After collaborating once again with former Fates Warning band mate Jim Matheos for the successful Sympathetic Resonance album (Review: http://danielaston.co.uk/album-review-sympathetic-resonance/), I catch up with vocalist Jon Arch and quiz him on the process of creating the album, his time away from music and the future of Arch/Matheos.
Daniel Aston: Congratulations on the new album, what was it like getting back into the groove of writing and recording a full-length album after all these years?
Jon Arch: Thank you, one word comes to mind, “daunting” I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me when we started this. Vocally I was at square one and a whole lot older and as far as the creativity, it was a wait and see what happens kind of thing. In a few months time it seemed to be evident that Jim and I were working well together and the music started to take shape.
DA: You worked closely with Jim Matheos on your 2003 solo EP A Twist of Fate, how did the writing for that project differ from the current collaboration?
Arch: Well this full album was a true collaboration between Jim and I like we have worked in the past where Jim presents music to me and through a process I write the melodies and lyrics. ATOF was considered a solo effort because I presented Jim with the Music for Cheyenne and part of Relentless, but in my opinion we both had our creative input on that as well, we just went about it a little differently.
DA: The music that you and Jim have written for Sympathetic Resonance is as impressive as the material from the early Fates Warning days, has anything changed in the way you write songs together and what is the process that you two go through to create lengthy prog epics like Stained Glass Skies?
Arch: Well the beginnings of these songs and the movements that make up the length of a song start with Jim and whatever is inspiring him, and that is done in the privacy of his own thoughts alone. When I write melodies and words it is done in the same way, where there are no distractions, and you can hear your own thoughts. Then when we get together in the studio it’s like a presentation where we get to hear how well or not so well everything meshes together. Usually a little tweaking is all it needs.
DA: Sympathetic Resonance contains performances from musicians that have been a part of Fates Warning at some point or another, what was that like and was it something you planned to do from the start?
Arch: I’m pretty sure before I got involved with this, Bobby and maybe Joey were already working with Jim, as this was originally slated to be a FW record, so actually I was the odd man in this. The guys are all awesome at what they do, and I love all they added to this record.
DA: Your vocal power remains stunning after all these years, did you have to do much work on it before recording?
Arch: You’ll have to trust me when I say that I told Jim if he released any of the early vocal tracks, I would brain him. It took some doing to get into respectable shape, and it’s gonna be lots of work staying there.
DA: What inspires you to write lyrics?
Arch: The music and all its movements get the ball rolling, and with this album the words are of a more real, non-mythological nature, based on a more personal perspective. I have been praised for the honesty and criticized for the self indulgentness, and I couldn’t be happier about that.
DA: Your work with Fates Warning in the eighties has inspired a legion of bands, what’s your opinion on the state of progressive metal today?
Arch: There is no doubt that the technical ability of the musicians in this type of music is unbelievable, almost neurotic at times and can be just what the doctor ordered, but if it is not a cocktail mixed with dynamics and melody it can be tiresome after a while. In an effort to undo insult to injury, there is so much talent out there, much of it still undiscovered.
DA: Who would you name as your main influences in music?
Arch: Well there are so many time periods for me I would break it down as early influences would be, Tull, Grand Funk, Yes, Kansas, UFO, Uriah Heep, Deep purple. Later influences would include, Scorpions, Maiden, Priest, Dio, among many others.
DA: Your return to the music scene is much welcomed by music fans all over the world, why did spend so many years away from it all?
Arch: I was never in a band situation after Fates Warning, and that is the biggest motivator. When you are immersed in something you are passionate about, and you make a living doing it, well there is your motivation. As soon as you step out of that arena, things change quickly and you soon feel like a stranger to something you once knew so well.
DA: Can you give any details on a potential tour for Arch/Matheos?
Arch: Not much to mention at this time, except for one fesival in Germany.
DA: What are your plans for the future, can we expect another Arch/Matheos album?
Arch: After all was said and done, it was lots of work, but we had fun doing it, and the fans made it all worth while… making the way for music in the future.. why not?