The duo bring together an ensemble of renowned talent for one moving composition.
With just a couple weeks left for the arrival of their new record Chapter I, symphonic power metal unit LOST SYMPHONY have pieced together the arrival of Premeditated Destruction, a transcendental offering that features the likes of Brock Richards (STARSET), Richard Shaw (CRADLE OF FILTH), Jimi Bell (AUTOGRAPH, HOUSE OF LORDS), and session guitarist Matt LaPierre. These are but just a few of the many contributors that the Benny and Brian Goodman-led LOST SYMPHONY have enlisted for Chapter I, which features the likes of David Ellefson (MEGADETH), BUMBLEFOOT (GUNS N' ROSES), JEFF LOOMIS (ARCH ENEMY, NEVERMORE), and more.
Each musician delivers an eclectic submission, making Chapter I a maelstrom of excellent musicianship. It marks the first of three chapter releases, each telling a story beyond the instrumental heaviness it sets forth. The Goodmans harness from all ends of the heavy spectrum to coalesce it all into one uniform sound spread across 9-tracks. It may be five years since the band's inception but LOST SYMPHONY remains engrained in passion, focused on delivering experiences that transcend the physical medium.
We talk to multi-instrumentalist Benny Goodman about the musical ends of Chapter I:
Like ‘Singularity’ and ‘This Life Moves Too Fast’, today’s arrival of ‘Premeditated Destruction’ brings together an eclectic group of musicians from different realms in the metal spectrum, each bringing their own flavor to the table. From a composition standpoint, how does this all come together?
Goodman: It is all very consistent because the songs were all composed and arranged by my brother and I as well as engineered and produced by me. The thing about Lost Symphony is that we try to showcase the talent of the people we collaborate with by letting them run free over what we do, but the sound, the production, the work flow is all the same.
When you put Kelly, Siobhan, Paul, Cory, and Brian on a song, there is a certain sound that is very distinct even before you have guys as ferocious as Richard Shaw, Jimi Bell, or Brock Richards add their mojo. There is a synergy among the band that creates a sound that is cohesive enough to allow for others to do their thing so open and freely and still have it sound like Lost Symphony. I have always been that guitarist that wished he was as good as half of these guys, so when I'm lucky enough to work with a guy like Jimi Bell, its easy for me to help coax what's in our collective minds through his fingers because if I could do it as well as those guys can I would have already!
Instead of it being a clutter of random guest contributions, each musician delivers a breathing, living section to the seamless flow of ‘Chapter I’. Is there any particular direction or guideline that you set upon collaborating with each guest musician?
Goodman: Absolutely. I had to think they were insanely good and immediately want to have them be a part of it. When I first heard people like Kelly Kereliuk and Conrad Simon, I thought having people THAT talented play with me was a pipe dream. I had never heard of either of them but it has never been about status, it has always been about what we thought that artist could add to the composition. There have been a few times where I have sent stuff out and sent it back saying "try again," not because I'm being a dick but because I pride myself on knowing when the part is right and when the take is right. If I know a player can do better I'm not going to allow for them to give me anything less than a step beyond what they thought they could do. There is nothing worse than listening to old recordings wishing you had just done it this way or that way simply because the bar was not set high enough.
It has never been a clutter, it has always been a pleasure, especially considering much of the mutual admiration between all of the players. It's not hard to convince Kelly to lay off for 16 bars if Marty Friedman is down to do his thing. I am lucky enough that I have thought "hey, would this guy be amazing for that part" and they actually take my call and do it. What a friggin trip.
Musically, what was the goal coming into this record?
Goodman: To make the music that I have always wanted to without any restrictions. As a producer, as a songwriter, as a musician, you're told to edit this or play that way. Which is cool, because there is a process that goes into producing pop and top 40 music that I am obsessed with and I admire what that linear method is. This was NOT that. This was "lets see what we can do and push it further."
First between Kelly, myself, and Conrad Simon, and later between each person that came into the studio. The truly humbling thing is when you work with people as insanely good as Jeff Loomis or Oli Herbert and they set the bar for the next person higher than I ever could. The band snowballed from there and each and every person that put their love and vibe into this has helped legitimize what we are doing which has made it easier to approach such incredible players.
The absence of lyrics does little to affect the themes that the record sets forth with it’s vibrant guitar melodies and wondrous solos. As far as external influences go, were there any artists or records in particular the inspired the melodies and orchestral arrangement of ‘Chapter I’?
Goodman: My brother Brian and I are both ADD as hell so the polarizing influences are ridiculous. We grew up on Maiden, Ozzy, Metallica...but at the same time, having my mom play show tunes and sitting hours in an oldies radio station my parents owned certainly had its effect. I actually DJ and have for years, so learning what people actually like and want to dance to versus my personal taste in music has been crazy. I can't tell you how many times some drunk person has come up to me and chastised me for not knowing the new Justin Bieber song. Then you download it, put it on, and its like magic. If I had listened to that song on my own...I wouldn't be dancing, but NOW I get it.
What people like Justin Bieber or Post Malone do is nothing short of amazing. Post Malone has numbers that rival the Beatles in sales. So many people want to hate because that music is not for them. I made this music for US. Not for them. So there are no lyrics, not because I can't sing or hate vocals, but because I used to fast forward my mix tapes to the guitar solos. Because I loved the interludes from Rush and Dream Theater more than I liked it when they sang conventional choruses. So I put together a band where it was sort of a mashup of what I liked most.
Brian and I were JUST as influenced by John Williams with his scores for Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Superman as much as we were by Metallica as much as we were by our mother playing Debussy on the piano. Its all in there and what you hear is that natural progression of our brains willing these elements together with our compositions and production. Not to mention that we have this dude Kelly Kereliuk in the band who has sent me nothing but fire since the day we started working together. I can equate the feeling of hearing his parts to what someone like Axl Rose must have thought when he heard Slash bust out the November Rain solo over his piano tune. I fast forwarded to that solo especially.
Multiple listens through ‘Chapter I’ and it’s clear this is the result of musicians firing on all ends and having a great time composing together. Would you say this is an accurate take of how the collaborative studio sessions took place?
Goodman: Not exactly. Every person on this album has added their flavor but we have always been cooking steak. Brian and I write the skeleton of the songs, working out the initial arrangements, programming the orchestra we clearly cannot play, and figuring out what we want where. If you do not compose music or produce, sometimes it is hard to understand what we are even doing if you took the time to sit down and watch us because we are talking about the bells on this or whether we need a harpsichord for the next section. We can almost see where a song goes once one of us has inspired the other. And its then us yelling at one another until we give one of us the time to actually complete a thought because our brains are firing from so many directions.
Once we get to that level is when we call in Paul to lay down drums so we can put rhythm guitars, piano, bass, or whatever we need to make it a track that we could send to someone else. From there, that is when the genius of everyone else involve gets involved. Brian and I will compose a whole section knowing that someone is going to love having to figure out what time signature we are playing in and what the changes are. And I use the term "love" very loosely.
Its probably impossible not to sound pretentious referencing someone as genius as Frank Zappa, but where I really relate to him, other than my dad looks like him, is that he knew that he was the worst player in his own band. He didn't sing all of the time or play all of the solos because he had guys like Steve Vai or a drummer like Terry Bozzio. Why even play guitar when you're in a room with Steve Vai? So like Zappa, I have realized I'm in need of some players that can play like THAT. Over what Brian and I have dreamed up. Because...well...we can't do it without them.
The visual components of the record illustrate the disconnect we so commonly tend to develop with ourselves and our loved ones, due in part to the work to the demanding work schedules, social media, etc. What, if anything, do you intend listeners to take from ‘Chapter I’, the upcoming ‘Chapter II’, and metal in general?
Goodman: I have always believed music to be 100% subjective. I want people to take as much as they want from this. Whether its a great soundtrack to working out at the gym (it is, I've tried it), or its letting you just let go with the music, I want that for you when you listen to it. I just want people to be moved, even if they hate it, I'd rather that than someone saying "yeah, that's cool" and immediately forgetting it.
There was a lot of love, a lot of thought put into each of these songs. They certainly have their own meaning for me as I'm sure that meaning varies widely among even the players that played on each song. My hope is that people just want to pay attention. Everyone is writing shorter songs, more concise this, perfectly quantized that, over compressed like so much that's out there. That has never appealed to me, I have always thought there was magic in the people that can really do it. Like the first time someone sees Eddie Van Halen finger tap...that is just one of those "how the fuck does he do that" feelings that made me get into Van Halen.
I hope players out there listen to this and understand all of the layers. There are too many people out there taking themselves entirely too seriously, and while I'd like this to be taken seriously musically, as I believe it should, we did not write it to align with any metaphysical message other than music is the only reason, at least, for me.
Chapter I arrives March 27th via XOff Records. Get your copy HERE.