Tourniquet

Tourniquet, na Stryper de bekendste en ondertussen ook zo'n beetje de langst lopende 'white metalband' (bestaat deze term eigenlijk nog wel?) die ook in de heidense metalwereld enige bekendheid heeft vergaard en verzameld. En terecht. Al sinds eind jaren 80 brengt deze melodieuze thrashformatie geweldige albums uit en onlangs verscheen hun 7de full-length studio album 'Where Moth And Rust Destroy'. Voor een recensie: zie archief. Het is wederom een bundeling van complexe, maar catchy en thrashy, maar melodieuze metal, waarin de hoofdrol andermaal is weggelegd voor de “Goddelijke” drummer Ted Kirkpatrick. Daar ik al een dikke 10 jaar behoorlijk gecharmeerd ben van hun muziek was dat voor mij een uitgelezen kans om hen enige vragen te stellen. En met “hen” bedoelde ik op voorhand vooral drummer Ted zelf. Want hij is degene die de band heeft opgericht, de meeste muziek en teksten schrijft en bovendien meestal als gesprekspartner te vinden is aan de interviewtafel. Mijn interviewtafel bestond evenwel uit een toetsenbord en monitor om middels e-mail een interview met Tourniquet te vormen. Toch werden de antwoorden zeer onverwacht niet door Ted gegeven, maar door zanger Luke Easter, die door mijn nogal openlijke liefde voor Ted's drumwerk ook enige vragen te verduren kreeg welken misschien beter waren geweest om door Ted zelf te laten beantwoorden. Maar Luke draaide er zijn toetsenbord niet voor om.

Door: Evil Dr. Smith | Archiveer onder

Well, to start of with some ass kissing: THANK YOU very much again for yet another melodic thrash-masterpiece with lots and loads of indescribable drum-fills and guitar riffs! It cost me a hell of a time, but in the end I finally get the picture of it….I think. At least I enjoyed it really much…again!!

Thanks for the kind words. We worked very hard on this disc to make the best album we could, so it's great to hear that people are enjoying it.

First of all: what happened to your previous guitar-player Aaron Guerra?

Aaron got married awhile back, and he and his wife were expecting their first baby. It was becoming harder for him to juggle the band with his home life, so we decided that he should concentrate on his family responsibilities. It was a tough decision, but I think it's what is best for everyone. He was with us for 8 years, and we have a lot of great memories of the time we shared with Aaron. We wish him the best.

But you replaced him with 2 very, VERY talented people on this new album. Tell me how did you got in contact with them?

Ted was in the band Trouble for a short time in the late 1980's, which is how he and Bruce became friends. Marty has been friends with Ted for a few years as well, and he is obviously a great guitar player. It's basically friends playing with friends. Bruce has made some great music with Trouble, and Marty is a very influential player, so it seemed like a perfect fit for this project. I think their playing really took us to a new place musically.

And did Ted play – like always - some guitar-parts himself as well?

Ted played all of the rhythm guitars this time out. I know most people that are familiar with Tourniquet probably think of Ted as a great drummer, but I'm not sure if everyone realises what a talented guitar player he is as well.

Just like on the album 'Psycho Surgery', the final song is quite in the vein of doom metal, with very slow and heavy riffing and beating. I suppose Bruce Franklin did most parts in 'In Death We Rise'?

Actually, Ted played all of the guitars on “In Death We Rise”.

To be very honest: I am quite impressed with their guitar-skills…(of course!). But still, I also liked the way Aaron played on 'Microscopic', or Erik Mendez and Gary Lenaire on for instance 'Psycho Surgery' very much. It's rather difficult to formulate it in English for me but it's something like: It's not only about 'perfect playing' but also give something of their 'own' which must be put into Tourniquets sound, like Aaron Guerra managed to do. It got somehow more of an authentic Tourniquet-soul in it. But I think you'll disagree with me, aren't you?

Personality is important if you're going to play in a band. Not just as a person, but also as a player. I have my style of singing, Ted has his style of drumming and we've always looked for guitar players that had a distinct style of their own. On top of that, you need to be able to adapt to work with the different personalities within the band. Aaron is a great rhythm guitar player, but he also has a great sense of melody, which helped him play some great leads over the years. Since Ted has always written most of the music, it's been relatively easy to maintain a “Tourniquet sound” over time, but we've also been fortunate to have distinct players over the years to help enhance that sound.

But how are gonna solve this problem on stage? Do you already have found a full-time new guitarist (or 2?)?

We are auditioning people right now. We plan to continue as a one-guitar band; it works better for us live. Like I said before, we've been fortunate to have good players in this band. We're taking our time so we find the right one.

You are ex-tre-me-ly popular among the Christian US-metal fans. You and your band Tourniquet have won countless of prices over the past ten years in especially Christian metalzines. I have two things to ask about this. First, what do you think about my thesis: the only reason for Tourniquet being so enormously popular among the Christian metalfans, is because there is no competition for the band. All the other Christian metalbands dissolved, vanished and broke up.

When we first hit the scene, there were a lot of bands playing Christian Metal, but now there are not as many. There are still some, though, but you're right, there is not a lot of competition in the Christian scene at the moment. To be honest, we don't really look at other Christian bands as competition. We are all trying to present the gospel in one way or other, and there is certainly room for as many who want to do that. There just doesn't seem to be as many bands in our genre as there were. I don't think it's fair to say that that is the sole reason for our popularity in the Christian market. We have worked very hard to carve out a place in the world of music, and we have worked just as hard to maintain our position. We don't take it for granted, and I think the fans see that.

And second: do you have any idea how popular you are in the secular metal-scene? I really don't know, but I'm still surprised that nobody speak out Ted's name with the same respect as for instance Gene Hoglan, Dave Lombardo, Danny Carey, Neal Peart of Terry Bozzio. On the contrary, I think a lot of non-religious metalfans will still frown incomprehensible when I say your name.

The secular scene has been good to us. We're not a household name, but we have some notoriety. We've had some coverage in Modern Drummer and Guitar World, magazines like that, and they've been very positive. Accolades are nice, and in some ways they're beneficial career-wise, but it's about the music. We don't do this to be in magazines or on MTV. We love to play music, and we want to make art that glorifies God.

I could be wrong, but it seemed to me that on this new album Ted played his drumparts a little bit more in service of the songs. It was not like “Ted's going completely insane” as usual. All right, I'm glad there are songs like 'Architeuthis' en 'Healing Waters Of The Tigris', but overall I got the idea Ted was getting “less loose” as usual. Am I right?

On all of our albums Ted has played for the songs. It's not about how many solos can he play within a song, it's about playing what the song needs rhythmically, but still making it interesting. With this album the songs are a little more epic sounding, and so the challenge was to play challenging parts with in that framework. I think Ted's drumming on this album is every bit as technical and complex as on any of our previous albums, it's just more concentrated. It comes more in bursts than in long passages. At the end of the day, it's not about how many beats or notes you shoe-horned in to a 3 minute song. It's about whether or not the song sounds good. That's what we are constantly working for. Technical proficiency is important to us, but it will always be secondary to the song as a whole.

Speaking about 'Healing Waters Of The Tigris”. When I saw this title, I thought: “Hey, Tourniquet's going political!” I mean, singing about Mesopotamian (Iraq) - just when Bush is threatening Hussain with a new Gulf War (which now is already started, obviously)- is maybe a bit more than just a coincident? I read in the lyrics it was about the city Nineveh 600 BC, but can I see an allegoric connection to the political status the world is in today? Nineveh being the greatest city of all (that is: Hussain, according to the Islamitic population in Iraq) and the Tigris acting like Bush (pretending “Ever flowing and all knowing”).

The song is about Ninevah, but it was not politically motivated. The song is about the ancient city, and the fact that the king at that time declared that the city was invincible; that it would never fall. What ended up happening is that the Tigris River flooded and ended up contributing to the destruction of the so-called invincible city. The king thought they were impervious to any assault. He thought that God Himself couldn't take them out, so God used a river to show the king that he was wrong. The song really has nothing to do with Iraq or President Bush.

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So, there we are with the lyrical input, already many times rewarded for its intelligible and original angle of biblical interpretations. Especially the medical encyclopedic-songtitles on 'Pathogenic Ocular Dissonance' were incredible puzzling and beat the average Carcass-songtitle in its illegibility. But the lyrics itself were quite readable and fascinating as well, however, still quite difficult for people like me who think in another language than English. But how different it is on this new album! I mean, I hardly needed a dictionary. You came to the conclusion that intelligence is not in the difficulty of words, but in the order of words?

We're at a different place now than we were when “Pathogenic…” came out. I think we took that type of songwriting as far as we could at that time. I suppose we could make ourselves do that, use all those big medical words, on every album, but then I think it would seem like a gimmick. We write what's on our minds, what's in our hearts. Sometimes it comes out in very simple words, and at other times it needs to be a little more verbose. The challenge is always to write something meaningful and relevant, and if that requires a medical dictionary sometimes, then so be it. We aren't tied down to that as a rule.

Ted wrote not all the songs. You wrote some songs too. Your lyrics in 'Convolutes Absolutes' were quite intriguing. It has something to do with the dumbness of men to follow – without thinking or judging – the rules of our society: we are sheep and we are trained the best to act perfectly of what we supposed to do. Can you tell me something more of your meaning about these lyrics?

More and more we seem to be being told what to think, and more and more people seem to be hiding behind relativism rather than risk rocking the boat by taking a stand for something. As someone who values free speech and free thought, and as a Christian, this seems to me to be a slippery slope; where will it end? Society seems to be more and more conditioned to think and act certain ways, not because they have any sort of conviction, but because it's what they've been trained to do. Morality has become passé, and having strong convictions is anathema to a big portion of the world at large. People shy away from absolutes because they're afraid of offending people or being ridiculed for their beliefs, and I think that society is worse because of it. It frustrates me sometimes because it seems like people are becoming more like sheep. They seem to think, if it's on TV it must be true; if I read it in the paper it must be true; if my teacher or professor said it, it must be true. They just do what they're told and go where they're pointed without thinking. God gave us each a brain, and a capacity for reason, but too many people seem to not be using their heads. As Christians, we need to be more aware of the world and our place in it, and we need to be willing to take a stand even if it means ridicule or worse. I'm not sure who said it, but I've heard a quote that says ”evil triumphs when good men do nothing”. I truly believe that is where things are headed if people do not wake up.

And did Ted never want to sing his lyrics himself? Or let me say it different: isn't it strange for you to sing Ted's lyrics? I don't know how personal the lyrics are, but the more personal, the stranger it is to let it sing by another man. Don't you think?

Ted and I have been working together now for 10 years. In addition to being in a band together, we are also friends and we share many of the same beliefs and convictions. A lot of what Ted writes about and is passionate about, I am passionate about as well. It's easy for me to interpret his words and sing them with conviction because even though I may not have written the words, I believe in the ideas behind them and I feel the same way he does, usually. It also helps that Ted is there when I'm doing vocals, and he can direct me to help me get the right emotional tone for the songs.

You did co-operate with producer Bill Metoyer again. How was it to work with him again?

Bill in a lot of ways is like a member of the band. He has been working with us since the beginning, and he understands us as people and as musicians. He has this great ability to translate the weird ideas and odd sounds in our heads into something real on a record. I think Bill is one of the best there is.

I think he did an excellent job on 'Microscopic'. But with all respects: the new album sounds just a little bit less sharp, less edgy (in a positive way) than its predecessor. When 'Microscopic' sounded like Tourniquet enters the new millennium, this new album sounds more like a return-flight to the thrash-heydays of the eighties. Was this done on purpose or do you totally disagree with me?

I don't know that it's a return to anything, but we did go for a different sound with this album than we did for “Microscopic…”. On “Microscopic…” we used Marshalls and newer guitars. I think Aaron used ESP and Fernandez guitars with active pick-ups. On this album, the amp is a 1970's Orange, and the main guitar is a 1970's Gibson SG, so it's got a cool kid of “vintage” vibe from that. We wanted a cool guitar sound that was heavy, but that was distinct. I think we got a great, warm sound that really is suited to the material on this album. Again, Bill played a big part in getting the sound to where it was just right.

Oh, there's one other thing. Well, call me a critical pain in the ass, but honestly: I wasn't that impressed by the album sleeve. I was even a bit disappointed. All right, it may be effective by its simplicity (and will probably suit well on T-shirts), but I think it's just too simple. But I think you have a better feeling about it? And does this sleeve also have to do with a sentimental feeling towards the eighties (it's really an eighties sleeve, I think)?

We just wanted something simple, but memorable. The artwork ties in to the title of the album really well. I'm not sure what you mean by “eighties sleeve”. Hopefully it is an image that people will remember, and that reinforces the concept of the title track. We've had some mixed reactions to the cover, but it's been mostly positive. We like it. I agree with you about the t-shirts, though.

Nowadays, almost every metal-musician seem to have a side-project, or al least some sort of other musical outlet. How is that with you and Ted? Are you completely satisfied with the musical possibilities in Tourniquet, or do you also play in other bands/projects?

Well, I'm not Ted, so I'm not sure how to answer this for him. He writes most of Tourniquet's music, and he gets to play whatever he wants within that framework, so I don't know what He'd do in a side project, unless he decided to do a totally classical project with an orchestra and such. I have friends that I play with occasionally, but nothing serious, just for fun. We get to do pretty much whatever we want in this band, so it is pretty satisfying.

Back in the late eighties/early nineties there were a lot of popular religious metal bands like Believer, Bloodgood, One Bad Pig, Barren Cross and Vengeance Rising (which were, after Tourniquet, my favourite Christian metalband). Back then, was there some sort of “white” metal-scene where everybody knows everybody?

A lot of those band were from Southern California, like we were, so most everybody knew everybody else.

And do you still have contact with those people? And if so: do you know what have become of them, because Tourniquet is, maybe besides Saviour Machine, the last of the Mohicans of that scene from 10 years ago.

We still run into some of those people from time to time. Some of them are still in bands, some have moved on and are doing other things now.

Nowadays: the Holy word in metal-land is spread out by quite popular bands like Shai Hulud, XDiscipleX AD, Zao, Living Sacrifice and the magnificent Demon Hunter. Especially a label like Solid State is quite successful in releasing intense metal-meets-hardcore bands with a message. Are you familiar with that scene and if so: what do you think of it?

There are a lot cool bands in every genre of Christian music. We know some of those bands, and others we have only heard of.

There's just a new DVD out with Tourniquet performing on the Dutch EO's Jongerendag (Evangelic Broadcast Television's youthday) in Eindhoven 2 years ago. Why did we, Dutch people, have the privilege that you picked us out for this DVD and what can you tell me more of this DVD?

We have played the Flevo Festival twice now, and both times were very cool. The second time, they had a crew filming for the projection screens on the sides of the stage. We were able to get a copy of the tape of our performance. There are a lot of people who haven't ever gotten to see us live, so we thought it'd be cool if they could experience a big Tourniquet show like the one at Flevo, so we put it on DVD. The DVD also has the first ever Tourniquet show on it, and the “Ark of Suffering” video. It's a good representation of 2 very different eras of Tourniquet as a live band.

Well, I didn't even know you played here in Holland, 2 years ago. I can remember you once played in Holland as well, a place called something like God's Pleasure Church in Utrecht, but to be honest: for a secular guy like me those are not exactly the places I can really be myself and able to enjoy a live-performance. So therefore, I still haven't see you playing live. But are there negotiations about supporting this new album with a European visit, cause already since the release of 'Psycho Surgery' I wanted to see play (just to be sure Ted can actually play all that craziness for real! ;-) )

Actually, we never ended up playing at God's Pleasure. I forget why, but the show fell through. We play both secular and Christian venues wherever we can. I hope you'll come see us the next time we're close to where you are, regardless of the venue.

Ted played with lots of different musicians over the years in Tourniquet: they come and go. With all respect for you and new kid-in-town Steve Andino, let's face it, Ted IS Tourniquet. He's the only one from the beginning, writes about 90 per cent of the lyrics and the songs, winning al the prizes, taking all the interviews (“Guess I'm fucked up big times now!” EDS) etcetc. Ted is the embodiment of Tourniquet. But how come that Ted lost so many bandmembers? Other priorities, too high standards, just bad luck, or…is he behaving like a drumming Yngwie J. Malmsteen, my dear Luke? Is he the megalomaniac dictator, who'll nobody let stand even near his shadow? ( ;-) )

People and situations change over time. I'm sure that here are things that were very important to you 5 or 10 years ago that are not really priorities for you now. It's the same thing with a band and its members. Sometimes people realise that they don't have the same desires and ambitions that they did earlier on, and it's best to bow out and let the rest of the band go on. Sometimes people have to make a choice between their family or a band. It's never easy to change members, but it's usually for the best. I think Ted is easy to work with. We disagree on some things from time to time, but not too often. We've never really fought or had an argument. I think respect is a key factor in any relationship, and in some ways more so in a band. I have total respect for Ted and Steve, and I'm confident that they respect me. Because of that foundation, we work well as friends and bandmates.

Because of all those personal shifts: didn't Ted dream about the best possible line up ever for Tourniquet? When it was up to me I should say: Ted, go play with Jeff Waters on guitar, Steve DiGiorgio on bass and Phil Rind (Sacred Reich) on vocals! That will probably result in a pretty pleasant Tourniquet thrash-album! (Well, rather funny that this question is answered by Luke! EDS)

That would be an interesting line-up. I'd like to hear that album.

What other bands do have your interest now?

I really like the new Disciple album, and I just got a cd by a new band called Evanescence that I like a lot. It's kind of goth meets nu-metal. It's interesting. I'm also a Dream Theater fan. Cattle Decapitation's new one is interesting.

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Here are some other silly, other types of questions:

When did you felt that singing was your calling/vocation?

I've been singing most of my life, but not seriously until I was about 19.

Are you afraid for death?

I do not want to die anytime soon, but I'm not afraid of death. I have faith in Christ, and I know that death is just another part of life.

And what has to be written on your tombstone?

That's up to whomever buries me. I hope I have lived the kind of life that warrants a nice epitaph.

How will people remember Ted Kirkpatrick?

I think most people will remember Ted as a monster drummer and a gifted songwriter.

What do your parents think of you: having a son playing in a "awful heavy metalband that will devastate his life"? Or, are they not that narrow-minded, and well…even proud?

They are fine with it. There are many things that are worse than making music. I think both Ted's parents and mine are happy that we get to do something we love, and that what we do means so much to so many people.

What must happen or what has to change in this world that you will not be disappointed in 'the human being' anymore? Or aren't you disappointed anyway?

I don't buy into the idea that mankind is basically good. It's not that I am disappointed in human beings, per se, it's just that if you put your faith in mankind, mankind will let you down. We have chosen to put our faith in God. That doesn't mean that life is necessarily easier, but it does give us hope. My faith in God and my relationship with Jesus Christ has helped me through a lot of hard times. I do not understand how people get through life with out God.

What song (of another band/musician) would you like to have to written yourself?

I've never really thought like that, so I wouldn't know how to answer that. I like a lot of different music, but I've never really wished that I'd written it. I've been too busy enjoying it.

Hypothetical, principal-testing question: When Deicide asked you if they're allowed to do a satanic interpretation of for instance 'Drawn And Quartered' on their new studio-album, would you give them your permission?

I doubt they'd do that. As far as I know, they're not really fans of ours, so I doubt they'd want to do a cover of one of our songs.

And what are the last 3 albums you bought?

The last 3 albums I bought were “Sing the Sorrow” by AFI, the self-titled Evanescence album, and I picked up “Peace Sells…” from Megadeth. I had only had it on cassette, and I finally picked it up on CD.

I have here a pile of short choices. If you want, would you make a choice?

Are you a morning person / or a night person:

I'm a night person.

Are you shy / Self-confidence:

I'd have to say somewhere in between. You have to have a certain amount of self-confidence to get up on a stage, but at the same time, I'm kind of shy in person.

Optimistic / Pessimistic:

I'd say I'm a realist, but I've been told that my realism borders on being pessimistic.

Leader / Follower:

Both. If you want to lead, you'd better know how it feels to follow.

Lazy / Workaholic:

Again, I'd have to say both. It depends on the situation. I keep pretty busy, but sometimes I just want to lay around and do nothing.

Thinker / Worker:

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I'll say it again: both.

Alfa / Beta:

?

Stubborn / Pliant:

Usually stubborn.

Fighting / Running away / Talking:

Fighting, but I'm trying to learn to talk things out instead.

Jealous / Naive:

I try not to be either.

Melancholic / Happy:

Depends on the day.

Romantic / Down to earth:

I'd say I'm pretty down-to-earth, but everyone needs a little romance.

Spiritual / Rational:

Rationally spiritual. I believe and trust in God, but I also realise that He gave me a mind and a capacity to reason, so I try to use it.

Misanthropic / Hippie:

Definitely not a hippie.

Right wing / Left wing:

I'm fairly conservative politically, so I guess that means I'm right wing.

Environment / Economy / (Or do you believe in a successful mix of them?) :

I think you can successfully mix them both.

Bush / Peace:

You make it seem like I can't support Bush and still want peace. I support my President. I also believe that something needs to be done in Iraq, and the UN has failed to offer any real results. War should always be a last resort, but when all diplomatic means fail, you don't really have a choice. I want peace, but I think going into Iraq is, unfortunately, necessary.

King Diamond asked you if he may cover 'Harlot Widow and The Virgin Bride' / On your next album you'll do a re-recording of 'Convoluted Absolutes' with a reunited Psychotic Waltz where Devon Graves (aka Buddy Lackey) is taking over the vocals and includes a flute solo.

I don't know how to respond to that. Sorry.

Bach's Toccata In D Minor / Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

Toccata In D Minor.

Fishing / Collecting butterflies

That's Ted's thing. I don't really like to do either.

On tour with a reunited Stryper / On tour with Slayer

Both would be cool for different reasons. I was a big Stryper fan back in the day, and I know Tim and Oz a little, so it would be cool to play and hang out with them. Slayer's audience would probably like our music better than Stryper's audience. I think either one would be cool.

Well, that's about it. Hope you'll have/take some time in answering these questions and I really hope to see you on the road in the Dutch, secular venues! Thanks and take care Luke!

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