Sherinian, Derek (August 2006)

Derek Sherinian - Blood Of The Snake promo poster"In the summertime, when the weather is hot, you can stretch right up and..." pick up the phone to talk with one of the most amazing and unique keyboard wizards of the last few years, Mr. Derek Sherinian. In fact the ex-Dream Theater prodigy is out with another incredible solo effort (titled Blood Of The Snake), so we wasted no time hooking up with him and tracking down the news.

Igor Italiani: Hello Derek, it's nice to hear from you again. How are you doin'? I hope everything's fine! OK, let's say that I'm a bit surprised that after an incredible solo album like Mythology you have recorded another one very quickly. The strange thing is that it is not a Planet X opus like I supposed ... so why this release?

Derek Sherinian: Hello Igor, it's nice to hear from you, too. Here in the U.S. everything's fine, thanks man! Well, I can imagine your surprise, but the new Planet X album was taking a little more time than expected to be finished, so in the meantime I decided to release another solo effort. I had the opportunity to gather another great amount of talent, so I said to myself: "Why not?"

II: However, when I first received the cover image, I immediately thought about a hard rock album (considering also some of the guests like Slash or Billy Idol); instead Blood Of The Snake sounds really heavy. Is it something that you had in mind or it just came out this way once you were in the studio?

DS: It's the latter. Blood Of The Snake just came out this way once I was in the studio with the other musicians. I have to admit that there was an incredible vibe together; in fact, I think that the music reflects this aspect. Maybe the environment and collaboration was excellent because I already worked with most of the musicians that are featured inside the songs, who knows? However, it felt fine and I think it shows in the end. I'm very proud of this record.

II: OK Derek, let's start talking about the songs. My favourite one is the hypnotic "Men With No Name," where Zakk really sings like a modern Ozzy and the brief oriental passage is really clever. There is also some fretless bass and a dramatic violin interlude, so this track contains almost everything?

DS: Hahaha, yes it's true. On "Men With No Name" Zakk sings like a young Ozzy, it's fantastic. However, this is my favourite song as well. We had a lot of fun in the studio recording it. You know, like I said to you directly (when we met in Milan) I always have a wonderful time with Zakk in the studio. He usually comes in, we drink 3 or 4 cases of beer as the days pass by. In this particular song, which I wrote with the great drummer Brian Tichy, Zakk changed the melody and I personally think that the final result really blows the listener's mind away.

II: But you've got to give me the scoop on this one; how many beers did it take Zakk for this great piece of music?

Zakk WyldeDS: Hahaha, I think that maybe Zakk received a little more than the usual 3 or 4 cases of beer on this occasion. I had to motivate him a lot to do a killer track, but I knew where to push the button.

II: OK, let's speak about another killer track, "Blood Of The Snake," where there's an epic duel between Malmsteen and Wilde. Can we call it a tie or not?

DS: Hahaha, yes we can call it a tie. The fact is that both I and Zakk wanted to record a song which featured him and the marvellous Yngwie. The track is really heavy and features a lot of interaction between these two incredible guitarists.

II: However, there is also "The Monsoon"... is it like the return match between Zakk and Yngwie?

DS: Yes, once we recorded "Blood Of The snake" we felt there was another shot that could be delivered to our fans. So that's why we realized "The Monsoon," it's another one-two punch that should captivate the shred fanatics.

II: The great Yngwie plays alongside you on another excellent track, "Viking Massacre." You know, since there were a lot of strange relations (in the past) between Yngwie and his fellow musicians, can you tell us what's the secret to maintain a great collaboration with the notorious axe-man? Maybe you offered him another Ferrari or some great wine?

DS: No, fortunately there was nothing like a new Ferrari, hahaha. You know, I and Yngwie are very good friends. Back in 2001 I played with him on his South America tour, so after that he invited me to lay down the keyboards tracks for his ensuing Attack album. When we finished recording the afore-mentioned opus, he immediately exchanged the favour playing three tracks on my Black Utopia record. Now the situation is quite the opposite. In fact he recorded these three pieces of music on Blood Of The Snake, then I will appear on his next record.

II: Derek, in my humble opinion the best guitar solo is the one on "Been Here Before." Is it Brad Gillis on this one?

DS: Yes, you're right. The guitar part that Brad plays on "Been Here Before" is just phenomenal, I really love that one. He is a very good musician, and the solo spot is passionate and to the point.

II: You know Derek, I think that one of the album's strengths is that this is your fifth solo record but you manage to keep a low profile when it's required, so the others can really shine. I think you have made a hell of a work team-wise, isn't it?

Derek Sherinian w/Planet X at NF 2004 (photo: Stephanie Sollow)DS: You know what? I'm first and foremost a music fan, so I try to realize albums that reveal a certain balance amongst the players and their instruments. Even if I'm a keyboardist I don't want to play my chops all the time, it would get boring very quickly. Instead I love to take different ingredients and then mix it up and serve them to the audience in the best way possible.

II: Let's return to the songs. The opening one, "Czar Of Steel," features your ex teammate John Petrucci. So this should lay to rest all the talk about your departure from Dream Theater. However, can you tell me something more about this new found alliance?

DS: Yes, certainly. John and I have always been great friends, even after I left Dream Theater. I think we also have a mutual and deep respect for each other, so it should come as no surprise this partnership between the two of us. Furthermore the result of "Czar Of Steel" is so good that I hope to work with him again in the near future.

II: Have you heard some of the stuff made by Dream Theater in the past few years?

DS: To be honest with you I haven't heard anything they have made in the last few years, but not because I'm angry at them. I just spend a lot of time working on my music, so it's really difficult for me to sit down and listen other bands' material. That's jut the way it is.

II: Another thing that captivates me a lot: you know, both you and Kevin Moore are my all-time keyboard favourites, even if you possess completely different styles. Have you ever been in touch with Kevin? Do you think that the meeting of such diverse styles could create something unique?

DS: Well, as far as I remember I met Kevin just one time in my life, but I have to say it was a nice meeting, he is a pleasant guy. However, it is like you said, our styles are completely different, so I don't think they could work well together.

II: OK, let's return to the new record. In the end we found the funny "In The Summertime," which you claim was your favourite song as a child. Do you think you'll perform it live during the next Billy Idol tour?

DS: Hahaha, I think there are great possibilities. We just recorded the video for the song the other day, here in Los Angeles. The director was Chad Michael Ward of Digital Apocalypse Studios and needless to say we (me, Billy and Slash) had a great fun doing it. Now we are hooking up the radio [stations] to hit the airwaves, so be patient and you will hear it.

II: Speaking of tours, what about some new dates on Italian soil?

DS: As you know I'm leaving for the Billy Idol tour in a few weeks, then I'll focus on finishing off the next Planet X record. I think that the release of this album will be around the beginning of next year, so just after that we should manage a few more dates around the world. Needless to say that I can't wait to come to Italy once again, 'cause the first time was so sweet.

II: OK Derek, this is the last question. The most important! I swear you to take me very seriously on this one. Here in Italy we are starting a petition to bring back the lava lamps on stage for your upcoming tours. You have been warned!

DS: Hahaha? OK, OK, everything that pleases the audience gets my attention, so if you have the petition coming right at me, I promise I'll bring these lava lamps back on stage.

II: Derek, I think that's all for tonight. So good luck for the new record and I really hope to see you once again in Italy as soon as possible! Have a nice weekend!

DS: Thank you very much Igor for your constant support and have a nice weekend, too. Hope to see you live next time we come to Italy. Ciao.

Sherinian will be on tour with Billy Idol in the US beginning July 28 (the dateBlood Of The Snake is released in Europe) through August 19, 2006. Blood... will be released in North America on August 1.

Selected Discography (!!):
Brad Gillis - Gillrock Ranch (1993)
Kiss - Alive III (1993)
Alice Cooper - The Last Temptation (1994)
Various - To Cry You A Song - A Collection Of Tull Tales (1995)
Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons (1995)
Alice Cooper - Classicks (1996)
Pat Torpey - Odd Man Out (1997)
Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity (1997)
Explorer's Club - Age Of Impact (1998)
Dream Theater - Once In A Livetime (1998)
Various - Humanitary Stew - A Tribute To Alice Cooper (1999)
Various - A Tribute To Aerosmith - All Star Tribute To Aerosmith (1999)
Platypus - When Pus Comes To Shove (1999)
Planet X (1999)
Platypus - Ice Cycles (2000)
Planet X - Universe (2000)
Various - A Party Of The Times - A Tribute To Prince (2000)
Inertia (2001)
Various - Songs Of Pink Floyd - All Star Tribute To Pink Floyd (2001)
Various - One Way Street - All Star Tribute To Aerosmith (2001)
Todd Rundgren - Todd Rundgren And Friends (2002)
Various - We're A Happy Family - All Star Tribute To The Ramones (2002)
Einstein - Einstein Too (2002)
Gilby Clarke - Swag (2002)
Planet X - Moon Babies (2002)
Jughead - Jughead (2002)
Yngwie Malmsteen - Attack (2002)
Planet X - Live From Oz (2002)
Shaman - Ritual (2003)
Black Utopia (2003)
John Sykes - Bad Boy Live (2003)
House Of Lords - The Power And The Myth (2004)
Mythology (2004)
Billy Idol - Devil's Playground (2005)
Blood Of The Snake (2006)
Billy Idol - Happy Holidays (2006)
Planet X - Quantum (2007)
Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)
Billy Idol - Idolize Yourself (2008)
Yngwie Malmsteen - Perpetual Flame (2008)
Dream Theater - Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) (2008)
Molecular Heinosity (2009)
Black Country Communion - Black Country Communion (2010)
Black Country Communion - Black Country Communion 2 (2011)
Oceana (2011)
Black Country Communion - Live Over Europe (2011)
Various - Who Tribute - Who Are You (2012)
Black Country Communion - Afterglow (2012)
Nektar - A Spoonful Of Time (2012)
The Prog Collective - The Prog Collective (2012)
PSMS - Live In Tokyo (2013)
Black Label Society - Unblackened Live (2013)

Billy Idol - Live (DVD) (2009)
Black Country Communion - Live Over Europe (DVD) (2011)
PSMS - Live In Tokyo (DVD) (2013)
Black Label Society - Unblackened Live (DVD) (2013)

Added: August 8th 2006
Interviewer: Igor Italiani

Artist website:
Hits: 1892
Language: english

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