Interviewed by Robert Cavuoto
Live Over Europe is the first live release featuring the current line-up of progressive metal pioneers Fates Warning. It contains 23 songs that were recorded at various European locations like Germany, Serbia, Greece, Italy, Hungary, as well as Slovenia during their January 2018 headlining tour for Theories Of Flight.
The live-album features the stellar line-up of Ray Alder (vocals), Jim Matheos (guitar), Joey Vera (bass), Bobby Jarzombek (drums) and Mike Abdow (guitar).
I caught up with Ray Alder to talk about Live Over Europe, how European audiences react differently than US audiences, and his regimen to becoming a better singer!
Robert Cavuoto: Live Over Europe was recorded in multiple counties in Europe, tell me how you accomplished and if there a mobile recording rig with you though out the tour?
Ray Alder: We have this really great sound guy. We used him before on a short tour, and his sound was incredible. Once we decided we were going to go to Europe to record the live album we wanted to use him again. Every night he brought a digital recording board and computer to record the show as well as the sound checks. At the end, we had the option to pick and choose which ones were the best. Every show was a live recorded concert. In the end, we took all the best performances and combined into one album. We thought it would be more interesting to do it that way in different countries vs. one long concert.
Robert Cavuoto: What types of venues were the shows recorded in as the quality from song to song was fantastic?
Ray Alder: Some shows were bigger than others. One show in Milan only had 400 people as it was small venue but had one of the greatest crowds! We did a show in one of the Slovak counties which was really small like 300 people, but they were by far the loudest crowd. My ears were ringing, and I couldn’t hear anything on stage. They were so loud and sung every single word. I wish you can capture something like that live, but it’s not really possible to grab all that. We were there to hear and experience it. It was the same amount of energy as the large venues just packed into this little pill. It’s overwhelming!
Robert Cavuoto: What is the appeal for metal bands recording their live CDs/DVDs in Europe? Anthrax and Overkill recently recorded their shows there as well. I have to believe recording in a more controlled environment like the US might be easier.
Ray Alder: No disrespect to my fellow Americans, but Europeans are much more likely to hang on to something that they have grown up with. They really don’t move away from the bands they love. There are so many monster festivals in Europe, and everyone looks forward to the summer to go to them. There are so many that they have to pick and choose which they can go to. They are all metal and rock festivals with older bands like us who have been around 30 or 40 years. These festivals don’t do nearly this well in America. European fans really appreciate it as they grew up with the bands. In America, they tend to follow the new thing or the next big new thing. So the idea to record there was pretty obvious for us.
Robert Cavuoto: Do you have a sense of what songs go over the best country to country and do you tailor your set list to accommodate that?
Ray Alder: No we don’t tailor the set list. We find fans are there no matter what. They just appreciate the fact that we are playing live whether it’s old or new songs. I can’t even describe it to you how well the new songs go over. There are bands that have been around forever and they write a new album because they have to keep touring. Normally when you go to a concert people want to hear the old stuff, it’s just the way it is. It’s like ok; get the new stuff over with so you can play the old stuff from 20 years ago [laughing]. It’s unfortunate but true and I’m guilty of it as well. But for the fans in America and in Europe they like the new stuff and want to hear it. They sing along to it and it so appreciate. I wish I could hug and thank each one for all the years of support. Whatever country we will do something from No Exit and get a great response. One of the best responses is usually from “A Pleasant Shade of Gray.” We do bits of it and people go nuts. We also do songs from Parallels which goes over anywhere! Everyone loves that album.
Robert Cavuoto: With such expansive and technically challenging songs does the band have to rehearse longer or harder to get everything down prior a tour?
Ray Alder: No, that the funny thing; we don’t rehearse at all [laughing]. Its weird, when are going to be together for 3-5 months we just have a longer than normal sound check. That’s its. Everyone in the band is professional, works on the stuff on their own, and knows not to waste each others time. Before we did this European live album, we met in Seattle to play a few shows. Then we went to LA and rehearsed for two days on the new material that we had planned to do for this CD. That was the first time we rehearsed in I don’t know how many years. It was odd, like “What are we doing here, let’s get something to eat. It’s boring.” We are so used to challenging ourselves live!
Robert Cavuoto: Without the benefit of rehearsing, which of the songs is the hardest to get right live?
Ray Alder: For this last tour, I would have to say “And Yet it Moves” it’s a 14-minute song, and we have never played live before. There are so many parts in there, and Bobby is doing so many things it’s a lot to remember let alone play. That was the main reason why we rehearsed was to get that damn one song down. Also “Silent Cries” because I don’t sing high anymore, so I had to figure out how to adjust my voice. I have a rehearsal space in Spain that I went to for practicing it, and I thought it sounded good. When we did it live; it came together really well. I like this live version a lot better than the studio version. It seems much heavier; maybe it’s just me. That was definitely a challenge.
Robert Cavuoto: I imagine the way that these songs were recorded years ago have evolved as you play them live for so long. Do you find that’s to be the case or do you still play them note for note?
Ray Alder: It’s funny that you say that, we really stick to our guns with the song. I don’t like to see bands and have them change the song around. I want to hear what I’m used to. I don’t want to hear a different version of “Metal Church” by Metal Church. I want to hear what I have been listening to for the last 30 years. There may be a small change here or there when somebody is fucking around, but we usually keep it as close to the album as possible unless it’s unavoidable like if there is a keyboard part that we have to improvise on.
Robert Cavuoto: Fates Warning has been going strong for nearly three decades with 12 studio albums, toured the world over, and just keeps going. What has the journey been like for you and the band?
Ray Alder: It’s had its ups and downs with some success here and there; a one step forward, one step back sort of thing. It happened to a lot of bands that aren’t really that big like we are. We never had that over the top success. We have always been stuck in the middle. We have our fans, and we couldn’t ask for more. We have the ability to write new music, put it out, and have people come to the shows. There have been more ups than downs and if I had the opportunity to change anything I wouldn’t. I’m happy where we are.
Robert Cavuoto: How do you keep yourself satisfied with touring after all these years?
Ray Alder: I look forward to it. It’s a little hard on the voice. The older I get the more experience I get. I rehearse alone more than I ever did. I go three times a week to my rehearsal space. I never ever used to do that. I would go on tour for three months after not rehearsing and throw my voice out the first week. Then have to deal with it the rest of the tour. We did this last tour and my voice was fine. We did ten shows in eleven days for two hours a night and I made it through with no problems. I never lost my voice. The best part is I get to see my friends that are basically family as we have been together for so long. We have known each other for all these years, it’s really fun to go out with them. It’s like hanging out with your family but without all the arguing. [laughing]
Robert Cavuoto: What else do you do to take care of your voice as it is so consistently good?
Ray Alder: I don’t do much, just rehearsing more now. I still smoke, and I don’t drink as much as I used to as I’m married now [laughing]. I have responsibilities. Rehearsing is the best thing you can do to keep your voice in shape.
Robert Cavuoto: Any plans for a follow-up Theories of Flight?
Ray Alder: At the moment no. We are focused on putting the live album out, and everyone is doing their thing for a little while. Soon Jim and I will have a meeting to see what we what to do.
Robert Cavuoto: Any plans for a tour?
Ray Alder: I really can’t say yet just stay tuned!