Ice Vajal :: Music Land :: Metal World
editorial :: feedback :: newsletter ::  
   Bands :: A-Z / B / James Byrd's Atlantis Rising /

In Words: James Byrd's Atlantis Rising

- James Byrd - Nov. 2011 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

James Byrd's Atlantis Rising
© James Byrd's Atlantis Rising

James Byrd - November 17th 2011 (by email)

Some will remember James Byrd's Atlantis Rising from the 80's and if you loved them back in the days, then the new album Beyond The Pillars is a real treat for you! To learn a bit more about this release I jotted down some questions for James Byrd who was so nice to answer them. Enjoy reading!

You have a new album called Beyond The Pillars, but it's some old recordings... Did you thought that these recordings got lost?

I did. I had asked Freddy about the multi-track masters many years ago, and he said they'd been recorded over. I was unaware that there were 14 performances mixed to DAT.

What was your first reaction when you heard of these recordings?

I thought they'd held up very well and needed to be released.

Why did you choose the title Beyond The Pillars?

I became obsessed with the subject of Atlantis when I was about 14 years old. In fact my first original song I wrote then was called Atlantis. Over the years I read quite a few books on the subject. Beyond The Pillars Of Hercules is where Plato said the continent was located, so in considering a title, it seemed right to me.

Who had the idea for the cover artwork? And who did it?

I did and I did the artwork and CD booklet myself in Photoshop.

All songs were recorded in the late 80's and so it's authentic 80's. Did you have second thoughts about releasing it as it's not a state-of-the-art recording? At least some will complain....

No, no second thoughts. Yes, I know the recording is not state of the art, but I really like the warmth of analog over digital. I knew there would inevitably be some younger people who don't remember analog tape and who would find a problem with the sound, but to me it still sounds better than digital.

Some songs can be found at your debut album, why was it important for you to present these recordings to your fans?

I think there's a drive and willingness to experiment and take risks on these performances that captures the chemistry of the band really well, probably better than the later album which came to be the Shrapnel debut.

There are 7 songs which haven't been released before, were you curious to get response to these old recordings from your fans?

Yes, I suppose. I thought it was a shame that Shrapnel refused to put more songs on the album. Mike Varney didn't want anything he considered too 'commercial', and to me some of the better writing fell into what he considered 'commercial'. It was stupid really because this was never remotely a pop band. He also didn't want to pay the extra publishing royalty on more songs.

These days video clips get more important again with YouTube & co., would you like to visualize a song? Which one(s) would you choose?

I would actually. Probably too many to list. There are always images in my mind when I write and record music. If anyone is interested in helping me produce a video to go with some of my songs by volunteering video editing skills, contact me through the webmaster at

The album is taking you back in time... Looking back, anything you regret? Something you would make different?

No, I'm actually very happy with the album.

You started your own company, Byrd Guitars, about 10 years ago. When did you first thought about starting your own company? How is it going? Or do you also suffer from bad economy?

It actually started in 1996 with my first Super Avianti ® prototype I built for myself, it seemed like something I should pursue further, so I got design patents and trademarks in 1999 and 2000. But I really didn't sell guitars to the public until 2001 when I started hand making them to order for a few local players. In 2005 I invested in cad-cam drawings and machine programming to have the parts made by USA Custom Guitars. The bad economy has made it harder, but I am still taking orders and building instruments.

What do you think about the 'reunited' Fifth Angel?

They have one founding member, is that a reunion? Their 5th vocalist quit a couple of months ago, and their drummer who was instrumental in putting it together in the first place also quit. Really, I wish they'd stop dragging the band's name and legacy through the mud by getting everyone's hopes up, and just let it rest in peace. It was what it was, I think we were young and very good, but that was then and this is now. If they can manage to put a band together and can write good material, they also ought to be able to come up with a name and stand on their own merits don't you think?

These days networking is very important, pleasure or pain for you?

Neither really. I enjoy the internet, and I enjoy Facebook with my morning coffee. But I don't ruthlessly self-promote myself or go out of my way to friend people for business purposes. If I did, I would find it a pain. Not to say you can't find a potential business contact there, but there is such a thing as trying too hard. To me it's more like a virtual local tavern or something. If I need to make a business connection with someone I don't know, I usually pick up the phone and ask someone I do know to facilitate an introduction.

What are you working on these days? Can your fans expect to hear something new from you soon?

I think it's bad luck to discuss plans or projects that aren't completed. I'm really superstitious that way. I ran into an axiom on the internet that summed it up for me: "How do you make God laugh? Announce your plans!"

I hope that some talented guy or girl will get in touch with James and that we'll see a video - or better several videos - of James Byrd's Atlantis Risingg somewhere in time.

Claudia Ehrhardt


• E-Mail: