FATES WARNING - Sit Back And Enjoy The Flight!
July 4, 2016, a year ago
On its 12th release, Theories Of Flight (out now via InsideOut Music), Connecticut’s progressive metal pioneers Fates Warning continues its upward momentum it achieved on its 2013 comeback album, Darkness in a Different Light. Considering Fates’ track record between releases throughout its 34-year career (it took nine years from 2004’s FWX to Darkness in a Different Light), three years for a new album isn’t bad at all.
Mostly due to the band’s rewarding Darkness in a Different Light live shows, and the recent 30th anniversary of Awaken the Guardian shows with original singer John Arch, it lit a fire under guitarist Jim Matheos and Co. to write and record a new record quicker this time around.
Consisting of Matheos, vocalist Ray Alder, bassist Joey Vera and drummer Bobby Jarzombek, Fates has really hit its stride on Theories Of Flight, and Jarzombek is thankful of the album’s turnaround time.
“That’s cool that we didn’t take 10 years; it’s only been three years,” Jarzombek stated. “Which is pretty good by Fates Warning standards to come out with a record after three years. I started with the band in 2007, and I’m not sure why it took so long till we got to Darkness in a Different Light. It’s just the fact that we are a working band and that we’ve been on the road. I don’t know what it was (this time around), but whatever it is, it definitely did work.”
That’s not to say that the writing process happened quickly. Jim and Ray did the bulk of the writing over a period of time, turning parts over to the rest of the band piece by piece.
“Sometimes Jim sends me just the music and sometimes he’ll send it to Ray,” Jarzombek said. “At some point, if Ray doesn’t come up with something right away Jim will send it to me without the vocals. Sometimes he’ll send me the songs with demoed vocals and drum programming. He sends Pro Tools files and sometimes I’ll stick close to that, but sometimes I’ll try something different. I’ll demo it and send it back to him with notes. He’ll give me his comments back. It’s a process going back and forth.”
Jarzombek is one of the most precise and meticulous drummers in the game today. Joining influential but underrated rockers Riot on its 1988 Thundersteel record, his musical journey has seen him travel to bands such as Spastic Ink, Halford, Iced Earth and Sebastian Bach. Jarzombek’s text book technique adds character and dynamic to the eight expansive tracks on Theories Of Flight, without becoming too busy or superfluous.
Dynamic opener “From the Rooftops” immediately sets the tone of the album with its innovative drum pattern. The intervals of the ascending/descending tom patterns, combined with the haunting reverb guitar melodies of Matheos, conjures up a mysterious vibe. Jarzombek received writing credits on the song for coming up with the opening drum pattern first, before Matheos structured the rest of the song around it, as Jarzombek explained.
“The intro for that song, the front end wasn’t initially on that song,” he said. “I sent Jim about 12 drum patterns, beats and fills. He picked up all those parts and he wrote the guitars around that song. But when he put together that song he wanted something else for the song. So I came up with three or four different patterns where one of them started at the high tom and came down to the low tom and accented on the snare, and that’s the pattern he chose out of those three or four patterns that I sent him. I had no idea what he was going to do with it, but it worked out pretty good.”
Although it’s hard for most fans to find fault in any of the tracks on the album, Jarzombek has a hard time in picking his favorite, as it changes from week to week.
“I hadn’t listened to the record in a couple of weeks, but on my flight home I listened to it twice through,” he said. “I really like “The Ghosts of Home.” I like “The Light and Shade of Things.” I like “Seven Stars,” too. There are so many songs that have great melody and great playing on the record. Ray sounds so amazing on this record. I think people are going to be really surprised and happy when they hear this record of how cool it sounds. I don’t really have a personal favorite at the moment, but they all sound great.”
The production of Theories Of Flight also plays a massive factor in the brilliance of the record, as it sounds fantastic. Matheos produced it and Jens Bogren (Katatonia, Soilwork, Pain Of Salvation) mixed and mastered it. The pristine and polished tone brings out the terrific dynamics of each track.
“I think the last couple of records, it was going back to the Carriage House Studios where Fates Warning did a lot of the classic records,” Jarzombek said. “I think that’s where the band wanted to be. There was the opportunity for Jens to work on the record and we’re all fans of the work he’s done with Katatonia, Soilwork, Pain Of Salvation and all the bands he’s worked with over the years. So it was great to have him mix the record. He pretty much works with bands from the ground up, but we pretty much did the whole record and gave it to him and he mixed it. It’s a great sounding record.”
As a former member of Riot, Jarzombek was involved in the last recording with 2011’s Immortal Soul before the passing of guitarist Mark Reale due to Crohn’s disease. Jarzombek shared a few memories of the fallen guitarist during his time with the band.
“Mark was such a good person, such a good soul,” Jarzombek reflected. “I remember when I first joined the band back in 1988, I stayed at his house and worked with him on the Thundersteel record. Mark had a complicated life with his Crohn’s disease, but he was always really passionate about the music. And that was always No. 1 with him. We worked on the tracks and wrote Immortal Soul down here in Texas. And when I picked him up at the airport — I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years — I could tell something was wrong. And it just caught up to him.”
Still a full-time member of Sebastian Bach’s band as well, Jarzombek is biding his time until Bach releases his long-awaited autobiography before playing any live gigs. With the exception of the Fates Warning’s Septembee 9 and 10 Prog Power USA XVII shows in Atlanta, there are no upcoming tour dates set in stone as of this writing. In the meantime, Jarzombek has some well-deserved down time, and he plans to spend it wisely.
“For the time being, I’m glad to be home for a bit,” Jarzombek concluded. “I’m doing some gardening. I’m doing some barbecuing, some weed whacking and some mowing of the grass. That’s all that’s on my schedule now for the next couple of weeks!”