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In Words: Thought Chamber

- Michael Harris - April 2007 - Philip Thelen -

Thought Chamber
© InsideOut Music

Michael Harris - April 2007 (by email)

With Angular Perceptions Thought Chamber is doing the first step into limelight. A good reason to learn a bit more about the band. Thanks to guitarist Michael Harris for answering our questions.

On the front cover you can see some mathematic equations next to notes. In which way does this refer to the album's title Angular Perceptions and to your music?

Most of what graphic artist, John Holland ( did on the cover reflects his interpretation of my lyrics, which have many references to math, science, and 'progressive' things. Here's what John himself says about the cover:
"The name of the band is in itself a metaphor for the human mind - intelligence, imagination, creativity. Lyrically some of the songs deal with ancient cultures and mythology. The complexity of the music inherently deals with a lot of math. So I tried to bring all these elements together in the cover art - music, math, and mythology - and still convey some idea that the music is aggressive and heavy. Some references are obvious, others are subtle metaphors. All of this information is being funneled through this weird eyeball machine, and in turn passed on to the Egyptian girl in the center. Whether the machine's ultimate intentions are benevolent or malicious is left up to the viewer."

The music is very complex and contains some funk elements, too. Furthermore, some lyrics act about some special backgrounds like Transmigration Of Souls or A Legend's Avalon. How do you join together with your music and life philosophy?

I'll write lyrics about anything that interests me. But also, I think ideally, a lyric should reflect the style of the music, as in Transmigration Of Souls, which is about an ancient Egyptian philosophy of reincarnation, and uses the Egyptian-esque phrygian dominant scale. The lyrics are totally speculative, use mythological references, and even have a slight bit of humor, if you read between the lines. A Legend's Avalon is about an imaginary place where the souls of the great minds in history dwell, like Einstein, Edison, Mozart, etc. Balance Of One, my lyrical favorite on the disc, personifies 2 sides of a person's personality struggling and equalizing.

How much time did you spend to arrange the whole record? Was it hard to create all these riffs and form ideas into sounds?

Composing is always a time consuming process for me. In fact, I do need to get out of the house more. But the fact is I thoroughly enjoy it. Yes, the real challenge is going beyond just stringing a bunch of riffs together, but 'marrying' parts so they flow together smoothly. Ted and I started putting TC together 5+ years ago. That sounds like a long time, but the fact is that since we started the band, Ted and I have had collectively somewhere around 8 CDs released with our various bands / projects. So that, coupled with the logistical limitation of living 1000 miles apart made this quite a challenging endeavor that we finally completed!

You prefer to distribute the solos among the band. For example Mr Qwinkle's Therapy. Isn't this hard to transpose it live, if two or three musicians play their solo at the same time? How will this be arranged?

That particular instrumental, which is, I will admit totally 'over the top', was arranged certainly with the thought of being able to pull it off live, and we plan on doing just that, while hoping that it doesn't present any unforeseen problems! It includes, as most TC compositions do, what we call 'ensemble licks', which are, instead of one instrument playing a whole passage of notes, split up between several instruments rapidly back and forth. It is noteworthy that we have confirmed with Mr Qwinkle himself that he has taken his Progazine and will be returning for the 2nd record.

While we are at the live performances – will there be an occasion to see Thought Chamber live on European tour? If no, why not?

We are certainly hoping so, although there are many intangibles at the moment, with everyone being involved with other bands and projects. The 2nd record will be released within a year from the debut, and will hopefully offer more opportunity and certainly more material to play live.

You can play the guitar very fast and precise and know how to use the technical prerequisites. How does this influence your music? Would you write some less difficult riffs, if there was an occasion?

Absolutely. My first band was Arch Rival, which was kind of a 80's melodic hard rock. I had a blast writing stuff with AR, which was a lot more tangible than TC. It's a simpler yet equal challenge to write material like that. There are some less complex musical statements on Angular Perceptions as well, and will be even more of that on the 2nd TC record (without sacrificing impact). At the same time, progressive music offers the opportunity to display 'chops', and we always want to rise to that without going too far over the top.

What do you think of some other bands of your genre? Can you tell the difference between your music and other progressive bands?

It is difficult to have a perspective on one’s own music, because you spend so much time with it. That’s why I love hearing fan feedback, etc. The goal of Thought Chamber is not to be the most technical prog band, but to write the best songs we can and enhance them with enough technicality to keep it challenging for us and the fans. I think noting the difference between Mr. Qwinkle's Therapy and Silent Shore is the best example of the versatillity of TC.

OK, That's it. But is there anything you would like to tell to our readers?

Thank you all for the support and tell us what you think!

Looks like we soon will hear more from the Americans... And perhaps they make it on tour, if not we talk next time!

Philip Thelen


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