Monday, July 8, 2013

Interview with Victor Arduini (ex-Fates Warning)

I am sharing this and add what I can for now. As some may know, I am a very big fan of Fates Warning, including pretty much ALL of their work, which includes the 2 albums original guitarist Victor Arduini played on. I honestly have not thought about what happened to him, sadly, in a long time, if ever. Although it's odd how that is the case, given I for one, absolutely LOVE The Spectre Within and still regard it as the best John Arch-period record, and probably among their 5 best records. 

I also will never forget how down I was when I found out Joe DiBiase was leaving the band around 1995 or 1996, right after I got into them. A guy I was tape-trading with and writing to about bands, mentioned how he thought Fates might be done. He wrote I recall  "Jim will probably hang it up" or something. So my even new-found emotional attachment to Fates Warning (I only became a fan around 1995 or 1996), gave me very strong feelings about an original member leaving even then. Why Victor, Steve Zimmerman and John Arch's departure wasn't the same, I suppose it only can be thought due to the fact Joe was still a member when I came on board, while those others (and Frank Aresti) were not.

I suppose I also was still unhappy about the fact Kevin Moore had left Dream Theater not too long before that as well.

But he does speak out, frankly, about as brutally honest and even in an outspoken tone at times, this interview kind of has me seeing him and maybe even Jim Matheos in a slightly different light.

I guess part of it is, how he departed. This is his perspective of course, but I guess I always assumed it was on good terms and there wasn't any ill-will or bitterness. Jim has often if not always come across as a reasonable if not rather like-able guy who avoids those kinds of conflicts. But maybe the fanboy in-me doesn't know or see him entirely how I could.

But the whole perception Jim has, has been quoted about his feeling of the early music before. I remember the quote (paraphrasing) "I look back on that early music and realize what a DORK I was."

I never forgot that, but also, especially with his recent experience with John Arch again, I don't know how serious he is about that. Maybe he doesn't revere it, or sees it as mostly nostalgia, rather than how Victor sees it still. But I guess I'm not sure why that should fully detract on Jim's interest to talk about it and play any of that music live again.

Now WITH Victor or Steve Zimmerman? that may be more of an issue But as Victor talks about in this interview, it's too bad he was there (and Steve?) in Hartford, CT and they couldn't join the others on stage, seems kind of silly. Maybe/Hopefully another time.

I also am curious about how Victor feels about Fates Warning's music since he left. He sort of says some of it is interesting, but almost like it's not THEE Fates Warning he founded, etc. I wonder if he kind of feels like they should have changed the name of the band or something. But by that, I wonder if he really enjoys the idea of being "progressive" anyway. 

As far as his band Freedom Reign, I am totally unaware of them or their music. I may check them out, although from the description he gave, I'm not sure how far they will go. I do like some Black Sabbath, including some of the Ozzy stuff (although I have not checked out the new reunion album, and the reviews haven't really got me too motivated at this point. Otoh, Sound Opinions, among other places, just reviewed it and I would be curious what they said).

I suppose my curiosity would be, *how* Spectre-like is it? and part of the issue with that is, without John Arch and John Arch's VOCAL LINES/LYRICS/MELODIES I wonder how it could capture what was so great about SPECTRE. But it probably is still worth sampling no matter.



1. Why did you leave Fates Warning after "Spectre"?
I was asked to leave as I was becoming concerned how I would afford to raise my family if the band went on a full tour. Back then we were all in our early 20's and I was the only member who was married. I learned I was to be a father in the coming year. We didn't make any money at the time and the prospect of quitting my job to go on the road just wasn't a reality. The other guys were young, hungry and single !! After expressing my concerns the band had a meeting which led to my dismissal. It was mutual at the time although I was very upset with Jim as he clearly expected everyone to put the band first at all costs or you were out. the problem was he wasn't the leader of the band. We were all equals in a sense but made to feel if we didn't go along he would get members to vote with him (reluctantly) and you'd get out voted. Jim and I were both writers in the band and competing to contribute to band. At times I felt he wanted more control than I would allow and that caused tension between us. After I left he became more controlling with other members of the band which led to John Arch leaving after ATG for similar reasons of difficulty touring as me with similar ultimatums given. From that point Jim finally got what he wanted and became the "leader" of the band. He now could write most of the songs and have full control over the direction of the music. While I still wish I could have been a part of ATG (We actually were rehearing a few songs before I left), I would have left after John did. he was the voice of the band and the arrogance of kicking John out would have really pushed me over the edge.. I appreciate the fact that Fates name and legacy have endured over the years and Jim has made some interesting music but I really just don't connect to what they have became musically in the following years.

2. What does the first two albums mean to you?
The first two albums are my youth. It brings back memories of five young guys still learning their chops and finding their influences together through all the new music coming out at the time. We were really a band of brothers who wanted to be a part of the metal world and began to write our first songs together in a garage while soaking up all this great music going on around us. Night On Broken was a raw, to the point metal album that started it all. I still remember getting the copies in the mail and holding our first record. Man we were so proud and we never looked back. We now saw ourselves as recording artist and felt we were among our peers. We began to get opening slots for Anvil, Overkill, Attacker, Obsession, Motorhead, Queensryche and got to live the life we always wanted.. The Specter Within was our first real production. The songs were much better written and it was so fuckin' heavy !! We got to live in California for 5 weeks to record the disc. We had the ability to get the best sound we wanted and to this day is is my favorite album Fates has done because it is just so raw and pure. I would have wanted to see Fates stay true to what Specter started and just expand from there. Freedoms Reign's CD is more of a continuation from where I left off with Spectre. Not that I'm trying to recapture Fates. It's more of just who I am as a musician and the natural abilities and influences that I had in 1985 are still there and I'm just being myself when I pick up a guitar and write riffs. There gonna have some sense of similarity with 28 years of growth and experience.

3. Why didn't they ask you to join them on stage for a couple of songs in Hartford 2012 ?
You'd have to ask Jim. It was suggested at one time to even do a tune but never heard anything beyond that. I was pretty uspet we couldn't get together for a bow. I mean it's the only time we all were in the same building and yet you don't make it happen ? For what reason wouldn't you ? No matter how many versions of Fates there are there will only be one true original line up that started it all. You can't erase that time or era. You can't pretend it doesn't matter. No matter what the five of us know what those first few years were about and despite that Jim has no interest in returning to his past, the rest of us still do as do many, many fans who would have loved to see us together for a moment in our hometown. People have asked me if I'd ever do a reunion show and my answer is YES !! But I know for a fact Jim would never consider it and even if he did I would find it hard to stand on stage and enjoy it while knowing he's mocking the songs inside and feeling he's above them now. Sorry but I embrace them and to play them again would be amazing and I'd need to know everyone on that stage felt the same way.

4. What have you done after leaving Fates and forming Freedoms Reign ?
Well I raised two fantastic kids which took up most of the next 20 years. I actually didn't play guitar for a few years after Fates. Just trying to find myself and be a good dad. But I soon realized how much I missed making music. I began writing/recording with some friends and soon saw myself back where I came from. I actually played bass for 3 years in a great local band who went through the process to trying to get signed..I've recorded a solo project in 1993 (Painted Horse) which I'm pretty proud of. In addition I went back to school and became a Registered Nurse and have spent 20 years working with the elderly. It's another passion that's rewarded my life.

5. How was the show for you in Hartford with the band ?
The show was fantastic !! We got to play some new songs to a Fates audience and it went over very well. Having so many people come up to us after the show and comment on the songs and energy they felt really said alot.

6. How is your relationship with Jim nowadays ?
It's more of a business relationship. he will let me know of things going on with re-releases or other business. We don't really speak or communicate much for other reasons. There's just not much in common except we both played together 30 yrs ago. And while I still embrace and cherish those days and the music we made I just don't think he feels the same which is pretty sad. Somehow he's embarrassed by it and can step away because of the what he's done since. It's like Sabbath turning their back on Paranoid !!!

7. Please introduce us to the band
The band consists of Mike Jones/Bass, Tommy Vumback/Guitar, Chris Judge/Drums. The band was actually in place before I joined. They had some songs written which I produced as a demo. I ended up writing lyrics, singing and soloing on all 10 and we put it out as a local release. I never planned on joining but was really impressed with their musicianship. Mike and I have know each other since we were 10. We actually found Steve Zimmerman together and started a cover band of new metal which then became Fates Warning. We've best friends who have played together over the years. Finally we get to play together again

8. In Freedoms Reign you sing and play guitar. How did you get the idea to take the vocals ?
I became a singer out of desperation. lol.. Seriously I just couldn't find a vocalist who heard the songs the way I did. There's so many great vocalists out there which I don't see myself as one, but good vocals don't always project the vibe of the song. I wrote or co-wrote all the music on this CD and had melodies in mind which I just couldn't see other people singing. I began doing some vocals in another bands I was recording with and realized I could make it work. After doing our 1st local release I got the confidence to do it full time and here we are. The new Cd allowed me the proper recording to bring out my vocals in the best light. I really dig writing the words and melodies over my music. It brings it full circle. I'm no John Arch but a bit of Ozzy will do.

9. Can you describe the bands style ?
The music is just Old School Metal !! Each song is it's own piece with influences from our past as well as present. I don't walk away from my Fates days and still bring a sense of that style and sound to the music. It's not a purposeful thing. I just still like to play the same way and love to write heavy powerful riffs just like i did in 1985. Yet there's so many things I've been influenced by over the years that show their way trough the music. I've already begun to write for the next CD which we hope to begin recording by early next year. I can say it will be darker and heavier. Some really cool riffs going on.

10. How big is the Sabbath influence ?
Sabbath will always be a huge influence in my writing. I worshiped them back in the day and Iommi's riffs are just amazing. I'm a riff player too and love to play any Sabbath riff I can. I don't want to be a Sabbath style band but there will always be an element of them in the writing. I've been told some of the vocals remind them of Ozzy. I really never even thought of that. I guess i just sing with a similar approach. I love listening to Ozzy sing Sabbath but also how the music and the vocals always worked so well together. Every album they did was a bit different than the last where todays bands sound identical to their last. I can't tell what album a song is from. I'd like to see our band approach each release the same way.

11. How did it come that Nick Belmore did the production ?
I heard a demo by Joe DiBiase's son's band (Oath Of Insanity). The first thing that blew me away was the production, especially the drum sound. It was exactly what I wanted and know with our songs he could bring them to life. We met and hit it off instantly. He truly has a talent for recording and was a great extra member of the band in the studio. He's worked with Hate Breed as well as his own band Toxic Holocaust.

12. You signed to a European label. How did that happen ? Did you find an American distribution ?
There's really not a great audience for actual CD's in the U.S. We went with Enrico at Cruz Del Sur because he has a great reputation in the U.K and has the ability to get our music to an audience that respects what we do. There's such a cool metal scene in Europe. The kids still support the band by buying the CD's, going to shows. It reminds me of when Fates began in 1983. Bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Merciful Fate, Accept, Diamond Head, Loudness were all just starting and I couldn't get enough of it. You'd go down to the local record store and see what new imports were in. Now I see the same thing in U.K. I have one goal and that is to get our band over to UK and do some shows. I want to be apart of what's going on knowing our music would fit right in. There's a huge Fates following in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Holland and I want to see us get on some festivals and/or support another band doing a few weeks of shows. We're looking to see how the CD does and go from there.

13. Do you include some fates warning songs in the setlist ?
No.. First of all I can't sing that stuff and secondly we don't want to confuse people. I mean this band has nothing to do with Fates other than myself once playing with them. Fates is a special thing to me and unless I see John Arch and the band standing on stage with me I really would rather not do it. I did do a one-off show last year with Steve Zimmerman's band and at end of the night we played 2 old Fates classics (Misfit and Soldier Boy) It was great to do it and we nailed it pretty good. felt like 1984 all over again.

14. For sure you cannot live on the money you earn with FR. What is your profession ?
I'm a Registered Nurse. I always say it pay's the bills so I can loose money playing music !!! Seriously I love Nursing. It's a great career, very rewarding and I love the geriatric population I get to work with every day. As far as Freedoms Reign goes we just hope to earn enough to record another CD as well as get to UK to do some shows. Once you take the thought of being rich out of the equation everything makes sense and is fun. The passion to write and record music is something I'll never put a price on

15. What is the message behind the cover ?
There really isn't any meaning. We came up with our name just throwing some ideas around. When I saw the artwork it just appealed to me in some cool way. The angel in the picture has been freed from her reign of submission, yet she seems sad as if she may not want to be free. Sometimes in life the obvious choice isn't what we always want.

16. Is FR a political band ?
Absolutly not. I hate fuckin politics. I can't stand how the US Government operates. I mean whatever one side comes up with the other rejects just out of spite. For being the greatest nation in the world we have our heads up our ass when it comes to making decisions and getting things done. Supposed to be "One Nation, Under God... "We act like kids sometimes and I'd never mix music with politics. Would take all the fun out of it
 — with Tom Vumback.