Friday, August 23, 2013

Interview - Jake Woodward of Desolate Dreams

Here at Ultima Music Blog, we have quite the range of taste when it comes to music, especially with metal. As time has passed since the creation of the site, we have interviewed quite a few bands as well as reviewed tons on top of that. We now have a new interview to share with you guys with the mastermind behind Desolate Dreams. Jake Woodward was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding his recently released EP, Sentient City, which we will be reviewing shortly (or depending on when you see this post, will be posted below as well as in another link). Let me just say that this EP comes across as amazing, much like his previous self-titled effort from 2012. To the interview!

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Tell us about yourself; how did you get into music and what drives you to keep going with it?

My initial musical inspiration came from my parents - they introduced me to 70s and 80s rock and encouraged me to pick up the guitar when I was ten. I had private lessons for 7 years from several very talented musicians in my area who broadened my musical horizons.

In high school I was lucky enough to have a very enthusiastic music teacher who pushed me to study music at university, and now I've just finished my third year, where I've been taught by several jazz guitarists.

What drives me is creating music that I think I'd like to listen to; I'll hear a melody in my head or I'll have a specific story I want to tell, or even a new composition method that I want to try. What I love about recording music is how no matter what else happens in my life, that music, that EP will now always exist, and it'll outlast me.

Yeah, my parents ended up influencing me to listen to rock and metal at a young age. We all have our phases too, but eventually I came to be a pretty big metalhead. What were some of the bands that you really got into that also had an effect on your music?

Lynyrd Skynyrd were my favourite band for a very long time, along with classics such as Zeppelin, Sabbath and Deep Purple. I was (still am) also into a lot of blues such as BB King, Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

My then- guitar teacher introduced me to Iron Maiden who were then the next big thing, and from there I discovered the world of shred guitar with Yngwie Malmsteen and Jason Becker, who are to this day still hugely influential in my playing. My love of shred then naturally took me into prog and power metal with Symphony X, Stratovarius and Dream Theater.

Symphony X especially introduced me to the symphonic side of things, allowing me to appreciate classical and romantic music much more.

How did the name Desolate Dreams come to be? What was your initial premise behind it and does that still hold true to today?

Desolate Dreams came from very small beginnings. Myself, my brother Ronnie and a friend had just formed a band in high school (I must've been 15 at most, my brother 13). The teacher I mentioned earlier wanted us to play a Battle of the Bands - but we didn't have a name yet. He glanced at the wall and saw a sheet with a list of punishments for bad behaviour on it, and one of them (the most severe) was 'Isolation', where you were sent to another classroom.

This was our name for about a week, then we changed it to 'Desolation' because it was more metal. After a month we tacked on dreams at the end because we all loved Dream Theater.

That name stuck with my brother and I, and we went through many different line ups - but after each one failed it always ended up just the two of us. I started properly recording Desolate Dreams demos in my first year of university after getting a laptop, and eventually those demos turned into the first EP, which we just decided to do ourselves.

The Chinese Garden and I'm on a Boat were both originally written for vocals and have barely changed since.

Haha, that is quite a way to come up with a band name. So is it still you that does Desolate Dreams or does your brother end up finding a way to become involved with the project?

My brother takes my simplistic drum programming and turns it into something that actually sounds like something a drummer might play. The rest of Desolate Dreams is currently entirely done by myself. Ronnie spends more of his time playing with his other band, Exigency.

Sentient City is your next installment under the name Desolate Dreams. What can we expect from this release?

I think Sentient City is much more intense than the S/T. It's shorter, faster and much more experimental - the guitar is grittier and far more technically challenging, yet is in my opinion more musical. There's also more fusion influence, whilst still retaining the symphonic element.

The title and two of the tracks (Makkathran and Space Odyssey) are loosely based on the story from some of my favourite sci-fi novels: 'The Void Trilogy', by Peter F Hamilton.

I'll also be mastering Sentient City myself (the S/T was mastered by Acle Kahney of Tesseract), so that'll give it a different sound.

What are your views on progressive music presently?

My main gripe with modern progressive metal is the vocals - sometimes I just can't get past it - it's just not my thing. I also think that sometimes the focus is around how many strings the guitar has instead of trying to create interesting music.

That said I love a lot of new bands - Tesseract, Chimp Spanner, Intervals, Sithu Aye, and I'm mad for the new Wintersun album (Time I)- it's been on repeat since it came out. I've yet to get a chance to buy the new Tesseract album but I've heard it's great.

I also think it's awesome how lots of people are doing their own production and self releasing their music. If studying music at university has taught me anything it's the evil of record labels! Ha.

I totally understand about how some progressive bands go with very awkward vocal choices. I'm not sure if it is the trend or what, but I just don't like listening to smokers as vocalists. With that said, do you like other genres as well, like death metal or even black metal?

Yeah, when the guitar has 7 or 8 strings and they're just chugging away on the lowest note possible and the frontman is just screaming his head off I can't really get into it. One band that I would love but can't get past the vocals is The Safety Fire - instrumentally I love them, and the guy has an amazing clean singing voice but I don't like the screaming.

I went through a big COB phase when I was younger though, and folk/viking metal bands like Equilibrium and Turisas. Not huge on death/black metal.

Who ended up teaching you guitar? You mention that some teachers helped you out, can you name a few of them?

I was first taught at a music tuition company called Music For All in Alloa. It's sadly gone bust, but without Paul and Michael, the two guys that taught me I doubt I'd be doing what I am today.

In university I was taught by Ged Brockie and Haftor Medboe, two jazz guitarists and Taj Wyzgowski, a rock & blues player.

Do you plan on doing a physical release for your new album? Even if they are just on printed discs? I think that would be pretty awesome.

Yes, maybe, probably. At some point. I doubt I'll be doing fully fledged jewel case physicals anytime soon, but I definitely want to have some copies of Sentient City printed like the S/T EP, which I currently print myself on my inkjet hah. (www.desolatedreams.bigcartel.com)

Have you been searching for record labels at all? Or kind of waiting for the right opportunity to strike? I know a lot of artists and bands don't care much for record labels, but they surely have their advantages.

I haven't really been looking to be honest, at the level I'm at I guess a record label seems like a lifetime away. That said if one were to offer with a good deal then I'd definitely consider it. I guess I'd be at an advantage because I record all my own stuff, meaning that cost is considerably less.

Your latest song has been gaining some craze, especially with the promoters of DjentWorldwide TV and such. How cool was it to have that featured? 

Very cool. I try and get as many tracks as possible on different promotion sites, such as It Djents, The Djent-lemen's Club and Djentworldwide TV, as it's great promotion - those guys are doing a lot of help for upcoming bands. I'm hardly djent but they put up my music nonetheless haha.

There are two tracks that are uploaded onto promotional sites. Those being "Mandrill (ft Max Gorelick)" on The Djent-lemen's Club, and Djentworldwide TV have uploaded "Makkathran".

Two tracks from the Self-Titled are also uploaded - The Burning Leaves is on Djentworldwide TV and The Chinese Garden is on It Djents. I definitely thinks there needs to be a prog only equivalent as well though.

After Sentient City, what else shall we all be expecting? I hear you're working on a full length album? What are some of the details on that?

Well, as of 3rd August when SC comes out, I will have released 2 EPs in exactly 10 months. I've already started writing and recording for a full length album but this is going to take a lot more time than each of these has taken. It's going to be absolutely massive when it comes though. It's already got some of the best material I've ever written, and it's early days yet. Hopefully the Self-Titled and Sentient City will be enough to keep people going for however long it takes me to get this down!

Thank you for taking the time to interview with me. I can't wait to hear this release, especially with it so close to release time. What is a piece of advice you would give to a musician, regardless of genre, sound, experience, etc.?

My pleasure, thanks for interviewing me! As far as advice I would just have to say practice as much as you can at everything; songwriting, technique, theory, production; listen to as much music as possible (in many genres) and never give up!

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I would like to thank Jake Woodward for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Go check out his EP down below and tell us what you think! Get on it!

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