Friday, November 22, 2013

Paul Logue of Eden's Curse - The Power of Positivity

These are tough times by any measure for the music business, but there's much to be said for staying positive and perseverance - Eden's Curse went through two changes in the position of lead vocalist since the release of their 2011 album, Trinity, but it didn't break down the band, in fact, it has made them stronger.

The band's new album, Symphony of Sin, is a stunning success, and new vocalist Nikola Mijik may be the find of 2013. I recently caught up with bassist/producer Paul Logue, and the affable Scotsman impressed me tremendously with his passion, outlook, and wisdom, as he looked back over the last year and towards the future, which, for Eden's Curse, has never looked better.

The world of melodic metal got a jolt when Eden's Curse founding member Michael Eden took a powder after the band's successful run of shows opening for Dream Theater in support of the band's latest release - I decided to start there and work our way towards better days:

Paul Logue: "Michael announced his departure just after we opened for Dream Theater in the UK - he came forward and told us his financial demands on the band. 
"So, it was all down to money. With this band having a global spread (each member is from a different country in Europe, or the UK), that sounds like a bad barroom joke, 'Have you heard the one  about the Scotsman, the servant?' 
"We have travel expenses the equivalent of a day of an African nation, so it's taken us six years to get to a point of probably breaking even. So, when Michael came forward with his requests, we just didn't have the money to give him, and you can't have a member of a band being paid over everyone else - it's just not going to happen, you know? 
"So, we said as a team, 'We want you to stay, nobody wanted him to leave, and would he continue on the route that's got us to where we are at this point in our kind of tenure, and he just refused to do it, and became quite unreasonable about the whole matter. It was just up to us to say, 'Listen, we can't give you what you're looking for - we lose, win, or draw as a team, and that's just the way it's going to work,' but he refused to back down and he moved on and left. 
"So, we decided to move on , and we briefly got Marco (Sandrone) in from Italy, but it was just a case of his personality - it was just wrong, and there was a language issue as well. Marco had to be reminded that he was joining our band, and we weren't joining the Marco Sandrone Band on several occasions. 
"We then made a tough decision for Eden's Curse, long-term. Do we carry on with this guy? We were quite far along in the writing process for the new record. We said, 'It's going to be embarrassing, but we need to do what's best, so we parted company with him, and I think it's been proved that we made the right choice!"

Whatever it took to get new singer Nikola Mijik into Eden's Curse, one listen to Symphony Of Sin and it's incredibly clear that the band not only made the choice, they got damned lucky. Mijik is a powerfully melodic belter who fits Eden's Curse like a glove. I asked Paul about the process (over 30 auditions) and the results:

Paul Logue: "It was about 44, in fact, the total count! 
"We tried originally to find a British singer, but the standard, and the quality of what we were looking for just wasn't there. That was rather disappointing, but as you know, this band has a global spread, so we decided to focus on Europe - if we really wanted to make decent progress in terms of touring, it has to be someone in their own backyard, at least the same continent. 
"So we spread out, and with a great many auditions coming through, one day I was on the website of Lion Music from Finland, they're a really good label with a lot of great prig bands - they had Nikola's band from Hungary called Dreyelands on their roster, and I checked them out on Facebook to see if he was doing anything with the band, just how active he was. 
"Then I reached out to him, he responded, and I encouraged him to audition. He did so, and we took it from there - we added a couple more songs, and eventually we did two Eden's Curse songs from the back catalog and we gave him a brand new song. That just floored us - absolutely floored us. We gave him a blank canvas to go in - here's the lyrics, here's a rough melody, see what you can do, and that turned out to be Evil & Divine
"We gave him a three minute song, and he gave us back a five and a half minute song. He put a lot of production ideas into it, so we found out he was very well versed - he's a professional mix engineer, he owns his own studio, mixes for live bands.... 
"He brought a lot to the table, was a joy to work with - very grounded, very humble, and supremely talented. We knew that he was the man. 
"AFM (the band's label) said, 'OK, get him into the studio, record the record, and let's come back with a big bang!"

It seemed that for all the strife, Eden's Curse had stepped up a notch in the face of adversity:

Paul Logue: "Yeah, I would say so, and I would agree with that assessment. You know, I love Michael Eden's voice, there's no doubt about that, and I thought Marco was a sensational singer, but there's a lot of versatility with Nik. 
"Not only in his voice - I mean he brings forward his performance. In the video (for Evil & Divine) he was excellent, he can actually act! 
"When people get to see him on stage - the guy's a gifted performer, and that's something I have to be honest about, and say that was lacking in the previous lineup. That was something we weren't overly happy with, in terms of live work. We sat down and wrote on a piece of paper what we'd like in a new singer, and to find someone eventually after all this time that checks all these boxes, it's kind of hard to believe, to be honest!"

At the time of our talk, the band had yet to do a show with Mijik, but were set to play the Firefest in England in a bit over a week. I asked if the band had a chance to play any warm up shows before their festival debut:

Paul Logue: "No, we meet in England next week to rehearse for three days before we do the show. 
"We tried to set up a few warm up dates, but the festival has the exclusive rights for the UK, so that got put on the back burner. But tut's OK, because it allows us to focus on this show - it means we can put our attention into it. 
"It's sold-out, 2,000 melodic rock maniacs are going to be there. We're on the bill with some esteemed artists - some of my favorite bands, singers, and I'm looking forward to a real party weekend.  
"It's a very partisan audience, so I think if we can go out and put six of our greatest burps out there, it will be applauded! Thankfully, we're coming in to play something old, something new, and it's going to be a good atmosphere!"

Working with foreign vocalists, and staying busy is nothing new for Logue, recently he had produced and written much of the debut album by Code Of Silence, whose vocalist hails from Brazil:

Paul Logue: "Yeah, Gus Monsanto - he's a phenomenal singer! 
"This has been a busy year, for sure! At my last count it was six, or seven albums I've recorded and produced this year, and there's still two to come out. The other one I did was LaValle's Dear Sanity, which came out on Kivel Records, kind of an unashamedly Dokken/Ratt type of '80s thing.  
"So it's been a busy year, but I really enjoyed the Code Of Silence project, and getting to work with Gus, he's phenomenal."

Working as a unit spread across the UK and Europe, I asked Paul how detailed demos and arrangements were before files were sent to each band member:

Paul Logue: "If I'm writing a song - as an example, say Sign Of The Cross, or Wings To Fly off the new record, which were written completely by me. I presented those songs to the band and luckily all the guys agreed that there was nothing to change there.  
"We've come into the situation where we are very mature in terms of where we are with each other as songwriters, and in our relationships as people. We've worked together now on four back-to-back albums.  
"We know each other, and where our talents lie, what we can bring to the table.  
"So, for another example, maybe we're working on something like Break The Silence, or Evil & Divine, and I'll write the verse, all the guitar riffs - Thorsten changed the opening guitar riff, and Pete wrote the chorus in terms of the vocal melody. So, we know what works, and how to work with each other - in a nutshell, that's what we do.  
"It gets to the point of where demos are the final arrangements and final structure, then maybe the odd line will change when you get the singer in the vocal booth."

Having completed four albums in this fashion, is there any desire to one day get the band in the same room to record?:

Paul Logue: "Oh yeah! I'd be lying if I said that wasn't possible, or something that excites us, but yeah, for now, even if you speak to our producer Dennis Ward, Dennis tells me that we are five, or six years ahead of most bands because of our global spread.  
"But, a lot of bands are doing this now - the budgets are not what they used to be, and too, the bands are being a little bit more careful on what they spend, because they can utilize the budget elsewhere. For example, touring, unfortunately, has never been more expensive. That's the one side of the business as the budgets are going down, the costs are higher, because you have fuel bills and everything that comes with it. 
"So you may not be looking at spending to record the drum tracks here with Dennis - it would be 4-5,000 Euros, but with Pete having his own studio set up, and having done it for the last three Eden's Curse records, why spend the money on doing that? 
"I think in the long-term, if the success of the band takes off, and we find ourselves fortunate to be up several levels, then absolutely. Going to the Bahamas and renting Lenny Kravitz's studio would be nice! We can all dream, can't we?"

Dennis Ward is a name I hear all the time when melodic metal is the topic - both as a player, and a producer he's in constant demand, and at the top of everyone's list as a most valued partner. I asked Paul about their working relationship:

Paul Logue: "His role - he's essentially the 6th member of Eden's Curse. 
"He's been with us from the outset, and he had been instrumental in this band actually being formed. Him and Dennis Readman - I was working with both of them on David's solo album way back in 2005 probably, and they gave me a lot of encouragement because of the wealth of material, and the quality of material that I had floating around. 
"He's been there since day one, and he put a lot of faith in me and Mike (Michael Eden) when we first got together. He said, 'Guys, I'll mix your record, and if you don't get signed you don't owe me any money.' 
"We said, 'What?' Generosity like that in this day and age is unheard of - so, we paid him back by the time we'd signed with AFM and when we came back to do The Second Coming record, we arrived with a big envelope of Euros for them, and paid them in advance, and he was just blown away by that. 
"We've become great friends - in terms of mixing, he created the sound of Eden's Curse. I mean, I know that we have to physically record and a lot of the sound exists in the players fingers, absolutely, but he knows what works for this band.  
"I remember he said, 'What do you want this band to sound like?' I said, Pink Cream 69, and that was easy enough for him because we could give him a tangible reference point for him. Like, we'll say, 'We loved what you did on the last Angra record, or what he did with Silent Force here, or Allen Lander, and that's cool because we're fans of this type of music, and it allows Dennis to really tap into what we're thinking about. 
"He is in my opinion, and I may be prejudiced, even though I am the producer of the album, I'm just making sure the guys do things on time, and we do it in this order, and if the recordings are not clean they have to fix them up, but he is the man who is absolutely responsible for the wall of sound. 
"So, he's one of the biggest cogs in the machine, he's right in the core of it. If you remove him from that, it changes the output."

Wrapping things up, as Paul had many interviews to do before he rests, we talked about how he felt about his band's future after all the strife, and subsequent successes:

Paul Logue: "Very positive! 
"I don't think there's any hiding from it. I think we've touched upon the positivity within some of the lyrical content. Very proud of some of the songs we've attempted to do, and pulled off! 
"We've handled taking on a 46 piece orchestra, and incorporating it on the opening title track, which still blows me away that we've been able to do that. If you do back to the first record, and you ask the guy that was behind the band then if a DeLorean appeared out of the sky with some crazy-haired professor accompanying a young guy going, 'Great Scott, Marty,' and sent him that Symphony Of Sin eight minute track, he's have been like, 'Jesus wept!' 
"So, the progress the band has made, I'm very proud of it, and we grew as people, we grew as a band, and right now, the one thing that was very evident was when we had actually written the songs, never mind recorded them, the feeling within the group was that, 'We've got something very special.' 
"We knew what Dennis was going to bring to the table, we knew this was a record that was going to make people set up and take notice, and it still floors me when we get his mixes back. And, I don't mind admitting it - when I first heard the mix of Unbreakable, I actually wept with joy, because it was everything sonically that I fought to make Eden's Curse over the last two difficult years that we had.  
"So it was an unbelievably uplifting moment, and that's how much it means to us, and what we've come through. We knew through difficult times if we found the right guy, we knew what we were capable of doing. 
"It's just unbelievably humbling to sit back and see that people are saying the same things we are thinking. Thank you so much, Tony - I appreciate your time, and your high compliments, and if we keep getting compliments like that, somebody is going to give us a call, and get us out there (America), and that would be a dream come true."

Symphony Of Sin is a tremendous record, and if there is anything right in this world, that world will take proper notice and shine down upon Eden's Curse with the same passion and care that went into the making of not just the record, but the band.

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