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Friday, 11 May 2007

Prog Live:  Interview with Rich Skibinsky and Gregg Rossetti of Suspyre.

They joined us in the chat room to answer fans’ questions.

USAProgMusic:  So who did the keyboards for "Distant Skies"?  

Rich Skibinsky: I played some of the keyboards in “Distant Skies” and other parts were programmed.

USAProgMusic: What's a good way to learn keyboards?

Gregg Rossetti: The best way to learn any instrument is to take lessons and practice every day.

Rich: Well, taking piano lessons is the best way, then practicing everyday and making sure you learn to read notes. Also, listening to a variety of keyboard oriented music, not just prog metal, will help you get a better. Personally, I love Chick Corea, the jazz/fusion keyboardist. So I would suggest listening to anything he's ever done.

Gregg RossettiUSAProgMusic: I'm curious how Gregg comes up with the melodies or themes that are in each song.  Is it a "slap your forehead - AHA" process or do you sit and bang out different notes for hours at a time?  Or something else?

 Gregg: Some of the melodies come from just noodling on the guitar, piano, saxophone, or some instrument.  But I usually have an idea about what sound I want.  I never just play random notes and hope something sounds good.  I will play around, hear a sonority I like, then figure out how to develop it into a useable motive.  A lot of the vocal melodies come from me just singing (very badly, I might add) and finding what pitches fit each word in themore appropriate manner.

USAProgMusic: On “Water Burns”, around the middle there's a part that sounds like it's a violin or some stringed instrument.  Was that Gregg's violin or was it synth or what?

Gregg: It's a sampled cello.  I don't play violin.

USAProgMusic: What about the "tenor viola da gamba?"

Rich: Here is a picture found at:

tenor gamba

Gregg: A viola da gamba is a Renaissance instrument, similar to a lute, but played with a bow.  There are soprano, tenor, and bass violas da gamba.  Most have 6 strings, but the basses sometimes have 7.  I can elaborate more if you wish…

USAProgMusic: What happened to Kirk?

Well, Kirk was our bassist for the beginning of our career, but we parted ways simply because he was looking to pursue other endeavors outside of music.  Music was more of a hobby for him than it was for us.  We parted on great terms and are still friends with him today.

USAProgMusic: So rumor has it that you are going to add a keyboardist to your band, or is this still in the works?

Gregg: It is in the works.  We had a keyboardist for the Chicago PowerFest show.

USAProgMusic: Will it be the same person or someone different?

Rich:  We don't know who exactly will be filling the position, whether it will be her or not.


USAProgMusic:  What's the deal with Sam Paulicelli, your drummer? Your website currently doesn't have Sam listed anymore.

Gregg:  Sam is no longer in the band. There was a lack of communication, along with disagreements on what Suspyre really is.

Who's going to do drums then?  Also in the works?

That's a good question, heh.  I'm wondering that myself! We'll be putting up bulletins soon about drummer auditions.

USAProgMusic:  Any idea what the next CD will be like?  Similar to The Silvery Image or more like A Great Divide?

Gregg:  I've written a lot of music in the past few years.  Most of it is more like A Great Divide, but some is more straight-forward like The Silvery Image.  But, the new stuff I'm working on is more like classic prog (Rush, ELP, old Dream Theater), so hopefully the next album will be a smorgasbord of styles (including more saxophone, more orchestral parts, and more odd times!)

Gregg:  It's more jazzy, too.  Instead of constant double-bass beats, there is more groove. Think Planet X, Racer X, Symphony X…

USAProgMusic:  When recording, do you guys go direct or do you mic your guitar cabinets? If you go direct, what do you use? If you mic your guitar cabinets, do you use the standard Sure SM57s or do you have a different technique that you prefer?? And what is/are your guitar cabinets of choice for recording if that is the route you go?

Gregg:  We always mic the cabs with SM57s, except for bass; we recorded the bass direct and tweaked it on the computer.  But now, we're experimenting with Mesa cabs, because they are warmer and less "gritty".

Rich:  On both albums we mic'd cabs.  We used a Triaxis preamp through a Mesa 2:90 poweramp, into a Marshal 1960 Lead 4x12 for both albums as well.

Gregg:  We used a Carvin for the rhythm tracks on The Silvery Image though...

Rich:  I've never been able to get a direct guitar to sound "useable" enough.  The POD and such systems can get close, to some extent, but they don't work the same in the context of a mix, at least for our music. And yes, we used a Shure SM57.

USAProgMusic:  So what are your musical backgrounds and current non-Suspyre musical involvements?

Gregg:  This is going to be a long one. I started music by taking saxophone lessons before I entered fifth grade.  From then until now I also took lessons on piano, clarinet, bassoon, classical guitar, jazz guitar, viola da gamba, and composition.  Now my current musical involvements include the Harry Partch ensemble (for which I both perform and compose).  I also am receiving my Masters degree in composition, and am going to pursue either a Performer's Certificate or Artist's Diploma nextyear.  Eventually, I'll get a PhD or DMA in composition.

USAProgMusic:  You might be one of the most overqualified metal artists. Just kidding.  

Gregg:  Also, recording is something Rich and I are both doing more of; we're having other bands record their music in our studio. (laughs) Thanks, I think.

USAProgMusic:  Is your studio in your home/apartment?

  The studio in which we record is above the garage of my parent's house. 

Rich:  I began my musical journey playing piano as a child.  I took lessons for quite some time Rich Skibinskywith a variety of teachers and did recitals and all of that.  I wanted a keyboard so my parents told me that I had to take piano lessons if I got the keyboard.  Around 7th or 8th grade I started playing guitar.  I taught myself for quite a while and really developed my basic technique during that time.
I also took some classical guitar lessons during this time.  In high school I took jazz guitar lessons and studied with the NJPAC Jazz for Teens program.  Currently, I am a junior at Rider University getting a Bachelor's degree in music.  I am going to get a Masters degree in Guitar Performance next.
I also have a studio in my parent's house where I do most of the mixing and mastering work.  So we bring the files back and forth between the 2 studios.

USAProgMusic:  What is Opus I? Where is it? A Great Divide starts with Opus II.

Gregg:  The Silvery Image is Opus I.

USAProgMusic:  Well, that seems to be it. Thanks a lot guys for taking some time out of your Friday night to join us!

Gregg:  Cool, thanks for giving us this opportunity!  Great job!


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