February , 1992
By Cheryl Harris
Marketing Progressive Metal
How many ways can you categorize metal? Thrash? Speed? Just plain heavy?
In the case of Fates Warning, choose progressive. Their previous works were filled with intricate, epic-length, heavily instrumental songs bearing trademark vocals high enough to blow the roof off any structure. But their current album titled Parallels— released last Oct. 29 on the Metal Blade label -- is a bit tamer. It's more disciplined, the songs are more focused allowing some (whew!) mid-range to the vocals, and their superb musicianship have all combined to make the album; flow very smoothly.
The current make-up of Fates Warning includes vocalist Ray Alder, bassist Joe DiBase, drummer Mark Zonder, and guitarists Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti. As they begin the marketing process for Parallels, it's obvious they will appeal to a wider audience than in the past. And while this will no doubt rankle past fans, it will — more importantly — win over new ones.
The band recently finished filming the video for "Eye To Eye," probably the best cut (not to mention most radio-ready) on the album. After the wardrobe fitting for the video, guitarist Frank. Aresti spoke with JAM Magazine from his Hollywood hotel room.
JAM: You guys have been around, with a few changes of band members, for almost ten years now. How many albums have been released solar?
FRANK: Six. My fourth (with the band) and the band's sixth.
JAM: How long have you been on the road promoting Parallels?
FRANK: We just started out the week of Jan. 24. We played. Iguana's in Tijuana, then came up to the Hollywood area to get: ready for the video shoot. We're filming it a bit farther north, up by Santa Clarita near Magic Mountain. The video will be for "Eye To Eye," it's our second single. The rust video we did was "Point Of View," and it was picked as one of 1991's best videos on MTV's Headbanger's Ball, so we're real excited.
JAM: Are you happy with the response you're getting with this release, it's a bit different from what your fans may have been expecting?
FRANK: It's been amazing! It's the first time we've done a tour for a new album where the new music goes over better than the older stuff. Usually people are more familiar with the older songs, so they're wilder and a lot happier to hear them. But "The Eleventh Hour" (the only song on the current release where their epic persona leaks through, with the song clocking in at 8:12) is going over really well.
JAM: Are you traveling on the road with anyone else?
FRANK: No, we did a couple of dates with Savatage on the West Coast, and we have some scheduled with them on the East Coast, but nothing in between.
JAM: Jim Matheos is listed as songwriter on all the songs. Did he also write the music?
FRANK: No, it was a band effort. He'd bring something down and we'd play around with it, maybe switch some parts around. Even though one person wrote everything, we all had a hand in the arrangement.
JAM: You've had a few personnel changes in the band since its inception in '83.
FRANK: Yeah, we still have a couple of the original band members, Jim and Joe (guitarist and bassist, respectively). Then I was the first member change, coming in on the third album. Then on the fourth we got our new vocalist, Ray, and on the fifth album came the new drummer, Mark. Sometimes things just don't work out with band members, but now we're set! We're situated all over the country, really. Two of us live in Connecticut, two in California, and our vocalist, Ray Alder, is from San Antonio.
JAM: I keep hearing the phrase "concept album" related to Parallels. Was it intended as such?
FRANK: We went into this project with the intent of i t not being one. We've done them. Our second, third, and to a certain extent, our fourth albums were all concept albums. Then it became all the rage. But what happens when you're writing is that you write over a time span of a few months. And during that time you're gonna be in a certain mood and a certain frame of mind, so I think naturally what's going to happen is that the music and the lyrics will have the characteristics of that mood. It looks like there is an underlying theme here, but that's just a natural growth process. The title Parallels just puts the whole album in a nutshell, having to do with the parallels between relationships. Whether it be between a boy and girl, or between the band members, or even something as abstract as the relationship between the band and the audience.
JAM: And the fact that they are not always directly proportionate?
FRANK: Exactly! But in the same instance, it all has to do with give and take, sacrifice, and pleasing each other while pleasing yourself — otherwise it just won't work. Someone's sure to end up not being happy and wanting out.
JAM: What new experiments are you involved with on this album?
FRANK: Experimentation for us at this point is toning down, both technically and progressively. Whereas it's just the opposite for other bands. This time we tried to do songs that are listenable, short, focused and more to the point than before.
JAM: How do you feel about the Seattle influence in today's music?
FRANK: I was just about to mention that! I think Alice In Chains are amazing, and the whole band really likes Soundgarden. I just started getting in to Pearl Jam, too.
The current positive progression of Fates Warning is sure to open the band to a wider market with their release of Parallels. Performing at Dallas City Limits on Feb. 2, this is a great chance to see them in a club setting.