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Here are some exclusive song-by-song details:
1) NO TURNING AWAY: A heavy, driving song about a person on the verge of going insane. Lots of harmonized fretless guitar and pumping synth bass. I especially like how the ending climaxes like an earthquake! The song is in 7/4 time, but you never know it, because it goes by naturally. For some reason, the 7/4 time thing is present throughout this album...
2) INTO THE LIGHT: A very special track for me- the "light" is the one you suposedly see when your soul passes from this world to the next... The song's about meeting that special someone again in the afterlife, never being able to do so in this life. Kelly did a great job of singing, especially the Gothic intro. Again, I love the ending climax!
3) TIME TO RUN: About a frontline soldier who goes AWOL. A true anti-war statement, which combines elements of heavy metal and progressive rock in a powerful way.
I'm especially happy with the guitar solos, which capture the feel of a spectacular air attack- you can really hear the fretless take off. Vocal-wise, we gathered everyone in the studio to do the "Hey!" vocal backgrounds, which was fun.
I was fortunate to be allowed to use a scratchy 1962 Richard Nixon speech, which sets up the intro nicely. Just for the record, no direct reference is intended of Mr. Nixon and war - I just like the sound and feel of the speech, and how it fits perfectly with the message of the song.
4) ACCELERON: I love drag racing, and always wondered what it would be like to drive a dragster. I tried to capture that feeling in this piece. Lots of time signature changes, but they go by without notice. The intro is a combination of analog & digital synths layered to create a moving texture. When the band suddenly comes in, complete pandemonium breaks out- which to me is what drag racing is all about: controlled pandemonium!!!
5) SKYROCKET: Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager is one of my heros, and this song is about him breaking the sound barrier in 1947. I'm especially happy with the song itself, because it captures elements of 80's AOR, fusion, metal, and progressive rock, all held together by a strongly melodic chorus. I love Rush's drummer Neil Peart's playing, and tried to capture the feel he would give this piece.
6) LIVE TODAY: Written for my wife Kumiko- nothing touches the heart like a beautiful melody. I love old English folk songs, and that influence came out in this ballad. The idea was to keep it simple, and again, Kelly did a great job singing.
7) TONIGHT: The most straight-ahead song on the album, I wanted to feature Kelly's strong AOR style. The song starts off moderately slow, but gradually speeds up to where it grooves like crazy at the end. It's a very subtle but effective tempo increase that goes by unnoticed. Kelly sang great on TONIGHT, and I must thank my wife for her ideas on vocal harmonies.
8) DEVIL IN HER EYES: About an irresistable woman... Another 7/4 piece that balances heavy guitars with a fusion-like feel and some techno. It's a rare tune where sampled voices actually work better than the real thing, in the bridge section. You can hear the SUSTAINER guitar pickups really well in the bridge.
9) NO REGRETS: This is the first time for me to acknowledge: NO REGRETS is about me, and how I view life up to this point. (Got one big regret, and I'll let the song tell the rest...).
10) TO YOUR HEART: I love older progressive rock, and had that feel in mind when writing this tune. The idea was to let the song "breathe" with a variety of textures. 7/4 time changes, guitar sounds and synth textures are held together by a strong melody throughout the song. I'm especially happy with the ending climax, recorded with a ton of harmonized fretless wah-wah'd guitars. The overall drum sound is very satisfying to me as well.
11) ALIEN TALK: A strange image of aliens speaking Arabic inspired me to come up with this final instrumental piece. It's very melodic, even in the solos, which I also strived to keep as melodic as possible, instead of just firing off flurries of meaningless notes. GUITARISTS OF TODAY, TAKE NOTE!!!
I often use multiple layers of fretless guitars to give the feel I want, but in "ALIEN TALK" the guitar sound was so big, I just harmonized the ending climax. This leads to a wall of alien voices (which were done by layreing 8 fretless guitars). It's amazing how this voice texture turned out so close to what I heard in my head- this is one reason why I'm very happy with INTO THE LIGHT. There are moments like this throughout the whole album!