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5th August 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: [To John] Considering you were away from the scene for a number of years pre-ĎA Twist of Fateí and then another eight years before this one, your voice still sounds remarkable, I have to say. Have you kept it well trained over the years?
(Jim Matheos on 'Sympathetic Resonance')
"Itís Fates Warning without Ray. I mean, thereís no getting around that but itís not supposed to be marketed that way; itís not any intent of John being the new singer and replacing Ray."
Jim Matheos and John Arch in London, UK, 5th August 2011
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2011 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Arch/Matheos Official Website:
Sympathetic Resonance (2011)
Thanks to Andy Turner and Will Palmer for arranging the interview
Arch/Matheos Official Facebook:
MD: Really?!
JOHN: No, not at all! Thatís one of the things Ė Iím not involved fulltime in music so I have other interests, work ten hour days and like any other bloke on the planet where Iíve got bills and responsibilities or whateverÖ not that musicians donít but I chose a different path. So I fell out of rehearsing and keeping my voice up after ĎA Twist of Fateí and went back to my daily routines. So, of course, when Jim approached me on this, that was part of the apprehension because my instrument was not finely honed. That was a whole other process. As we were getting together and I was listening to what Jim had written and tried to wrap my mind around that, I was also, in conjunction with that, was getting my voice back in shape as we were doing the demos. And then we were listening to the demos to see how the music was coming out and what it was gonna sound like because you just never know. So, as far as my voice is concernedÖ still have a lot of work ahead of me. I appreciate the compliment but I was able to buy some time in the studio and able to sing nine/ten hour days and get some good stuff out of that.
MD: It sounds amazingÖ [To Jim] What do you think of Johnís performance?
JIM: I think it sounds amazing to me. I think he downplays it. I donít think he does it purposefullyÖ but, to me, it sounds amazing. He sounds as good as he ever did.
MD: So was Ray [Alder] totally cool with the heavy involvement of present Fates Warning members in this project?
JIM: Yeah and, honestly, itís a little weird for him; itís a little weird for all of us but he understands. Rayís probably my best friend in the world. We just had a blast together, all of us in Europe doing those dates, and weíre gonna do a record next year. Itís all good.
MD: A lot of people have been touting this online as like a Fates Warning reunion of sorts what with Frank [Aresti] back in there as well...
JIM: Itís Fates Warning without Ray. I mean, thereís no getting around that but itís not supposed to be marketed that way; itís not any intent of John being the new singer and replacing Ray. Itís just the way it worked out that I love working with those guys that are in the band and theyíre great players.
JOHN: And all the dramaís on the internet, itís not between us. Ray and I are great friends and we have a mutual respect for each other - Iím a fan of Rayís and Rayís a fan of mine. I just think this opportunity presented itself to make some music and thatís the bottom line.
MD: Absolutely, thatís always the way it should be read.
JOHN: It should, I think.
MD: So have you been reading much stuff online about what people have been saying about this project, like on Blabbermouth for example?
JIM: No, I hate Blabbermouth!
MD: I actually took a look on Blabbermouth at news articles about this project and considering how much trolling and badmouthing goes on whenever any news itemís published on there, there were ninety nine per cent positive comments about you. It was like, wow!
JOHN: Yeah, I never thought Iíd be on Facebook but Brian [Slagel] thought it might be a good ideaÖ I signed up for Facebook and was pleasantly surprised. Everythingís been positive and it was a good way to connect with the fans. To make it a little bit more personal, Iíve answered everybody that has posted on my John Arch site. Iíve answered everybodyís question that has been asked.
JIM: And now youíre gonna get more!
MD: Are we talking hundreds or thousands?
JOHN: Hundreds; itís been manageable. But everybodyís been great. I wonít be on Facebook forever but I think that now is a good time to sit and get in contact, and itís been positive feedback. Thereís some good talent out there in the Facebook world. There are some good people out thereÖ good fans.
MD: Thereís one comment I read on Blabbermouth, to quote one guy: ďJohn Arch is hands down the greatest singer in prog-metalĒ. How do you react to that?
JOHN: Do you know what? I almost have to be numb to that because I donít feel that way and I have a hard time with adulation. I can handle a compliment every now and then but those are strong words. Itís a compliment to me but I can never live up to those expectations and I donít want to live up to those expectations. Some days I sound great, some days I donít sound so great. So whatever that means, ďthe greatest vocalistĒ, if that person feels that way, well, Iím honoured but Iím a little bit more self-criticalÖ
MD: You have no ego.
JOHN: I canít find myself in that place because when you take things for granted and start to absorb too much of that stuff, you get lazy or other bad things happen. But thatís just an inherent part of my personality. I donít think like that at all. Iím grateful that I had an opportunity to do something like this and Iím grateful that my voice came back to a respectable level.
MD: Just respectable?! Thatís very humble.
JOHN: Any time Iím asked to step in front of a microphone, trust me, itís not easy for me.
MD: So is this intended to be a one-off project or is there gonna be any further collaborations between the two of you?
JIM: I think, originally, we thought about doing just this one thing but we had such a good time doing it and it seems to be getting a great responseÖ we havenít discussed it yet because weíre still dealing with this one but I think thereíll definitely be another one.
JOHN: Yeah, Iíd definitely be open to the idea.
MD: Can we expect any live shows in support of the album as you have a tour dates section on the website but itís empty?
JIM: [laughs] Yeah, itís empty!
MD: But there is a tour dates section, soÖ
JIM: Itís a start!
MD: Exactly!
JIM: [laughs]
MD: You just need to book some shows and fill it up!
JOHN: Yeah, itís funny as everyoneís number one question is about tour dates and I can completely understand from a fanís viewpoint that theyíd wanna see some live dates. Jim has just finished some tour dates and we havenít really had a chance to sit down and really talk at length about it but tomorrow weíre actually gonna be talking about the logistics of itÖ nothing extensive because Iím not able to do that with my current situation. Things would have to change drastically for me and thereís other people to consider, not just myself. But, having said that, weíre talking about that and weíre talking about some select dates.
MD: Maybe just some festival dates or something like that.
JIM: Yeah, yeah.
MD: So thereís a new Fates Warning album due next year, as you said earlier Ė are you still at the writing stage with that at the moment?
JIM: I havenít even started actually. When I get home Iíve got a few more things to do in August, then Iíll start in September probably.
MD: So, weíre all seeing Iron Maiden tonight, obviously one of the influences of Fates Warning back in the dayÖ
JIM: Yeah, of course.
MD: So was it a cool thing when they ended up with a song called ĎFates Warningí back in 1990 on the ĎNo Prayer for the Dyingí album?
JIM: [laughs] Yeah, I mean, I donít think it was influenced by us in any way but it was cool, yeah.
MD: Okay, the final thing I wanted to ask Ė if you had to choose five words to describe ĎSympathetic Resonanceí to encourage people who will be reading this to go out and buy the album, what would they be?
JOHN: A couple of old guys!
JIM: It is really good!
MD: Thatís four words. How about Ė it is really fucking good?! Thatís five!
JIM: [laughs] Thatís too emphatic though!
JOHN: Iíd say ďhonestĒ, lyrically.
JIM: Iím going with four.
MD: Thatís cool Ė ďit is really goodĒ Ė good closing words.
JOHN: I think itís melodic and I think itís heavy.
MD: Okay, thank you so much for your time.
JIM: Thank you, man. Awesome.
JOHN: Really cool, thank you.