MindMaze – Commitment, Determination, and Resolve Part II

Monday, 24th April 2017

Read Part I HERE.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the advancement of your guitar playing over the years? What areas of interest do you focus on to improve or refine your technique and creativity?

Teets: Like I said earlier, the playing on the new album is definitely better but I don’t think it’s because my guitar playing has grown that much. I’m just getting better at recording. I’ve never viewed myself as a shredder, I’m not doing insane arpeggios or doing the crazy tricks. I’ve never really been someone like that, most of my favorite guitar players aren’t in that style. I’ve always been into Adrian Smith, Michael Schenker, Gary Moore, placed in that emotive blues rock, melodic sort of style. This is not really a great thing to say, but I don’t spend a lot of time consciously thinking about practicing technique and learning specific new things. The most valuable thing I can do is to play as often as possible. I spend a lot of time pulling up backing tracks and improvising along to them- or put on albums by some of my favorite bands that have influenced me and play along with the guitar parts. I’m not formally trained as a guitarist- I play for fun and as often as possible.

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve mentioned in talks before about not necessarily being a stand out band personality-wise, embracing so to speak more of your inner geekiness or nerd-like tendencies. How do you use this to your advantage in relating to your supporters, fans, and engagement?

Teets: I think it’s a tricky space to occupy. I have a bit of that nerdiness, I like making lists, writing about things, top ten lists, best of, 5 great things of this. It’s the way I am about all music- naturally since this band means a lot to me, I end up doing this to a lot of our own things. Rank my favorite shows we’ve played, my own favorite songs, compile statistics with where we’ve sold the most CD’s, or which songs we’ve played live the most. It’s cool that there are people out there that really like that stuff, as I do, and they get it. It strengthens that bond to be with those types of people that way. For people that are on the outside looking in, there’s sort of a danger of almost people thinking that you are full of yourselves. Mike Portnoy got accused of that a lot when he was in Dream Theater. A lot of people have that opinion of Mike, because he had that self-cataloging quality about him. To me it has nothing to do with thinking we are above anyone or at a certain level where we think anything is beneath us. I am this away about everything, it goes with the territory.

Dead Rhetoric: What has been impressing you the most for concerts or albums over the past decade – just from a follower of music perspective? They can be metal or otherwise…

Teets: My favorite album to come out last year was without a doubt the newest Fates Warning album Theories of Flight. I’ve been a huge Fates Warning fan for a decade or more at this point, since I was a teenager. I love all eras of their career, I don’t think they’ve ever put out a bad album. I never expected the new one to be as good as it is. Everything about it, the songs, the production, the performances, it’s flawless. As time goes on… I used to write reviews a lot and I was into that whole scene, and I used to listen to music more actively then I have over the last couple of years. What I found in most years, only one or two albums per year resonate with me. I was really into the last Striker Standing in the Fire– I’m not normally into that retro traditional metal kind of thing, but I think they do it really, really well- the style is modern but not too modern, and it doesn’t feel like a total retro act. I also loved the Triosphere album from a couple of years ago, it’s cool to have another female-fronted band that I’m into as well. I’ve been getting into moodier, progressive rock for a couple of years- partially in part to my girlfriend, who has been getting me into Opeth. I’m not the biggest fan of harsh vocals, but I really get them. Haken is a great band, even beyond metal – we kept joking that this album kind of broke us. We listen to so much progressive music to prep us in making this album, to get into the headspace I would put on Dream Theater Scenes from a Memory to sort of get into that mindset for what we were trying to create. Over the last year or two, I listed to singer-songwriter stuff, or much more commercially viable music like Butch Walker.

It’s almost cheating, Saxon and Armored Saint are two of my favorite live bands. I had seen both more than once before touring with them, but touring with them refueled that love and realize how great they really are. Those bands are so consistently good live every night, no matter what. I also love the fact that Saxon doesn’t really stick to a set list, I would prefer they would play a little bit more current material, but I just love the more or less making calls on stage. One other big highlight over the last couple of years was when Avantasia played in New York City, a year ago in April. For years, everyone said this was never going to happen, you’ll never see Avantasia in the United States. The guy who actually made this happen (Milton Mendonca) is our agent who got us the Saxon tour and the upcoming tour as well.

Dead Rhetoric: How important has family support been for MindMaze endeavors, especially in the case of Sarah and yourself? Have they been impressed with the progress you’ve made from your start as teenagers to now?

Teets: Yes, definitely. Sarah and I are very fortunate to have our mom, who is very supportive of us. She’s not in a position where she can lend monetary support, (but) in terms of emotional support or helping us succeed, she’s been very supportive. As far as the rest of our extended family, it’s mixed. When we were teenagers, I think there was this sort of ‘oh, they’ll grow out of it’ mentality that everyone has when you are 17 years old and you want to be in a band. I think over the last couple of years a lot of them have started to realize that this isn’t a fad, and two we are getting to a point of accomplishing something. My dad, who has always been very skeptical about us doing this, told me that he recently encountered a situation. He hauls used cars for a living, his name is on his truck with our last name. He had a client ask him randomly ‘are you related to the people from the band MindMaze – I love those guys’. My dad was floored by this- because he was out of state in upstate New York and randomly got approached by somebody, made him go ‘oh- this is legitimate’.

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