Creation's End Reveal Favorite Prog Albums And Discuss Upcoming Sophomore Record
New York-based progheads Creation’s End weren’t shy in revealing their music interests in the interview we did during the ProgPower USA XII festivities. Their music is similarly descriptive and transparent, which is telling of the band’s clear and well-defined vision for their sound. Their first record, “A New Beginning,” produced with John Macaluso and featuring renowned guitarist Marco Sfogli (of James Labrie fame,) landed the band a nice reception in their home country of the USA – enough to make it onto the lineup of this festival.
Guitarist Rudy Albert, drummer Dario Rodriguez, bassist Joe Black, and vocalist Mike DiMeo sat down with me to discuss at length their musical upbringings, the first record, their next record, and their favorite progressive records.
Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): “A New Beginning,” the first album, came out last year. How long did the recording process take and what were some inspirations behind those songs?
Dario Rodriguez: How long did it take? We started with guitars in April, and then we finished up in January.
Rudy Albert: We started April 2009 and we finished, the whole mix was done, in the middle of 2010. It was a little over a year, and then it was released in November of 2010.
FS: So what were some of the inspirations behind some of the tracks?
Rudy: I guess the different bands that we were listening to at the time. We were heavily into bands like Dream Theater, Mercenary, Nevermore. All those records helped bring all of the melodies together. Except, when we finally decided to take the songs and make them a whole, we wanted to put a new touch to it. That’s why we brought in a producer. To make everything sound like an album and not like individual tunes.
Dario: There wasn’t really any overall concept or anything. I tend to write about things that I think about or things that I know. I tend to like to write about things that are kind of challenging. For this album, it just happened to be all the darker stuff. It’s all dark! (laughs)
FS: Speaking of dark, I did hear, and correct me if I’m wrong, you guys played a show on September 11th in New York. What was the reaction to that and did you hear anything special about it?
Rudy: I would say it was a pretty decent show. It was a little mellow and a little somber, but towards the end of the night it was a little quiet and peaceful.
Joe Black: Peaceful for a metal show.
Dario: Yeah, it’s kind of hard to get people at midnight on September 11th…
Joe: To be excited about metal. We were just grateful to play for everybody, for those people that came out.
FS: You guys haven’t played many shows yet. Are there plans for upcoming tours?
Rudy: They’re always in the works, you know. We get offers here and there. We just have to make sure everyone can do it, schedule-wise. We got the mini-tour offered, and that worked out very well. We just have to balance things out. We’d love to go on a full-scale tour. So, we’re definitely working it. It’s in the works. (laughs)
FS: How long have each of you been playing music and are you self-taught or did you take lessons?
Rudy: I started with the piano when I was four. I’ve just been playing piano for many many years. I took voice lessons and went to conservatory for that. I taught myself the guitar since I was in the 6th grade. That’s pretty much it.
Dario: I started playing the cello when I was six, and then I switched over to saxophone, which is actually where I met Rudy. I played saxophone with Rudy in grade school. Then I switched over to drums at the age of 13, and I took a few lessons from a local jazz drummer. I’m mostly self-taught on that, and self-taught on the guitar, too.
FS: Bassil [Silver] from Powerglove name-dropped yesterday with me, saying “When I studied with MIKE MANGINI…” (laughs) Shit… So what about you, Joe?
Joe: I started playing guitar at the age of 13, so that was like 16 years ago. Now everyone knows how old I am… And then I switched over to bass and I was in a lot of metal bands, and it got to the point to where I was frustrated with bass players. They just weren’t playing it right. I kept having to stop and go, “No, man. Follow the kick drum! You’ve gotta be more melodic.” They were so annoyed with me, so I’m like, “Fuck it.”
That’s really what I want to do. I hear bass lines and I want to play bass, so I switched over when I was 18 and met up with these guys. Brooklyn was very incestuous with metal bands. Everybody knew each other. You were in one band with someone and it was like six degrees of separation or whatever.
FS: So, in a way, it’s like Sweden?
Joe: Right, right.
FS: So, for the gear junkies, can you explain your setup?
Rudy: I’m very simple. Right now, I’m using a Schecter Hellraiser 7-string, going straight into a Laney VH100R and just drive it like that. No pedals except for a tuner. That’s it! Very simple. (laughs)
Dario: I use a Tama Starclassic birch bubinga kit. Is it an eight-piece? Bass drum, two snares, two toms, two floor toms, and I use mostly Zildjian cymbals for the most part. I have a couple of Oriental Chinas and a couple Sabian effect cymbals, like splashes and stuff. I use Tama Iron Cobra pedals and Vic Firth sticks.
FS: How about you, Joe?
Joe: I play a Traben Phoenix. It’s a five-string bass. They’re a small company out of Seattle. I go straight into an Ampeg SVT-3 head and with an Ampeg cab. I love those guys.
FS: On your bass, is that actual chrome on there?
Joe: No, it looks like chrome but it’s just kind of. Yeah, with mother of pearl inlay and abalone.
FS: Was there a specific design to the inlay?
Joe: Just flames. Ridiculous flames.
(Mike DiMeo enters the room)
FS: What kind of mics does he use? (band laughs) I’m just joking. We’re discussing gear and I’m like “Oh, the singer! What kind of mic do you use?”
Mike DiMeo: Live? I think they had a Beta 58.
FS: So what are some of your favorite progressive records, since we’re at ProgPower? If you guys could dish on those…
Joe: I think we’re all huge Devin Townsend fans.
Rudy: Any Devin Townsend.
Joe: Or even Strapping Young Lad.
Dario: “Milliontown” was incredible. “Experiments in Mass Appeal” was also incredible. I like Dredg. The three P’s, that album was great. That’s pretty proggy.
Joe: Would you call Anubis Gate proggy?
FS: Anubis Gate? Maybe proggy? Way proggy!
Joe: I love them. “Andromeda Chain” is amazing.
Dario: “Andromeda Chain” is a great album. I love “Octavarium.” That’s my favorite Dream Theater album.
FS: Have you heard the new one?
Dario: No, not yet. I ordered it.
Rudy: I was probably going to buy it if they have it. (laughs)
FS: They do! I saw it!
Rudy: I’ll buy it later! Do they have the Anthrax record?
FS: I’m not sure I saw that.
Joe: (To Dario) Your favorite Dream Theater record does not have Kevin Moore on it? Wow.
Joe: OSI. I’m a huge Kevin Moore fan.
FS: How about you, Mike?
(band laughs, as he’s texting)
Mike: Prog? I’d have to say Allman Brothers, “Live at the Fillmore.”
FS: That was pretty prog for back then! Those guitar solos!
Mike: I’m old.
Joe: Yeah, we covered that already. (laughs)
Mike: That was before my time, but I still think that’s better than most of the shit I hear.
FS: Totally. Since we’re on the topic of prog, what sort of unorthodox combination of styles would you like to hear be used in metal next?
Mike: Soulful singing over prog music.
Dario: I like electronic, sort of techno, stuff, so I like when a prog band can incorporate that sort of stuff. We’re kind of moving that direction with the next record. I love it when a band can do that.
FS: What do you guys think of Skrillex getting into metal? Dubstep and that stuff?
Dario: I never heard of them. I don’t know what that stuff is.
Mike: Dubstep, isn’t that reggae?
FS: Oh, no, that would be Dub. That’s a different thing. Dubstep is this new electronic thing. It’s kind of an evolution from techno. It’s not really popular yet, but it’s getting there big time. Korn has done something with Skrillex. Dubstep’s on a couple of major commercials in the UK…
Mike: Skrillex? Isn’t that a bathroom cleaner?
FS: That’s what I thought, too. I also thought it might be a piece of cookware, but apparently it’s an electronic-type thing. The world’s seeing dubstep for the first time, really, so I wasn’t sure if it would catch your eyes, but… What sort of genres are your favorites outside of prog, since we’re on that topic?
Joe: I would say that too.
Mike: (Referencing Voyager’s performance going on upstairs, overheard in our room) Are they gonna do like an 80s medley? (band laughs) Yes!
Rudy: I guess, for me, hard rock.
Dario: I also like some indie stuff. Dredg is kinda indie. Pineapple Thief also has an indie sound to it.
FS: The KScope label’s real good stuff. (Referencing us overhearing Voyager playing Van Halen’s “Jump”) This is cool, this is cool!
Joe: They did this before.
Rudy: I like classic rock, too.
Joe: Jazz singers, I’m into, like Nina Simone. Definitely more soulful stuff.
FS: So you’d like to see more soul in prog.
Dario: Yes, that’s why we got DiMeo. That’s why we got soul.
FS: So are there any bands here that you guys are personally excited to see?
Rudy: Sanctuary. I’m a huge Nevermore fan, and I’m actually kind of upset that Loomis has departed. Even with that, I like Warrell Dane. I’m one of those people that really dig his voice. That’s what got me into Nevermore, so I really want to see them. I like a lot of that straight-up metal sound. I like Metallica. So I think it will be a cool set.
Dario: I want to see Ihsahn. I’m excited.
FS: Is there work already being done on the second album?
Dario: It’s already done.
FS: Nice. So it’s just the recording process next?
Rudy: Yeah, we’re just tweaking the demos now and finalizing all the riffs. We’re going to see if we want to play some more shows or just start recording it. We’ll take it from there, talk to labels, see what we want to do.
Dario: This time around, it shouldn’t take nine months. We’ll get it done a lot more quickly this time.
FS: So you worked with a producer rather than produce yourselves.
Rudy: Last time, we produced with Mac.
Dario: Last time, John Macaluso produced with us. This time, it’s probably just going to be us. Now, especially with the new songs, we kind of have a good vision for what we want the album to sound like and what directions we want to go in. Whereas, before, the songs were old. The songs were written in 2003 to 2006, so we kind of needed someone outside to breathe some life into it. This time around, I don’t think we need that.
FS: Right on. What sort of direction is this album heading in? Is it a departure, a continuation, or a completely separate effort and a new style?
Dario: I’d say it’s a continuation. The songs we wrote before, we wrote them when we were younger. I like the songs. They’re good songs, but you can tell that there are parts where there’s room for growth. For the next record, we’re taking all the elements that we like from the older songs – the heavy riffs, the big melodies – and just making it more concise. All the songs on the last album, I think the average length was like 8 minutes or something.
We’ve kind of practiced getting our point across without taking a while. We’re still going to have some long songs, because we like long songs.
FS: Of course, that’s prog.
Dario: But for the most part, it’s going to be like the first album in that we have all those elements except more to the point. Also, I guess I’d throw in that we’re incorporating more electronic elements. I don’t want to scare people off. I know most people have mixed feelings about electronica. We think it’s cool.
FS: That’s only the elitists.
Dario: We’re pretty excited.
Rudy: (Referencing Voyager upstairs playing Rage Against The Machine) That’s my favorite song in this set! It’s like we opened up for Rage Against the Machine today.
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