Special Report by Greg Prato
It's hard to believe that nearly a decade has passed since prog-metallists FATES WARNING issued a new studio album, but this is indeed the truth - when their latest, Darkness In A Different Light, drops on September 30th, it will be almost exactly nine years to the day that its predecessor was released (2004's FWX). And ever since 1988, singer Ray Alder has been manning the mic for the band, and in the process, helping create such prog metal favorites as Perfect Symmetry and Parallels.
But unlike FWX, with the release of Darkness In A Different Light comes a renewed commitment to touring from the band (which also includes guitarists Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti, bassist Joey Vera, and drummer Bobby Jarzombek) - as Fates Warning has their sights set on some good old fashioned road work. Alder recently spoke to BraveWords correspondent Greg Prato about Darkness In A Different Light, as well as his favorite Fates Warning album, and an interesting conversation he had with GEOFF TATE the same evening the shit hit the fan in QUEENSŸRCHE-land.
BraveWords: Let's start by discussing the new album, Darkness In A Different Light. Why did it take so long between this album and the last one?
Ray Alder: "We did FWX, and then things kind of went weird for that as well - we didn't tour for that for about two years, until we finally did the tour with Queensrÿche and DREAM THEATER. After that, we started doing our little side projects here and there. One person would do something, and then the other person would do something. It just spiraled out of control. Before we realized it, it had been that long. And then for a couple of years, we were working on a Fates album that ended up being the ARCH/MATHEOS album [2011's Sympathetic Resonance]. A few songs on that I had worked on. I was working a lot, and also, a lot of the music just wasn't something…I didn't feel in my heart, so to speak. It wasn't something that I was crazy excited about. So, I think Jim realized that, and asked if we minded if he just moved on, and we'll try it again another time. We said, "Yes, of course. Do what you have to do." So I guess we would have had an album out three years ago, but after that, we started working on this, and we discussed what we wanted to do for the new album. I said, "I would rather do shorter songs - catchier songs. Not like Parallels, but somewhat in that vein." And then we started writing for this album, and it came together. It was what we wanted to do. It worked out pretty well for us."
BraveWords: What are some similarities and differences between this album and previous Fates Warning albums?
Ray Alder: "I hear from people Inside Out or Disconnected…I guess it does, I don't know. I guess I have to listen to the albums to remember."
BraveWords: What's the story behind the album title?
Ray Alder: "We came up with a bunch of different titles before. We were looking at the lyrics, and for some reason, I wrote most of the lyrics on this album. Jim wrote the song 'And Yet It Moves.' The lyrics seemed to make everything a common bond - going back between light and dark. I don't know why or how that happened. It was some subconscious thing that went on. So the title just seemed to make sense. Some of the songs have to do with hope and working your way through certain things. I mean, darkness to me seems more of a state of mind - it's not a physical darkness. But Darkness In A Different Light seemed to make sense. Again, it tied in with the lyrics. It didn't mean to, but it did."
BraveWords: The first song issued to the public was 'Firefly.'
Ray Alder: "It was actually the second song that was written for the album. It was an idea of Jim's. As soon as I heard it, I wrote the melody and really liked it, and sent it to him. So it was pretty much the second song that we did and it laid some groundwork down for everything else that we did. Again, the direction we were going in, once that song was finished, the ball started rolling, so to speak. Then we really knew what we wanted to do. After that, the songs just came out pretty easily. It's just a cool song."
BraveWords: Looking back, what would you say is your favorite Fates Warning album, and why?
Ray Alder: "I always keep going back to A Pleasant Shade of Gray. That's probably one of my favorites, just because it's experimenting and doing an actual album-long song was definitely different for us. I liked what Jim did with the whole thing."
BraveWords: What are the touring plans?
Ray Alder: "Just tour as much as possible. We want to definitely go on the road and stay on the road as long as we can. Going to Europe in October and the States in November/December, and then hopefully go back to Europe and do summer festivals. When we did FWX, we again, did it wrong. I don't know exactly how it happened, but we didn't really tour for that album. So this one, we want to do it right and just tour as much as possible."
BraveWords: Before, you mentioned the tour Fates Warning did with Queensrÿche and Dream Theater. Could you see trouble brewing between Geoff Tate and the other members of Queensrÿche?
Ray Alder: "I didn't really see it coming; we played with them in Sao Paulo, when the whole thing went down. It was crazy, it was really insane. I mean, literally, there was security on stage and the promoters were freaking out. And everything went on that night and then the band left. I was hanging out with Geoff later, and we went to a bar. It was just the funniest thing - Geoff and I sat there…and talked about scotch. We didn't talk about what the hell just happened! It was the weirdest thing, I don't know why it came up. But no, I did not see that coming. But I think Queensrÿche is Queensrÿche - it's not Geoff Tate. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out, and they went their own ways. I like the new Queensrÿche album."
BraveWords: What do you see in store for the future for Fates Warning?
Ray Alder: "Just tour as much as possible, and take advantage of what time we have. Again, nine years has passed and we need to play catch up. Promote this album and hopefully do another one within two years. That's the plan - to keep going and hopefully we'll all take it easy on the side projects."