Artizan : A Power Supernova Part I

Wednesday, 29th April 2015

Bold is the band willing to develop and execute a concept album in the power/progressive metal realm these days. Especially considering the attention span of many consumers to consume music at lightning quick speeds. Beyond the fact that comparisons will inevitably appear against the benchmark releases like Queensrÿche’s Operation:Mindcrime or any number of Savatage records. Yet Florida’s Artizan feel the time in their career is right to deliver their third album The Furthest Reaches – a sci-fi conceptual record that not only needs to be heard, but absorbed, felt, and understood.

Featuring a couple of strong guest vocal appearances beyond the magnificent many vocals from Tom Braden – including Matt Barlow and Seven Kingdoms’ Sabrina Cruz (whom drummer Ty Tammeus calls a mini-Dio powerhouse meets Ann Wilson) this release could be the effort to push Artizan to the next level in terms of professionalism. The Furthest Reaches once again proves that the musicians behind this product have a lot to say on a musical and lyrical front, beyond the norm and opening up horizons for some deep thoughts about the world, its survival, and how we can sustain things in the future.

Setting up a weekend chat with drummer Ty Tammeus, this would be an exciting conversation where the musician often asked an equal amount of questions to this journalist about the numerous topics covered- making this a very engaging conversation where a lot of insight regarding the business model today come to the surface.

Dead Rhetoric: The third Artizan album is The Furthest Reaches – and a concept record featuring a couple of significant guest appearances from Sabrina Cruz of Seven Kingdoms and Matt Barlow (ex-Iced Earth). Can you delve into the development of the sci-fi rock opera story line, and how long of a process in terms of refinements take place to make sure things match up musically and lyrically from start to finish?

Ty Tammeus: Oh yeah, that’s a big one. Everything worked out really (well). Conceptually I knew that I wanted to do something that was sci-fi related. I am a big fan of the Space Odyssey movies, Aliens, Close Encounters, anything in sci-fi that is dramatic. The new Gravity movie is pretty awesome too. But I knew that I wanted to expand a little bit and do our first concept album and utilize some female vocals. I had some people in mind, I think Sabrina did a phenomenal job. It’s interesting when you do something like this because you have an overall idea- a vision in my mind of what I wanted to do, but sometimes it presents itself to you as it’s progressing. The pieces fall in to place and we were fortunate as far as Sabrina for the “Wardens of the New World” track, she did a phenomenal job. We had some ties from the business, her band Seven Kingdoms had worked before with Jim Morris, as a producer to us and them. It was a coincidence that we all knew him, we toured with Seven Kingdoms as well in 2011 on a short little East Coast swing, and I was impressed with her voice and charisma. I sent it to her, she did a great job, more than what I really expected. We worked with Matt before on the previous record Ancestral Energy, I knew Matt as well because Iced Earth worked with Jim a lot through the years. This great network of people that I got hooked up with, they are very professional and did a tremendous job. Matt is on “The Cleansing”, it fell into place.

As far as refinement, things surprisingly worked out quite smoothly. The first track on the album is “Summon the Gods” and that was one of the last tracks that was written. It fell into place when we finished it and I liked the fact that it was shorter and something that could emphasize power right away coming in after the first dialogue for the beginning of the album. I knew where I wanted to go, and the way that we write we may have a little melody first or lyrical idea for an individual song. In the end it just kind of works out, I wouldn’t recommend this method for anybody as far as doing your first album or two. Everything fell into place, we’ve worked with Jim before so we know what each person is about. If there are little glitches or obstacles, he’ll throw his ideas in and it’s kind of the icing on the cake. Matt is such a pro- he sent the track back how I sang it to him, of course a million times better.

Dead Rhetoric: Did previous albums like Tommy from the Who or Operation:Mindcrime from Queensrÿche factor into how you guys approached sequencing and dynamics for The Furthest Reaches?

Tammeus: Absolutely – not so much The Who, believe it or not I’m not really familiar with a lot of their work. I certainly know who they are, but I guess I’m not a huge fan. As far as Queensrÿche, that’s one of the best albums of all time as far as concept record, the first Operation:Mindcrime of course. Even if some of it is subliminal influence or subconsciously, that’s really the pinnacle for anything like that. I think for our time and our budget, relatively speaking I think we pulled things off pretty well. We even looked back at Bat out of Hell from Meatloaf, and older Savatage conceptual pieces that are phenomenal.

Dead Rhetoric: You also went with two different covers based on which version the fans buy – how do you feel about both artists and what they’ve done?

Tammeus: They both are phenomenal and that’s something that is really important to me. The illustrations and artwork, those are the first things you see. I don’t know how old you are, I’m in my mid-40’s now…you probably remember the heydays of the 80’s and 90’s, going to a record store, and that was an event. I grew up on Kiss… the first album I was given was Destroyer in 1977, actually believe it or not for Easter (laughs). That was a huge mark on me, seeing that and receiving that and the way they presented themselves. The artwork on that record was a classic. On vinyl you could really appreciate all the minor details on it. The Iron Maiden albums, Molly Hatchet- it’s really a tragedy that we don’t have that anymore. Of course we have people that appreciate the vinyl and buy it, it’s a small niche market though compared to what it was back then. That was so impactful, you would imagine what you were going to listen to. Now you have these dinky CD’s, so we do the best that we can to sell posters on the website that hopefully can present the art in a bigger format to people who want to appreciate it.

Marc Sasso did the standard artwork and I think he did a phenomenal job. I wanted something that would be like a sci-fi movie poster with action heroes on there. It has the Artizan character on there, and the bad guys which are the Keepers that Matt Barlow portrays on the album. Real bright with a lot of detail, and Marc is from New York. I knew him from years ago through Sean Peck of Cage. I was blown away by Hell Destroyer from Cage – all the colors. He was real receptive to it. The last album Ancestral Energy I used an entirely different look which is more organic, not as painterly looking. Eliran Kantor did that, he’s a young kid from Berlin. He is maybe 27 or 28, he did Dark Roots of Earth for Testament, he did a piece for Death, Iced Earth – Plagues of Babylon. The thing about Eliran, if you go to his website or Facebook page, you’ll see he is so different, bizarre ideas, paints in a completely different style. It’s textured, organic, raw – real bright colors. I knew I wanted to do something different. Let’s give an option, the artwork is important to me. The limited edition has Eliran’s work- I think Pure Steel is making 300-500 of those, one run of those. It will have a slip cover on it too which will be nice. Different booklets, different layouts with the liner notes, so you’ll get a choice of one or the other – or could pick up both which would be even better (laughs).

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