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 theres one type of
music you like, youd 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, theres 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 isnt 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
andthen if thats 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, theyve 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.
mwe3.com presents an interview with
BUBBLE GUM ORCHESTRA
How did Beyond Time evolve and how do you feel its 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
mwe3: Anthem Of Hope starts off the album. Whats
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? Whats 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.
How about Trans Form Her? Subtitled Transformer
Girls, it has a kind of anthem like chorus... Were
from the future, but we came from the past. Again the computer
takes on a female (computer) form... with all those inputs... are
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, Im
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 thats
a good reason to love a robot? I love the line... I dont
know if Ill stay, But Ill never let you get away...
I like the intro with the female sounding robot voice!
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
no formula for any BGO song other than to give the listener some ear
candy and maybe a smile. An example
"23rd Century Woman"
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.
Laine Hildebrandt: The social theme through out Beyond Time
is that man is destroying our Earth and if he does not stop
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. Im 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 Im
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
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.
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? Whos 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.
Whos 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
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.
Is Im 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
mwe3: Did you take the title Beyond Time from Weve
Lost Our Connection? Is the song personal or applied in a broader
context? Mission control we have lost our connection...
Theres some great interplay between you and Douglas - keyboards
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 Weve 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
mwe3: Is God Save Us All Overture part of a bigger
plan? Its more spiritual than religious I guess?
Laine Hildebrandt: It's part of the bigger plan on this album
"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 todays 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 youll 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
mwe3: The Worlds About To End is subtitled
Lets Live For Today. 2395 seems like a long way
off but its really not that far in the scheme of things. Its
seems like were 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 Worlds
About To End is a heavy, serious statement so I wanted to combine
that thought with the upbeat Lets 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.
Destination Home is pretty reflective. Taking time out
to be human. Just the title Destination home, Ill 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 well (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
"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.
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