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Interview

3's Billy Riker Discusses New Album "The Ghost You Gave To Me"

Woodstock, New York based prog act 3 has finally come out with a proper follow-up to "The End is Begun" in the form of the new album "The Ghost You Gave To Me" (reviewed here), which is available now.

As the band gears up for a tour with Cynic and plots out its 2012 road plans, I got the opportunity to chat up 3's Billy Riker about the sound of the new album and why 3 appeals to death metal fans without actually playing extreme metal. Read on to find out what Billy had to say about writing the record, how it connects with past albums, and even his thoughts on the latest Opeth release.

xFiruath: Obviously 3 has a lot of metal elements in its music, but you aren’t an extreme metal band. Why do you think your music appeals to fans of extreme metal and how do you feel about styles like black and death metal?

Billy: I feel like music can be heavy in different ways and 3, we have a certain heaviness without necessarily having the death metal elements. It’s almost like every style of music has its own extreme form. Even when I watch Metallica play with an orchestra, there’s moments where the orchestra seems heavier than the heaviest guitarist could be. We have some sort of element in there that seems to be heavy. We do definitely respect death metal and black metal, we couldn’t do with Behemoth does for example. But mostly we listen to lighter music.

xFiruath: Your new album “The Ghost You Gave To Me” is out now. When did you write the songs for this and can you tell me about the writing process?

Billy: This record took a long time to write, it was over a great period of time. We had basically finished up with Metal Blade and had signed on with Roadrunner, but we still had one last record for Metal Blade, which we did as “Revisions.” Originally it was going to be a greatest hits, but we didn’t want to do that so we decided to record some other songs. Around that time we were working on other songs for what would be the Roadrunner record. It was songs that we knew would be basically where “The End is Begun” had left off. Joey had a baby during that so there was a year where we were slowly writing songs. A lot of times Joey writes the guitar and vocals and then we come in and add parts to it, and it evolves from there, but for this record we got together for some of the songs and all played together. It was definitely one of our more collaborative records.

xFiruath: How would you compare this record overall with “The End is Begun?”

Billy: I feel like it’s definitely a continuation of “The End is Begun,” but we made it even better really. The drums were good on that, but it’s like we got a whole new drum sound. We recorded the drums in a really big room so we got this huge room sound we always wanted, whereas on “The End is Begun” it was more like a smaller sound, but you add in reverb to make it bigger after. This time we got really great core sounds in the beginning.

xFiruath: Are the lyrics continuing the same ideas from the last album?

Billy: That’s Joey’s department. I’ve added a couple of words, but it’s always been Joey writing the lyrics. But this time hearing the lyrics myself, certain songs are kind of stream of consciousness. He’s almost like channeling. There was that huge earthquake incident in Japan, and on our new album on the title track, it was the last one he wrote vocals for and we’re always wondering what the words would be since that was the main song. It was the night before the Japan thing, and it wasn’t outright but he made a reference to the North and South pole and the tidal controls and then he finished the song at eight in the morning and turned on the news to find that out. It was weird how the song kind of related to that. Another song like “React” is almost like a story, it’s almost visual and cinematic. It’s very much not a stream of consciousness song.

xFiruath: I saw it mentioned online before that you guys were planning on doing a music video for “High Times.” Has that been shot already?

Billy: Do you have any good ideas for that one? It’s hard honestly because a lot of the songs have themes and cinematic things and I like that song as a song, but I’m stumped as to what the video idea should be. We talked about it the other day and no one really had anything. I don’t know yet at this point. This might be the one video where it’s like the band rocking out on stage or something.

xFiruath: Is 3 going on tour soon?

Billy: Yeah, we’re actually leaving through the whole month of November and we’re going out with Cynic and Scale the Summit. We’re going across the country to Los Angeles and we’ll probably do some dates on our own on the way back. We just went out with Within Temptation, and there was talk of us going out again with them in April but I don’t know if that’s happening yet. We definitely want to be on the road for most of 2012 now that the record is out.

xFiruath: I saw you guys on the Prog Nation tour in 2008 with Opeth, and I was wondering if you are an Opeth fan and what you thought of the new “Heritage” album.

Billy: Yeah, we were always Opeth fans and now I’m like 10 times more of a fan than I ever was. I’m so into “Heritage” and I think the whole band is really into it, but I probably like the it the most, I probably listen to it every day. I just can’t believe how good it sounds. Again on the thing with the heaviness, they found a way to be heavier but by playing lighter somehow. All the sounds just sound so vintage and amazing, but musically it has a velocity and dynamics and it almost reminds me of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” a little bit, in a rock way. Did you like it?

xFiruath: Well, not so much, I’m pretty on the fence about it. I’ve loved Opeth since I was a teenager, but to me it felt like all the least interesting interludes and intros that didn’t make it into other albums all crammed together into a single album. I do really like “The Devil’s Orchard” but I am not much of a fan of the rest of the album.

Billy: Gotcha, I’ll give you that one. “The Devil’s Orchard” that’s my favorite track for sure, but I see what you are saying. It is very different than “Watershed.”

xFiruath: Anything else you wanted to talk about?

Billy: I can’t wait to be on the road. We did one tour after Progressive Nation and then there were record deals and babies so we’re ready to get out for 10 months or however long next year.

xFiruath's avatar

Ty Arthur is a freelance writer who writes for both entertainment and technical instruction sites. An avid fan of many different forms of metal, he has been involved in reviewing music for several years and is currently a contributing editor for Metalunderground.com

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