THE NAMM SHOW 2016 Interviews
Nicolas van Dyk of Redemption
The NAMM Show 2016 is not only a terrific opportunity to catch up on the latest in state of the art music gear, but it’s also a fantastic way to network as well. Nicolas Van Dyk, the guitarist, keyboardist, and overall mastermind of Redemption was at The Anaheim Convention Center for the music instruments as well as promotion of a brand new album! The Art Of Loss is the sixth glorious magnum opus to be unveiled by Redemption via Metal Blade Records, a progressive rock and metal adventure that is sure to intrigue all type of music aficionados. Even in spite of the activity taking place throughout the convention, we found a quiet place to chat with the maestro van Dyk about his latest and greatest creation The Art Of Loss, which features Ray Alder of Fates Warning on lead vocals, Bernie Versailles on Guitars, Sean Andrews on bass, and Chris Quirarte on drums! And now we catch up Nick inside a sound booth at this years edition of NAMM…
What are you doing here at NAMM and what exhibits are you most excited about seeing?
This is as much a social event and an opportunity to talk with people like yourself as it is to see particular instruments. I work a lot with a company called Conklin and they are not even here this year, they were here last year. So this is mostly an opportunity to catch up with friends in the industry and meet folks like you.
Your new album is called The Art of Loss. Any story or concept behind that title?
You know it’s just something that sort of came to me originally before we had written even most of the song or any of the lyrics and I remember joking with, I called my vocalist. So what do you think of the title, “The Art of Loss?” He paused and said it’s kind of bleak but it is metal so it’s not going to be about roses and dandelions. So, I didn’t write the songs to tie to the title in particular, but there’s a theme that runs through the record about the choice that we have at points in our life between decisions based on fear versus decisions based on love and sometimes that includes letting go of things whether it’s a job or relationship that isn’t working, or just knowing that there’s a cycle to certain parts of our life and it’s okay to let go. That’s sort of what we mean by The Art of Loss.
Select two songs from The Art Of Loss and what inspired the lyrics?
Well most of our lyrics are about the human condition. I don’t write about trolls or the Carpathian myths or you know that sort of stuff. They are fun. I’ve never been to Carpathia I’m sure it’s nice this time of year. So they’re usually about our relationship with ourselves or with other people or with the world at large. That said, there’s a song called “Thirty Silver,” which is an illusion of betrayal – and that was related to an unpleasant interaction I had with my long time mentor in my day job that lent itself to some pretty angry lyrics. So that was good material for a song anyhow. And then the song “Damaged” is about the notion that we are the product of all our experiences. So we bring to any new interaction with somebody all the baggage good and bad from everything else we’ve done to that point in our life, and everybody’s got some damage that affects the way we interact with people.
Compare this one to the previous Redemption releases.
So we had a sort of signature sound for the last several records. I think we have a unique blend of pretty aggressive and heavy riffing and very strong melodic tendencies. That’s not something you hear very often. We also have a sort of a cinematic quality to our music. The sort of lyrics that speak to people so when it resonates, there’s what we’ve taken a calling to a certain emotional urgency to the music. So I think it doesn’t sound that different from other previous work, but I like to think we’re getting better at song writing as we go. I think the performances are the strongest they have ever been. Ray (Alder) sounds fantastic, as frankly, he’s been touring with Fates Warning for a couple of years and his voice is in great shape. On our last record, to be blunt, I think he sounded tired, but he sounds really, really strong here. It’s the best work he’s done for us. We went back to our previous producer Tommy Hansen to give it sort of a lush warm sound which we didn’t have on the last record. So I think it’s the best production we ever had, the best performances we ever had, and best song writing we had. It’s good stuff.
Going back, when you look back on the first records you did with Sensory, what do you think of them now?
The first record, I had no idea it was going to see the light of day. It has a couple of seeds of respectability in it, but it’s pretty much a demo relative to the rest of our work. I try to think about it as little as possible, [laughs]. The first record we did with Ray for Sensory is The Fullness of Time and I think it’s a pretty good record for what it is. It’s got some really strong high points, and some fan favorites. People refer to it as a reference point when they talk about our discography. A good record. I think we got better from there, we got more consistent from there. Not everything is “Sapphire,” which is the best song on that record but everything is pretty close. I’m proud of that one, but sort of each step through the catalog I get more proud.
Are we going to see any Redemption live shows this year?
Yeah, hopefully both in Europe and the States, fingers are crossed. It’s always a difficult thing to do, we’re not 20 years old and we’re not going to pile in a van and drive around and eat Top Ramen. We’ve got families and responsibilities we’ve got to keep. It’s hard to do a two month tour across the country, but, we managed to do six weeks with Dream Theater and I’m sure we could manage to structure something. We’re talking with some pretty interesting bands that are friends that would be a good pairing.
What would be the ultimate pairing? If you could open for any band either now or from the past, who and why?
That’s so hard to say. We had such a good time touring with Dream Theater. It would be hard to top that. I’d love to play out with them in Europe. So, Frank / Solomon, if you’re reading this, give me a call. The bands that I’d most like to – it’s hard to say. Iron Maiden, Rush, I don’t see anyone opening for Rush and I don’t see anybody opening and not getting stuff thrown at them opening for Iron Maiden. We’re happy to play out with anybody, It’s a cop out answer but it’s true.
You mentioned your music is cinematic. Is that something you’re interested in doing, soundtracks?
No, to do that right takes an immense amount of work and I just don’t have the time and I doubt I have the creative chops to pull it off. I can put some stuff together that has a cinematic quality to it, but scoring a two hour movie is a whole different ball of wax. In my day job, I’m involved with people that do that for a living and that’s a full time job. Hard to do. I have a ton of respect for people who do that.
Are you involved in any other bands or projects outside of Redemption?
I’ve done a bit of work with a friend’s band Fool’s Game that signed to Cruz Del Sur. I basically played keys and helped with a little bit of songwriting on that. I’ve been asked by other people, Ray and I have both contributed to a really cool Italian band called Eldridge. We did some vocals on that and a guitar solo on one of their records. Don’t do a whole lot just because we don’t have that much time. It’s not like I’m Steven Wilson, so… [laughs].
Do you have any messages for Redemption fans who have followed you throughout this time who are reading this now?
We are really thankful for our fans. It’s the type of music that when it connects with somebody it really clicks, we have the best fans and people constantly talk to us about how much the music means to them. We really appreciate it to be able to do this for you guys. Just really thankful for your interest and support.
(Interview and Nicolas van Dyk photo by Ken Morton)
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