in 2013, mwe3.com spoke to Chris Herin, guitarist / composer
with the Michigan-based progressive rock band Tiles. That 2013
album, Off The Floor is now followed by a 2016 Tiles album
release on New Jersey-based Lasers Edge called Pretending
2 Run. Featuring Herin and the classic Tiles lineup
with Mark Evans (drums), Jeff Whittle (bass) and Paul
Rarick (lead vocals), the all new P2R double CD studio
set has all the trademarks of a modern day prog-rock classic, including
contributions from a number of musicians, including the Tiles band
with key cameos by fabled prog pioneer Ian Anderson, drummer
Mike Portnoy, jazz fusion guitarist Mike Stern, Colin
Edwin and a host of others. Recorded in Ontario, with other contributions
sent via the internet, the double CD set was produced by Terry
Brown, a producer who has worked with Rush. Discussing the wide
sweeping concepts of P2R in the following interview, Chris
Herin tells mwe3.com, "Pretending 2 Run didnt start
out as a double album, but we certainly had accumulated plenty of
songs. Eventually we realized we had nearly 75-minutes of music, but
didnt want to make a single disc that long. So we could either
leave songs out or add a couple and expand the album to two CDs. From
an artistic standpoint going to two discs was a good decision. I was
able to add a bit more drama and depth to the story and musically
we could grab a couple more tunes from our backlog. Personally, I
like spreading the story over two discs; you can listen to one or
the other, or both in one sitting." Setting
the trend as one of America's finest 21st century progressive rock
bands , Tiles reaches even greater sonic heights with Pretending
2 Run. www.tiles-music.com
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Chris Herin of TILES
The Pretending 2 Run Interview
Pretending 2 Run is the long-awaited follow up to Tiles
two live albums Off the Floor, Volume 01 (2012) and Volume 02 (2014).
Plus, we have to go even farther back (2008) for the bands previous
studio effort Fly Paper. Did you originally plan to release
P2R as a two CD set or did it just grow organically? It looks
like the band had a vast outpouring of creativity.
Chris Herin: Pretending 2 Run didnt start out
as a double album, but we certainly had accumulated plenty of songs.
I had sketched out the basic concept, identified several of the recurring
motifs and assembled about nine songs as the albums foundation.
Then, as the storyline continued to develop we would pull songs from
our stockpile depending on what mood or energy level was needed
or what grabbed our attention. We were conscious of the music telling
a story in its own right. Eventually we realized we had nearly 75-minutes
of music, but didnt want to make a single disc that long. So
we could either leave songs out or add a couple and expand the album
to two CDs.
From an artistic standpoint going to two discs was a good decision.
I was able to add a bit more drama and depth to the story and musically
we could grab a couple more tunes from our backlog. We chose Weightless
and Friend Or Foe which both are strong songs,
so its not like we added second-rate filler to stretch
things out. Personally, I like spreading the story over two discs;
you can listen to one or the other, or both in one sitting. Theres
a natural break or intermission between part one and part
two; whereas a maxed-out single disc can seem too long.
mwe3: The cover art is great. How does it serve the concept
of Pretending 2 Run? From what the press release says, the
album is a song cycle of a man blindsided and disillusioned
by betrayal. Is there an overall concept or a way to connect
the songs and ideas or does it all just flow naturally? As a matter
of fact, the entire booklet is filled with great photography. Where
was that picture taken of the band by the escalators from and how
does the turtle on the cover fit into album concept is it a
Chris Herin: Our central character in the story is pretending
to run from his problems. He suffers a tragedy and has retreated
into darkness and isolation. But a strange thing gradually happens
and his subconscious will to survive wont let him give up. So
no matter how much he wants to avoid or escape his predicament he
cant. He has to face reality and confront his newfound demons.
the story he battles conflicting fight or flight emotional
responses. He constantly feels an overwhelming urge to run away,
but something is stopping him forcing him to persevere. He
gradually builds inner strength, but doubts, fears and false starts
haunt his progress. There are many hurdles to overcome he has difficulty
figuring out what to do. This is the up-and-down and back-and-forth
journey of the album. So overall, Pretending 2 Run represents
the human will to survive, triumphing even when the temptation to
give up is overwhelming hence our use of the Latin phrase ad
astra per aspera.
Theres also a bit of a double meaning to Pretending 2 Run
where sometimes people mistake activity itself for true action
like being on a treadmill. Youre running but
not really going anywhere. At some points in the story our main character
thinks hes headed in the right direction only to discover he
is not. As enough time passes the uncertainty of his future is replaced
by awareness and resignation as he must now come to terms with whats
happened and exist within a new reality.
I suppose Pretending 2 Run is simply about the struggle of
life... survival. Although the concept is delivered within a certain
set of circumstances, the story can translate into parallel situations
we all tend to experience: the difficulties and confusion of living.
But most importantly its a journey of hope. Granted its
a bit unsettling and messy, but eventually theres some kind
of hard-won victory. Youre definitely not going to hear happy-go-lucky
pop music escapism, thats for sure! Pretending 2 Run
is a challenging album and kind of risky from a commercial standpoint.
Will people dig in and invest the time? I dont know, but I firmly
believe good music, good art and good writing that challenges its
audience delivers the greatest reward. On the other hand, Id
like to think the songs are still engaging without the listener having
to dive into the weeds. But anyway
, regardless if Pretending
2 Run sinks or swims, it was really the only album we could make.
The cover of Pretending 2 Run has a lot going on even though
there are just three images. I like the simplicity, tension and multiple
layers at work. You can let your imagination go since the cover offers
many possibilities to think about. Theres a sinister feeling
of deception and rejection... and even uncertainty, which allude to
the albums story line of betrayal and struggle for redemption.
Aside from the obvious fact that a turtle can only pretend to
run, the distraught young girl is also on the threshold of pretending
as she stops short of chasing her pet down the escalator. Will she
keep going even though it looks dangerous and risky? Is it worth it?
Maybe the sly smirk on the turtles face suggests he is only
pretending fully intent on coming back? Or maybe he is willfully
running away. These impressions telegraph a variety of
parallels and metaphors as listeners associate the Pretending 2
Run story with the clues in the cover and images in the booklet.
The artwork in the booklet relates to the lyrics theyre associated
with. I think Hugh came up with some thought-provoking depictions
of the concept and emotions behind the songs. Also woven into the
artwork are symbolic references to the iconic British TV series The
Prisoner, which hint at the human tendency for self-imprisonment,
our instinct for survival and the illusion of freedom. Hugh and I
were chatting one day and he mentioned The Prisoner (which
I wasnt familiar with and need to catch up on). We both recognized
some thematic connections with Pretending 2 Run so he incorporated
a few Prisoner references into the artwork. Theres
some fun stuff hidden if you look close enough!
Regarding the origins of the artwork and photos
, Im not
at liberty to divulge inside information. Everything looks real to
How long did the entire P2R project take to create - from writing
and recording to producing and releasing it? Which tracks came first
and were other tracks added to the mix as the album progressed, sort
of as a way to build upon the album? Did you write in the studio or
did you go in with all the tracks?
Chris Herin: Id say for the most part we began tackling
our sixth studio album in earnest in 2010. The entire project began
with the song Pretending To Run and from there I began
writing the story and sketching out songs. Jeff also provided a tape
of his musical bits and pieces of which I used quite a few. Overall,
we spent over two years writing, experimenting, rehearsing and revising.
We always go through a strenuous arrangement process where we learn
the song as I had written it but scrutinize and explore different
tempos, grooves, structures, etc. In some cases, Jeff or Mark will
suggest deleting or adding musical ideas. Because we did a lot of
experimenting there were a few songs that didnt maintain our
interest and were eventually abandoned, but besides Pretending
to Run some of the initial core songs were Voir Dire,
Drops Of Rain, Midwinter, Small Fire
Burning, Battle Weary, Fait Accompli,
Uneasy Truce, and Pretending To Run (Reprise 1 and
2). Clearly these just provided the general arc of the story.
We kept adding songs as the album took shape, but we pretty much had
everything prepared prior to recording - except Weightless
and Friend Or Foe - as I previously mentioned.
We didnt write songs from scratch in the studio, but certainly
we rewrote a few parts here and there and developed the arrangements.
Songs are always works-in-progress! Once we got into the studio with
producer Terry Brown he went through a detailed preproduction process
where everything underwent another round of refinement to make
sure song structures flowed. Although we can get a bit busy here and
there, our goal is never to be complicated hoping to impress; but
rather to create interesting music that delivers the appropriate energy
and emotional content. This is where Terrys outside perspective
is essential since we can get carried away. Good producers
save the artist from themselves!
mwe3: Progressive rock fans are in for a treat with Pretending
2 Run since there are some stellar contributions from groundbreaking
music greats such as Ian Anderson and guitar heroes like Mike Stern
and Kim Mitchell and drummer Mike Portnoy. Did you set out to recruit
these legends or did they come on board as the album developed?
Chris Herin: Most of the guests came on board as the album
developed, although, early on I had designs on Matthew Parmenter contributing
lead vocals to help represent the different states-of-mind
of the central character. Generally, we knew we had to deliver an
album that would not only generate attention, but would also hopefully
make a lasting impression. One of our goals for Pretending 2 Run
was to experiment and expand our palette when it came to the arrangements.
We did not limit ourselves in any way, stylistically or instrumentally.
the basic tracks were recorded and we began developing the arrangements,
the ideas for special guests, the string section, choir and other
opportunities came up. Throughout the entire process we constantly
evaluated the continuity of the music and what the songs needed to
convey a musical story as well as support the albums
lyrical concept. For example, it wasnt until the middle of the
project that we had the ideas for the spoken word sections, field
recordings and the connecting interludes in between many of the songs.
Also there were several places in the story line where the central
character reaches a low point which provided the opportunity to use
the choir pieces I had written.
Over the years we have done shows with and met many excellent and
sometimes even well-known musicians with whom weve
become friends and acquaintances. We have done a few collaborations
in the past which have always been rewarding and fun - Alex Lifeson
of Rush was definitely a highlight on Fly Paper!. But this
time around we did end up with a rather lengthy list of notable and
familiar names: Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Mike Stern (Miles Davis,
solo), Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, Steven Wilson Band), Colin Edwin
(Porcupine Tree), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Winery Dogs), Max Portnoy
(Next to None), Kim Mitchell (Max Webster, solo), and Joe Deninzon
(Stratospheerius) and locally our guest list includes many
of our friends from the Detroit area: Kevin Chown (Tarja Turunen,
Chad Smith), Keith Kaminski (Bob Seger), Mark Mikel (The Pillbugs,
solo), Matthew Parmenter (Discipline, solo), Ryan Arini (Hell Rides
North), Matt Cross and percussionist Sonya Mastick.
There were many different reasons for collaborating with various musicians
based on what we wanted to accomplish with the arrangements. People
like Ian Anderson, Mike Stern, Kim Mitchell and Keith Kaminski delivered
fantastic solos, while Mike and Max Portnoy along with Kevin
Chown contributed a different energy that we thought helped
the diversity and dynamics of the entire album. Adam Holzman brought
his keyboard chops to the longest and maybe most progressive tune
on the album; plus, he created a selection of textures and soundscapes
that we used to assemble segues and atmospherics to link songs.
Colin Edwin worked his sound design magic on Small Fire Burning
and Friend Or Foe and Jeffs friend Matt Cross from
Orange 9MM came up with the programming for Pretending To Run
and Midwinter. All these keyboard and sonic architecture
sounds are things we dont otherwise readily have at our disposal.
The same goes for bringing in the string quartet, Sonya Mastick on
tablas and congas and working with the choir.
Especially rewarding was collaborating with our friends Matthew Parmenter
and Mark Mikel as guest vocalists and arrangers. They are both immensely
talented and added unique perspectives and variety to the songs.
Is there a way to connect the dots so to speak when comparing Pretending
2 Run with other Tiles albums? Can you describe the evolution
between the various Tiles albums to show differences and continuities?
When did you form Tiles? It must have been like a dream way back in
the 1990s! Do these past 20 years seem like a dream for you too?
Chris Herin: Well, I suppose whenever you look back over a
long period of time things do seem a bit dreamlike, since time sure
does fly! Actually, way back in 1992 our initial objectives were simple:
put out an album, play around the Detroit area and sell a few copies.
We didnt have grand aspirations, really. It wasnt until
we started receiving very positive reviews, which led to our first
CD being licensed and released by Dream Circle/Polydor in Germany
and also released in Japan that we thought about writing
and releasing another album. I had originally figured wed do
one CD and just have a bit of fun.
Our first CD tiles could be categorized as melodic hard rock
with a few progressive liberties. The follow up Fence The Clear
was heavier and we stretched out musically; we indulged our progressive
whims to a greater degree and stripped down the arrangements to be
consistent with our guitar/bass/drums instrumentation. Presents
Of Mind turned out to be a blend of our first two recordings.
We reintroduced more studio production but continued to focus on blending
melody, musical complexity and moments of true improvisation. Window
Dressing was our epic novel. We felt empowered by
the success of Presents Of Mind and felt accepted by the progressive
community. So we wrote longer songs with multiple parts and introduced
a lot of stylistic variety. We also thought wed fight the trend
of sterile and stereotypical sounds and recorded in a large room with
lots of ambience. We purposely stayed away from over-polishing the
performances to keep them sounding spontaneous, like people
had actually made the music, not technology.
Fly Paper is the direct descendent and culmination of everything
we had learned up to that point. In hindsight we felt like maybe we
had been a bit too raw and austere on Window Dressing - and
maybe a tad long-winded. So we trimmed back the song lengths a bit
and really concentrated on vocal arrangements and making sure the
songs developed logically to hold the listeners ear. Obviously,
we didnt hold back our progressive tendencies and still stretched
out musically in a lot of places. We have always had a special guest
or two on our albums since Fence The Clear, but with Fly
Paper we became bolder about introducing different elements and
textures. Alex Lifeson takes over on guitar for Sacred &
Mundane; Alannah Myles sings vocal harmonies on Back &
Forth; and Matthew Parmenter sings harmony lead vocals and plays
keyboards, as does Hugh Syme. We felt the extra musicians made a positive
impact and it was a lot of fun collaborating!
This mindset continued and was essential to arranging a concept album
like Pretending 2 Run. I knew wed require a wide range
of emotions and would need to convey the various perspectives of the
central character. As the story developed, and got longer, it became
especially important to introduce a variety of textures and atmospheres
arranging 101 I guess youd call it. The special
guests brought their personalities and musical identities to bear
in service of the big picture. As a band, we abdicated our positions
so to speak if thats what the song demanded -
and who are we to argue!
the pop hooks in the complex Tiles arrangements just as important
as the high level of prog-metal musicianship and dynamism throughout
the album? Drops of Rain is a good example of the Tiles
sound as theres an excellent hook, plenty of harmonies and complex
arrangements. How does Drops of Rain fit into the Pretending
2 Run concept? Seems like theres lots of complex lyrical
ideas on that song. The battle lost between what was done
and what should have been
Herin: Drops Of Rain alludes to clues in the moments
leading up to the revelation of betrayal and the immediate aftermath,
as our central character initially, and without success, tries to
assimilate what is happening and unknowingly begins his descent into
a state of shock. So the song is a key piece of the storylines
early development. And, as I hoped to accomplish with most of the
songs, it also stands on its own since the lyrics reflect how hindsight
helps us piece together the cause and effect of events.
Melody is important regardless of most every musical style though
beauty is in the ear of the beholder. We do, of course, branch off
into a bit of complexity or improvisational indulgence but memorable
vocal melodies are essential even in progressive rock. We always look
at each song as a self-contained journey where there are ups and downs
and sometimes abrupt changes in textures or dynamics. Musically, Drops
Of Rain goes way off into left field for the angst-ridden solo
section. Mark has a Buddy Rich groove happening and the chromatic
bass part has no tonal center. So I re-harmonized the vocal melody
and went a bit outside with the guitar solo. Actually,
I wasnt quite sure it fit, but Terry was enthusiastic about
it. It certainly takes the listener to a different place and provides
contrast, thats for sure.
mwe3: Youve mentioned that the instrumentals on P2R
are like bridges that connect the songs. What do you look for in an
instrumental track and where do you feel instrumental music falls
into the realm of progressive rock music? Why doesnt instrumental
music get more respect? Come to think of it, Ian Anderson was one
of the first to introduce instrumental music to prog ears. Im
thinking of Tulls visionary covers of Roland Kirk and JS Bach!
Chris Herin: Many of our favorite artists and styles are vocal-less
so to speak or have lengthy musical passages. Jazz,
classical, fusion and of course many progressive rock bands have instrumentals
they are a significant part of the genre. P2R has a
couple instrumentals (Voir Dire, Refugium
and Uneasy Truce) and quite a few songs with long instrumental
sections (Taken By Surprise, Midwinter, Weightless).
Although the album has a lyrical concept its also composed as
a musical journey. Stories can be told without words and that
was one of our goals as we wrote the album.
Quite a few songs are connected by effects and soundscapes to help
transition between moods, but also to thread the songs together as
a continuous journey. They act as a trail map. Adam Holzman, currently
in Steven Wilsons band, provided us with 10-minutes of Moog
textures and atmospheric soundscapes. I gave Adam three emotions:
anger, nervousness and somberness to represent. Terry and I edited
and combined them into various segues and interludes. Two of these
transitions ended up being longer so we gave those titles that reflect
whats happening in the music and also the storyline.
Im not sure instrumental music is actually disrespected, as
much as its a little harder for it to break through to the average
music consumers who typically favor vocals and lyrics. Certainly,
there are many successful instrumental acts and hit songs since melodies
can be conveyed by any instrument. I suppose extensive musical passages
are a hallmark of progressive compositions because they add to the
expansiveness and adventure of the songs. A lot of music fans welcome
complexity and a bit of a challenge in their listening experience.
For me a lasting bond forms with music of depth since it reveals new
things with repeated listens although I like a good slice of
ear candy too!
mwe3: Some writer said that disc 1 and disc 2 are different
in that disc 2 is more experimental. Is that a valid point even though
when disc 2 starts off with a track featuring Ian Anderson, its
hard to complain! Are there differences in the way you structured
the tracks on two albums?
Chris Herin: Well, weve also had a few people say Pretending
2 Run is too long! I dont know if disc 2 is more experimental
or not. If it is, its a coincidence... There are really only
seven full-length songs plus three short instrumentals and a couple
reprises that explore the mindset of the central character and advance
the storyline. I suppose if someone isnt interested in the plot,
songs like Meditatio, Other Arrangements and
The View From Here seem like filler; however, these are
all essential moments in the emotional trajectory of the story and
set up the songs that follow. The two reprises bring the music full-circle
and the story to its conclusion. If Pretending 2 Run was a
collection of songs and not a concept album then I can understand
the criticism that maybe the interludes disrupt momentum. But they
are included to serve the story and Id like to think that as
people get more familiar with the album they better understand and
enjoy the variety and dynamic range of the music. Besides, who doesnt
occasionally like a bit of ambient or choir music! If the album really
is too long you can always listen to disc 1 or disc 2 and ignore the
other since after all, the 2-CD album was barely more expensive
than a single disc!
What is it like recording with two lead vocalists in Paul Rarick and
also Matthew Parmenter? How did they share the vocals on the album?
Can you give an example where Paul and Matthew share or compliment
the lead vocals on a specific track?
Chris Herin: Of course, Paul is the lead vocalist in Tiles
and Matthew is our special guest. We played our very first show as
Tiles with Matthews band Discipline way back in 1994, so weve
known him for a long time. Matthew has made guest appearances on almost
all our albums; but for Pretending 2 Run his role expanded
as we needed to vocally represent first, second and third person perspectives
of our central character. And of course Matthew was able to lend a
hand and contribute backing vocals and arrangements.
In interviews, Paul has remarked that collaborating with Matthew was
a rewarding and motivating experience. I certainly felt that the creativity
and personal dynamics between all of us delivered excellent results.
It was a lot of fun and the contrast between both voices worked well.
Notably, "Pretending To Run," "Small Fire Burning",
"Weightless" and "Friend Or Foe" particularly
benefit from Pauls and Matts collaboration.
mwe3: On disc 2 Weightless is a definite highlight
with its soaring guitar lines and catchy hooks. Is the song about
dying or reincarnation, or possibly the hot air balloon pictures on
the lyrics page?
Chris Herin: I can say for sure its not about the hot
air balloons! Those are simply a metaphor for weightless
which is a song about rising above trials and tribulations
or maybe taking the high road. Theres certainly
a purposeful effort to leave room for individual interpretation though.
Dont let me dictate what the song means to you!
mwe3: Tell us about working with Lasers Edge on Pretending
2 Run. Ken Golden is always ahead of his time when it comes to
finding new sounds. I remember meeting him in 1989. Also, what was
your recent show in NYC like playing with IZZ and District 97? IZZ
and Tiles are among the two best prog bands in the US today. What
are some of your memories of that DROM show?
Chris Herin: Its been fun and rewarding working with
Ken. As we weighed the options for releasing Pretending 2 Run
once it was clear Inside Outs immediate release schedule was
full and our cash flow needs couldnt wait, Ken was our first
choice. Hes a music aficionado, has a following for his labels
and has a great promotional team. The album has done very well under
his guidance. If anything, we probably tested his patience
as we struggled with some post-production challenges which delayed
the release date!
The District 97 shows were fun theyre such an excellent
and unique sounding band. It was especially nice to see IZZ again
after so many years, they played a great set. 3rd Degree, who I also
like, was also on the bill so it was quite an impressive night of
progressive rock! Unfortunately, we went on last and by then the soundman
had tuned out, fallen asleep, or something; because he certainly didnt
care about doing a good job. We had no monitors, played in the dark
and he didnt even sit at the soundboard then we got our
set cut short. So my memories of the other bands are good; but for
us not so much. I suspect we didnt make many new fans!
Why do you think theres not so much respect for progressive
rock as there is for example for jazz or classical music still?
Chris Herin: I suppose it really comes down to how you define
respect and against what you measure the popularity
of progressive rock. Obviously prog is not main stream but it is certainly
alive and well and a thousand times more prevalent than when we released
our first CD in 1994! Jazz and classical are both examples of music
whose peak popularity is behind them, yet they still thrive. Patrons
and sponsors are important financial factors for them, but so is crowd-funding
for even established rock bands these days. Times are always changing
mwe3: Friend Or Foe is another highlight, this
time featuring Colin Edwin. What did Colin Edwin bring to the track
sound-wise and how did you meet him? I was just remembering his great
albums with Jon Durant in Burnt Belief. Is Friend Or Foe
a hopeful song or a song about dealing with mistrust?
Chris Herin: Friend Or Foe is definitely a favorite
of mine too. Its a song about mistrust trying to figure
whats going on in the face of inconclusive or suspicious behavior.
Colin contributed what he calls his palette of subtle interventions:
sliced effects, distorted loops, e-bowed bass, clay pots and found
sounds. It was inspiring to sift through Colins imaginative
programming and moments to help create the slow building
crescendo of Friend Or Foe. He also worked his magic on
Small Fire Burning.
I met Colin in 2014 at Progtoberfest in Chicago after Tiles performed.
He was there performing with John Durant in Burnt Belief. I became
an instant fan and bought both CDs and I pre-ordered their new album
too. Having been a Porcupine Tree fan since Signify I obviously
knew who Colin was and struck up a conversation mostly about
Burnt Belief though. Hes the perfect English gentleman and was
willing to check out a couple of the songs we were working on. Colin
liked them and agreed to contribute and we certainly appreciate what
he brought to the tunes! Hopefully, we can collaborate again.
As progressive rock is a venerable art form, do you find Tiles fans
are now of all different ages? 50 years ago, progressive rock was
just an idea in the minds of a few different people and now its
an industry that has succeeded beyond all possible wildest dreams.
Who knew! Do you keep your eyes and ears open for new bands or are
there still enough legends alive to keep you interested in the classics?
I guess when guys like Ian Anderson and Jon Anderson and Steve Hackett
retire it really will be up to you and the younger generation
prog-rockers to keep the torch lit. Is that where the P2R track Battle
Weary comes from? Leaving an exile, self-imposed
Are we humans all eventually battle weary?
Chris Herin: There is an astronomical number of young and not-so-young
progressive rock and metal bands these days. In fact, there is no
lack of bands/artists in any genre thats for sure! I do stay
informed and like quite a few new bands like Haken and Ive been
listening to Edensongs excellent new album, which is on Lasers
Edge. I still keep up with the classic old guard and also
the second wave of prog bands like Dream Theater, Opeth, Porcupine
Tree/Steven Wilson, Spocks Beard, Neal Morse, Anekdoten, etc.
I do have one complaint as five decades of progressive rock bands
continue to make music which is certainly a good thing
headlining bands would stop doing the evening with
format. As a fan, I understand wanting to see a long show; but the
lack of support/opening bands really hurts perpetuating and nurturing
the genre. There are few better opportunities to introduce new bands
than putting them in front of a like-minded audience. The irony of
course is many of the bands that gained widespread popularity did
so because they were opening acts! I dont mean to imply that
the evening with
format isnt embraced with
the best of intentions for the benefit of the fans but in my
opinion there are some big picture unintended negative
Stepping off my soapbox and finally getting around to your question
about Battle Weary
Its primarily the point
in the story where our character is worn out. Hes at a crossroads
and must decide whats next. Maybe theres a bit of compromise
with reality he has to accept letting go of the past to have a future.
Of course, as Ive mentioned before, you can take the song out
of the storyline and it stands on its own for your own interpretation.
I suspect the concept of being battle weary applies to
an unlimited number of circumstances!
Fait Accompli is a classic track. Its so different
from the other heavier tracks. What is our destiny, are they all different?
Tell us about those gorgeous strings on that track would you
consider writing more songs like this or is it simply too catchy and
poppy for the prog-rock audience? Ghosts of injury, resting
in their place
Do you think if you wrote more songs
like this youd get more airplay on safer radio stations? Can
you be more commercial without sacrificing your prog-rock reputation?
For some reason, Fait Accompli has a definite Tull vibe!
Chris Herin: Thanks for the compliment! We strive to create
albums with diversity although this isnt always perceived
as a good thing in todays market place. Fait Accompli
simply deals with acceptance in the literal meaning of the term: a
thing that has already happened or been decided those affected
have no option but to accept. Musically, our friend Mark Mikel
did a great job on the strings and Terry sifted through an overabundance
of my backing vocals to create the perfect arrangement. Its
dense and powerful but doesnt get cluttered.
When I played the song (in its rough demo stage) for Mike Portnoy
he immediately chose it for his son Max to play on. He loved the vibe
and melody which does have a bit of a 6/8 Tull or Badfinger
feel. Mike also plays on the instrumental bridge sections so Tiles
has the distinction of presenting the first recorded Portnoy father
& son appearance. I was at Mikes studio for the recording
and Max totally zeroed in on the perfect Nigel Olsson (Elton John)
vibe which gave the song a great backbeat groove.
I certainly cant write songs to order, so the fact
that Fait Accompli possibly has mainstream accessibility
is more coincidence than anything else. This isnt surprising
because Im a fan of melodic rock anyway. I definitely feel a
connection to all the songs I write, meaning they come from a genuine
place regardless of the style. Certainly, some songs will resonate
with different people in different ways since music boils down to
personal taste, but Im certainly glad you consider the song
a highlight and potential hit single!
mwe3: Has there been any significant news in the guitar world
for you? What were the go-to guitars you played on Pretending 2
Run and how has the choice of what guitars to play changed for
you over the years? Someone said its not the guitar but the
hands of the guitarist that creates the sound. What do you think about
Herin: Absolutely! A guitarists sound and style is in their
fingers, as conduits of the heart. I dont think too many musicians
would argue that point regardless of what instrument they play. I
keep an eye on whats happening in the world of guitars and equipment,
but I have a pretty stable arsenal and set up. For Pretending 2
Run I primarily used a Gibson ES-335, Fender Stratocaster and
Paul Reed Smith guitars double and triple tracking rhythm guitar
parts. Terry is very good at delivering great guitar sounds and offers
a lot of suggestions as we try different combinations. He doesnt
radically change whats coming out of the amp, but uses a bit
of EQ and compression to get the right sound for the track and its
placement in the mix.
I also used a Les Paul and Telecaster here and there and a wide variety
of acoustic instruments such as banjo, mandolin, 6 & 12 string
acoustic guitars, and I even dusted off my trumpet in a couple places.
I used my Mesa Tri-Axis and TA-15 for amps, but didnt record
with a lot of effects. I did put a 1979 MXR distortion+ in the signal
chain as well as my friend Jeff Kollmans boutique Kollmanation
distortion pedal. In general, though Ive been using most of
this equipment since recording 2004s Window Dressing,
so things havent really changed that much over the years!
mwe3: Now that Pretending 2 Run is available and getting
such good reactions from the press and fans, will we have to wait
another eight years for a new Tiles album? Will a masterpiece such
as Pretending 2 Run be hard to top? Are you always writing
music and seeking out new avenues of expression as a composer and
guitarist? Where will Tiles be a year from today?
Chris Herin: Its not possible to predict when the next
Tiles album might see the light of day. Id like to think it
wont be eight years though! Certainly bringing a project as
ambitious as Pretending 2 Run to a successful conclusion and
getting such a great response is very gratifying, but its a
bit early to start thinking about the next album. We have quite a
bit of promotion to do and hope to play as many shows as possible.
We need to sell as many copies of P2R as possible! Of course,
I am always writing songs and as a band we always jam on ideas, but
for the time being weve got to concentrate on playing live,
which is probably what well still be doing a year from now!
the past 15-years or so Ive drawn quite a bit of musical inspiration
from the world of art, especially the impressionist and postimpressionist
era. I find artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Sisley, etc. very motivational
and Ive attempted to translate their visual approaches and painting
techniques into my songwriting, our arranging and instrumentation.
I suppose in many ways Pretending 2 Run will cast a long shadow
on the next album, but well just have to forge ahead and do
the best we can!