Troy Tipton - Zero Hour

April 5, 2001

Who's all in the band?

Okay we've got Mike Guy who's on drums and we've been working with him for eight years now. Jasun and myself. Jasun's the guitar player. Jasun Tipton, he's my brother. Troy Tipton, bass, which is me. And Erik Rosvold on vocals who we've been working with for the last five years.

I understand you had a couple of members from Prodigy in the band?

Erik was a lead singer for a band called Prodigy. Also Mike Conner used to play keyboards with us briefly and he was the keyboardist for Prodigy as well. We did a demo back in '95. It was called Discovery. We had a different singer at the time. We didn't have Erik in the band. Mike only played on one song and that was the title track, "Discovery".

When and where did you guys form the band?

'93 was originally when Mikey, Jasun, and I started playing together. Then we had a couple other singers before we got Erik. We actually had another guitar player playing along with Jasun before Jay went by himself and then we had Mike Conner on keyboards. We hired Matt Gillery on the first album to do keyboards on most of the album. Also Phil Bennett, he played on Voice Of Reason. He's from Starship and Enchant. He played on Enchant's Wounded album. He played on half that album but his big thing is Starship and he makes some pretty big cash doing that from what I hear.

Who are some of your musical influences?

On this album definitely for Jay and I, like Meshuggah was for heaviness, Pat Metheny Group for more of the lighter, semi-jazzy passages. A little bit of Strapping Young Lad too and of course from older style I like Cynic and I like Atheist. We did have our time where we were really into Dream Theater. I think that definitely plays more on the first album than anything. Fates Warning, Dream Theater on the first album. More of this was heavier. We were more into different bands at that time. Meshuggah, Strapping Young Lad, and always into the Pat Metheny Group. Erik, he's got different influences. He's really into Dead Can Dance and some Peter Gabriel stuff. Kansas. Older Genesis, that with Peter Gabriel. Dio. So that's pretty much his influences and they're all over the place. They all mesh together and become what he does on Towers Of Avarice. So some of the weird stuff you hear is like weird harmonies, definitely very Dead Can Dance influenced.

When you guys formed your band what kind of musical direction did you want to go into?

Definitely wanted to play dark, progressive music. We always like a dark atmosphere in music. Music with a lot of depth to it. I know there's bands who go on their happy passages. We might lighten it up but we always keep things dark. Keep a lot of depth. I notice a lot of people have said that the album's cold. Yeah it is a cold album. We were also in a dark place at the time we were writing the album because we were really frustrated with record labels and the industry at the time. We were getting contracts and just verbally agreeing on something over the phone but when they would send the contract, it would never be what we verbally agreed on. It was just a big dick dance a lot of those guys put us through. Because of that, our frustrations poured out into the music when we were writing it. I think that's really where definitely the music and the lyrics come into play. Why they are so cold or dark some people say.

I think at this point in the music industry verbal agreements are kind of you know...

The thing is that they send you a contract and then you call them up. You discuss changes that you want and they verbally agree on that. We verbally agree together on that. They said "okay. We'll send the contract with the changes". Then they sent me the contract and there's absolutely no changes made. What it is, it's just a big mental game. One of the labels sent us three different contracts over a year's time and definitely nothing was ever changed on the contracts. The only thing that was ever changed was they would add territories. It was more territories. First we were discussing Europe. Then they sent us a contract, the same exact contract, except saying worldwide and we didn't even ask for worldwide. We didn't even want to do at that time a worldwide deal and everything was exactly the same. Even the things we verbally discussed over the phone and agreed on of just simple changes, of royalty rates and things like that, none of those were ever changed. I*t's just one of those mental games they do. They want you to just say "I give up. Obviously this is going nowhere. I'll just sign it the way it is". Luckily we had a good manager and he kept telling us "you guys are worth more than that. We'll get you something that will make you rest easy at night". That was the deal with us.

How do you feel about the current music scene?

It's kind of interesting. There's some good bands that are definitely coming out. In progressive there's some good bands with Power Omen, Miodome. Of course bands I really love and I don't even know if you consider progressive obviously like Meshuggah and Devin Counts. I love his material. There's definitely good stuff out there. What's nice is now a lot of that stuff is getting a little easier to get in your stores. I think the progressive market did get oversaturated when the whole Dream Theater thing hit and images and words. Then I think labels were signing progressive metal bands like crazy. I think it did get oversaturated and it has spoiled a little bit because of it. I think less people were getting excited about it because I think a lot of bands were sounding the same. Of course you had your standout bands but now I think it's going back in the right direction. We'll have to wait and see. Definitely more underground again though. It has a lot of room to grow.

You guys are obviously making a name for yourselves in the progressive metal scene. How difficult was it to get to where you are now?

It was difficult because it was a lot of work. We had done many demos before releasing the self-titled EP. Once we did that we were shopping it for a while. Once we finished the self-titled disc we were shopping it and then later on we were having a lot of people who heard our MP3s saying "I want to get this CD. I wish they would release it". The Perpetual Motion board was really the place that was going crazy over it. We said maybe we should put this on disc and release it. Luckily our buddy Bob Marshon who's our web guy, he was the one a long time ago came up to us and said "hey man, I wanna do a website on you guys. Okay give me a couple pictures and can I put up some MP3s"? We're like yeah, sure and because of him was the buzz starting on the Net. Then all the people emailing saying that they wanted the self-titled disc. We decided to make copies of it so we made a thousand and it went really well. We got great reviews from webzines and magazines. We had magazines come to our site asking for a copy of the disc. Luckily they were getting great reviews in the zines and we sold out of the first album really quick. Then we made another thousand and we're closing in on selling those out. It's done really well for us actually. It picked up really quick. We did get a lot of interest from that album really quick but we found out really what the industry was all about because it's really tough talking with the labels. They're not easy to deal with.

You guys released a demo called Discovery and also a full length CD. Can you tell us a little about those albums?

The Discovery demo was before that, that we did and that was with a different singer. We didn't really get a chance to shop that one at all. We had just finished that disc and what happened is, a week later after we had mixed it we went up to see this A&R guy for a record label. He listened to it. He really dug the music of the band. He really dug the music but he thought our CD lacked energy. Due to that we never got that thing out. Maybe five people out there have it and the band. Actually the drummer I don't even think has a copy of that demo so in a way it's kind of funny. What happened with that demo, it really didn't surface because of the quick reply we got from this A&R guy. Our vocalist, we talked with him, and he told us "hey I don't want to hold you guys back. If you guys are having any doubts, let me know so I can leave the band. If you guys want me to stay in, cool. I'm stoked. But if you tell me two months from now you guys want me out of the band, I'll be pissed". We said "hey man, we think you're a really good singer. We dig your voice but we'd be lying to you if we said we didn't have any doubts". That's how that one fell apart right there so that one never surfaced to anybody really. We just started looking for a new vocalist and once we found Erik, we started work on the self-titled disc.

I like The Towers Of Avarice album. It's definitely a great concept album. What inspired the story line behind it?

That one we need to ask Erik. I think definitely what inspired it for the music writing, and I believe as well the lyric writing, is like I said before. The frustrations of the business. We were just constantly getting frustrated going back and forth talking to these guys. Nothing was working out so our frustration just poured out into our music and I believe Erik said the same thing about his lyric writing because The Towers Of Avarice, avarice is extreme greed. Yeah I believe him as well, his whole influence was from the music business. Just the frustrations of the business.

So the tower's kind of like the music business and they're sucking all the energy out of the musicians.

It definitely doesn't say that exactly obviously but in a way it's just the same as anything. You do the same old thing, 9 to 5 job. Sometimes you just don't feel like you're getting any further where you want to be. Usually it's somebody who's holding you back. In this story, the Subterranean, he's the hero of the whole thing. He's the one who decides to bring the tower down even though he knows that it's gonna cause a lot of innocent people to die from this. It's something that he must do to bring the oppresser down.

Sounds like something out of a Stephen King novel.

I wouldn't doubt that he's read a few of those. I have no idea. He's definitely the guy on the lyric questions. Every time I try and explain he goes "well not really".

The album's been described as a cross between Fates Warning, Queensryche, Spiral Architect, Meshuggah, and Dream Theater. Is that pretty accurate?

I guess the Spiral Architect thing...we're definitely not influenced by Spiral Architect. I think they're amazing musicians. I wouldn't say their influence played anything because we really wrote the stuff before their album even came out as far as music goes. I think Ken uses that to describe there's some technical deals in the music. Fates Warning, yeah. Fates Warning and Dream Theater, we're definitely influenced by them. Early on this album I would say Meshuggah did play a role definitely. Made us crunch harder on this disc and who's the other one?

Queensryche.

Queensryche? Yeah seems like that's the industry standard everybody uses though. Yeah why not? Hell.

I was extremely impressed with the lyrics. It's like listening to a heavy metal opera. Does Erik do all the songwriting?

He does all the lyric writing, yes. Yes. We write the music first and we lay it down for him. Then he takes it from there. Yeah he does all the lyric writing. He came up definitely with all the lyrics and the concept so he's the one to credit for that one for sure.

Are your future albums going to be concept albums or are you envisioning a different style?

I don't think so. I don't think so at this time. On our first albume we did a song called "Metamorphosis". We have kind of juggled the idea of maybe doing a "Metamorphosis" part 2 but we wouldn't make a full concept album out of it. We'd probably just make another long song out of that but definitely on the next album, I don't think we're doing a concept album. It's one of those things you really just do once and if it strikes you again where you feel like you could put another great one together then we'll do it but no, don't see it anytime in the near future of doing another concept album.

Have you guys been touring and if so, how's that going?

We played Prog Power Chicago. That was really cool. The fans out there are just amazing. We definitely felt like rock stars for two days. It was really cool. Had a lot of people asking for autographs, asking to have our pictures taken with them. It was just really cool. Our fans out there. We were just really blown away with the reaction. Everyone was just so cool. Glenn, the guy who put on the event, he was just excellent with everything. He ran everything really smoothly. We're hoping to do some touring. We're planning on playing Prog Power Europe in October and hopefully putting together some other dates in Europe when we do that. We're possibly going to do an East Coast tour around the time of Power Mad. We might play the Power Mad event and if so, we would like to put some dates together to play on the East Coast. Nothing's final just yet.

So you don't know if you're going to be going around the country or not yet?

Yeah we really don't know at this point. I'm sure we'll be playing Prog Power Europe for sure but if we're able to have a few other shows to add to that, we have to wait and see. I guess it's just a little too early to tell since the album just came out. We'll have to see if Century is willing to work with us on helping us get out there. Basically we just need a little help to get out there and if we get that support, we totally want to do it.

Has there been a really good fan response to the album?

Yeah, everybody who's wrote...it seems everybody's digging the disc. Everything's positive so far. As far as how many discs and how many fans we actually have I really couldn't say because I don't know how many we've sold at this point since the disc just recently came out. I know Ken said it was selling. All he told me is that it was selling good and that was the only other response I got from him. We'll know in June how many units we've sold because that's the cutoff period where they have to start paying their checks about every six months. We'll know how many discs we've sold by that time and hopefully we'll be making a little bit of money.

Have you gotten any radio airplay?

We've been getting college airplay. College radio airplay we've definitely gotten. Selsy State out here which is KSGS and we've done a couple of interviews with them and KCU has played our stuff, that's Santa Claire University. There's a few other ones that have played our stuff. There was a radio station in Canada that played our stuff. A lot of seismic radios, online radio stations, that play our stuff. But as far as major radio stations, not that I know of. Hopefully it's being played in a lot of places that I just don't know about which would be nice because we can use all the help we can get. That's for sure.

Any other comments?

Please buy the disc. If you're into dark, heavy, progressive, metal music I totally believe that you'll dig it so please pick one up.

Zero Hour