Van Dyk, Nick (Redemption) (September 2005)

Success In The Fullness Of Time - An Interview With Redemption's Nick Van Dyk

Redemption (© 2004 Redemption)Start up a conversation with one of your favourite musicians, let it grow to become friends and find yourself, after some time, together side by side for the release of your second album. An impossible dream? Try asking it of Nick Van Dyk.

Igor Italiani: Hello Nick, how are you doin'? OK, first thing I would like to say is that this album fucking rules! I mean, it's the best progressive metal album I've listened to in the last few months. Congratulations! However it seems I'm not the only one, 'cause I've seen only great reviews so far. Are you somewhat surprised?

Nick Van Dyk: Hello Igor, I'm doing great, thanks for asking! First of all, thank you very much. I have to say, in my head I'm not surprised, but in my heart I am extremely gratified. The critical comments on our debut CD (Redemption) were more positive than negative, and I think this new CD (Fullness Of Time) is a huge improvement all around - performances, songwriting, lyrics, production, etc. So I was able to rationalize that if people thought the first one was good, they'd think this one was great. At the same time ... it's one thing to rationalize that and another thing to experience it. Any artist puts his work out and it's a very dangerous thing, waiting for others to accept or reject it. I'm very, very pleased that this music seems to have resonated with people. Of course, every person has their own idea of what constitutes good music. But for people that enjoy progressive metal, this seems to be a CD that they like a great deal. I'm flattered and honoured by the praise, and very thankful.

II: Nick, while the reactions to the first opus were already good, a lot of readers didn't know you and still don't. Can you tell us how your music career developed?

NVD: Redemption is the first thing I've done professionally. I've been in other bands over the years but nothing serious. I suffered through about fifteen years of classical piano lessons and taught myself guitar, and had been writing music just as a hobby. I never expected to be a professional musician, to be honest with you.

II: Then came the meeting with Ray Alder (of Fates Warning) and everything changed...

NVD: Absolutely! One night, I happened to see Ray Alder at a club show in Los Angeles, and went over and said hello - just doing the appreciative fan bit. A few weeks later, at another show, I saw him again and we struck up a conversation. One thing led to another and we became good friends. He talked at some point about wanting to do a solo project, and I played him some of the music I'd written. He liked one of the riffs enough to use it for one of the songs on the first Engine CD, but most of what I'd written was more progressive than the direction he wanted for his solo project. So instead, I asked him to help me produce a CD which I assumed at this point would mostly be for my own enjoyment. I had met Bernie Versailles by this time, and he had a couple of songs that were pretty different from what he was doing in Agent Steel, and I met Jason Rullo of Symphony X at the first ProgPower show and asked him if he'd be available to drum on it. He agreed, and we tracked everything and hired Steel Prophet, who rehearsed at the same studio where we tracked the drums, if he'd do the vocals. So that basically created the first line-up.

II: That's the one that has changed a lot from the first release of the band (or should we say project). Do you think that the new one, featuring the Prymary rhythm section, will be the backbone of the next releases?

Redemption - RedemptionNVD: First, I should mention that at this point, we consider ourselves a band, rather than a project. The first CD was more or less an experiment. After it was released and we were asked to play ProgPower, I put together the band more or less as it is today, with the exception of the vocals, which Corey Brown handled for our live performance. When recording for the new CD commenced, I supposed Corey would have naturally been our choice for a full-time vocalist, but Ray heard the pre-production materials and really wanted to sing on it. I was concerned at first, both because I didn't want to upset Corey and also because I wanted to make sure Ray wouldn't just treat this as a one-off project but would be able to commit himself to be Redemption's full-time vocalist. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Fates Warning and Engine, and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn't be putting Ray in a position where he couldn't fulfill his obligations to those bands, but I also wanted to make sure he'd be able to do what Redemption needed in terms of recording, press, live performances, etc. We sorted those issues out and he joined. Now we are, I hope, set with this line-up!

II: Nick, in another interview, I read that your favourite writer is Umberto Eco. Should we expect something related to his works in the next recordings?

NVD: He is a marvellous writer and The Name Of The Rose remains my favourite book. I think it would be very difficult to adapt his work into music ... a lot of what makes his books so brilliant are the complexities, the subtleties, and his use of language. Plus, I'm trying to move away from linear storytelling in my lyrics ... the first CD had a lot of it and it's one of the things I was glad to change with our new CD. I find that literary works - or samples from motion pictures - can still have value as a metaphor for other messages that the lyrics try to get across, but these are likely to be very subtle, if used at all.

II: Is it possible that, given the fact that your favourite writer is Italian, Redemption will play live in our country real soon? Any other ideas for a tour?

NVD: As a matter of fact, I'm somewhere around 35% Italian myself ... my mother's parents came from Piemonte. You know, I'd love the opportunity to play in Italy! Of course, it depends on whether or not there is a market for us. We're talking right now about potential dates in both North America and Europe, and I'm friends with enough bands that play in Europe that I think we could put together a very entertaining bill. We'll have to see what happens, but I'd very much like to.

Redemption - The Fullness Of TimeII: Let's return to the record. One of my favourite tracks is "Parker's Eyes," which focuses on the terrorism attacks of the 11th of September, 2001. What are your feelings four years removed from that tragedy?

NVD: Well, you're going to get two answers, one dealing with "Parker's Eyes," and one dealing with 9/11. "Parker's Eyes" isn't about September 11th, or terrorism per se. In fact, I don't want to wear my politics on my sleeve in my lyrics, or, really, in this interview. :-) Parker is my daughter, and I was holding her one day when she was about a year old, and thinking that the only things this little human being knows so far are unconditional love, curiosity, safety and laughter. It's such a beautiful state that we are born into. And over time, we learn all the horrible things that people do to each other. One day, I will have to explain Hitler to my little girl. How do you even begin to do that? How can you explain that people rape and murder people? How can you explain that people lie? That people fly planes into buildings to kill themselves along with thousands of other people? It's tragic, really, that we start out with nothing but wonder and love and we see all that be torn apart as we learn about the world that we've built.

As for 9/11 ... I don't think there's any way to feel other than saddened, and frustrated. I won't wear my politics on my sleeve, as I said, but I will say that people all over the world have a tendency to see things in black and white, when reality is shades of gray. For any American politician to say something as insipid as "they hate us for our freedom" is asinine. Yet I also think there's an undercurrent of "the US got what's coming to it" that is felt in a lot of places, which is misplaced. Everybody's hands are dirty in this world, unfortunately.

II: Isn't it a little absurd that nowadays another great tragedy, in this case a natural one (New Orleans), simply put on its knees the United States?

NVD: Again, I think the depressing aspect here is how willing people seem to be to politicize this event. It's hard for me to say more without betraying my political stance, so I'll leave it at that.

II: Nick, the record has an awesome production. Tommy Newton did an excellent job, but I was not surprised at all because he already handled great acts like Conception and Ark. Well, can we consider Redemption like a new up and coming prog act that took the legacy from the aforementioned bands?

NVD: Thanks very much! Tommy is a fantastic talent, and also a terrific guy to work with. I couldn't be more pleased that we found our way to each other. I, too, love the work he did with Conception and Ark, and in fact it was largely the combination of a modern edge with traditional warmth and lushness that I heard on Conception's Flow and Ark's Burn The Sun that made me think Tommy would be perfect for us. Now, having said that ... the raw material that Tommy had to work with can still be improved, from an engineering standpoint. We recorded the music ourselves (with the exception of the guitars, which I re-tracked with Tommy in Germany) and he mixed it. I want to get Tommy involved earlier on in the future, both so that he'll have the best possible material to work with. I'd also like to involve him more creatively as well. The ideas he brought to Fullness Of Time made it a better CD, and I'd like to get more of his producing expertise going forward. As far as our legacy is concerned ... I'm flattered for us to be mentioned in the same sentence as Conception and Ark. They're both amazingly talented bands. I think we are fortunate to have something of our own sound, and I think we are fortunate to have connected with a producer who is able to help elevate that. So if we can honour the legacy of those bands by being another unique-sounding group that Tommy has helped put his stamp on, we'll be happy to be part of that.

II: Nick, the last question. Your life is focused only on music, or you have to do a "day job" to fulfill your dream?

NVD: I have a day job unlike, I think, any other heavy metal musician. I am a senior executive with one of the world's largest and best-known media and entertainment companies. It keeps me occupied about 60 hours a week ... so music is my creative release.

II: OK, that's all. You can say whatever you want to end the interview?

NVD: I'd just like to thank you and your readers for your interest and support. These were great questions.

The Fullness Of Time was released in June 2005, the current line up features: Nick Van Dyk on guitars and keyboards; Ray Alder on vocals; Chris Quirarte on drums; James Sherwood on bass; and Bernie Versailles on guitars. {2015 - the band will soon release a new album, untitled as of this addendum. Versailles is recovering from an aneurysm; guitar parts will be performed by guests -ed.}

Redemption (2003)
The Fullness Of Time (2005)
The Origin Of Ruin (2007)
Snowfall On Judgment Day (2009)
This Mortal Coil (2011)

Frozen In The Moment - Live In Atlanta (DVD) (2009)

Added: September 26th 2005
Interviewer: Igor Italiani

Artist website:
Hits: 1231
Language: english

[ Back to Interviews Index | Post Comment ]