BUBBLE GUM ORCHESTRA
Beyond Time
(BGO Recordings)

 

One part rock-opera, one part science fiction soundtrack, the 2014 CD release of Beyond Time is the best album yet from futuristic American rockers Bubble Gum Orchestra. If there’s one type of music you like, you’d be hard pressed not to find it on Beyond Time. Group founder Michael Laine Hildebrandt and his trusty cohort and brother, Douglas Hildebrandt once again delivers the goods on a full length CD extravaganza that crosses musical borders with the ease of an interstellar space ship zooming mach speed across the universe. If alien beings could, perhaps tune into the power of Earth rock, then surely Bubble Gum Orchestra would be high on their list. Although the multitalented Michael Hildebrandt handles all the vocals here, there’s certainly no shortage of fantastic musical ideas thanks, in no small part, to his uncanny ability to pair memorable, melodic hooks together with dazzling, progressive keyboard / guitar based rock arrangements with ease. Some prog traditionalists may argue that BGO isn’t really progressive rock and certainly not fusion. However, in the spirit of The Beatles and ELO before them, BGO proves the best pop and rock is music that features stay in the head melodies and—then if that’s the criteria for a great album, (as it still is for so many pop fans)—Beyond Time more than fits the bill. Commenting on the 2014 July 2014 CD release of Beyond Time, Michael adds, “I had always envisioned writing a concept album somewhere and sometime in my lifetime and felt after doing the first three BGO albums that now was the right time to do it. Beyond Time is different from the first three BGO albums in regards to the music. It's heavier, more synth oriented but still has that BGO "feel" to it.” Several guest artists appear, including one time Wings horn man Steve Howard, yet for the most part, Beyond Time is the brainchild of Michael Hildebrandt and, together with his brother / guitarist Douglas, they’ve created yet another BGO CD masterpiece. Rock fans with a penchant for both catchy pop and wide screen progressive rock ideas that incorporate sci-fi concepts, should give Beyond Time a good spin. Music fans looking for something new and exciting in 2014, listen up: Beyond Time is the future of rock music today.
www.BubbleGumOrchestra.com/beyond-time-2014



mwe3.com presents an interview with
Michael Laine Hildebrandt of
BUBBLE GUM ORCHESTRA



mwe3
: How did Beyond Time evolve and how do you feel it’s different from the first three BGO albums? You had mentioned Beyond Time is more progressive in scope. Where and when were the Beyond Time tracks written and recorded and who plays with you on the album?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: I had always envisioned writing a concept album somewhere and sometime in my lifetime and felt after doing the first three BGO albums that now was the right time to do it. Beyond Time is different from the first three BGO albums in regards to the music. It's heavier, more synth oriented but still has that BGO "feel" to it. It is definitely more prog rock this time around. The Beyond Time sessions were written in BGO's infamous Blue Violin Studio's over a 17 month - up to six hours a day, every day - period. My brother Douglas Hildebrandt, Pete Hackett (UK), Joey C. Jones and Steve Howard (Wings) are heard on this new album.

mwe3: “Anthem Of Hope” starts off the album. What’s the inside story behind the next track, “23rd Century Woman”? “She tried to unplug me from the world”... The internet is making access to love more accessible but is there a chance we will end up loving our computer life more than the way love used to be? What’s your real-time message here?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: I was thinking of humans vs. machines and their ultimate struggle to coexist in a far away world. Through out the writing process of this new album, that was always on my mind so the line, “She tried to unplug me from the world” seemed appropriate. Our lonely astronaut is reminiscing back to the year 2395 and wandering "what the hell has gone wrong with our world" while still attempting to hold onto some form of love.

mwe3: How about “Trans Form Her”? Subtitled “Transformer Girls”, it has a kind of anthem like chorus... “We’re from the future, but we came from the past”. Again the computer takes on a female (computer) form... with all those inputs... are computers female?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: “Trans Form Her” goes in two directions theme wise but ends up as one. Four beauties and their game playing ways with almost sinister motives are one part and the little girl's voice stating, "Oh to be for ever human" while the little boys keeps reminding her, "You will never be anything more than a machine". is the second part. The title is an obvious play on words which is tightly tangled and fused together with the heartbreak of the two children and their struggles to exist in a world destined for doom. It's a light, easy going song on one hand but the children's dilemma is heart breaking.

mwe3: Speaking of “Trans Form Her” girls, “I’m In Love With A Robot” is yet another track here where cyber-love is attempting to replace real human contact. Is the theme “A new world rising is out of control” and “No human satisfies me”? “To never have hurt again”... I guess that’s a good reason to love a robot? I love the line... “I don’t know if I’ll stay, But I’ll never let you get away”... I like the intro with the female sounding robot voice!

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: You are correct with all your insights on this song and nailed the message completely. Our lonely astronaut is seemingly fed up with the female human species so he builds a robot and programs her to love him. I think this guy might be onto something! (lol) Tons of heavy guitars on this song. Douglas wrote the music to this one.

mwe3: All your albums, but especially Beyond Time, sounds like the lyrics are as equally important as the melody and arrangement. Do you find yourself spending more time on the song melody and arrangement or more time on the lyrics? What usually comes first? Can you give an example where one came before the other?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: The lyrics are always very important to me as a songwriter (on all previous BGO albums) and especially on this themed/conceptual album. Everything had to fit together just right and keep the story going for 14 songs. I spend equal time on all aspects of the song compositions. The lyrics and melodies come first sometimes and the music comes first sometimes…there is no formula for any BGO song other than to give the listener some ear candy and maybe a smile. An example… "23rd Century Woman"…I wrote the opening guitar riff while out running one day and wrote the rest of the music around that then I wrote the lyrics secondly. I wrote all the lyrics and melodies for "ELO Forever" first, then the music. It all varies when it comes to writing a BGO song.

mwe3: Is there a social theme or commentary running through Beyond Time? Do you ever mix politics into your song lyrics or do you find it tends to divide people? I wonder what politics will be like in 50 or 100 years, if Earth can make it that is.

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: The social theme through out Beyond Time is that man is destroying our Earth and if he does not stop…everything and everyone will be gone someday. No politics here, just a plead for humanity to get this planet back on track, to get along and to love one another. Hmmm, "Loving One Another", sounds familiar like a Distant Song from the past.

mwe3: Is “Return 2 4 Ever” a plea to return to a simpler time? I like the play upon the “return to forever” name theme. “I’m remembering me and you, may the future pull us through”. Is that a longing to find real love in a world of cyber sex and living our lives through passwords only to say “I’m so very sorry”... Sounds like a postcard from Major Tom in some far off galaxy, to his wife. Great strings sound near the close of the song!

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: Your interpretation is very close to what I was thinking when I penned the lyrics to this one. I thought the term Return to Forever was mind boggling and went with it which provided me with enough inspiration to create the mood and story of the song . My brother Douglas wrote the music and I thought it had a futuristic "Uncle Albert, Admiral Halsey" vibe to it. Trying to hold on to someone when gravity keeps pulling them apart time after time is the theme on this one.

mwe3: “Earth Below Me” sounds like another plea to save the planet. I like the line “They gathered my information now all I want is to be free.” Sounds like good song to do some remixes of as it sounds like 21st century dance music? Who’s playing the tasty guitar solo at the end of the track?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: Our lonely astronaut has fallen asleep in deep space inside the Big Blue Ship and starts dreaming a series of events that keep his hopes high in that he can return to Earth someday, if Earth survives!? It does have a modern feel to it with its electronic guitar/ drum driven music. I also played a theremin throughout which gives the song its distinctive sound and vibe. Peter Hackett of the UK band, Cult Of Wedge played all the lead spacey and tasty guitars on this song. I sent him the song via time travel and he read my mind with his input and vision so I ended up using everything he recorded. Sweet Savage front man and solo artist, Joey C. Jones sings the line, "All I want is to be free". It's a cool song and BGO'S second single.

mwe3: How much did the guitar factor in the making of the Beyond Time? Do you feel the Beyond Time album is much more guitar-centric than previous BGO albums? Can you tell us something about the
guitars featured on the Beyond Time album? Did you play any guitars on the CD and what are some of the hi-tech keyboard instruments or computer programs you?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: During the writing sessions of "Beyond Time" it came apparent to me that I would be adding a lot more heavier guitars through out this album than any other BGO title in the past.
With the futuristic theme riddled through out, louder, heavier guitars fit right into the master plan. I picked up a Tom Scholz limited edition Gibson Les Paul for my arsenal of weapons and recorded with it on 95 percent of the 14 songs. Ovation acoustic 12 and 6 string guitars were used also and a Rickenbacker 360 electric 12 string was used only on "Destination Home" panned hard left. I wrote most of the guitar parts and called in my brother Douglas to play those parts. I personally played the lead guitar on "Destination Home". I use a variety of programs when recording a BGO album. A new one that I used a lot on Beyond Time is from Ron Papen called Predator. It was highly recommended by BGO guest piano man Les Farrington. It was fun experimenting with all those amazing sounds and then incorporating them into my vision for these 14 songs on Beyond Time.

mwe3: Who’s playing what instruments on “ELO Forever”? When did you first hear ELO and do you have some favorite albums from them? ELO has a pretty amazing history as they were originally The Move but Jeff Lynne really tapped into something back then. I saw them in early ‘74 at Philharmonic Hall, which later was named Avery Fisher Hall. I feel their music does hold a lot of nostalgia.

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: I performed all the lead vocals, backing vocals, drums/percussion, bass guitar and the strings and their arrangements. My brother Douglas played all the acoustic and electric guitar parts plus the lead guitar and some background vocals harmonies. Long time friend Joey C.
Jones sang with me in the chorus' (panned right) and on the outro fade of “ELO Forever”. I had Joey double his tracks, as I usually do, and it turned out very nice. I love it! My first ELO album was A New World Record. I was hooked instantly and then started with their first album and moved to the next and so on. I was not into The Move and ELO 1 & 2 were hard for me to get into also except for a few songs. On The Third Day really connected with me and I love all the rest of their catalog with Out Of The Blue being my favorite. It is cool you got to see them that early in their career…must have been a great show and memory. I wanted to go see them in Chicago on the OOTB tour but my Mom said it was too far so I ended up seeing them live in Minneapolis/ St. Paul Minnesota in 1981 on the "Time" tour.

mwe3: Is “I’m Coming Back Home” country music of the future? Intergalactic Red Cross? Again some great guitar tones and a solid vocal from you!

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: My brother Douglas wrote this entire song, music and lyrics except for the lead guitar part. I went for a BGO meets Boston sound and it was written as a tribute to Brad Delp. I'm not sure about the country theme but everyone has their own take on a song. We recorded with the Les Paul pumping through some vintage analog Tom Scholz Rockman gear. Might be the first BGO song ever without strings!?

mwe3: Did you take the title Beyond Time from “We’ve Lost Our Connection? Is the song personal or applied in a broader context? “Mission control we have lost our connection”... There’s some great interplay between you and Douglas - keyboards and guitars?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: No . I didn't…I wrote that line "So I sit here and ponder, and as I wonder, what it's like to go Beyond Time" first in “We’ve Lost Our Connection" and then wrote the song "Beyond Time" later. This song is 50 percent personal and the other half is just me having fun and rocking out with the “Mission control we've have lost our connection” angle. It's a deep, somewhat sorrowful song underneath the upbeat chorus.

mwe3: Is ‘God Save Us All Overture” part of a bigger plan? It’s more spiritual than religious I guess?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: It's part of the bigger plan on this album stating…"GOD save us through this broken land, GOD save us on your divine plan, GOD save us on this broken planet now". One could definitely apply it spiritually to today’s current world we live in also. For the album though, it's a plea to hang onto what's left in a dying, cynical, futuristic world.

mwe3: Do you think one day you’ll bring BGO on the road? What kind of show would you like to do in a live setting?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: I will bring BGO on the road if we can tour with Electric Light Orchestra and The Beatles consisting of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Julian Lennon and Dhani Harrison. There you have it, I've set the bar high and will start putting my live band together as soon as I get "the call" ! BGO in a live setting has to have at least a 20 piece string section to even think about coming close to recreating the sound of the albums. I am somewhat of a perfectionist so it's that or nothing. I won't do the "acoustic" thing either. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!?

mwe3: “The World’s About To End” is subtitled “Let’s Live For Today”. 2395 seems like a long way off but it’s really not that far in the scheme of things. It’s seems like we’re torn between “This world will never survive” and “You and I are gonna find a way to make it.”

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: The title, “The World’s About To End” is a heavy, serious statement so I wanted to combine that thought with the upbeat “Let’s Live For Today” part of it. The line, "devolution of the human race, who is gonna save us from ourselves" works nicely with the “You and I are gonna find a way to make it” part. It's about holding onto someone no matter what is going on around you and never letting go.

mwe3: “Destination Home” is pretty reflective. Taking time out to be human. Just the title “Destination home, I’ll find a way”... has a positive vibe and a cool country flavored guitar solo near the end. Is that Douglas on guitar?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: “Destination Home” was the last one I penned for Beyond Time. I wrote and performed all the lead guitars on this song and wanted it to have a somewhat country twang through out. Steve Howard of Wings can be heard on this song along with my uncle Richard Duburg's vintage Kay 6 string acoustic guitar. I also introduced the 12 string electric Rickenbacker 360 on this tune. My brother Douglas played all the rhythm guitars. The only thing our lonely astronaut wants is to finally come home and realizes he never will because of a malfunction in the Big Blue Ship. It was sad for me to end this song like that but things are not always pretty in the land of Beyond Time.

mwe3: The title track “Beyond Time” gives you a good chance to explain something about the title and how you came up with the name? The song is a two part song that ends with an underture. Actually it is really the centerpiece of the album. I guess it will never be unfashionable to pray, even to pray to find another world? A lot of people feel the world made some tragic turns these past 15 years but I suppose we’ll (not?) see... “This is our journey, will it bring us piece of mind”?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: I went to another dimension when I wrote this song. I started reflecting on life and the after life asking serious questions and wondering what is out there beyond the great beyond…"Beyond Time". I single tracked the lead vocal, kept the music straight forward wrote an old "AM radio" sounding string solo that made me cry with its melody. The "Underture" is the finally to a very adventurous 17 month trek far into my song writing imagination ending another chapter in the BGO music catalog.

mwe3: So four albums in for Bubble Gum Orchestra. What is the next step for BGO and are there other sonic worlds to explore? Perhaps a rock opera next or...?

Michael Laine Hildebrandt: I will be extensively exploring the good and sad side of love on the next BGO album. Straight up love songs designed to tug at your heart strings. 11 songs have been written and a lot of the music has been recorded as of this writing. "You Gave Up On Love", "Fireflys" and the ever so dreamy "Goodbye Until Tomorrow" are an indication where we are headed on V. The Big Blue Ship has ended its space mission with the completion of Beyond Time and is docked somewhere in eternity.

Thanks to Michael Laine Hildebrandt @ www.bubblegumorchestra.com

 

 
   
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