Interview with Jim Matheos of Fates Warning
The best way to explore metal beyond the music is to ask the people involved some questions about their participation. Fates Warning is one of the early flagship bands of progressive metal along with Queensrÿche and Dream Theater, who were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing that genre.Fates Warning came back with an incredible album, DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT, an album that surprised not only the progressive metal world but also the entire metal world.Metal-Rules.com goes into further detail with JIM MATHEOS to determine their viewpoints on the new album, next steps, life, metal and ideas.
Metal-Rules.com: Hello Jim! It’s Hellias Papadopoulos from Metal-Rules.com. I am very happy for this interview and greetings from Greece! First of all, how are you doing? And where are you checking in from today?
Hello Hellias, nice to talk to you from my sofa! Hehehe! At last I am at home with family!
Metal-Rules.com: Congratulations for your latest effort DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT! It sits in #27 of the Metal Rules.com Top 30 list of best albums of 2013.
Great News! Thank you very much. Good to like it. I am very honored and thankful!
Metal-Rules.com: It took you many years to release an album as Fates Warning. How did that happen?
JM: After we released FWX in 2004 Ray and I decided to take some time off. I think we were all feeling a little burnt out. Mark had already decided that that would be his last record with the band and Ray and I decided it would be a good time to explore some other opportunities. We both got involved with various side projects and time just got away from us. And, although we continued to do live dates every year with FW, it took a while until we were both on the same page regarding new material, and a little longer for our schedules to lineup. We never intended for the break to be so long.
Metal-Rules.com: Why this album is more aggressive and heavier that the previous ones? Was it an intentional move or?
JM: It was intentional to a certain extent. Ray and I talked a lot about what we wanted to do (and not do) with a new record. We both agreed that a heavier, more organic, approach was a direction we’d like to explore.
Metal-Rules.com: How did it come out? After 30 years, many artists have difficulty in finding new ideas to put on the record. Have you had the same difficulty or?
JM: It’s never been easy or quick for me, and much less so now. Getting started is the hardest part. Usually, once the first couple songs are done a theme or direction starts to become apparent. After that it becomes a little more natural. A little.
FW have been playing for the past 30 years. I’m sure you had many difficulties throughout this time… What makes you always keep pushing forward?
JM: Well, the simple answer is, I don’t know how to do anything else! Beyond that, I still enjoy what I do, most of the time. Being involved in various side projects, solo albums, etc… helps keep things interesting for me.
Metal-Rules.com: In the meantime, do you have any other projects? What’s up with Arch/Matheos? Is gonna be a new record?
JM: Ray and I have both agreed to focus our attention on FW, at least for the immediate future.
Metal-Rules.com: What do you think of today’s music industry in general?
JM: I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said hundreds of times already, nothing profound to add. It is what it is, and my complaining about it certainly isn’t going to change anyone’s behavior. In more optimistic moods I’m grateful that I’ve been able to make a living this long doing something I enjoy, that we got in just before the door was starting to close. At this point, I don’t see how many young artists are going to have that same opportunity or even have a career that lasts more than 2-3album cycles if they’re lucky.
Metal-Rules.com: Is technology part of your life or are you still a “romantic”?
JM: I imagine it would be fairly difficult to live completely without technology. It’s a part of everyday life that you can’t avoid even if you wanted to. That said, I try not to let it rule my life
Do you know any Greek heavy metal acts? Are there any Greek metal bands that you really like or want to share the stage? Firewind, Gus G., Rotting Christ, Firewind, Suicidal Angels to name a few.
JM: I know a few of those names but, sorry to say, nothing of their music.
Metal-Rules.com: How important is it to you that people pay attention to your lyrics apart from listening to your music?
JM: I spend a lot of time on lyrics, sometimes more than on the music, so it means a lot to me when I hear that they’ve had an impact on someone. For me, as a writer, it’s important to have something to say when writing lyrics. But as a listener, I don’t think it’s completely necessary for a song to have “meaningful” lyrics to be enjoyable or even emotional.
Metal-Rules.com: And one question before we end up, if you could pick only one musician to work with that you have not collaborated with to date, who would that be and why?
JM: Very hard to pick just one, but I’ll say Phil Moog.
Metal-Rules.com: Thank you very much for your time, keep it prog!
JM: Thank you! Stay tuned with the new FW material and there are more to come…