With inking the deal with InsideOut the American band Redemption is getting more attention. Even if Nick van Dyk is the mastermind of the band, most will know singer Ray Alder and guitarist Bernie Versailles. To learn a bit more about Redemption I sent some questions to Redemption and Nick was so kind to answer them - and he was pretty fast, too.
Why the title The Origin Of Ruin? What does the title and the song means to you?
The title was inspired by something that I read and it refers to the roots of our problems as human beings. This ties into the subject matter of the songs – they refer to things like miscommunicating, using people, extremism, regret, self-loathing, fear, etc. Ultimately there is a positive element to some of the songs, particular towards the end of the album as the songs follow a thematic arc from dark to darker to lighter. But in general, they are tied together as the causes of a lot of the things that we have to work through as human beings. These are the origins of our ruin.
I have the feeling that musically you pushed the limits... Getting more complex, more melodic and even more heavy. Was this planned? Or just happened during the writing process?
Our music is built on contradictions: we are heavy, but melodic... We are complex, but we are driven by the needs of the song. So as my songwriting matures, I hopefully get a little better at evoking each of these things... which means the contrasts are stronger and the limits are pushed. So it's planned to some degree, but it's really a natural evolution of our sound, I think.
Please tell us about the artwork and it's relation to the songs!
I worked with Travis Smith again on the artwork. I had the title and I knew I wanted to visually convey the meaning of the title, and a good metaphor is a person broken down by these issues and the process of confronting them.
The concept of the artwork actually came from a movie I saw many years ago, about an attorney who has lost his sense of purpose. I had this vision of a guy at his desk, physically and emotionally exhausted, with his head in his hands. The funny thing is, I later saw the artwork from the movie (The Verdict is the name of it) and it looked nothing like the image I had in my head. ;) It's funny how our minds interpret things for us and with the passage of time, change them around a bit.
At any rate, I explained what I wanted to Travis and he came up with a great cover. I also like keeping up a theme of dualism... So on the front you have this guy labouring in his gray, drab little world... And on the back, he summons up the resolve to open the door and go outside, and through the crack in the door you can see a bright, beautiful world outside. It's a small statement of triumph.
Have you thought about doing a conceptual album again? Or did you wanted to get away from it?
I haven't thought that much about it. I know that I don't want to go out of my way to do one, because it seems like it is so cliché for every prog metal band to have one (or more) concept albums. If the songs assemble themselves that way, then a concept album will make sense. I doubt our next one will be a concept album, but if there is a story that can be told appropriately through the type of lyrics that I'm interested in writing, maybe one day.
What inspires you musically? And is it right that the lyrics are mainly based on personal experiences?
It's hard to say. I try not to overly be impacted by our musical contemporaries. If anything, I suppose I might be inspired more by film scores. Our music is written around emotions and the ability to create an emotional response in the listener -- film scores are written largely with this same purpose in mind... They reflect the emotions of the film and help draw the viewer deeper into the movie.
As for lyrics, after the first CD I definitely wanted to get away from a lot of telling stories through a narrator. The process of retelling something establishes a barrier between the music and the listener. And that interferes with the emotional connectivity that I'm trying to establish. So to make the music work, the lyrics need to be more intimate – more of a conversation between the band and the listener.
On Fullness, a lot of the music was inspired by things that happened directly to me. On Origins, there is that to a degree, but the issues are broader and not really based on distinct personal experiences but more generally on the types of things that we can all relate to. These challenges and failings and problems affect us all as human beings.
Is it right that you are into movies? And I heard that your day job is also in the movie business, is that right?
I used to work directly in the movie industry. I'm now more broadly in the entertainment industry and I work as a senior executive for a company that owns a movie studio, a television network, many cable television channels and a host of other businesses.
So, ever thought about writing music for a movie? And which genre would you pick?
I don't have the patience, or the skill, frankly. To do that right, you're talking about an immense undertaking to write the music – thirty instruments or more - and an immense undertaking to sync it to the film properly. You also have to take your creative cues from the film... It's hard to have creative freedom that way because you are playing to somebody else's story.
I know that you aren't a political band. But isn't it time to make a statement?
If we're not a political band, I'm not sure that we ever need to make a statement. And if we are to make a statement, perhaps the statement is that I don't want to comment on politics? ;)
I'll say this: I am very much in favor of freedom for individuals. I believe economic freedom is required and morally imperative both for the dignity of the individual and because it represents the best opportunity for those who are not well off to become well off. I believe political and social freedom are critical because I don't accept the right of somebody else to proscribe morality. All morality begins with respect for private property. I am my own property – anybody that would harm me physically violates that simple law. Anybody that would steal my belongings violates that simple law.
I don't believe one can have political freedom without economic freedom, and vice versa.
So I will say that, and also say that despite my unabashed belief that free market capitalism is the only economic system that is morally right, I am extremely saddened by the conduct of our current administration. To our friends in Germany, hang in there with us for a bit longer... It won't last forever. ;)
Do you think that the US is ready for a female president? Or an Afro-American? Or do you think that another Republican will take over?
It's very early in our electoral process here and we don't know who the candidates will be. In general, I believe a woman or African American will have to run for President as a major party candidate and lose before a woman or African American will win such an office.
However, there are certain candidates on the right that are so undesirable to most Americans that even those who might subconsciously not want to vote for a woman would vote for a woman – even one as divisive here as Hillary Clinton – over such a candidate.
So it is hard to say, really. Part of the challenge is that to win a primary election, Republicans and Democrats need to run to the right and left wings, respectively. But to win a general election, they need to run as a moderate. In some cases, a strong centrist candidate emerges but it's not that frequent.
Back to the music.... Will we see you on tour in Europe? Germany? Anything planned?
Well, we played in Amsterdam recently and had hoped to do some shows in Germany and elsewhere on either side of that date. However, to be frank there wasn't much promoter interest. We simply weren't well known enough. Hopefully after this summer's tour with Dream Theater in the US we'll generate a bit more interest. I love Europe and would very much like to perform for our fans there.
Thanks a lot for answering my questions, especially the ones who haven't been closely related to the music. I hope to see you and the guys soon on stage and perhaps there is time to continue....