Interview with Ian Parry
Interviewed in Oct. 2000 By Rick
If you are familiar with Progressive Metal then the name Ian Parry should not be new to you. Beyond being the the voice behind Elegy, Ian has released his own solo work and his highly acclaimed Consortium Project from last year. I recently had the opportunity to pose these questions to one of the busiest men on the metal scene.
Shadowman is a best of CD which includes material from your first 3 solo CDs. Why did you release those songs at this point in time so close to the release of the new Elegy CD Forbidden Fruit?
In the past I had a hard time running my own record company called Non-stop productions, and selling CD’s. This is why I stopped pressing solo albums in ’95. I felt that if a company like Noise licensed a best of album Shadowman and I re-mastered the songs giving them more dynamics and making the songs louder on disc, then Noise could distribute the Shadowman CD all over the world, so the fans who had been trying to buy my previous 3 solo albums, could buy a value for money 15 track version at their local music store.
What kind of reception has the older material been getting from both the fans and media?
So far Elegy has received the highest scores & the best reviews ever for F.F. The fans really appreciate Elegy going back to it’s uptempo roots, because the pre-sales are very good. The same applies to the Shadowman best of album.
On Shadowman there is a concentration of songs from your third CD “Through The Looking Glass” Can you give us a little insight on how the tracks were chosen for the disc?
I guess this is the reason why I chose most of the material from my 3rd solo album, because in ’95 my song writing had improved so much I gone in a more prog-power metal direction. I should also point out that I didn’t have any distribution for my 3rd solo CD. being the reason why this album was difficult to buy. A lot of fans didn’t even know I had released a 3rd solo album.
It seems that you have slowly moved in a more progressive direction with your music. Your first CD Symphony of Dreams had a much more hard rock feel than your later releases. Was it a conscious decision to move in a more progressive direction?
Over the years my taste & song writing style in music developed into a more prog-melodic power metal style. Like most people you start to like other styles of music and prog-power metal gave me a new inspiration for writing, especially when I joined Elegy in Feb’ ’96.
The songs on Shadowman are remastered. Why did you feel that the songs needed to be remastered? Were you not happy with the original mastering of the songs?
In the past I used the old U-matic master system, but technology has improved and moved so far ahead, that I believed that I could recapture the original dynamics from the final mixes of my albums. I always felt that the albums were mastered too soft on disc and equalized very flat, losing a lot of the atmosphere of the songs. Now thankfully with the help of Pro-tools technology the power is back in the recordings. I?m thrilled to bits that I managed to get the Shadowman CD, a Best Of record with a new mastering, very well presented, with a worldwide release through Noise Records. I think that Thru ?The Looking Glass was the best of the three albums. Shadowman with the best selection of songs, with a new powerful mastering, with more dynamics, really kicks arse! It gives you a great impression of what I?ve done in the past. I think now that I’ve managed to put this message across, which I wanted to do 5 years ago, I ?m happy with that now and I move since moved on to other musical challenges!
The cover art for Shadowman is very similar to The cover for Something Wild by Children of Bodom. Could you give us a quick idea about how the covers came to resemble each other so closely?
The company who did the Shadowman sleeve only had 48 hours to create something. Apparently they bought the rights to use the original artwork from a CD-ROM, which anyone can use. They were told that no other artist had asked for permission, and therefore mistakes like this happen. Fortunately my music is in a completely different style, so no worries where that is concerned.
Arjen Lucassen, who was in Vengeance with you and now has his own Ayreon project as well as working with Lana Lane among others, is a fixture on your solo CDs. Do you try to keep a pretty permanent band or was it just a stroke of luck that you were both free at the same time to work on your solo material?
In this period between ’93 & ’95, Arjen helped me out and I did lyrics, melodies for him on other solo works before Ayreon and also on his 1st Ayreon album. Arjen even plays bass on my Consortium Project album from ’99. I don’t have any permanent solo band members, as I stopped making solo albums back in ’95.
Is there any news on the Vengeance front? Will the band be reforming?
Recently “Wings of an Arrow” was released by Transmission records who also do Ayreon. This album features myself on vocals recorded during my time in Vengeance between ’90 & ’92. Vengeance did however reform back in ’94 but without Arjen & me.
Both you and Arjen are such creative individuals. What lead to the split up of Vengeance?
Basically a lack of interest for hard rock music from Record labels at the time and not having a recording contract made things very difficult, especially when you can’t sell your music to your fans.
I see that you write and arrange almost all of your own songs. Have you ever thought of working with any outside writers on your solo material?
Over the years I have co-written many songs with Ayreon, Misha Calvin, Vengeance & Elegy and I am now co-writing songs for the Consortium II CD. with Stephan Lill, Thom Youngblood, Jan Bijlsma ( ex-Vengeance ) and Patrick Rondat.
Ian I can?t wait to hear the next Consortium Project CD. I loved the First one! You seem to be well respected within the metal community as witnessed by your Consortium Project of last year. Can you tell me how that project came about and how it was working with all those exceptional musicians? Were you surprised at the success of Consortium Project?
I wrote 4 songs. I recorded them at home, with the help of Cu-Base, the music-program I work with. I felt they weren’t progressive enough for ELEGY. I started with a few tracks like “Criminals & Kings”, “Change Breeds Contempt”, “Humanitarian” (bonus track for Japan) and “Evilworld”. I played a couple of songs during the ELEGY/KAMELOT tour to Thom Youngblood (guitar) and Glenn Barry (bass) from KAMELOT, during the Elegy promotion for “Manifestation Of Fear” in ?98. Thom Youngblood straight away said: “Oh, I’d love to play “Change Breeds Contempt” and Glenn Barry originally did the demo with me in Casey Grillo?s studio “Above the C”. They invited us, ’cause Casey Grillo, the drummer from KAMELOT, has his own studio in Tampa/Florida, and they invited me and Dirk Bruinenberg, the drummer of ELEGY, to Florida. After we finished the tour, within a month and a half, towards the end of November, Dirk and me were in Florida. It was the first time I was in America. It was a dream come true ’cause I always wanted to go over to the States as a recording artist and not just as a tourist. Finally, that dream came true, better than I expected.
During the Elegy / Kamelot tour, I invited Stephan Lill, and he came to an ELEGY show in Offenbach, in the “Hafenbahn”. I gave him a demo, and when the tour was finished, I rang him up. He said: “I like “Evilworld” and “Criminals & Kings””. But before we went over to the States, I ?d already started to write some more Metal and progressive songs – just by accident, they just came within a very quick period. Then I went over and demoed the songs with Thom. I recorded the guitars as if it was a finished product. When I got back, I went to the VANDEN PLAS rehearsal-room, and I recorded guitars and solo-guitars with Stephan Lill for “Evilworld” and “Criminals & Kings”. We actually kept the solo-guitars that I recorded. What you hear on the CONSORTIUM record is the solo-performances from Stephan Lill what we did in the VANDEN PLAS rehearsal-room. Later we re-recorded all the rhythm parts in Tommy Newton?s Area 51 studio in Celle Germany. I ?m glad we did ?cause it gives the album an overall complete band sound. Before I knew it, I invited Patrick Rondat whom I first met with VENGEANCE, at a festival in France in ?91. I love the “Amphibia” album, I thought it was a classic album, that Jean-Michel Jarre produced for Patrick as a solo album. A classic! I mean, it catches your imagination straight away. As a singer, normally I don?t listen to instrumental albums, but Amphibia really grabs me. There?s some classic tracks on that. I love the track “Amphibia” itself, part 1 and 2.
Later, Hans van Vuuren, the owner of Transmission Records (Ayreon), said to me: “Ian, don’t you think this is really more of a band project, than a solo album?” I said: “My god, you’re right!” So I came across the word “Consortium” which is used in the business world for powerful multi-national companies working together in a business Consortium. I thought: “Why not powerful musicians working on a musical Consortium?” That’s how it was born. I never expected that I would sell almost 20,000 copies! I think in the future the CONSORTIUM II album will do even better. I asked Chris Caffery from SAVATAGE to guest on a few songs. The main musicians will be Dirk Bruinenberg (drums), Stephan Lill and Patrick Rondat (guitars), Thom Youngblood ( Guitar ) appears again on a track he co-wrote with me. Stephan is busy now writing a couple of songs for me. I hope that Patrick, even though he’s the new ELEGY guitar-player, can find time to do a couple of songs on the CONSORTIUM album, because we had a lot of success on tour. We sold out shows in Paris and Lyon because Patrick is a famous guitar-player over there.
The CONSORTIUM PROJECT is a band project. I’m gonna drop my name Ian Parry. I just used my name with the first CONSORTIUM CD in the same vein as what Ritchie Blackmore did with RITCHIE BLACKMORE ?S RAINBOW.
Did the success of that CD make it easier to release some of your older material?
I guess it plays a part of the interest fans have in me as a singer, plus the enormous success Elegy has had. I’m shocked with the positive reactions. It’s a nice feeling! It gives you the feeling of being noticed as a singer, as a recording artist. I mean, I’ve improved as a singer and as a songwriter, and now I try to create bigger and better productions as well as writing stronger songs.
Did you tour for the Consortium Project CD and if so what musicians joined you on the road?
Yes indeed. The line-up for the Consortium European tour ’99 included the following: Vocals – Ian Parry ( Elegy ), Guitar – Stephan Lill ( Vandenplas ), Guitar – Patrick Rondat ( Rondat ), Keyboards – Gunter Werno ( Vandenplas ), Drums – Dirk Bruinenberg ( Elegy ), Bass – Patrice Guers ( Rondat ). Most of the shows were in France with additional shows in Germany, Belgium & Holland.
The new Elegy is a bit more accessible in terms of sound. It is less prog and more powermetal in its scope. Was it a conscious decision to go in a different direction?
We listened to the comments and requests from our Fans via my IanParry.com homepage, and our Supremacy fanclub in Italy. A lot of fans asked if they could buy the original ’86 Elegant solution demo. We didn’t want to put a poor quality recording on CD so we recorded the music part of 2 original demos and re-wrote the lyrics & vocal melodies. We also went back to the uptempo style of the band, which you can hear on Labyrinth of Dreams our 1st album, so this uptempo style plus Patrick Rondat’s guitar sound & style makes the Forbidden Fruit album more metal sounding. It’s like a breath of Fresh Air to both the press who love the album as well as our fans.
What is the story with Elegy guitarist Henk Van der Laars? Some of his songs appear on “Forbidden Fruit” but he is conspicuously absent.
Henk decided to quit the band 2 days before we started recording our new Forbidden Fruit CD Considering it was Henk’s idea to work with a 2nd guitarist in the band, we feel it would have been great for the Fans if Henk would have played together with Patrick on the twins guitars parts in songs like Elegant Solution, but we accepted his decision and Elegy wishes Henk good luck even in the CD booklet.
How did this effect the outcome of the CD?
Well Henk’s departure was an enormous blow, but we’d worked long and hard on the pre-production of the songs and we were determined to continue and deliver a great album.
Patrick who only had 4 days to learn all Henk’s songs, astonished all of us with the excellent performance he did.
Patrick arrived with a positive attitude not only to compliment Henk’s songwriting , but also to compliment Henk as a great guitarist too, well I feel Patrick is also one of the best Rock/metal guitarists on the scene today.
How did you manage to get Patick Rondat aboard Elegy for the new CD?
After working with Patrick both on the Consortium CD and ’99 live tour, it was obvious he would fit perfectly in Elegy. Henk v/d laars had decided not to work with a keyboard player, but go back to being a twin guitar band like in the Lost album period. So this is why we asked Patrick. There aren’t many guitars who can play this kind of prog-metal.
What new or different ideas did he bring to the table and have any of those ideas affect the Elegy sound?
His style is unique because he records his solo’s without using effects, so he can hear every single note clearly, and this gave the new Elegy Forbidden fruit album a metal edge, without losing our progressive roots.
What is the story behind the title Forbidden Fruit – what is it and what does it represent?
I was very aware of creating lyrics which our fans across Europe and throughout the world, would be able to understand more easily. That’s how I got the idea for a collection of short stories, in the great tradition of writers such as Stephen King & add a few spooky tales in a gripping style such as Clive Barker does in his books for many years now. This is the idea behind the lyrics in the opening track ” Icehouse “.
Unfortunately my lyrical concept from Manifestation of Fear was misinterpreted, so this is also why I added the Liner notes in the CD. booklet of Forbidden Fruit. Normally only the press get to read the liner notes which describes the ideas behind each song, but I felt the fans would also appreciate this.
The Forbidden Fruit album cover – how does it relate to the album concept?
Although F.F. is not a concept album, but a collection of short stories, the Glass apple relation to the idea behind the title track. Going back to the beginning of creation and how man’s urges for the Ultimate forbidden Fruit haven’t changed.
I’ve heard it was a difficult album to write/record?! How are relations among the band members after the creation of the CD?
We were conscious that the band had to retrace it’s uptempo roots, which you can hear on the first 2 Elegy albums: Labyrinth of Dreams & Supremacy.
For Patrick it was a challenge to work with a vocalist, because he’d only ever made instrumental solo albums & worked on instrumental albums with Jean Michel Jarre.
So over 5 or 6 months we arranged the songs carefully re-recording demo’s until we finally had the best songs ready to send to Noise records. During this time Martin , Dirk & me worked on other material in the rehearsal room together and Henk eventually started making demos at home. After a day of recording guitars with Henk, and rehearsals with Patrick in Holland we finally had all the demos ready and Noise records agreed that Elegy had created the right balance to cover both our original uptempo stlye, and melodic side, without losing our progressive roots.
Due to a deadline to deliver the finished album on time, we had to find an alternative studio, because Tommy Newton at Area 51, was producing during the period we intended to record Forbidden Fruit, so the obvious choice was for Elegy to work with Hans Pieters at Excess studios in Rotterdam. Patrick, Dirk & myself had worked previously with Hans at Excess studios on the Consortium Project album, and Patrick was very happy with the manor in which Hans approaches guitars.
So the studio was booked for July 1st, then only 2 days before Henk called to say he’d quit the band for no apparent reason. Fortunately we managed successfully to finish the pre-production on time, and Henk’s departure brought us closer together. We had one aim to make a great album, and this we feel we achieved.
Will Elegy be getting a keyboardist or will the band just use studio musicians?
We decided to ask keyboard-player G??nter Werno from VANDEN PLAS, who we kidnapped in between V.P. shows. Dirk, Patrick & me worked with Gunter during the Consortium ’99 European Tour. He is an incredibly talented musician. I was able to sing melody-lines, and he could interpret them straight away just by hearing a melody and not having notes or chords written down. That was a fascinating, great experience for me to have someone who could do that instantly.
see that you are also involved with a band called Hammerhead. Could you fill in the readers of Metal-Rules.com on exactly what Hammerhead is and what is your involvement with that project?
I moved to Holland from London England, in ?83 for HAMMERHEAD. I recorded first of all an EP in ?84. Later we did an album with David Rosenthal (Rainbow) and drummer Joe Franco (Twisted Sister & Widowmaker) called “Heart Made Of Steel”, for EMI Electrola, Germany. It?s been locked up in a safe for 15 years, and now finally EMI gave their consent to license it to Transmission records Holland (Ayreon), and now it’s coming out in October after 15 years! I spoke to David Rosenthal recently, the ex-RAINBOW keyboard-player, who played on the HAMMERHEAD album and produced it, and it was great to hear his voice after 14 years. I’m just very happy that the album has finally been released.
You are also involved in the Ayreon project with Arjen Lucassen who I have mentioned earlier has been a part of your solo CDs and a member of Vengeance. What is the extent of your involvement with Ayreon?
I guess Ayreon and me having similar musical tastes will continue to collaborate on each others projects and it’s great to try new things together. In January 2000 I wrote lyrics and sang “Sleeper Awake “, A track on the new Ayreon Universal Migrator album, which was originally a song we wrote together in Vengeance.
You were also involved with the Slave to the Power CD which was Tribute to Iron Maiden out on JVC Records in Japan. The track that you performed was “Flight Of Icarus.” You were joined by Kamelot. Can you tell me how you came to be involved with this tribute and why you recorded with Kamelot?
I was asked by Meteorcity via Noise records in the USA if I would be interested to record a track for an IRON MAIDEN tribute called “Slave to the Power.” I immediately said YES, and I chose the classic maiden track “Flight Of Icarus.” I suggested recording the song together with my colleagues from KAMELOT. Meteorcity really liked the idea and so I recorded “Flight of Icarus” with Kamelot Guitarist Thom Youngblood and drummer Casey Grillo at Casey’s “Above the C” studios in Tampa. We’d worked together at Casey’s studio before on the Consortium Project album in ’98, so things went really easy and it’s always enjoyable to work with Thom & Casey.
Have you any plans to work with Kamelot in the future?
I recently did another song with Thom Youngblood after the Consortium tour in 1999. I went over to Florida with Dirk Bruinenberg from Elegy, and did another track for the CONSORTIUM II album, which will come out in 2001.
Ian you are such a great vocalist with a great voice. How do you keep your voice in tip top shape?
I regularly exercise my voice daily and for strengthening my lungs and diaphragm, I jog a few kilometers each day.
Who are your influences and who do you think are some of the best vocalists and groups on the scene today?
I have 3 favorite singers; Paul Rodgers who inspired me to start singing, I always loved his bluesy rock approach, Steve Perry for his unique vocal clarity and enormous octave range, & Graham Bonnet from Rainbow/Alcatrazz. I saw Rainbow live in North Wales in the U.K. back in 1980. The had Saxon as support. What made me admire Graham Bonnet so much was the way he walked on stage in front of 5,000 heavy rock fans, with a Hawaiian colorful shirt, sun glasses & shorthair greased back, looking really cool, then when he opened his mouth & stated singing “Since You?ve Been Gone”, I thought he was going to blow a testicle from the sheer force & power he produced. That?s what I call a true rock singer.
Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers of Metal-Rules.com?
Simply thank you for sticking by Elegy and myself all these years, and check Metal-Rules.com for details of the Consortium II & Elegy plans in the future.
All the best.
Thanks Ian! I appreciate the time you took to do this interview. Best of Luck with all your projects!! More Info on Ian and all his projects can be found at his website www.ianparry.com