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An Interview With Abnormal Thought Patterns Guitarist Jasun Tipton

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Band Photo: Abnormal Thought Patterns (?)

Jasun and Troy Tipton have been an unstoppable duo for over two decades. Making a name for themselves with the progressive metal act Zero Hour, they astounded listeners with Jasun’s guitar antics and Troy’s technical bass playing. However, in 2009, Zero Hour went on hiatus as Troy had ulnar nerve entrapment surgery. Ever since then, they have been busy with Cynthesis and a new instrumental project, Abnormal Thought Patterns. Abnormal Thought Patterns allows the brothers to let loose without a vocalist or traditional song structuring holding them back.

With an EP recently released, and new material being written, the band doesn’t seem to be a one-and-done project. Jasun Tipton spoke to me in early December about Abnormal Thought Patterns, an update on Troy’s condition, and what the future of Zero Hour may be.

How did this project come together?

Jasun Tipton: It was a complete accident, honestly. I was building my recording studio, knowing that my brother was going through some problems with his arm. I knew that things were going to be different with how we rehearse and how we track things. So I built my studio and basically, I did a couple of test runs with just recording a couple of instrumentals, so I could get the ins-and-outs of the new system that I had. One of those songs was all four movements of “Velocity and Acceleration.” My brother was like, ‘We should put out an instrumental CD.’ I was hesitant to it, and then I started playing it to some of my friends, and they just said, ‘Oh my gosh, dude. When are you going to put this out?’

The reaction seemed really cool, and then we saw Animals As Leaders out there playing and they were getting a great response for instrumental music. It (instrumental music) has always been around, but people were fading away from it. We were always about being a group. If we wanted to do an instrumental band, we wanted to be a group, not like, ‘Oh, it’s me.’ What’s great is we got the three guys, and now also my guitar student is helping us with the live stuff. We’re all being focused in on what we have to do. We just decided to do this CD and be Abnormal Thought Patterns.

The song ideas that came together, where they from separate compositions that were pieced together or did you find once you did “Velocity and Acceleration,” you got the rest of the band involved and jammed out?

I put it all together, everything except “Ulnar Nerve Damage.” My brother did that at a separate time. My brother had ulnar nerve entrapment surgery, so he was down, and I was basically recording everything into my system as I was writing it. It just seemed to flow real easily. All I did was write and record at the same time. Everybody in the band was like, ‘I could totally do my parts over this.’ It was really weird because the guitars went first, the drums went second, and the bass went third. We’ve never done that format before; it was really weird.

Did you draw from any specific inspirations when it came down to writing these songs?

I just wanted to go insane with this stuff, like if you’re surfing the biggest wave in Mavericks or anywhere; you’re holding your breath the whole time, you’re gripping whatever you can. It’s all adrenaline man. This style of music for metal just works perfect. It’s all about the adrenaline. I was just having a great time doing it. I’m free to do whatever I want. There’s no vocals on it. I’m just going to be crazy with it and that’s what we did.

Did you find it to be easy or hard for you to avoid going too crazy to take away from the song? Did you find your guitar work to be too loose at times or did you find the perfect balance between that and structuring the songs?

Luckily, I found the perfect balance, because it just seemed liked it was writing itself. I think it was because I was having so much fun with it. I still had the structure in that I still wanted it to say something melodically. We didn’t just want to be this crazy thing that says nothing. The music says something and it is going in a direction. For me, I found it easy, just because of doing the stuff for so long and loving the style of music. I grew up on the shred metal bands. I loved Paul Gilbert and Vinnie Moore and everybody that was coming out at that time. There were so many great players, so I’ve always been into that style of music. Now we’re doing it our way and being really technical, progressive, but staying very metal at the same time. We always want the metal in there.

In your mind, what kinds of themes or emotions do you think the music is expressing?

For me, I just go again with water, if you’re riding waves or if you’re driving cars fast (laughs). I like all that stuff. It’s just something to do with your pulse that triggers it up higher and gets that excitement in you. You don’t know where it’s going to quite go, but you’re making all the right turns and doing what you have to do. I don’t want to say spiritual, but you feel like you’re at peace with life, and you’re doing your thing; you’re focused on that. Everything outside - when it deals with the corporate world - you’re not even worrying about a thing of doing that. You’re just having time for yourself to do what you want to do. It has all your attention.

Why did you decided to split up “Velocity and Acceleration” into four parts?

The biggest reason is that I felt it as chapter, like when you’re in the ride, and this is chapter one of that ride and here’s the next one. So there’s four chapters. I’m a fan of music, so when I had long songs I wanted to show a friend, I was fast-forwarding a 15-minute song and I’m trying to get to eight minutes to show someone. It always bugged the hell out of me. With this kind of music, there are things in there that people are going to be trigged by, like ‘Oh man, I totally dig this part,’ and they want to show someone. As opposed to having to fast-forward all the way to 10 minutes or something like that, it’s broken up into a part. You can listen to it song by song because it would make more sense; at least to me it feels like that way, like a chapter one, two, three, and four.

What do you get out of Abnormal Thought Patterns that you don’t with your other projects?

Just to push the limits as far as we want. The material is just so much fun to play and I can’t wait to play it out live because we have a good time. When we get done with the song and we play it well, there’s no greater feeling. When you play music that has that many notes going on and that many things that you are crossfading with the other players, you really feel good at what you have accomplished. You just don’t know what you are going to get from night to night with this music. You’re playing it and you know, ‘Oh, I know what part is coming up all the time. This is a breeze,’ and you don’t need to put a lot of energy into it; this, you do need to put a lot of energy into it and your brain is always thinking and it’s a lot of fun. I have plenty of fun with the other bands that we’re in, but you start thinking, ‘That is more for the vocalist. We got to keep this melodic so this line runs really nice.’ With here...I’ve been playing licks for over 20 years, and now I really get to push as much out there. I have a great time doing it.

Do you see these studio versions of the songs as a skeleton of what they could turn into in a live setting?

When you come to see us live, this is what it’s going to be. We don’t have triggers of things running behind us. Now, that stuff is awesome. I just saw Animals as Leaders and some of the great tones they provide in the background is fantastic and they got a great sound. For what we’re doing, we might touch into it later, but we want this one to be really just drums, bass, and guitar. Honestly, I think there’s just so much there, but at the same time, could we add some things? Maybe, but it could take away from what that music is trying to push together. It’s smooth, but we don’t want it to be not too smooth. We want it to be what it is; a little rough.

You don’t think these songs could be expanded into jams in a live setting?

It’s possible. I haven’t thought about it in that way. We already written a “Velocity and Acceleration” part 5-9, because we hope to have another release out next year. This EP was just getting a taste out there. My brother was still recovering from ulnar nerve entrapment surgery, but he’s doing much better now and he is jamming with us in the studio. We’re looking forward to test-run it out live. I could see us doing extra things in the future, but not now. It is a possibility.

Tell me a little bit about the new material. Are you guys looking to do a full-length album or do you see yourselves doing EPs for the future?

It will definitely be a longer CD. It may be a full-length. You never know, because when you’re putting this stuff together, there is a point where you go, ‘Okay, we’re done.’ We’re looking to do a full-length, that’s what we plan to do with the next one. You never know until you get there. We’re still in the writing process and we’ve written maybe close to 30 minutes worth of music and see what else can be pushed along in the process.

With this new material you’re writing, is the rest of the band heavily involved in the creation of it, or are you still the catalyst in starting it?

I’m still kind of the guy for now. It’s just easier for me, because I have the studio here and I write here. We’ve been rehearsing with the band and that’s been really good. It’s tough with our drummer, because he does a very difficult job - he’s an iron worker - so when we do get together, we’re just jamming the stuff out and then bringing new material in. It’s not as easy to get together at this point to jam out and because someone always has to take off. This way, I can take my time here and get it really the attention it needs. I just bring it into the guys and luckily, they all are really great players that pick it up really quick.

You mentioned that Troy’s health issues have been getting better over the past year. A lot of people were concerned when Zero Hour went on hiatus due to Troy’s issues. Do you see the band restarting anytime soon?

The thing is, my brother doesn’t want to write right now. What happened is that six months ago, he did have a setback when recording some stuff. He just recorded all of the Cynthesis material for the second album. He did that, so he’s going to take about six months off now from recording. It’s really about his health now. What happened is that it’s not the nerve - the nerve is regenerated, they did a real nice job - but they had to cut into the muscle and reroute his ulnar nerve, which is your funny bone nerve, into his bicep muscle. It’s the muscle that’s taking a long time to get that strength and he could get setbacks.

Right now, he’s been moving forward, and that’s fantastic. We’re going to go out and do a half-hour set, and he seems to be playing that with no problems. He’s like, ‘Let’s go out and do this.’ He wants to tour with this thing and do everything. He’s really excited about it. Right now, we were always jamming in the studio together - Troy, Mikey, and I - and writing the material. I will not do a Zero Hour CD unless my brother is part of the writing process, because it just doesn’t seem right. So until that day comes, we’re just not doing Zero Hour for right now.

When Zero Hour went back on hiatus around 2009, were you worried about the band’s future or your future as a musician, or did you have other projects in line to keep yourself busy?

Yeah, I was nervous. I’ve always done music with my brother and I was really nervous for him. It got to the point where he was going to do the surgery and I know he wanted to play music, but he was in for a very difficult surgery. After this, when you do the surgery, there’s nothing else they can do for you. That’s it. You keep doing physical therapy, but that’s it. So I was more worried about his health. He’s still at this point where he asks me to open a jar for him or something like that.

He’s doing much better, but there are still things you can take for granted. I was always worried what if he has kids and he wants to pick up his kids, but he’s not able to. There is those little things in life you start thinking about, like, ‘Man, this is pretty rough on him.’ I was worried, and of course I could have done other things, but my brother and I have been doing this for a long time together. I’ve never played with any other bass player, so it would feel very weird. I got asked to do a couple of things, I thanked them for thinking of me, but my brother has been asked in the past too to do things, and we just like doing this stuff together. Maybe later on we’ll branch out, but for now luckily, he’s okay and we’ll going to keep continuing.

As part of Abnormal Thought Patterns, if you could tour with one band, past or present, who would it be and why?

Right now, if I would say a present band, it would definitely be Animals As Leaders. That would be a sick bill. Those guys are amazing and I’m loving their new CD. I’m into what’s going on with them. If I had the past - though our music wouldn’t fit or anything, but I’m a huge fan - Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow I would do in a second. I would want to be at every show watching those guys play. I’m a huge Pink Floyd fan too, so that would be a tough one right there of those two.

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1. Sarjoo writes:

Having known Jasun and Troy Tipton for a good 10 years now, they are the most down to earth musicians anyone could ever meet. They do not let their egos get in the way of their personal and professional lives as musicians, and it truly shows within their songwriting, whether it be in Zeroo Hour, Cynthesis or Abnormal Thought Patterns.
Listening to their playing is like going on one hell of a thrill ride through the unknown, ya, because you just do not know what to expect at each turn.

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