ARTIZAN Drummer Ty Tammeus Talks About The New Album - “The Best Way To Describe It Is Something Along The Lines Of Operation: Mindcrime”
August 29, 2014, a year ago
Artizan’s take on melodic power metal hits the right spot. Last year’s sophomore effort, Ancestral Energy, was well-received by fans and critics alike. The Jacksonville band’s new concept album, The Furthest Reaches (to be released April 24th on Pure Steel Records) will further push the musical boundaries. The album is being touted as a sci-fi thriller, and the release date will coincide with the band’s first ever performance at Keep It True festival in Germany. Like their previous releases, The Furthest Reaches will also be produced by renowned knob-twirler Jim Morris at his world-famous Morrisound Studios. In the interview that follows, drummer Ty Tammeus gave me the scoop on the upcoming album.
BraveWords: You launched an Indiegogo campaign campaign to promote the release of The Furthest Reaches. This seems to be the direction a lot of underground bands are taking these days. Did you not get sufficient support from your record label?
Ty Tammeus: “It’s a nice, viable alternative to raise funds and to raise awareness for the product. We did one when we went on tour with Fates Warning last year and we raised a little bit. It worked out pretty good for us. I think it’s ideal for your hardcore fan base that want to have those kinds of specialty items; something a little bit extra. I don’t know if that’s for everybody. A lot of people are going with digital downloads now. The music landscape has changed so much and there’s so much piracy out there. It’s completely changed the landscape. As far as record labels go, we’re on an independent label, Pure Steel Records out of Germany. Their funds are a little bit more limited, but they have great distribution. The good thing about being on an independent label as opposed to a larger label like Nuclear Blast is that we have some liberties that we can take. We’re allowed to do things like raise extra money on our own for recording or for a video. They allocate so many physical and digital copies that we can sell on our own. It gives us more opportunity to build some more funding. They’re a great label.”
BraveWords: Your sophomore effort, Ancestral Energy, really hit the spot. With your new one will be a concept album. Can you explain the concept?
Ty Tammeus: “It was something that I never really planned. But sometimes when you start writing this stuff, it starts presenting itself and starts to metamorphosize itself into its own entity. It will be a concept album. I’m presenting it as a rock opera. The best way to describe it is something along the lines of Operation: Mindcrime, where it’s going to be cinematic. It’ll evolve into stories as a collective. We’ll have some orchestration involved. It’s a sci-fi opera. My influences and inspirations are the classic sci-fi movies such as 2010, Aliens, Close Encounters. I’m a big fan of Ray Bradbury books. It’s going to have some interesting elements in it; some collections about humanity, balance of the earth and what we’ve done to it; ancient technology and how the pyramids were built. Maybe even something extraterrestrial will happen, too. It’s kind of a monster, but I think it’s going to be cool.”
BraveWords: Do you already have skeletons of songs? Have you been focusing on pre-production to where you can just go into the studio when it’s time and knock the songs out?
Ty Tammeus: “We put a lot of time into pre-production. We have more than half of the album pre-produced and recorded right now and I have the ideas for the rest of the songs. We always work with Jim Morris. We always bounce ideas off of Jim and kind of tweak things. That’s the great thing about working with him, I’ve been working with him since 1988 and he’s like another band member. He’s a frickin’ genius. The guy plays guitar, he plays the piano. He’s done all those Iced Earth albums that have all the huge orchestrations on them. He’s done the classic Savatage albums. He’s the king of melody and he’s always tweaking things. You can hear his influence on the first two albums. Jim produced all of that.”
BraveWords: Eliran Kantor (Testament, Hatebreed, Iced Earth) created the cover of the upcoming The Furthest Reaches. He’s a very in-demand metal illustrator as of late. How did you get him involved?
Ty Tammeus: I’ve worked with Eliran on the last album, Ancestral Energy, and I really liked what he did. He’s this brilliant young kid that lives in Berlin. I think I first saw his work on Testament’s Dark Roots Of Earth and I thought I should contact him. He’s real receptive. What we’re doing on this one is that there’s going to be two separate album covers. There’s going to be the standard one, then there’s going to be a limited edition. The limited edition is the one we’ve released right now that Eliran did. Marc Sasso, who did the first album, Curse Of The Artizan, is going to do the artwork for the standard edition, which probably won’t be released until closer to when the album comes out. I wanted to release this one now just to get it on people’s minds. Obviously, it’s a science fiction opera. Eliran came up with the concept that you see on the picture. I told him what the album’s about and just the general theme of it and he came back with this thing and I was just like, ‘Fuck! That’s fucking insane!’ I love the colors in it and it’ll be on vinyl, too. I love vinyl.”
BraveWords: What made you want to use two separate artists for the same album?
Ty Tammeus: “The reason that I wanted to use both Mark and Eliran is because they are completely different in the way that they draw. Mark does these big, bad-ass muscular characters and he’s really good at action, where Eliran is a little more cerebral. We’re looking forward to what Marc’s going to have. We don’t have the work right now but we’re corresponding on the ideas now. It’s going to be cool.”
BraveWords: You have a gem of a singer in Tom Braden. Describe what he brings to the band.
Ty Tammeus: “Well, thank you. I’m glad that you appreciate that. He’s our trademark; he’s the trademark sound of Artizan. The thing that I like about him is he has a unique tone and you can understand what he’s saying. When I’m writing all these lyrics, I can hear how he’s going to articulate the words. That’s always been really important to me, that people can actually understand the lyrics, and hopefully that comes across in the music. That’s what I love about Tom; his clarity and his power. He’s got a soaring beauty to his voice. He just gets better as time goes on. He’s definitely the sound of Artizan and that’s why I wanted to use him.”
BraveWords: You mentioned Iced Earth earlier, you had Matt Barlow as a guest vocalist on the title track of Ancestral Energy. Do you have anybody lined up for the new one?
Ty Tammeus: “We might have one special appearance. I don’t want to announce anything yet, but it’s possible. We had a great time with Matt. What a class act. He’s easy going and it was an honor to work with him. We flew him down to Morrisound. He actually did come to the studio, he didn’t do it out of his home or anything. Since he worked with Jim on all the Iced Earth albums, it worked out perfectly. They have a good relationship and he was excited to come down there. And he just nailed it. It’s mind blowing. His range is huge.”
BraveWords: What’s next for Artizan?
Ty Tammeus: “The main thing right now is focusing on finishing up the tracks on this new album. Just getting in the studio and getting it finished. The only show we have lined up for sure is the Keep It True festival, which will be in April. But Im sure once the album gets going we’ll be booking some shows next year. We’re definitely going to support the album on the road as much as we possibly can.”