Original FATES WARNING vocalist John Arch recently spoke with Heavy New York about "Winter Ethereal", the second album by ARCH/MATHEOS. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the origins of "Winter Ethereal":
John: "[It was done] pretty much in the same fashion as Jim [Matheos, guitarist of FATES WARNING and ARCH/MATHEOS] and I have always worked together. We just kind of hit it. I asked him, which is kind of unorthodox — usually, he asks me to do things musically — but this time, I was just coming off of doing those [FATES WARNING 'Awaken The Guardian' reunion] shows and those DVDs, and we were just talking. I asked him and said, 'Maybe I have another one or two left in me,' and him having two in a row with FATES WARNING, I think it was kind of refreshing [for him]. Him working with me is kind of a different animal, and creatively, probably a good thing for both of us. Unlike 'Sympathetic Resonance', this was pretty much a blank slate that was destined for ARCH/MATHEOS. Probably the only thing that we did differently here was a little bit different approach with the musicians. We ran into a little bit of static last time when we had Bobby [Jarzombek, current FATES WARNING drummer] and Joey [Vera, current FATES WARNING bassist] playing on the album. Who wouldn't want those two musicians? They're awesome, and [it's] great to have them, but of course, given the affiliation with FATES WARNING, the fans talk and whatever. There's three sentences, and it broke into a fistfight on Facebook, so we pretty much said, 'Let's try to avoid all the drama and the association with FATES WARNING, and let's make sure that it's understood that the musicianship this time [is different].' Then it ended up where Joey and Bobby saw that there were going to be other musicians playing on the album, and they said, 'I'll do one or two,' so it worked out perfectly. I was really super-stoked when both of them said that they would do a couple songs, plus having all the other talent that Jim had brought forth to play on the album."
On the album's recording process:
John: "It's one step at a time the way we normally work in a studio with Jim. He has his own studio. [It's a] very comfortable environment — it's like a second home me. Jim gets into his own head and writes the compositions for me, and then I work in the same way — I take them, and I interpret them emotionally and maybe a little intellectually first. We take it and we run with it, and before you know it, we're waist-deep in it [and] there's no turning back."
On the album's musical direction, and how it differs from FATES WARNING:
John: "We don't have any predestined plans when we get together. We know that we're going to take it one step it at a time and see what happens. We don't go in assuming anything... Either the chemistry's still going to be there between us as far as writing is concerned or it's not, and it seemed like whenever Jim came up with something, I immediately took a hold of it, with the exception of one or two things he wrote that didn't quite hit me... He knows what makes me tick, and he knows what I like. I think his approach may be a little bit different than it would be if he was writing for FATES WARNING or for Ray [Alder]. I'm not really a hundred percent sure how Jim and Ray work together. I think in the earlier days, Jim did the majority of the writing as far as the music compositions, as well as lyrics and helping with melody lines, but I think more recently, Ray has contributed more to the writing process with melody lines and lyric-writing and stuff like that. When it comes to Jim and I, it's always been the same — Jim writes the musical compositions, and I am the lyricist and write all the melody lines to fit what I'm trying to say and what fits the song. Since we work in that way, some people have said, 'I wonder what this song would sound like with Ray on it?', or what I would sound like on something with FATES WARNING. It would be completely different."
John: "We trust each other enough where we'll be getting into the studio and I bring things to the table and he brings things to the table. We may lock horns at times, I think like everyone does, but in the end, there's always a compromise, and it seems like the compromise ended up being better than A or B would have been."
On whether ARCH/MATHEOS will perform live:
John: "I promised Jim I would leave the on-the-road thing closed-ended. [FATES WARNING] are going back into the studio to write. I have made many promises that I need to be present personally in my life right now [to attend to]. At the age that I'm at, I've got a lot of aging in-laws [and] parents that are in trouble right now, and I need to be present for. I need to do that, and I appreciate everybody understanding that. That means a lot to me."
"Winter Ethereal" will be released on May 10 via Metal Blade Records. The album serves as the follow-up to ARCH/MATHEOS's 2011 debut "Sympathetic Resonance", which marked Arch's first release since his 2003 solo EP "A Twist Of Fate".
"Winter Ethereal" features both present and former FATES WARNING drummers and bassists — Joey Vera, Bobby Jarzombek, Joe Dibiase and Mark Zonder — plus other noted musicians, such as Steve DiGiorgio (DEATH, TESTAMENT), CYNIC's Sean Malone and renowned drummer Thomas Lang.
Arch fronted FATES WARNING from the pioneering progressive metal group's inception until 1987 and appears on the group's classic albums "Night On Bröcken", "The Spectre Within" and "Awaken The Guardian".