Interview with Michael Risenbeck
It is always exciting to speak with an artist who is fresh to the industry or has started a new phase of their career. Michael Riesenbeck is not new to the music world but has recently released his debut solo album, Shouting Silence, which has got a lot of people talking. I had the chance to ask Michael about the new album and the other projects he is involved in. Through out the interview you will find links to more information about Michael and his work, his official site is www.michaelriesenbeck.com.
Interview with MICHAEL RISENBECK
1. The name Michael Riesenbeck is one that people have been talking about, the critics are giving high marks and positive comments on your debut album Shouting Silence and the fans are starting to wonder who is this multi-talented guy from the Netherlands; so for the record would you take a moment in the beginning and introduce yourself, Michael Riesenbeck, the man behind the music?
Hello Kathy - Well, I'm a 32 year old musician from the Netherlands and I've just released the album you mentioned. I have been playing in bands for just about as long as I could walk, but after about 15 years of being a band member I wanted to fire up a solo career. The result of that is Shouting Silence, which is basically a solo project with assistance of many friends of mine from all over the globe. I currently play drums in the band Art.461 and do guitars on my solo projects as well as guesting on records of other artists. Music is to a hobby, yet a very serious one. I have a day job to pay the bills ;-)
2. Your discography shows you getting quite busy over the last ten years, with your first solo album released February of this year on Perris Records. How has the album been received by the fans?
Very well, fortunately. I took a risk as a new comer to release an album while using different vocalists, but it is received very well. The album has become very diverse while still maintaining a general feel to it. I've strived to make it an album you can listen to again and again and with each spin hear something new. I hear I succeeded in that goal. I still enjoy listening to it myself. Usually when you've worked so long on an album you don't like to hear it that often since you've heard it so many times, but the parts of the guest musicians make me hear new things each time, so it stays fresh. Besides the positive feedback of the fans I'm also very happy about the responses of the critics. I didn't expect to receive that many raving reviews!
3. You have worn many hats and played many roles on the albums you have worked on in the past: guitars, drums, keyboards, producer, engineer and some vocals! How much of this did you do on your solo album?
Basically everything except for the vocals. I can't sing very well, although I have done backing vocals on other projects, so I've asked the vocalists to record their own backings. I believe that if you want to achieve the best results by using guest musicians it's important that they are quite free to fill in the parts the way they feel is best. I haven't written any vocal melodies for instance, I did write lyrics for one song, but the singers
really made it their thing. The same with the guests on bass and keyboards. I've recorded basic bass and keyboards parts for them to base their parts on and in some cases I even didn't do that. This way every musician was able to really become part of the 'group process' while in the end it's still a solo album. If they recorded things I didn't like, I'd ask them to redo them.
4. The samplers on your site http://www.michaelriesenbeck.com gives a good taste of the style and sound of your music but, is there one song on this album that has a special meaning to you that you could share some of its story with us?
I think Dreams for Tomorrow made the biggest impression on the fans and myself. It's a song I wrote for a charity album for the families of the victims of the 11th September tragedy. The song has some sound samples of President Bush and news reporters in it which gives it extra weight. Even though the song has a positive message it will set the time back to that morning on the 11th of September 2001. So this song is very dear to me.
5. I know it can be very hard to promote a new album and that a lot of it is left to the artist themselves, what have you been doing to get exposure for "Shouting Silence"?
The album has had two release dates. I released the album in August of 2003 self financed. I've sent review copies to many web sites, most of which have reviewed Fanfields in the past, so I had the connections already. I've done quite some interviews and appearances on web sites and radio programs. In August I also sent a copy to the labels. Perris Records picked it up and released it in February of this year and they've done a lot of things to get exposure for the album. I'm really happy about the support of the label. I went for a smaller label which could promote the album in a good way rather
than going with a large label which was an option also. I think I made a good choice, Perris invests in me and I hope to be working with them on the next album. But in the end you have to spend a lot of time yourself to do the promotion, which kinda takes off the focus of writing new material. That's where I'm now, I'm doing promotion and have started writing songs for the 2nd album.
6. Promoting a new album can a difficult task and that is a large part of why I created this site - to help artists get the music to the people. What are your feelings about the internet as a vehicle to promoting your work and how does it help a new artist?
First of all, I want to thank you and people like you with all my heart for making this possible, for spending many hours on supporting artists like myself. I've checked out your website, and I must say you've created on of the best looking web sites I've seen in a while!
The Internet is something which I use most when promoting my album. Also while recording we did a lot of communication via email, some parts were even send via email to me which I then imported into my studio.
The Internet is a blessing for starting artists since you can reach many people and can be reached by many people. I'm certain I wouldn't have landed a recording deal without the Internet.
7. The tribute to Toto album you are involved with has received some great feedback from fans and artists; Bobby Kimball, Fergie Frederiksen and Joe Vana just to name a few, for those of us just catching up what can you tell us about this album?
Fanfields was a project that started on a Toto mailing list. We wanted to exchange MP3 parts to combine them to songs, but that didn't work out. So there were several bands created all over the world who recorded some tunes. I coordinated it and played on some songs, so it kinda became my baby. It was released self financed and sold quite some copies. It's almost out of stock now, so maybe it's time for Fanfields II ;-)
Fanfields opened some doors for me, which made it easier to get a deal for "Shouting Silence". I have been friends with Bobby Kimball and Fergie Frederiksen for years so it was really cool of them to write a little review. Their comments can be read on the Fanfields web site: http://fanfields.michaelriesenbeck.com
8. You also play in Art461, would you take a minute to tell us about the band and a little bit about the albums that are available?
Art.461 is a band in which I play the drums. We write original material which are a mix of rock, pop, funk, blues and soul. We're currently recording our third album, but this is the first one I'm playing on. The first two album consist of lightweight rock/pop songs, while the third will be more diverse and heavier on the rock songs. It's not AOR or melodic rock, it's more groove oriented, which is pretty cool to play as a drummer. I get
to do the Jeff Porcaro type of grooves which is great. We all write songs for the band so it's a well-balanced band.
9. When you are not working on music what do you do to "Strike A Balance" in your life?
I try to relax. I love movies and watching my favourite tv series (Charmed, Buffy, Angel), so I watch a lot of DVD's, watch TV, take out the dogs to walk in the woods, hang out with friends. Since my day job is a busy one I want to relax a lot, which I do with my music and the things I mentioned.
10. What is next on your agenda, plans for a follow up album, some touring?
Yeah, I'm already working on the second album. I won't be touring for this album since I think I should bring along all people playing on the album, which will not be possible (I'd need a large touring car for that ;-) ). I'm going to do some session work for others playing guitars and producing/mixing, so I'm keeping myself busy.
11. Do you have a closing message for the fans reading this interview?
I want to thank the fans for the great responses I have received and I look forward to be giving you more music you'll enjoy. Please leave a note in my guest book if you want to get in touch with me, I love reading your comments and suggestions!
Thanks, Kathy and keep up the good work for the melodic rock community. I really dig your interviews since you look beyond the surface and want to hear about what drives us musicians.