By Nicky Baldrian
Name : Michael Riesenbeck
Birthday : August, 4th
Current Band : Solo, Art.461
3 Fav Bands : Journey, Toto, Giant
1st album bought : Toto - IV
Last album bought : U2 - Live
Record that changed your life? Toto - Toto
1st Gig attended : Vitesse, 1984
Last Gig attended : Mother's Finest
Person most influenced by : Jeff Porcaro
Favorite Film : Sixth Sense
Favorite Food / Beverage : Mexican food, Wine
Thought for the Day : Live it to its fullest.
Tell me a little about your history?
I've started out as a band member in various bands in The Netherlands. I've always been writing songs which in some cases were recorded by those bands. When I left "Alibi" I wanted to explore the possibilities of being a solo artist so I could record the songs exactly like I wanted. After recording some tracks I wanted to have additional musicians, so I asked some friends to record with me. Then I wanted to start using different singers to make the album very diverse. So this all progressed into the result, which is my current solo album "Shouting Silence" which is released by Perris Records on the 4th of February.
Can you tell me more about the songs on your new record?
Let me run you through the songs, one by one:
"Hold on Me". The album's opener. I wanted the album to open with a strong melodic rocker, and I think this one was the right one. It was a tie between "Call to Glory" and this song for the opening slot. Phil Vincent sings this one and I still think it's his best vocal work ever.
"Better Days". Another rocker to keep the pace high. Seems to be received very well at the US radio shows. Sung by Ed James.
"Dreams for Tomorrow". This is a very emotional song as it was written as a tribute for the casualties and families of casualties of the September, 11th tragedy. The song is very strong with lots of twists and fantastic vocals by Tony O 'Hora. It includes some speeches of George Bush in the middle section which still make the hairs of my arm curl up. I am extremely proud to have Jeff Pilson of Dokken fame on this track.
"Casualties of War". An instrumental. I actually dreamed this song, woke up and recorded it. I was triggered by the movie with the same name featuring Michael J. Fox. Pretty intense outtro.
"Call to Glory". This song is a duet between Kimmo Blom (Urban Tale) and Bryan Woolley. An uptempo song with a cool synth intro. This song is very popular amongst my fans, I hear.
"Meant to Be". A very melodic rock ballad sung with a lot of feeling by Lars Safsund. Lars is one of the best singers in the genre to me. He is working on a new AOR project on which I will guest and which is going to be extremely cool if they can keep the songwriting up to the level of their first songs. I'm really pleased with how this song has turned out.
"Toto's Giant Journey" . Ah, the song with the most solo's, not just guitars, but bass and keyboards too. It's an instrumental track with many, many
layers and parts. It features a bass solo which is not common anymore. Great playing by Eric Ragno on keyboards. I was so honored to be playing with him, I mean, he has played with people like Tony MacAlpine and Tony Franklin!
"Heart of Stone". Another rocker. I was asked by a young Brazilian singer if he could sing on the album. This song suits his voice fine. Some cool
keyboards from Lec Zorn and Timo Pudas (Urban Tale) here, which give the song a contemporary feel.
"Two Hearts". A rock ballad which is received well by the fans. Cool keyboard solo by Franky v/d Burgt.
"Telling Lies" . A rocker with lots of dynamics. Phil Vincent sings on this tune.
"Shouting Silence" . This is probably the most mature song on the album. It's another instrumental which evolves around the main riff. This is actually also the last song I wrote for the cd.
Are there any particular meanings to the songs and do you have any preferred tracks?
Well, "Dreams for Tomorrow" is special to me since it has to do with the September, 11th tragedy. I'm fond of Toto's Giant Journey since it has great keyboard parts by Eric Ragno and a very, very cool bass solo. I really dig the title track since it's the most recent tune I wrote.
The production sound is very good, how did you get it to sound so proficient?
It took many, many, many hours to make the production sound like I had in my head. I've just spent many time in the studio getting it right, experimenting a lot, taking time between mixes to make sure I'd listen with a fresh ear. All the effort paid off. For the next album I'd like to have a bigger budget to be able to make it sound even better.
How has the reaction been to the album so far?
Much to my surprise I have been getting rave reviews from just about every magazine and web site out there. The label believes in the album too and spent a lot of effort and money to promote the album. I'm a new name in the genre so I was expecting nothing with regards to reviews. But it has been a blast, doing interviews and other promo stuff. The people who bought the album really dig it too. I hear a lot that people will play the album over and over again without getting bored with it. That was exactly what I wanted. I've made it multilayered so every listen will allow you to hear something new.
You recorded the TOTO tribute, what made you do this and how was it received?
Fanfields was born on a Toto mailing list. I kinda took the initiative too make a real album out of it. So I've coordinated the project while also being active as a guitarist on it. We've put a lot of Toto covers on it which were not the ones you'd expect, so no Hold The Line, Rosanna and Africa, but songs like White Sister, Home of the Brave, A Secret Love, I Will Remember and the song Hey Little Girl which Toto hadn't released themselves, so we recorded the tune and put it on Fanfields. There is a website for Fanfields also: http://fanfields.michaelriesenbeck.com Have you been involved with any other projects over the years that we should know about?
I've played guitar on Phil Vincent latest albums and I've played and mixed three songs of the upcoming album by Lec Zorn. Besides that I've played on other records and did session work for jingles and such.
What is it about this style of music that you find so unique?
It's the raspy guitars, the pounding drums, steady bass lines, layered keyboards and massive vocals which make this style appeal to me. With respect to songs, I love songs with great melodies and big choruses.
What are your expectations of the rock scene as a whole now?
I have the feeling that our type of music is on the revival. I hear more and more rock on the radio, so I hope some bands will break through and open doors for others. If not, I'm afraid the genre will remain underground, though with a very loyal fanbase.
Musically and spiritually who are your inspirations?
Musically people like Jeff Porcaro, Steve Lukather, Dann Huff, John Sykes, Steve Perry and Neal Schon. Spiritually.... hmm, I think every loved one around me.
What is next for you?
I've just began writing for my next solo album. I have had some other offers to mix and play for people, and perhaps even a Fanfields II could happen. I want to go out and play some more too.
What have you learned about the music industry so far and what tips can you give to others?
It's all about knowing people. Your network is very important. Also, keep faith in what you're doing, quality will always be recognized. Make the music the way you like it and don't let a label direct you to somewhere you don't want to be. I've recorded and finished my album before sending it to the labels, it really was "take it or leave it". Also very important: use the internet! A lot of AOR / melodic rock fans need to know you exist. Also, don't publish deadlines when you're not certain you can make them....
Finally is there anything that you would like to say to the fans?
I want to thank everyone for the great response to my album and my music, and I hope that my second album will be as good or better as my first one.
Please check out my web site http://www.michaelriesenbeck.com for updates.