Greetings from Metalheads Forever Magazine Don Dewulf, I’m Keith Clement the editorial head for the mag, how are you doing today?
Hello Keith Clement, nice to hear from you. I am doing great. I checked out your online publication; you have a lot of great content. Thanks for keeping the flames of metal burning!
On Friday, May 28th you released “The Wring2 – Project Cipher” Can you tell me about the songwriting and production behind the album?
Yes, the album was official on Friday! Very exciting. I wrote the music and lyrics for all the songs except Sorceress – those lyrics were written by a friend of mine, Steve Kraus. I created demos for all the songs including all instruments and my own scratch vocals. I sent these demos to all the players and they then had the freedom to interpret my parts in their own way. Once everyone had done their work, I re-tracked all the guitar parts against those great performances. Everything was done to a click track so the placing of parts was very easy. I then added many layers of guitars to enhance and complement the moods created by the vocals and rhythm section. Mixing and mastering were done by Forrester Savell who did a fantastic job of understanding my vision of how this record should sound and dialing in the performances to match that.
Although it’s your solo band, but still you brought some amazing talents and names into the band, a great line-up I would say adds the essence that was needed, how do you feel about the outcome?
Agreed. These guys took good songs and made them magical. Essence is a very good word because there is definitely a vibe created by great musicians; they are not hesitant or tentative. They find the groove and really know how to push it. For the song Sorceress, I had composed a complicated bass part that I intended to be somewhat contrapuntal and clever. Bryan Beller listened to that and suggested that it was not appropriate and that he would like to try something different. Initially, I was a little hurt (laugh) but he was absolutely right! He chose to have the bass mimic the guitar parts and that energy drives the whole song!
The 7 track album is quite amazing in the progressive albums collections, what would be some of the best from this album, and why would that be the best for you?
I worked very hard to make this album the best it could be from start to finish with no boring spots. So, of course, I love all of the songs and each moment within them! My favourite tracks right now are probably Steelier and Sorceress. I think they are great compositions with lots of interesting parts and killer performances from everyone. My favourite moment would probably be the solo in Steelier – I played that solo through my Wizard Modern Classic 2 head with just a bit of delay in the loop and a wah pedal. It is actually triple tracked – left, right and center. I had to play it 3 times exactly the same way! It has some nice phrases and melodic movement against the bass. Another favourite is the bass playing and vocals in Dose. Jason and Marc killed on this song.
The album cover is like seeing some kind of Science Fiction, like deciphering some codes into the Matrix, what was the concept set behind the cover art?
Yes!! The cover is very symbolic of these pandemic times. People are working from home or isolated for other reasons and are spending more and more time on their screens. This album was created at a distance so all of the players also did their work in front of computers. The spiral in the picture references people being drawn into the screen but in my case, the spiral is spinning outward as more and more music lovers find The Wring and share that experience with me.
Talking about the Instrumental track on the album “Cipher” is quite something, musically it’s awesome, back in the day musicians put one instrumental in their album, which beats the rest of the songs and it makes it phenomenal, I feel the same in this, even though each song is amazing, “Cipher” is something that made me feel quite good, what was your thought on putting up an Instrumental?
Thanks. I love instrumental tracks but only in small doses. I really believe that vocals are the element that really connects music with most listeners. So as someone who loves the indulgence of an instrumental, I wanted to make a song that was short enough and musical enough that everyone could enjoy it. It’s not one big solo from start to finish; there are some pretty cool riffs in there and plenty of space for people to hear the amazing rhythm section! I think one of the top records of all time is Rush’s Moving Pictures and YYZ fits so perfectly into that album; I wanted Cipher to be like that (although please don’t think I am comparing my efforts to Rush! They are gods!). And, of course, a lot of credit for the energy of this song must be given to Thomas Lang and Jason Henrie, their playing is ridiculously good!
Don, can you tell me how it all started for you?
I’ve played guitar since I was 7 or 8 and really got into it in my teens but never really started writing my own music until later. I think the turning point was my discovery of multi-track recording software. I started by composing drum beats and then layering guitars over them. It was like opening Pandora’s Box! My early efforts were quite terrible but pretty soon I was concocting some interesting things. And I still do this every day. I put down beats, write riffs and build songs around them. I have dozens.
After the dissolving of the band, it was Mikael Akerfeldt who gave some ideas to come up with some new materials, Would you like to share a few words about it?
I am a very big Opeth fan and I was fortunate enough to meet the band a few years ago. They are all such great guys. I am very interested and fascinated with the process of great songwriters and I had the opportunity to ask Mike about this. I was a bit surprised to learn that his songwriting process was very similar to mine. One of the big reasons my band dissolved was because some of the guys felt like they were not given enough creative input – I basically write everything – but they wanted to just jam on ideas with everyone contributing. I don’t think that it is possible to write intricate music this way, so they departed. Mike kind of validated my thoughts because he said that Opeth does not jam on ideas. He writes the songs and the guys learn them. This kind of gave me the inspiration to continue doing my own thing and gathering new players who could abide by that.
How was the experience with touring some of the legends over the years?
Being on a bill with Anvil or Diamond Head was a thrill for me and for the rest of the guys too. Dead Daisies are a pretty cool outfit also; I’ve been a Doug Aldrich fan for a long time. We didn’t really tour with any of them but were added as a regional opening act. In general, those guys kept to themselves and didn’t really interact with us very much. In fairness, there really wasn’t much opportunity for that. Two things that stand out in my mind at a gig with Dead Daisies and Hookers & Blow: the sound man let us play for 40 minutes instead of 30 and we were the only band that did not play any cover songs…
What would be some of the best moments for you that you want to tell us about?
I really enjoyed playing the songs live and hope I get that chance again. I’ve had quite a lot of great feedback about the new music and I’m hoping I can assemble players for a ‘band’ again. The flip side of that is that I really loved working with Thomas, Marc, Bryan, Jason and Jason, even though it was at a distance. They were so kind and professional; the whole thing was a joy.
A best new moment is signing a deal this week with Wormholedeath Records out of Italy. They were very enthusiastic about the record and obviously think there is some commercial appeal. This is quite a validation of my efforts.
What would be your next plans?
It’s taken many years for me to reach this place but it really feels like I’m just getting started. The next few months will hopefully continue to bring positive results. As mentioned, I would really like to put a band together to play some shows. I also have another album fully written so I need to decide how I will do that – with a band or with session players again. Either way, I am excited to share more music with the world!
Finally, what would be the message for the fans?
Metal fans are like no other. They are not fickle. They are not trendy. They stick with bands long after they really should. It’s a fierce and loyal community. I’m very proud to be a member of that group and I hope they will accept what I do in that same way. So… for everyone that listens to my music, thanks!!!