IMAGES OF EDEN
A talk with
(Vocals, Guitars, Bass & Keyboards)
(Questionnaire by STEFAN)
METAL TO INFINITY
As in wrote in my review for the new Images Of Eden’s new album entitled “Rebuilding the Ruins”, Progressive Rock and Metal music became a real world wide hype. No matter where you live in the world, you always have the chance to support your own local progressive scene. To speak for my homeland Belgium, well we have a few very good Progbands in the field but honestly spoken the scene ain’t that strong as for example in America… to me the ultimate Mecca for those into Progressive Hard Rock and Metal music.
1999 Images Of Eden appear out of the blue and took us by surprise right away.
As founder, songwriter, guitarist, bassist and keyboardist of his own band,
Gordon Tittsworth is a musical genius deserving nothing but the very best in the
past but with the arrival of Images Of Eden’s new CD he surely reaches the top
of the mountain. I want to talk to him right now, an honour to me and I'm pretty
curious to the answers he’d like to give to my questions.
Q: Hello Gordon, what’s up brother – hope all goes very well in the USA at the moment.
A: Yeah, man! All is well. “Rebuilding The Ruins” the just hit the stores last Tuesday so the last couple of months have been very busy doing promo. Also, I just scrolled through this whole word document you sent me. This may take me a while ;-). Very cool.
Q: Where exactly is Images Of Eden located and how’s the Rock and Metal scene there the last few years? Some interesting bands to announce?
A: We are based out of the Baltimore, MD/ York, PA-USA region. For those overseas, it is about 1-2 hours from Washington, DC. The local scene here for original bands is pretty bad. It’s not like Europe and South America. The thing about the bulk of the US audience is that they don’t care about original music. They’d rather go to the club and hear 3 hours of modern rock cover songs. When we first got out there in 2001, the scene was on its way downhill, then basically died. Oh well, as an original band, you just have to dig a bit further to find your venue and audience. It’s just a bit more challenging right now.
Q: As founder of the band, I'm sure you will tell us about the early days of existence, right? Where the intention came from setting up a band like IOE?
A: I started the band after leaving a band called Out of Nowhere. I realized it was time to bring my own vision to life without it being compromised. I recorded “Chapter I” with a friend of mine on drums. After that, I just kept writing, and without any conscious intention, the chapters started linking together, so I ran with it. I can say that I never really set out with a goal other than to write and play some great music based solely on inspiration. But, once I see each chapter start to form something visible, I go with it and run with the ball. I let stream of consciousness-style writing guide me. This is what we get.
Q: Did you played in other bands before the birth of Images Of Eden?
A: Wow, yeah. I had a really great time playing in bands growing up. It was cool to just jam with friends and have FUN with no “agenda” behind playing/ writing, etc. I was in a primitive prog-metal band in high school called Burning Ambition where I played guitar and sang. We were all good friends and really had a blast. We all went different ways after high school.
A few years after that, I formed a project that I really loved called Midnight’s Tide. We were a power trio where I sang and played guitar. That was the first band where I really felt total uninhibited creativity coming out. Actually, 6 songs from Images of Eden’s “Chapter I” were written in Midnight’s Tide. I later wrote a song in Images of Eden called “Midnight’s Tide”. It was inspired by the times I had and how I grew in that band… It was basically just a snapshot in time for me, looking back on the days of “Tide” and how far I’ve come.
Q: Man – besides the founder and singer of the band, you are also in charge for the rhythm guitar duties, bass lines and additional keyboards on the new album “Rebuilding The Ruins”. It must be hard labour to practise all these instruments – how your daily work schedule looks like?
A: Funny thing- I learned all of the instruments over the years, but primarily write on guitar (some piano as well). When I go to record each song, I do each instrument at a time. Basically, I play ALL rhythm guitar at once, then ALL bass, etc. I do this because, well, you’re right- I have to practice up on each instrument before tracking. I guess all of the instruments are like riding bikes.
Q: Where the lyrical content of the songs are based on?
A: Pure inspiration and life experience, just told in a positive way. I don’t like to focus on negativity because I feel like when you are constantly singing about negative stuff, you tend to practice what you preach and become more of a negative person. I know this first hand because the original lyrics to “One Last Hero” on “Chapter I” were really hateful and against someone I had a lot of animosity for at the time. I would get pissed off every time I read or sang the lyrics. Instead, I turned it around into a positive, then I felt much better. That’s kinda when I made the decision to shy away from negativity.
Q: Between the lines and according through your own mind – who can be considered as the best Progressive Hard Rock / Metal band at the moment - why?
DEAN HARRIS (Piano & Keyboards)
A: Good question- Fates Warning was and is my all time favorite prog-metal band. I also really liked Pyramaze when Lance King was with them. No BS. I know Lance is my label contact but they haven’t been the same without him, in my opinion. I still like Matt Barlow but to me, Lance was the voice for Pyramaze.
Q: To Me, Images Of Eden is obviously inspired by top acts like Fates Warning, and Queensryche mainly – an explanation please.
A: Well, yeah. They are 2 huge influences, so if the comparison is there, it is genuine. Throw Iron Maiden and Type O negative in there as well. To me, Peter Steele (Type O) was the most passionate writer in the history of metal and no one can ever come close. His passion and emotion was one of the biggest inspirations of all time to me. TON got me out of the darkest time of my life. Sadly, we lost the man last year. I noted a dedication to him in my liner notes.
Q: The debut album “Chapter I” hit the record stores in the early days of March 2001 – this was an independent release produced by yourself I guess, right? Only two members to complete the line-up – what to tell on this album Gordon?
A: This was a great recording session. I basically had a session drummer, graphic artist for the artwork, and a local studio. My goal was to do a fully self-produced CD in order to form the band. It was really just a one-man effort and I actually accomplished what I set out to do.
Q: Consisting out of only two members means that playing for a live audience had been excluded – each band longs to walk the stage sooner or later I suppose.
A: Actually, after Chapter I, I quickly formed the band and we started playing live within months, so that really worked out for us.
Q: Did you received a positive form of feedback on this debut?
A: The CD was never officially released to the world, but rather locally where I’m from (and regionally I suppose). We did receive some great feedback on a smaller scale. After the next CD (Sunlight of the Spirit) was released, I just sort of made Chapter I available to the world. Why not, right? It was also at that time where I started calling it “Chapter I”. Before that, I referred to it as the self-titled, but in reality, it IS Chapter I.
Q: Late 2006 it was time for a second album called “Sunlight Of Spirit” – released through Nightmare Records, the ultimate label in Progressive hard Rock and Metal… where the collaboration came from?
A: I was in between jobs in 2002 and had some time to kill. It was the perfect time to write the CD. I had all of the lyrics done as well as a good CD “blueprint” (musically) so I just pieced it all together over a few weeks (with the exception of a couple of songs). Once it was finished, we set out to release it on a different label that found us (before we found Nightmare Records). I gave them some autonomy to “make things happen” but we ended up getting screwed over by them (no names mentioned). At this point, I knew it was time that I take full control of IOE so this type of thing would NEVER happen again. I guess that is why I am the way I am with things. Oh yeah….. then Nightmare Records released it. Good times!
Q: Drummer Steve Kilgallon left and had been replaced by Matt Kaiser. Also Dennis Mullin joined forces as lead guitarist. Feel free to introduce the new guys Gordon.
A: To back up, Steve was a long time friend from school and more or less volunteered his drumming to Chapter I just to give me a big push in getting the project out there because he really believed in me. Very cool of him.
After that, Dennis was the first full time member that joined, and has been a picture perfect band member to work with over the years. By far, the most versatile and one of the best guitarists I have ever known (I must also mention Clint Wilson from All Too Human and Mauricio Liborio from Dread The Forsaken).
Matt Kaiser joined after 2 other drummers did not work out. He was a great drummer but decided to move in a different direction. It was a good era working with him.
Q: We at MTI webzine gave the album a well deserved, very good rating but I’d like to ask for your own feelings on the album. Better than the first one, comparable or whatever, spread the word please.
A: “Sunlight of the Spirit” was definitely a good progression from “Chapter I”, but I believe we were still a bit “wet behind the ears” during that time. I say this because with Chapter I, we were huge fish in a smaller pond because we were only compared/ critiqued on a local/ regional scale, and due to the minimal (at best) original talent in my hometown, we were literally at the top of the food chain. However, once we launched “Spirit” worldwide, I quickly saw the talent that was out there, and I realized that we should have spent more time on it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disappointed in it, but I think that it would have been tweaked a bit more. I will still always look at it as a great snapshot in time for me.
Q: Now a couple years of existence – what to say on Images Of Eden live experiences Gordon?
A: It has been a roller coaster. We’ve had some amazing shows and then some not so great shows (crowd-wise). Just like every band- sometimes you get lucky and clean house and sometimes, you get screwed by the club, promoter, etc. and end up having a “live band rehearsal”. No real complaints, though.
Q: Just before the release of the new album “Rebuilding The Ruins”, IOE released a single entitled “Tribal Scars”. Produced by yourself and Chris Lucci who was a new member in the band it seems. What happened within the Images Of Eden ranks throughout the passed years?
A: After Matt Kaiser quit in 2007, Bryan Wierman (bass) sort of slowly followed him. At that time, Dennis was unsure of how much of a step back he wanted to take only for a chance of moving forward again. So, I basically started from scratch as I did with Chapter I. Only this time, I had a TON of contacts, musicians, promoters, press/ radio, etc. in my corner, so I knew I’d have a much better chance.
I contacted Chris Lucci and he and I essentially did the whole frickin thing!
As time went on, Dennis ended up being on board and we utilized all of
our resources to re-form and re-energize.
it or not, I was very happy to see Matt and Wierman quit because I saw the band
going in a direction I was not happy about - more of a prog-rock direction and I
Believe it or not, I was very happy to see Matt and Wierman quit because I saw the band going in a direction I was not happy about - more of a prog-rock direction and I started ...
CHRIS LUCCI (Drums & Percussion)
... to feel I was losing the reigns again, which will never happen. I’ve put WAY too much blood, sweat and tears into this to not be in the driver seat. Don’t get me wrong. They were great guys to work with, but I knew something needed to happen.
Q: The tracklist of the single features a CD / radio edit version of ‘Tribal Scars’ plus a unreleased song ‘When Heaven Sleeps’. What was the main reason why unleashing a single just before the release of a third, new effort?
A: The goal was to get the video and single out there as promotional tools, mainly to warm everyone up to the release of the CD. I thought it would be best to have the 2 versions of “Tribal Scars” available as a single so I just sort of threw in “When Heaven Sleeps”. This is a tune I wrote about my experience in 2008 when I travelled to Guatemala to record the Dread The Forsaken demo. It sat on the shelf until now. I thought it would be a cool time to let it out there. You may also notice that the instrumental version of “When Heaven Sleeps” is the title track to Dread The Forsaken’s “Unbound”. Shhh… Don’t tell anyone ;-).
Q: The wait for a new full length was quite long to me Gordon, from 2006 up to 2011 a period of deadly silence descended over the existence of the band. What happened during these years of absence?
A: LOL! Yeah, it was a long time. Actually, if you look at the calendar of events, it wasn’t too bad. I had to essentially write the CD (74 minutes worth), reform the band, find the studio, producer, do the actual recordings, get the label info together, wait until the North American distributor was ready to release it (bypassing the “major label” releases), etc. I’m going to try to get the next one in well before 5 years.
Q: Since the first of March 2011, Images Of Eden’s brand new masterpiece “Rebuilding The Ruins” is a fact and the final result is fantastic man, I really mean what I say by now. Generous compositions reaching a pure form of perfection – I want you to introduce this new album Gordon.
Thanks! I really appreciate
that. This CD again takes place
where “Sunlight of the Spirit” has left off.
This was the first CD where we did not have to pay for studio time so we
could take as long as we possibly needed to record it and get it right.
This really worked out because I had a lot more time to experiment with
instrumentation/ vocal layering, and I really think that contributed to the
overall quality/ sound. When
you’re tied to a clock and always looking at cost and cannot seem to really
focus on getting things “right”. We
always tend to “settle” when having to pay so much for studio time.
This all being said, Ruins was an absolute BEAST to write, record, etc. We spent more time tracking the CD then we spent recording an mixing the 2 previous CDs. That gives an idea of the caliber of this one. Also, the storyline, progression, etc was for more in depth than the previous.
Q: Can you tell me where the title of the album is based on?
A: I had a few working titles while writing the lyrics to CD but did not decide on “Ruins” until I started to write the music for it. All signs pointed to “Rebuilding The Ruins” being the title. Basically, the story is an uplifting/ positive one about overcoming obstacles and gaining strength (much more to it than that, but you get the idea) and coincidentally, I started writing the music after Matt Kaiser and Bryan Wierman left, so I essentially had to “rebuild” the band from a “ruin”. Kinda worked out well.
Q: Mastered by Grammy-nominated producer Eric Zimmermann who’s well known for great works with bands like Fates Warning, Suicidal Tendencies among others. Where the collaboration came from actually?
A: Actually, Eric is a friend of Chris Lucci. Chris worked directly with Eric when he mixed the CD then Eric basically took over and did the mastering. I was very happy with the final product. It’s also very cool to have the name of a Grammy-nominated producer on the CD.
Q: Your way of singing on “Rebuilding The Ruins” is awesome all the way out. Barely reaching high pitched vocal lines, still very clear and fully understandable… you delivered a magnificent job based on the singing parts only. Also in charge for the rhythms guitar sections / bass lines / keyboard works and there ain’t no signs of musical lacks to detect. This is the result of a musician in very good shape, right?
I really appreciate that! Funny,
I actually learned how to play all of the instruments over many years (guitar,
bass, drums, keys & vocals). I
started off as a guitarist when I was 13, then learned bass and drums around
16/17. I took formal vocal lessons
at 18 then picked up keys much later. I
really think that playing instruments is like riding a bike, you never forget,
but may need some practice when jumping back on.
My primary instrument is the lead vocal but I utilized all of my skills
at the other instruments to make it all happen.
I can say that the best thing I have ever done, musically, was to learn all of the instruments. As you can see (or hear, rather), it helped me out a great deal! Also, it helps out that you do not have to rely on as many people when you know how to do almost everything yourself. I have found that relying on people only holds things up. Not everyone has the same motivation, unfortunately. I was actually relying on someone to play bass on Ruins (because I wanted to include this person) but all this did was drag out the process longer than it needed.
Q: What is the job of the other guys in the band Gordon? Damn right you have a brilliant deliverer of shred tactics in the ranks. Dennis Mullin is his name and I'm sure he’s having a great time within the IOE ranks, ain’t that right?
A: This CD recording was a bit more unconventional in that I did everything I “could” but had Dennis and Dean record what they were masters at. This was more due to some time constraints. Dennis did all of the lead guitar, Dean did most of the piano and some lead (Children of Autumn) and Chris did all of he drums (and mixing). We will all play our respective parts live, though. I have a “fill-in” bass player that will play bass.
DENNIS MULLIN (Lead Guitar)
Q: “Rebuilding The Ruins’ is one of the longest lasting albums I’ve heard since a very long time. A running time of more than 74 minutes is a must for true music lovers. How long it took to create an album like this?
A: Well, the first thing I did was write all of the lyrics. I casually wrote them over the course of 2 years, then I dove into the music, which only took about 4 months because I had most of the CD mapped out, musically. After that, we had to actually record this monster, which took a solid 18-ish months, then mixing. I’d say from the day I started writing lyrics to the day I got the copies in hand, it was about 5 years. Of course, this was not a 100% dedicated task. I also have a full time job, family, etc. so it was pieced together over the course of that time.
Q: What’s your favourite track by the way and why?
A: Hard decision… I’d say it would have to be a tie between “Crosses In The Sand” and “Sunlight of the Spirit Part IV- Images of Eden”. I’d say Crosses because it really showcases the musicianship, vocals and song writing and really is a quick roller coaster that covers a lot of ground in a short time. Also, Spirit IV because it is the finale of the story and really builds to a great ending. Where could I have gone from there, huh ;-)?
Q: The front cover art look great as well – who’s the one behind it?
A: I had a VERY rough concept so I scanned a bad sketch I did, then emailed it to Dennis Mullin, who is a graphic artist by trade. I told him that I was open to his thoughts / suggestions. He came back a few weeks later with the entire layout. I really liked the layout a lot and after very minor tweaks, it was completely done.
Q: The album will be available in Europe through Nightmare Records, is that correct? Any other places where people can order the album?
A: Yes, the CD is available worldwide with no real limits. It is available digitally everywhere (ITunes, Rhapsody, etc.) but physical copies are in many worldwide distributors. If you cannot find it at a local store, always search online. There are a ton of retailers where it can be ordered. If nothing else, go to www.imagesofeden.com/discography3.htm. Order it there and we will ship it anywhere in the world.
Q: Which thoughts cross your mind while looking back to an existence of more than 10 year? Are you totally agree with everything you’ve done or reached so far?
A: Actually, there is no book on how to really make it in this business. I think I really learned a lot by trial and error which resulted in wasting some time. I can always look back and say that I could have done things better but I always made the best decisions based on the info I had at the time. I was also distracted by random acts of poor advice from time to time, some of which I ignored. I’m glad I did because I don’t think I’d be where I am if I did not go with my gut feelings.
Q: One thing in your life you absolutely wants to see become reality – what would that be?
A: Doing this (music) full time and not having a 9-5 desk job. My company is pretty cool but this is a no-brainer. Maybe that’s why I’m so deep into so many musical projects.
Q: The summer festivals start within a couple of month – do you have any plans?
A: Right now, I’m hitting up many of the festivals that I have contacts for in my database. I hope we can get out thee for some fests. We’ll have to let time tell. If anyone is interested in having us, please email me.
Q: Okay Gordon, it was a true pleasure having this conversation – again, thanks for the delivery of such a great, new album. Regards to the rest of the band and nothing else to say than keep up the great works brother.
A: Stefan, you have been amazing to work with here recently and I thank you very much for this opportunity. I’m very happy that you hold the CD in such high regard. It makes everything we do totally worthwhile.
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