are printed in the booklet, Sudden Faith pt. 1 and 2 are actually printed on the cardstock of the digipack. So maybe you got some promo copy that I’m not aware of. “An Evening At The Suicide Cafe” is an instrumental so I don’t think you’re talking about that song. All I can say is that if you order the digipack all the lyrics will be there. I’m quite adamant in having the lyrics printed so if anyone orders or buys a copy they’re going to get them. Unless they better get them cause that’s the design plan I had.
The album will have a limited edition digipak version…anything special about that?
[Bonus tracks? Multi-media part? Or is the bonus to be simply that it’s gonna be a digipak version?
I dunno! You tell us, okay?!]
The digipack will indeed have three bonus tracks on them. This version is actually the first version that came out. Those bonus tracks are the Sudden Faith songs and the instrumental “evening at the suicide cafe” song. I know that the number of copies for the digipack will be less than the jewel case editions.
We’re sort of planning on filming a “making of” for the next record. A friend of mine has a TV show where I’m from and he’s a radio host as well. He’s always been very supportive of Cea Serin and has shown interest in filming a type of documentary of the process. Of course, it must be different and done in the right way for me to really want to go through with it.
With only 6 songs out of 9 tracks, it seems almost unfair to ask you to explain only 4 of the songs’ lyrics…but would you, please?
It’ll be my pleasure. Cea Serin definitely has a point to each song. I’m so tired of reading interviews with bands and they try to pass off that question with something like, “we think the fans should interpret the songs.” To me that sounds like the lyricist doesn’t even know what the songs are about; like they just jotted down some buzz words and called it a day. So let’s start at the beginning:
The Surface of All Things, like I said, is represented by the first four songs: A Fracture in Forever, Embracing The Absence, Meridian’s Tear, and The End of Silence.
“A Fracture in Forever” starts off the whole thing and it’s an instrumental that is meant to the pull the listener in. I realize that some people will be tuning Cea Serin in after hearing some heavier or lighter stuff. I use intros like this to bring the listener out of whatever world they were previously in and then pull them into ours. The vibe of the song is meant to be either a beginning or an end. Since The Surface of All Things has an ongoing concept through the four songs, I wanted the intro to be like a glossing over of the overall theme. Much like a movie starts with the opening credits with a background that may be from the end of the film, or the beginning. It also introduces some key movie samples that come into play throughout the duration.
Before I get into the rest of The Surface of All Things you should probably refer back to my explanation of it to get a good jumping off point for what I’m about to say. “Embracing the Absence” is track two and its purpose is to represent the “id” or the unconscious psychological impulses of the masses/individual. It’s a start off point in the series of remaining songs, however, it’s not looking back on “how” things happened yet. I’ll give you a good example to think about in reference ot this song. Imagine your driving along in your day and for some reason, no matter what your thinking about, no matter what your listening to, no matter what is going on around you, the reality of the end of the world strikes inside your brain. You’re not sure why this reality came to you but its absolutely undeniable. And you’re not the only one that feels this because everyone is stopping in traffic and getting out of their cars to look at the sky (Meridian’s Tear) as it disintegrates. You feel time closing in around you. You can feel the objects around you warping. You feel this because it is apparent that whatever God that made the fabric of this existence has passed on or given up. Since we are the products in the mind of God, we immediately feel the results of its decision and ultimate demise. So all the songs are based around this premise. However, all the songs can be read and interpreted either from the side of the “creator” or from the point of view of the “creation.” Therefore I don’t use any personal pronouns like “I” or “me.”
I’ll continue in this thread and give examples of how the two sides can be viewed simultaneously: 1a) a man beaten down by his own life, 1b) a race of people beaten down by their own creation/destruction; 2a) an atmosphere of doom in a large room, 2b) a world wide depression affecting individuals just as much as society, 3a) looking up from folded arms, 3b) looking up at the break down of all.
Let me also explain some of the lyrical themes and how these lyrics work. Let’s take the first line, “brazen and benighted, all glaring turned to high, beautified and battered, vast hollowed limbs are shattered by.” This means on one side the “limbs” are the skies that hold the earth underneath, shaken and pulled apart. The other side is a single person giving up and laying his hands and arms to rest. The breakdown I gave myself for the first song to help me write the lyrics were like this:
Verse 1: swirling heavens, bitter of reality breaking
Pre1: darkness enclosing, no one knows, stress, ignorance, cuddling oneself
V2: Set your eyes upon infinities collapse, there it is in front of you
Pre2: and now look around at what you’ve created as it falls apart
C1: how long do you have, what will you do?
C2: what is important is set apart from what is trivial.
Now let’s get into “Meridian’s Tear.”
I mentioned how “Embracing the Absence” was the Id and now “Meridian’s Tear” is going to represent the Ego or the self esteem (self reacts to society). Since “Embracing the Absence” started off the trio vocal songs in a type of in medius res, “Meridian’s Tear” is going to be the actual beginning. When I gave the example of the traffic epiphany it would be applied to this song here. Meridian’s Tear is the beginning to all of this it is the blissful ignorance being torn up in an abrupt way. With regard to the dual perception of these songs I’ll give some examples on how this song here represents both the individual and the masses at the same time.
1a) building life to support the future for yourself, 2a) industry simplifies life (tech. Financial plans) for many; 2a) caught in the rally of cyclical nature of adulthood, 2b) rat race to support the norm of life; 3a) preservation of the self, 3b) disregard for others, 4a) pressure to become, 4b) pressure to maintain; 5a) different personalities and sides to someone, 5b) different races and cultures; 6a) some kind of spoiled dawning, 6b) arrogance.
Now for a bit of lyrical interpretation for “Meridian’s Tear.”
Let’s take verse two of that song, which goes like: “guided by a reason to become or to betray, encircled to a boundary that’s inner tides turn to portray”
This signifies pressure to stay what you want to be or become assimilated to the crowd. Also it stands for the being surround by laws that change according to the makers.
The opening of the song is narration that is delivered by a text-to-speech from text that I wrote. I didn’t want to say the narration and didn’t want anyone else to do because I didn’t want a human sounding voice. I wanted an isolated voice as if it were from no human throat and that it should stand for any man as well as it should represent the voice of every man. The whole song revolves around the feeling that a single person/mass can work their whole life for something, dismiss what’s more important, and have a single aim. However, when faced with the inevitable demise within a frame of seconds, terms of one’s life are quickly reevaluated and its in this type of situation where our most honest opinions and self inventory comes up.
Now that we’ve scratched the surface on that, let’s go on to the “End of Silence.”
The last song represents the Superego or the conscious, reaction to social rules. This is the last breath, the final word, and the eventual culmination into singularity. When the light goes out for everything around us; not only is it the final resolve for our own character but for the surrounding items that engage our lives. The clocks stop ticking, the radio’s static ceases, money has no value, there is no love and hate or basic emotions, it is only everything ending and becoming silenced into one whole.
I’ll continue with my motif with connecting the individual with the mass one last time here in that, 1a) retieing social bonds, 1b) realizing others as significants; 2a) a rush of emotions and life through a body as if in a race, 2b) there are those who attempt and those who fight it for a last time; 3a) mortality – deal with social connections, 3b) as a whole.
You can see how in the past explanations the qualities that represented the individual were very solitary and meant for one person, and the qualities for the masses were clearly meant for the many. Now when we’re at the end, these qualities start to bleed together and become one or close to singularity. By that I mean, at the start of these songs you can see that on one side I could be talking about a person with their different personality traits (i.e. witty, temperamental) or I could be talking about a group of people with different traits (i.e. Anglo Saxon, Germanic, Asian cultures). But now when we’re at the end these different sides are becoming one.
The Surface of All Things is difficult for me to explain outside of my own head. I hope I’ve enlightened you a bit to their context.
And since I’m a good guy I’ll explain the remainder of the songs.
Next on the list would be “Scripted Suffering: Within and Without.”
This is track 5 and it’s the most personal track on the debut. It’s my personal take on how I operate my life and how I make my decisions. To make a long story short, I always take the hard way. I’ll never take the easy way to get the job done. There is a quote that I put in the album jacket that I wrote which reads, “..i insist on making myself suffer. The struggle only accentuates the pronunciation and definition of my character upon the outcome. Each chapter runs darker and more dismal. Each sentence and subplot prattles on longer. But i insist on progressing through my own self-inflicted adversity.”
By this I mean that i always look at a situation and notice its complexities and how, if i take this challenge head on, it will affect me in the outcome. I’ll get myself involved in relationships that I know are destined to end or destined for disaster but I’ll partake in it because I know that I’ll have a great story about it when I’m done. I know that when I come out of the filth and the stink that I’ll shine that much brighter. Most people chose to just not even undertake in such a trial of character, but this is every day for me. One immediate example is when Shane called me to do the Prog Power gig. Cea Serin had never played live and in my mind I was consider the fact of a live gig to be an impossibility. But I accepted it and had only 6 months to “cross that bridge when you get there.” I really like the first couple of lines for that song which go,
“I’ll always walk the path of thorns
my way will lead to cinders
for all the steps that I have borne
their wakes my name in embers”
I’ll do some further lyrical interpretation with this. The first verse starts off with “holding on the patterned throat, I’m drinking down the drowning words I wrote.”
The “pattern” is something that is ideal or perfect. It’s something designed and structured just the way it should be. And by choking it is making it not able to breath. In a sense, realizing what I’ve made and accomplished for myself, yet accepting, stating, or portraying a path or speech that would seem to be counter to what is best for me. At first it would seem crazy to do certain things in light of what has already been accomplished, or accepting a path that will ultimately lead to doom. But I take these obstacles and I conquer them. I believe that everyone should live their lives this way and base their decisions in the same manner. However, it does cause a great deal of suffering. Like I said, I get into relationships that I know are self destructive, but I survive them and when I’m done I’m years stronger than what I should be.
And now we come to “Into the Vivid Cherishing.”
This is quite an emotional song and it is inspired, but not directly about, something that happened to a friend of mine. It revolves around a mother who is dying of cancer and her daughter. It could, however, be about anybody, regardless of gender or age. When dealing with a subject like death by pancreatic cancer and a close friend of mine I couldn’t just gloss over the entire thing and capture the mood. I chose to try and capture a couple of events in time and really delve deep into that. The most notable and significant moment in time that I wanted to concentrate on was the moment when they were in a room together towards the end. She told me about how her battle with cancer took her mother to a point towards the end where she had lost all control of her muscles. Her mind was still there but her she couldn’t move herself around. I thought about how there must have been a time when the two of them were in the same room and on one side you have the daughter who has everything in the world to tell her mother, to try and make her feel better or to try and pass the time, and you have the mother who has everything in the world to say to her daughter but can’t physically do it.
“sometimes at the morning’s rise
i forget you’re gone
but when I realize
the sorrow takes my soul again”
That particular verse deals with the day after her mother passed. That morning when she first opens her eyes to morning and everything is normal and nothing has changed. But then the events of the following day flood back to her and she has to relive all the pain again. And this goes on and on until time makes things a little bit easier to take. I’m also fond of the chorus that goes,
“We belong to different times
where memories combine
into the vivid cherishing
I’ll bless your life to mine.”
The significance of those lines is to tell how the two of them now belong to different worlds. Until the time comes for them to be together again (if you believe in that) she’ll always have her memories, her photos, and the time that they had together.
Hopefully that all will give you something to think about and digest while you listen to the album.
Hey, if I asked you to pinpoint 3 favorite songs/ tracks on this album, would you also tell me why you prefer those above the others?
Yes, it’s very hard to pick three songs, much less pick a “favorite” song. I guess my third choice for my favorite song would be “Into the Vivid Cherishing.” I pick that as my third choice because I like the lyrics as well as the content involved. It’s the first song I wrote that involved keyboards so it was a learning experience for me that really worked out. I also think that that particular song contains a very powerful chorus and strong song structure as well as being a song that is over 12 minutes that, to me, just flies by in time.
My pick for second favorite song would be “Scripted Suffering: Within and Without.” I pick this as second because of my emotional connection to it. I remember where I was at when I was writing it – I was all over the country and in different hotel rooms, not to mention for that year of going around everywhere that was really the only song I was seriously working on. It’s the first song that brought about an acoustic guitar interlude of that nature and contains some nice switches in theme and mood within that interlude. I like the lyrics I did for that song and the way the words were phrased and how they represent the major theme. The chorus of it is very cool and I also thought it was neat to get Keith to pick in a black metal fashion for that part in the intro. It’s also the freshest song that is on the record because it was the last song we recorded and at the time it was the only song we were concentrating on. It came together quite nicely with a lot of lyric changes and uncertain risks that we took that ended up working great.
My favorite song would have to be “Meridian’s Tear” though. I love the intro to that song and how the text-to-speech works and flows into the heavy burst that leads into the chorus theme. I like the fact that there are two different chorus melodies and lyric lines over the same chorus rhythm. I also enjoy that song because it contains my favorite bass solo. I also consciously decided to use a Yanni technique on the solo section that made me very happy in how it worked.
Say, did any of the tracks on the album give you any particular trouble in either the writing, rehearsing, or recording process?
[ Or, you may have had some problems finding the correct bridges in certain passages? Whatever, you know! Well (as a back-up in case everything went smoothly both with the writing & recording), and possibly there HAVE been some problems while rehearsing with the other musicians for the live performances?]
Nothing really gave me any problems as far as the song writing goes. That all comes pretty naturally and easily. When I’m working on a song I tend to have a lot of ideas and I just pitch out the bad ones and keep the good ones. The problems that arise are usually in lyrics and melodies. Whenever I get to a point in a song where I’m either sick of working on it or it has just drained me, I’ll put it aside and come back to it much later.
I have had problems in writing lyrics for a song and when it comes time to record the vocals it just doesn’t sound as good as I heard in my head. And then the flow doesn’t really work or they require some additional help by other tracks. Like what I mentioned before about “The End Of Silence” chorus and the “Scripted Suffering” verses. Those songs just gave me problems with not only coming up with adequate lyrics but really good melodies and flow.
I guess another complicated matter is that of the drums. Since I program the drums while I write the song its tough to get the right beat and patterns. I play drums but not on the level to record the tracks myself. Often times I’ll have a drum pattern in my head that I’m not quite sure how it is played. I’ll have to mess with things for a while before I finally get something that’s exactly what I want. It’s getting easier the more I work with drum machines and the more I become comfortable with my own drums skills, but its much harder than people think.
With that comes the fact that I had to figure out how to work this huge sequencer I got being that I’m not accustomed to modern keyboards. I grew up with a piano in the house and I only started to get into keyboards later on, primarily being a bass player.
Was the artwork provider (Carlos del Olmo Holmberg) for this album given any directions about possible things the band expected from him?
Yes. Carlos and I worked close together via email communication. The cover art was designed by him specifically for us. That was the most expensive part. For the cover I told him what I was looking for and he responded to that very quickly. I basically told him I wanted the cover to look like it was in a letter box, a shot of a room that was very old fashioned but not derived from any specific time period. I wanted it to be a partially standing picture almost pointing down and I wanted the colors to be very rusty toned. I gave detail about the room and what I wanted it to portray, but the main detail was that I wanted there to be a metronome in the room that was a bit off center and broken. I wanted the eye to be drawn to this metronome despite the surrounding furniture and motif.
Perhaps you might tell us first who’s idea it was to use him for the artwork, yours or the label’s? Did you know his work before he was contacted to do the artwork, did he know your music? Did he get any wishes at all from the band, perhaps get music/ lyrics to inspire his work on? What was your first reaction when he came along with what he had made for the cover? Is the cover we know also that which he came up with first, of have there been alterations? If he got to hear your music at all, how does he feel about it (if you know, of course)?
It was Luis that had the idea to use Carlos. I was initially going to use a friend of mine to design the artwork. She was a friend of mine and I thought that maybe we could save some money by having her do it and use that extra money for marketing. Well, she sort of let me down and never did the artwork the way I wanted, then eventually moved off and neglected working on it. For instance, when she first started working on the artwork I told her that I didn’t want anything typically metal. That means, no dead bodies, or blood, or anything cliche to the metal genre. When i got her first draft in it was littered with death and disease. There was this dead body on the back cover that had pubic hair in plain sight, and there was one page that had a dead persons ear in close up view. There was a bi-sectioned head of someone for one page and for “Meridian’s Tear” she interpreted “tear” as a crying tear instead of a rip and tear. It was awful. I was really mad at her for completely ignoring every suggestion I had and going in the opposite direction of what I wanted. After that I told Lance and Luis that she wouldn’t be doing the artwork and that I was open to suggestions. That’s when Luis brought up Carlos again. He initially wanted him to do it from the start but I was wanting to save money. I’m glad Carlos was able to do it though. It was nice working with a professional artist who was dependable.
I had never heard of Carlos before and didn’t know what he had done. Luis directed me to his website and I was very impressed. Heavencross ended up buying some of his pieces for us to use. For instance, I was immediately drawn to the lightbulb picture that appears on the back of the CD. I thought it was some sort of bright idea being choked off. Before Carlos and I started working together he had also never heard of Cea Serin. To this day I’m not sure if he has a CD or has heard our material. I don’t really care one way or the other since I don’t use other people’s opinions to solidify my own.
He didn’t make any kind of demand from us apart from a set price that was decided between him and Luis. I did send him lyrics and my interpretations of them in detail to inspire him. However, as we went along I kind of told him what I wanted for each page. I sent him the opening credits screen shots from the film “Spider” because that was the color scheme I wanted for the inside jacket. So he used that idea to formulate his own backgrounds for the art. I told him I wanted a combination of old and new for the page three section of the booklet. That’s the picture of the old church with the electricity wires on the Embracing the Absence section.
I was very pleased when I first saw the cover art for the debut. He was so quick at it and so receptive to my ideas it was almost exactly what I was thinking about. We only changed a couple of things. The first draft of it had the metronome in decent condition. I told him I wanted it really broken and he was quick to accommodate. He did an awesome job within the budget and confines we were given.
I understand that pre-production for the second album has already started?
[What can we expect? More of the same (Yes, plea-se!)? What’s already done (written/ demo recorded)…give us a sneak preview, will you? And don’t mind if you can or want to tell us something about the lyrical content! Let’s not forget…for when is it planned to be recorded/ released?]
In a way we have started pre-production for the second album. I have some songs finished and some songs that aren’t finished yet. I went to Keith’s and recorded what I had so far so that Keith can learn the guitar parts and improve on them. We recorded a little bit of it so far so that Keith can become accustomed to what I’m going for and also so he can try some things to make the next recording go easier. For instance, when it comes to the drums we’re going to experiment and try to get them to sound much bigger and have more of a snap. This also helps me write lyrics so I can drive around with a CD of what I did and come up with stuff.
You can expect a lot of your favorite Cea Serin moments on the new album. You can expect some more ingenuity and things you haven’t heard before in metal. You can also expect the long epic songs and better song writing. I think the vocals and lyrics will be much better and I think the overall production is going to be loads better. So far I have 5 songs that are written but need to be worked and tinkered with. I have two other songs that I haven’t finished yet and I still want to explore other songs that I’m kicking around in my head. There is also going to be a possible Sarah McLachlan cover of her song “Ice” and maybe I’ll even get that Yanni cover of “One Man’s Dream” that I’ve been wanting to get out.
The lyrical content is going to revolve around an issue with my paranoia, choosing decadence over beauty, the ignorance of loss, etc.
There is one particular song I’m quite fond of that I’ve been struggling with. It’s over 17 minutes long and I’m trying to really condense it and make things work fluently. It’s about a young girl that killed herself leaving her family with a surviving younger brother/son who has Downs Syndrome. The song revolves around this child’s ignorance of his sisters absence, the way the parents cope when the boy is not around to see, and how this brother waits for his sister to come home each day so he can hear her practice piano. She was never that great of a piano player but he would watch and listen to her and always was in awe of how she could play. Whenever she would go away he would sneak in the room and try to play like her but never could make the piano sound the way she made it sound. I focus on how, after a couple of days after she’s gone, he still sits in her room, laying on her bed, watching the door, waiting for her to come home – but she never does, and he never understands why.
Tell us about this fictional novel that’s nearing completion?
[If you care to, of course! Who’s writing it, by the way, because that’s another little piece of (important) info we didn’t get. Tell us in general what kind of story it is, maybe even tell us something about its content (in general…you don’t wanna give away everything, right?!), how long it’s gonna be, and how interested parties would be able to purchase it.]
I made the comment a while ago to someone that I was working on a novel and now I’m being asked about it left and right. I never really wanted it to get out that much that I was working on a book. I mean, even if I get done with it, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be published. I think it’s pretty cool, but that’s just me and I’m a bit partial to my own work. I started working on it when I got into college and I put it aside for a while because I wanted to solely work on music. I have sense come back to it and I have had to revitalize it and rewrite a lot of it because initially I wasn’t saying much with the original draft. It’s important for me to have a hidden agenda and a deeper meaning to the book as opposed to just being a piece of written entertainment.
As far as the content goes it’s basically an amalgamation of horror, fantasy, psychology and commentary. For those in the know, the name of the book was actually the what brought about the name of the first band that Keith and I were in together…Ashen Dawn. It’s a book that is character driven and the story takes a close second up until the very end where the focus leaves the characters and diverges into one central theme. All the characters in the book are converging together to a central location without knowing it. They all have their battles and struggles to overcome, and these conflicts directly affect the ultimate outcome of the book and the ending. It’s a story of personalities and the importance of loyalty, character, leadership, following, overcoming self torment, and most important: ideas.
I wouldn’t say that it is “nearing completion.” I recently had to cut 90 pages from it to reestablish a better storyline and streaming effect. It was quite painful to do, but necessary.
It’s not horror in the sense of Steven King, but more like Clive Barker; the fantasy isn’t in the realm of Lumley or Rowling but more like Lovecraft and again, Barker. There are some romantic things in there, some history and some science. So the book is in a way like Cea Serin…quite mercurial.
Any chance on seeing Cea Serin perform on one of the European Festival stages this Summer/ Fall?
[Ahum, with all that’s being done at the moment (pre-production of next album, the novel), I suppose that’s out of the question…for the immediate time? Maybe there will be some American touring anyway? What about the live band? Will it be the same people as the past performances (if not, please tell us why)?]
There are currently no plans of going to Europe any time soon. So don’t hold your breath. We’ll see how the CD sells and how the reaction is towards it. Who knows, if there is a strong demand and the time is right we could very well be playing in your area in the future. However, we’re on an independent label and we’re all just starting out. I think it will be a learning process for everyone in a way.
As far as regional touring goes…we’re working on it. Currently we are working as a trio and sounding quite nice. It’s myself doing the keyboards, bass, and vocals; then we have Keith and Forrest on the guitars and backing vocals. I would like to recruit another backing vocalist to just take over with that. Kind of like Sarah McLachlan has on her tours, just some girl standing there doing backing vocals.
I am currently looking for a drummer and a bassest though for live shows. I’m happy using a drum machine live…it doesn’t bother me too much. Of course, i would prefer to have a live drummer like in the past but we have to do what we have to do and dragging our feet isn’t an option. You can’t wait for things to come to you, you have to make it happen on your own. If it takes getting out and playing live with a drum machine and telling the crowd, “hey, we’re looking for a drummer so you hear the material and you think you can handle it, come talk to me when we get done.”
Any closing comments/ remarks/ messages for the readers?
[Can be anything here, really…from a ‘look out for us on the live front’, to a general wish for world peace, or anything else, for that matter! Be creative…or not, hahah!]
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk to you and have my words and answers read by those in Benelux (and other areas for that matter). I hope I’ve enlightened some people who haven’t heard of Cea Serin onto us and our music and lyrics. I don’t want to come across as a band that is “trying” to do something different but just simply a band that is doing things the way they see things should be done. I’ve heard complaints about the lack of photos and the length of the songs but in a way these are qualities that separate us from the others that might be too familiar.
As far as closing comments go, I don’t want to give off an impression of someone who is trying to sell the band to people. I’m not selling ideas or concepts here. I enjoy talking to people who have a profound interest in what we have written and given to the people of the world as a gift to enjoy. I enjoy answering the questions in full because I think these responses will allow you to listen to Cea Serin in a different light, and I want people to get the most amount of enjoyment from the album.
I’d like to take a final moment to stop talking for myself and end with a quote by La Compte de Lautreamont:
“…righteous and simple-minded methods lead nowhere. One must bring into play more forceful levers, weave more skilful plots. Before you become famous because of your virtue and achieve your end, a hundred others will have time to bound over your back and reach the winning post before you, so that then there will be no room for your narrow ideas. One must know how to clasp the horizon of the present with more grandeur. For example, have you never heard tell of the boundless glory victories bring? Yet victories do come about of themselves. Blood, much blood, must be spilled to breed them and lay them at the conqueror’s feet.”
Don’t let your life slip away in front of a television or a computer screen. If you had the chance to ask your “guardian angel” for a printout of how you spent the time of your life, don’t let it be that you slept for a third of you life and watched TV for a little bit less, while neglecting the things that could progress your life so you can have something to be proud of. There is no victory at the end of a 30 minute situational comedy. There is no virtue at the closing credits of a hospital scripted drama. The only real truth worth finding can not be dug up by a search engine.
It’s time to construct your own script for others to read and follow.