Waken Eyes is an epic new collective on the horizon, based out of Canada and beyond! The sonnets found within the staggering confines of their debut magnum opus Exodus is an auditory adventure in progressive metal that will surely exhilarate all types of music aficionados. Featuring the vast talents of founder Tom Frelek on guitars, Henrik Båth [Darkwater] on vocals, Mike Lepond [Symphony X] on bass and Marco Minnemann [The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson, Joe Satriani] on drums, Waken Eyes is a work of artistry that will stun the senses and set the imagination in flight. Waken Eyes is due to be unleashed October 30th via Ulterium Records, and is well worth seeking out. We recently had a chance to interview Waken Eyes mastermind Tom Frelek to find out more about the limitless sounds to be found within Exodus. Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Waken Eyes, and how long the band has been together.
Hey guys! My name is Tom Frelek and I am the guitar player in Waken Eyes. The band is a collaborative project so I wouldn’t say we’ve all been “together” for any period of time. But the project has been going on for around 2 years.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
The band is based out of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. But the other guys are in the USA and Sweden. The music scene here in Mississauga isn’t too vibrant since Toronto is near by and where most of this happens so I’ll talk about Toronto. I wouldn’t call Toronto a big local metal city. It is more popular in the indie music scene I would say. But there are quite a few nice places to watch some talented jazz and blues bands.
Is there any story or concept behind the title Exodus?
Yes. The underlying theme of the record is fear and to be fearless. The definition of Exodus is to depart or emigrate from. So we are painting the picture to depart from fear and by strong willed and fearless. Every song on the album has a little bit to do with this theme that includes fear from Media, government, love, spirituality, war, depression. I think the title ‘Exodus‘ is a powerful name to combat all these fears we deal with daily.
Select two songs from Exodus and what inspired the lyrics.
‘Back To Life‘ is an example of fear getting the best of you and eventually turning into regret, depression, feeling alone and struggling with finding purpose in your life. Kind of a battle within yourself. I think everyone goes through these things at one point or another. It is about rising above trial and tribulation.
‘Deafening Thoughts” was inspired about how governments and media controls it’s viewers through its false propaganda. The line “walk with the slaves, as they broadcast illusions obey” is one of the lyrical lines that show this.
Who did the artwork for Exodus and how much input did you have on it?
The Artwork was designed by Nick Chou. A Belgium Artist. I had lots of input in the cover as well as the label. We both agreed this one was the most meaningful. We did have another cover which we didn’t end up using as it didn’t depict the message quite as clear. I wanted to have The tree of life in the middle of the scene surrounded by dark cloudy eyes above watching down to signify that classic battle between good and evil and that evil is always watching around the corner. Kind of similar to the quote, “Even though I walk in the valley of shadow and death, I fear no evil”
The title track is nearly 19 minutes long. How easy of difficult was it to write and coordinate a song that long?
I’m not really too sure how long it took to be honest. But I know it was very natural for me. I already had riffs and ideas of how I wanted it to sound. I knew I wanted the middle section to have that montage of quotes mixed with an orchestration of classical instruments. I wanted heavy parts for certain sections and groovy but slow parts for others. It t was a matter of deciding what the reason was for for this section to be at this place and time. Should this be heavy or soft? All these decisions take into play to this song. The funny thing about writing long songs for me. They come easier because I have so much to say and ideas build of previous ideas and the song just builds itself in way until you truthfully know it has to end. Shorter songs are a challenge because you have limited amount of time to say a mouth full! lol
Has Waken Eyes ever played live or plan to do so in future days?
Waken Eyes hasn’t played live yet. As for shows, we have to see the response for the record and see if there is a demand. Every guy on this project has other projects and tours they are on. If timing is right and there is a demand then it is possible for sure!
What prior or current projects have you been involved with and what is your music background?
I have been involved in my own instrumental album and live band for a few years now. Currently working on the next one as we speak. I’ve played in a past Progressive Metal bands and been sort of a freelance musician for all kinds of styles as well.
I started playing guitar at age 10 and never put it down since. I took a few months of classical lessons, studied music theory in High School extensively and eventually continued to learn on my own. I enjoy writing classical pieces as well. I’ve always loved the layering of multiple instruments at one time. I’ve always been a fan of classical music, so that really helps shape my song writing in terms of inspiration. Metal came into play when I first heard Master of Puppets. I think that song literally gave me chills. It was that good!
How did Mike Lepond of Symphony X become involved with Waken Eyes?
Mike is such a cool dude and an extraordinary player. I got in contact with Mike after I sent him the demos with Marco playing on them. He digged the sound and after a few days of talking he was tracking the first song. His playing was superb and inspiring to say the least. I had tears of joy when I heard some of his lines for the first time! lol
What made you decide to work with Henrik Bath of Darkwater?
One of my good friends directed me to Henrik’s work with Darkwater. I absolutely loved his vocals and how he puts so much passion in every line. Powerful and honest performance, professionalism and totally bad ass lol. I was looking for a power style voice and Henrik was the perfect fit. Honoured to work with such talent!
Marco Minnemann has some really impressive credits. How did Marco become involved with Waken Eyes?
Yes. Marco is a well oiled drumming machine! Ridiculously talented musician and a really awesome and down to earth dude!
I got Marco involved through emailing him some of my demos. I was lucky enough to get him when I did because he is quite the busy guy! He was digging the songs and he started to record the drums at his studio in San Diego. He did a amazing job as per usual. I created basic drum patterns and loops as a guide but Marco certainly took it to another level. I remember listening to the early takes and almost had tears of joy in my eyes on how good he played!
If Waken Eyes could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Wow, tough question! I could literally give you a list of 20 bands! First thing that comes to mind is Dio. Dio’s music was so awesome and inspiring. I think that would be amazing. But I’m sure the other guys would have other opinions too. Iron Maiden would be amazing too. Then there is Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Queen, Kansas, Pink Floyd, Metallica… These bands are so influential for me and the other guys. For present, I’d love to play with Alter Bridge. Big fan of there work and then the giants of Dream Theater, Opeth!
What’s up next Waken Eyes?
We are eager awaiting the release of the album and hoping people like it! Good response means more things to come! 🙂
Any final words of wisdom?
Life becomes limitless when you learn to control your fears!. Know your worth! Believe in yourself, work hard and don’t be afraid, be fearless. Keep on shredding!
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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