Ascension Theory has risen out of the ashes of progressive rock band Aztec Jade. What happened to this band?
Well for me, I think I needed to go in a different direction, both musically and personally in order to grow (you know, the usual story). Since Leon left, who was the lead singer, the band has not played out. I believe they are done being a band, but I don't know for sure.
What are in your opinion the main differences between Aztec Jade and Ascension Theory?
Ascension Theory is much more my own vision than Aztec Jade was. In AJ, the songs were usually written by me and Matt, and then the rest of the band all added their ideas to what we had. The direction of the band was decided collaboratively, with Rick and Bryan taking the lead. In Ascension Theory, I have written all the lyrics and most of the music (although on “Answers” both Leon and Chad each contributed musically as well). So the music is much more personal to me and reflects thoughts and feelings that are going on in my head.
You just released your second Ascension Theory album, 'Answers'. How are the reactions so far?
So far so good! Generally I think people consider this one to be much better in production quality (that is thanks to teaming up with Chad). It's definitely got the “crunch” people were missing on the last one.
Are you satisfied with the album? Is there anything you would have done differently after all?
Yes. I am mostly satisfied because I really believe we all did as best as we possibly could with the time and resources we had. No good musician will ever be completely satisfied with their work, though, there are things on the album I wish we could go back and fix. I do wish I could have had more time to develop the songs and the concept more. But with all of our different commitments, we just did the best we could.
I think you guys did a really great job. The album has a lot of progressive elements, but nevertheless, the songs have a very catchy vibe. The first name I came up with to compare your music with was Threshold. What is your reaction about that, and what bands or artists are your main influences?
Thanks! Honestly, I don't recall ever listening to Threshold. My main influences recently have been Evanescence and Disturbed, before that, Queensryche, Dream Theater and Savatage.
Most of the songs on 'Answers' are quite short, considering AT as a progressive rock act. Was that a choice you made before writing and recording the album, or did it just go that way spontaneous?
I think it's just the way they came. Like I said before, I didn't have as much time to sit down and develop these songs as much as I did with “Regeneration”. Some of the songs we really put together right in the studio.
Can you tell something about the lyrics on 'Answers' and can you perhaps explain the 'Ascension Theory'?
Well first, the name “Ascension Theory” doesn't mean anything, it was just a cool name I thought up. The lyrics are about a young man's struggle against the established political system in his city. He has to reconcile his dreams and visions with the reality of the way the world works. It's sort of allegorical to stuff that's gone on in my life over the past few years.
Female vocalist Beverly Luse features on two songs on the album, and I must say, she gives quite a performance! Especially 'The Way Of Death' is thanks to her beautiful vocals one of the album's highlights. How did you get in contact with her, and can we expect more of her vocals on any future AT albums?
I actually designed a web site for her band and we got to know each other through working on that. Yes, she enjoyed singing on this album and she said she is willing to do it again.
According to your website, Ascension Theory was formed as a “recording project”. Does this mean that AT is not really a band?
Well, we don't perform in public at all, so we are not a band in that sense.
Your website also tells us that all three band members are very busy working with other projects. Can you tell something about these projects?
Yes, Chad is in an original/cover band called White August www.whiteaugust.com
Leon is in a metal cover band – www.btgband.com
I am in a Christian worship band – www.drivenworship.com
What is your point of view on today's progressive rock scene?
Musically, I think it has somewhat stagnated, although I think ultimately, the progressive metal genre has seen it's vindication because of it's obvious influence on successful bands like Disturbed, Evanescence, or System of a Down. I think the fan scene has grown very well because of the internet. I think a lot of people in the USA are now looking for music outside the mainstream and are finding what they want online. Even though the scene has been around for a long time, many people are just finding it for the first time. One thing that amazes me is that I know several guys in their early twenties who are just discovering Dream Theater and other prog metal bands and are loving it.
As AT is a recording project, I suppose there is no change at all to see the band on stage some day?
I wouldn't say that there is no chance, but with everyone's schedules and commitments, it may be very unlikely.
That's it for now, thank you for your answers, and I wish you all the best with Ascension Theory and 'Answers'!
Thank you very much!