I think I’ve made the same mistake as David Lee Roth. No, this has nothing to do with fronting a band and the inability to sing or anything like that (for the record, DLR can actually carry a tune, which is something that still eludes me). nope, my only link to the greatest frontman Van Halen has ever had (sorry, Sammy) is that we both thought that the music of one Michael Pritzl was the future of music.
Back in 1990, when the first VB album came out, there was a popular prophecy circulating within the Christian music industry called “Sons of Thunder.” It prophesied that a fresh new form of music would be coming from some anointed musicians. The bold music and lovesick lyrics directed to God sure sounded like music from heaven to these ears. A lot’s happened since then, but this musical troubadour is still pushing the envelope. Case in point: a three-disc masterpiece called The Story of Our Lives. I’ll shut up, though, and let Michael tell the story (funky symbols and all).
Update us on the Violet Burning (like recapping the last 1-2 years)
-for the past 3 years we’ve been working on a Triple Album, working in factories/machine shops, and spending our summers working alongside missionaries and churches in europe helping to support their work in Europe.
For fun, walk us through the entire career of The Violet Burning (even share some pre-VB band history if there is some). Please stop to at least comment on each studio album you’ve released, if not much more.
well it’s kind of fun to look back at growing up playing music and growing as an artist. it’s amazing how God allows so many blessings in our lives…
before 1990 I was just learning to play music, I think an interesting story is that my first band as a kid was The Children, we had a great little following, I remember one night playing at The Troubador in LA and for the encore we did a version of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. After the show a small man with 2 bodyguards approached the stage as we were cleaning up our gear and the club was emptying.
“I’ve seen the future of rocknroll and you are it!!!” As I looked down from the stage at this short fellow (shorter than me if you can imagine) and there is David Lee Roth, then singer of Van Halen and his 2 bodyguards pretty much holding him back from hugging me…
1990 – our first album, Chosen was released in March/April of that year. we had spent most of our time as a band playing in the clubs of Los Angeles and Orange County and one night a few pastors from different churches came to see us. A couple from the church that my brother in law and I attended, and another from our friend’s church. During that season we would often perform The Killing live and at some point I would end up with my shirt off, and red paint all over my hands, face and body singing, “oh, they’re killing my Lord”, God always used those strange moments to really sober up the bars/clubs and often times many of us there would all be in tears…. I remember that evening that the “pastors” all came into the club. 1 set of pastors told us we were “leading people into sin” for being there in the clubs, and the other set of pastors that included Randy Rigby was different, I remember Randy saying, “that was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, you need to keep doing what God has made you to do…this is incredible”. that night was the first time I had seen or met Randy, he had a huge impact on our lives, being the first church leader to acknowledge and bless us and speak encouragement to us.
shortly after that we began recording some demos with Randy at his church, and though soon after that the politics of church led Randy away from us, he was really the catalyst for what would become Chosen. highlights include The Killing, Rise Like the Lions, There is Nowhere Else
1993 – Strength
…was finally released. we finished in 1992 and wanted to reunite with our friend Randy Rigby who was now in Denver, CO with Tom Stipe at Crossroads Church of Denver. After a few months of asking Vineyard Music to let us go, they finally worked something out with Tom and Randy and we were able to realign ourselves with men who shared our vision for the lost and for sharing the modern day psalms that Strength became known for. It’s quite humbling to look back at that time, many great artists have shared with me that Strength was the catalyst that helped them see that they could do worship/psalms that were current and relevant in music. I’ve been told by greats like Martin Smith, Stu Gerrard, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman and others that Strength was the album that turned everything upside down for them and perhaps pioneered a path that helped them go on… highlights include There is No One Like You, Undone, As I Am, Song of the Harlot….
Live Highlights from this era include some incredible late night shows at Cornerstone Festival…wow.
1996 – The Violet Burning
Self Titled is released on mainstream independent label. Co-Produced by the Legendary Steve Hindalong and I.
What could I say about this album? It seems to me that it speaks for itself, the great drumming of Lonnie Tubbs, the triple guitar assault of Jeff Schroeder, Andy Pricket and myself, the steady and solid bass playing of Jason Pickersgill. At the time we were pretty much ousted from the christian music market because we had signed to a mainstream label, and rumors about this “dark” album that we had made spread like wildfire, we had actually been officially “handed over to satan” by a certain movement who shared with us that to show “true repentance” we would have to stop the release of this ‘dark’ album. when I asked the pastor who was telling me this if he had heard the album yet (because in those days it was all on tapes and none of us even had a copy of it at that time) the pastor responded with, “we have it on a good authority that this is a very dark album”….
well, the handful of fans who don’t believe everything they hear that bought the album were in for a treat… a deeper and perhaps more spiritual album that easily rivals Strength in it’s desperation and even the many psalms that came out of that album… Goldmine, Underwater, Low, Crush are some of the highlights…highlight from touring self titled, meeting Cindy Lauper at a club in NYC,
“nice to meetcha michael, I’ve heard a lot about chyou….” smiling with her east coast accent…
1998 – Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic
The first of 3 albums that we made with the great engineer Anthony Arvizu. What began as 4 track demos on a cassette player and later some 16 track demos at my friend Mike Misiuk’s studio and later finished by Anthony and I in Long Beach, became hailed by some Los Angeles/OC journalists as “the new new wave”. We first brought this album to a distributor to see if they would release it across america. They were troubled by our tattoos, and the artwork that we had selected. The great photographer Anna Cardenas (owner of the Green Room Studio) had really understood the vision of the album to show the Plastic (outer appearance) parts of our lives, contrasted with the Elastic (the inside of who we are that gets stretched and somehow survives the challenges of life). So Anna had taken all of these extreme photos and we had eyeliner on and kind of over the top Bowie-esque kind of a rock look to some of the photos. Heck we were right on the cutting edge of the LA music scene… of course the church always follows a few years behind, so the distributor we met with actually cleared the room and asked me to stay… “don’t you realize that we can’t release an album with these kind of photos?” and “we need you to cover the tattoos…” and then the killer statement that you hear mentioned on the new Story of Our Lives album, “michael, if you would just say Jesus a few more times in your lyrics, you and I would make A LOT of money!!!” he pleaded with me behind closed doors… Highlights include: Elaste, Gorgeous, Berlin Kitty, Moon Radio, Oceana
Live Highlight from this era would really be our return to many of the clubs around Long Beach and Orange County, playing to some great fans at home.
2000 – Faith and Devotions of a Satellite Heart
a couple friends of ours, Scott Malone and Carl Tuttle had approached me about doing a congregational worship album for their new record label.
As a songwriter I have long been in the habit of writing almost daily and of course I’m always sitting on lots of strong worship songs, so I really jumped at the chance. I believe that God has made us with 2 feet, 1 foot to be a blessing to the church and another to be a blessing to the world around us. John Wimber taught me a lot about loving the church, the whole church. It was a great opportunity that I’m not often given to do something just for the church. Also recorded by Anthony Arvizu, Satellite Heart is yet another of the classic violet burning albums. Though this time we tried to keep it as stripped down as possible, not doing too many loops or recording gags, that were popular at the time in worship music. We were aiming more towards the worship leader who may not have the same tools to create loops and rhythms at that time in 2000, though today those things are in everyone’s bedrooms, at that time we wanted to be sure that someone with an acoustic guitar could pick up the songs and play them.
Highlights: Invitacion Fountain, Clean, Forty Weight, The Blood of Jesus, Shine Your Light….
2001 – I am a Stranger in This Place
for many years at this time we had been doing special Christmas shows where we performed quiet and vibey versions of classic violets songs. The success of those shows is what led to I am a Stranger….This album was tracked live by Anthony Arvizu in Long Beach a few days after Christmas and really contains some great versions of the songs. Herb Grimaud Jr. played some wonderful bass and Eddie Fisher (now of One Republic) did a great job on the drums some lovely singing from Melissa Barnett. An Experiment in Vibe… Highlights include: Gorgeous, Song of the Harlot, Undone, Arabic Tremolo Radio, a great version of As I Am…
2003 – This is the Moment
what I remember most about this album recorded by Andy Prickett is the incredible job that Andy did with so little real tools…the downside of this era is that digital recording and some of today’s tools were not really available, but the label really wanted us to do it all at Andy’s house… I promise that the guitars and vocals sounded way better in person!!!! But it was a great season and Andy has been a great friend to us through the years. He and Eric Campuzano worked really hard to make Moment a success. Andy was really encouraging me towards popular music at the time, and I really learned alot from that. The legendary Sam West (Stavesacre) played some great drums. I remember playing many of these songs live and just enjoyed watching them come to life in a powerful way. Highlights: I See Stars, Slowa, Manta Rae and apparently Everywhere I Go made it onto an Old Navy Commercial some years later, though I’ve never seen the money from that…
2006 – Drop-Dead
This was a great album to make. Our friends Gabriel Wilson and Solo from The Listening co-produced this album with me and the label really helped us by letting us do what we had vision for. So we went to Portland and camped out for a couple weeks and tracked some drums to the Tape Machine, and built a great album in Drop-Dead. Jason Mize and Josiah Sherman (Listening, Motopony) really did a great job. This is really an album where a lot of things come together in a powerful way. We spent a couple years after this touring for Drop-Dead and our booking agent at the time Jesse Eubanks worked really hard for us. The band used that season to get really really tight and ultimately this led to the highly regarded live album “Sting Like Bees and Sing” that we released in 2008. On Drop-Dead the violet burning proudly wears the childhood influences of The Cure right out on their sleeves….Highlights include More, 1000 years, Humm, Do You Love Me?
2008 – Sting Like Bees and Sing:
Live album from Cornerstone Festival: Highlights include- Low, Silver, Fabulous Like You, Underwater, Elaste
2010 – Michael Pritzl – Mercy Songs.
As part of the 20 year anniversary of our first album Chosen, I asked the fans what they would like and the overwhelming response was an acoustic album of songs from that era. So I took a break from The Story of Our Lives sessions and spent a month or so working on Mercy Songs whenever I could and out came this really lovely reflective and beautiful album. It was fascinating to revisit songs that I had written as very very young man, and to revisit the feeling of them. I was blessed to have so many fans send in files of themselves singing along to The Killing and was able to mix them together to create a nice big chorus of singers. Lenny Beh added some lovely violins and Mercy Songs quickly became a fan favorite. Highlights include: Sweet Mercy, The Killing, The Face of Beauty, The Last Ones…
2011 – The Story of Our Lives -Liebe über Alles, Black as Death and TH3 FANTA5T1C M^CH1N3
A Triple Album – 34 New Songs, The most acclaimed album the violet burning has released thus far. A concept album and a “raising the standard” for our rock music, art, psalms and lyrics. We really wanted to push far beyond anything that we’ve ever done or been a part of.
I will go into detail about this album later, but for recording notes, this is the first album that I’ve carried all the weight for producing, engineering, mixing and being an artist…and working at a machining factory for 50 hours a week during the 2 years of recording the 3 albums. Joined by the outstanding drumming of Lenny Beh and featuring on a few songs our friends: Jeff Schroeder, Eleanor Beh (cellos), Chris Buelow, Paul and Marnie Stebner, Daryl Dawson and Kevin Buhler.
We had a great time making these recordings and building our own world class studio along the way. We’ve been getting compliments from many musicians that we really respect including our friends Derri and Steve (the Choir), Ojo Taylor (undercover/JMU Professor), even current living legends of sound design Analogman (Mike Pierra) and the incredible Pete Cornish have written to us sharing their love for the albums and in particular the guitar sounds. So it’s been quite humbling.
If you could go back and change certain times, certain decisions, certain songs, whatever, what would you tweak?
well the truth is that you can’t really change the past and you can only make the best choices given the options you have in front of you.
As an artist you want to be true to what God has brought you through, and you hope that if you are faithful to express the art from that deepest place within you that somehow it will touch the heart of God and also touch those who hear it. As our fans have been hearing me say since the early 90s, the Bible is certainly no children’s book. It’s full of the struggles and challenges of men and women and the God who inserts Himself into their story. That’s what makes the Bible so incredible. It relates so much to each of us and the challenges, blessings, curses, loves, losses that life brings us and through it all is the One True God inserting himself into our stories, into The Story of Our Lives.
Looking back on it all, I think that we’ve been blessed to have so many who have helped us through the years, people who helped us to sound better than we were, who helped guide us and lead us as best they knew how, and we’ve made the best of the good and the challenging.
What is your perspective on the changing role of working musician in 2011? What are the most impacting changes you’ve felt? What are some other artists that are doing this music thing “right?” (artists that are inspiring you with their business)…
These are great questions and we certainly don’t have them figured out. There’s lots of great opportunities for artists right now.
And things are changing very fast. I think what’s sad is that artists and music have both had their value diminished by the culture.
The ideas that music is now worth an “email” address, or worth “whatever you want to pay” has created a flood of mediocrity in music, in quality sound recordings and I think they’ve run their course. I don’t know how many of us actually need more emails coming to us from a band, a company, a church, etc…
I think the best thing an artist can do is to find a great producer and a great recording engineer to help them capture their songs in an outstanding way.
I don’t understand how someone can pour their hearts, souls and feelings into writing/creating a song, and then capture the song on their laptop or with some low quality microphone because they’ve bought a Microphone Emulation Plugin that’s gonna make their voice sound like their actually singing on a great vintage microphone. REALLY? Are those ears on the side of your head? And why not find a producer to help you really capture the best performances, so many musicians hurt themselves by not investing in their art and music. There’s about 1000 albums coming out every month. How is it that you’re gonna stand out from the rest of the flood of mediocrity? People are looking for great music that will touch their souls…
How and why in the world did you embark on a 3-album project?
Really we wanted to raise the bar on ourselves. We are a small yet somehow influential band. About 3 years ago we had a big “come to Jesus” meeting.
At that time we really encouraged each other to push ourselves into being even better musicians, to really work hard and practice hard every day so that we could make something that would be truly special. As a songwriter, I’ve long been in the habit of writing almost daily, and about 7 years ago I began writing songs towards a concept album. I began to show the songs to our drummer, Lenny Beh and the two of us began to jam them out, really pushing each other to take them to the next level. We narrowed it down from about 45 songs to 34. I thought that if we couldn’t get 3 albums or 2 albums worth of great songs, we would at least be able to come up with 10…
Tell us the theme of the album. Feel free to break it down into sections to coincide with the album.
[ more photos to be posted soon… ]
The Story of Our Lives is a concept album told in 3 parts.
We wanted to name it almost like a classic book…
The Story of Our Lives -Liebe über Alles, Black as Death and TH3 FANTA5T1C M^CH1N3
It’s about not belonging in a big messed up machine of this orwellian world we all are a part of now
it’s about loss and the beauty in brokenness, about splendor in the ruins of our lives
It’s about choosing death to find life.
ultimately it’s about each of us and our journey through this life and this jacked up world to find our way home.
so much can be said about making a concept album.
we did our best to leave lots of clues in the artwork, the illustrations, the fine art photography and the design.
as well as in the sounds, be it the roar of sabbath like riffing guitars, the beauty of the strings, the violins, the cellos, the melancholy rhythm of the delay guitars,
the humm and banging of actual factory machines from where I worked during most of the recording.
the lyrics that are sung or the machine voices that are spoken all help to give away clues to the bigger picture.
yes, there are themes both in the melodies and the lyrics that return on different songs and on different albums.
for example you may hear a musical line on one song, that’s actually a vocal melody on another song.
upon repeated listenings there will be quite a few themes that appear both musically and lyrically…
we really tried to carefully guide the story beginning with the outstanding illustrations that show so much
of the details of the journey through part one, and the incredible fine art photography that sets the tone in the black and white ruins for part two and in the gorgeous full color fine art photography for part three…
Part 1: The Fantastic Machine
the fantastic machine is the first part of the story, and so much is hidden in the fantastic machine. Again the lyrics, the sounds, the illustrations, the computer voices and talking machine voices all help tell the story…
The Fantastic Machine is based on each of us who are born with these gifts that God gives us, (Where it all Begins- “my heart and soul are wired in…” )
and we go out into this life trying to find the way on, or the way home, and we see the characters carrying their lights (Lights Out) inspired by Nikolai Tesla
going out on the journey and the path is leading them to the Machine City…(“with our lights out, this is the way home…”)
at the end of Lights Out you can hear that they’ve arrived at the Machine City, the humming and whirring and pounding of machines (that I actually recorded in the factory where I was working) the actual talking machines appear (yes, real machines I recorded at the ATM, the Crosswalk, the gas station, the car wash, the telephone monitor…) and then as the countdown hits at the end of Lights Out. Suddenly you hear the pounding of Graves.
and into the machine the characters go, “into machine we go, Oh Lord, keep us close…”
Once inside the machine we meet the much talked about br0thr.
It’s great to have a chance to reveal some of this because there’s so much hidden in br0thr part 1 and br0thr part 2.
I love how we gave away in the images who br0thr is. If you look carefully at the illustrations you will notice actual angels appearing in a cherubim like image.
with wings and covered in eyes. The traditional view of the cherubim some would say that they filter the prayers and praises of unholy/broken mortals to a Holy God. So our prayers, thoughts, affections, attentions and praises that go up to God actually pass through these creatures… we tried to draw on that idea.
so when you notice br0thr, you notice that he’s actually the villain, he’s got angel wings strapped onto his arms and eyes covering his computer screen head.
he represents everything in the machine world that wants to capture our affections, capture our attentions.
The first thing that you hear on br0thr part one is the humming of machines and pounding and then br0thr speaks and he says,
“where do you want to go today?”
Any fan who has googled that phrase would already know that it has for decades been the slogan for Microsoft.
And so it starts to get interesting, because all of a sudden we are giving away a ton about the story in one fell swoop of br0thr’s fake wing.
the lead vocal starts to sing against a backdrop where br0thr speaks out to the characters all of the seductive corporate slogans of the age we live in (go ahead look them up, they’re all there from Nike to Vodaphone), mixed with social media updates, br0thr is basically speaking all of the slogans designed to capture our affections and attentions within the Orwellian age we live in.
our character with their gifts is now in the machine and surrounded by the ultimate villain, the ultimate replacement of our affections.
br0thr represents all of them in a truly orwellian way…
if you pay close attention to the words that br0thr speaks, you’ll find
br0thr’s actually the replacement/villain/a figure of the current orwellian world system that we live in. not a christian “brother”
this is why every word that br0thr actually speaks is a phrase from the major media and consumer corporations advertisements…
the whole script is from about 30 minutes of flipping channels on the television and listening to the major advertisers slogans…
we wanted to give away that br0thr speaks the language of the world system around us. with promises of
“because you are worth it”, “we are everywhere you want to be”, “you belong here”, “making tomorrow better”
“wherever you go, our network follows” and “healthier, greener” and “just do it!” and so on…
br0thr is a representation of a world that is always trying to get our attention with false promises, and our affections with a false sense of belonging.
to be accurate i had to touch on most things that we all know and are aware of in the western world.
which would include , the church and a Music Industry as a small part
but also on the bigger level must include the whole world corporate system and structure, corporations, media, news drama, billboards, etc..
to leave out the church would be unfair especially as some churches have followed the world trends for decades, and many evangelicals still do.
to be clear, there is a big picture that the story is pointing at, and i’m doing my best to include all things that relate to our lives in the machine.
” I was looking for Jesus…” our character begins to sing against the noise of the world we live in.
then I share an actual true story summed up in one verse, “distribution knows just what you need, we’ll make you ‘safe for the whole family’, sing JE$U$ a few more times and we’ll all make a whole lot of pretty green money…” but then the story quickly moves forward…
“lost in a shattered dream, the years go by, a new machine”
implying the character moving forward as the years go by and now a new machine is in place
where “churches entertaining me in place of theology”
then the reference to what many of us do throughout the day on the television/interenet/iphones/blackberry’s/droids/ipads etc…
“go on plug in your eyes, here beneath the satellites…”
it’s now the main way we communicate, we plug in to the web…
I love this part of the recording as the lyric ends, br0thr says, “i am lonely, i am broken, i am alive…”
and in comes the feedback and then heavy sabbath like riffing of “Machine Beat Sabbatha”.
suddenly the characters begin to rage against the machine, “i’m a son of thunder, i’m a son of thunder and rain… we are letting go!!!!”
Followed by the Imminent Collapse with the blatant references to the web.
“plug my eyes into this web, plug my ears in, leave me dead, it’s a splendid dalliance, it’s the Imminent Collapse”
and really this song is based on some of the most sobering chapters I’ve ever read of any book. the final chapters of Nicholas Carr’s ‘The Big Switch’.
talk about predicting and documenting the Orwellian age that we live in and what it means, and what’s coming….
The story moves forward quickly the character falling into the machine begins to pray,
“Lord, my eyes are growing dim and the night is closing in… there is no end, there is no end…plug my eyes into this wreck, plug my ears in leave me dead…there is no end, there is no end….” The illustrations are giving huge clues here with the double page of screens with all sorts of expressions that we all put out into the machine… the end cry for help, “when darkness surrounds me, lead me on, when I can’t go on, carry me home, Lord lift me up and lead me home…”
a lyric pointing to what’s to come at the end, when we see the true angel carrying the lifeless body onwards past the gates of death….
br0thr part 2 as we again meet the villain.
this time each verse is pointing to different issues that we all face in the machine.
br0thr part 2 begins with the observation of the mediocre machine world we’ve come to live in.
“turn off the radio, the artists now will play for free”(a reference to the “let’s give away music for free because it has no value” movement)
“electric light i’m staring at, coaxing mediocrity” (a reference to my computer screen, and the studies that report that google search and internet browsing is making us dumber as a culture – just spend 30 minutes with any teenager and you will swear they are half as smart as you were at that age =)
but for actual documentation of the facts see the book up for a Pulitzer Prize by Nicholas Carr, ‘The Shallows’)
“in the glow of my telephone, br0thr knows just how to speak to me” (this is a reference to our iphones/droids/mobile devices which also track our habits and advertise to us accordingly)
“br0thr is watching every little thing that you do” ( another reference to how the machines watch us whether it’s ads by what we watched on cable, ads on google adwords or facebook, coupons from the grocery stores who have us in their ‘clubs’ to save money, but really it’s to track our spending habits)
“br0thr’s gonna make sure that she is the right girl for you” (a reference to the online dating explosion and a tipping of the hat to Pink Floyd’s “mother”)
“br0thr knows where you’ve been, br0thr sees just what you see” (another reference to the actual orwellian tracking of our lives on the internet and the grocery stores with their “clubs”)
“br0thr knows you’re miserable, br0thr knows just what you need” (again the desire of all businesses to sell us something to fill our loneliness, to take the place of God and to capture our affections..)
and then our character again, alone sings…
I’m still looking for Jesus, I was looking inside this machine…
another cool movement of rattling fuzz guitars as we move into ‘I don’t Belong’
followed by the cry/prayer and the Sabbath/Zeppelin riffing of Firstborn From the Dead
The Fantastic Machine ends with the melancholy ‘the Letting’ a prayer from the character realizing that the choice is death or be part of the system..
the Title track rebellion against a machine that’s been “selling me lies…”
the reflection of The Loudest Sound in my Heart looking back and looking within, and the reprise/declaration still of the earlier lyric, “with our lights out, this is the way home….” as the character moves forward, and you can see it there wonderfully in the illustrations as you see the character with their light and the path is leading towards the gates of Death…
the album concludes with ‘Leaving’ and the mix of a mostly human voice being reflected by a machine voice, singing to the one who’s carried them through this life so far, “I’m leaving, but I don’t wanna leave you, you move me when I don’t wanna be moved, You love me when I don’t wanna be loved….Leaving but I don’t wanna leave you…..” and there we see one of my favorite images, the angel holding the now lifeless body of our character, the light fallen to the ground, beyond the gates of death….
PART 2 – BLACK AS DEATH
black as death begins and descends to the anguish of death
one of the heaviest violets albums ever, beginning with one of the heaviest violets songs ever, My Name is Night…
through the haunted and beautiful ‘Maelstrom’.
“in a sea of death, i was coming up for air.. i can’t breathe…i’m all shook down…”
through the beautiful separation of ‘Breakdown’
the loneliness and loveliness of “where do we belong?”
Rock is Dead is one of the fan faves and really turning points as we hear our character crying out,
“you left a song in my heart but no one was listening…
rock is dead they say…. no way no way no way….”
and in the end the screaming declaration of “i’m going on! i’m going on!!”
and then Nowhere, Ca begins with ,
“so i turned my back and went my way, there must be some way out of this place, i was hoping you would meet here in the desert of my despair…. on a road to nowhere…”
Sung really shows the versatility of the band, the incredible chaotic precision of lenny beh’s drumming and the way we play together as a band… the vibe and the heavy rock all wrapped into one….
from there we move into In Ruin….
one of my favorites, sort of a healing and moving forward recognizing that brokenness brings beauty within us… ‘we were beautiful, splendid and in ruin, blazing on the seas of love and blindness….
and aint it just like rain to come wash away this pain
and ain’t it just like love to be stronger than this death….’
i love that the vocal theme ties to the guitar theme on the end of graves….
the bookend of ‘where it all begins’ with it’s
“darling, don’t let go, there’s one thing i’m missing…”
the beauty of the strings and the guitars on this one combined with the emotion of the drumming really touches me
it’s the perfect ending and segway to the final chapter,
Liebe über Alles….
Liebe über Alles is German for “love over all things”
it begins with the character having chosen death, now living
“a lonely highway in the desert tonight, a thousand miles to go
the stars all hanging brightly.. this song will rise to you,
turning off the radio and listening to the night
far beneath a silver moon, the sound will rise to you…
making our way on back to you, i lose the headlights in the dawn
lord of light and lord of sound, the song will rise to you…
Mon Desir is one of prettiest songs I think i’ve written…
it really continues the journey and the reflection of the journey…
it’s a love song… a song of faithfulness and hope
“all the promises made on new years day, but all i want is you…
and the chorus always gets me especially live…
“there’s a driving rain pouring down on me
through a broken life, you’ve carried me
when there are no lights, you are all i see…
all i want is you, all i want is you…”
I like this one because it also has a reflection back to where the journey began in Lights Out…
“we came in there, through chicago…beneath a blinding light,
you came all the way from heaven,
through the sorrow and the night,
i was waiting for your gift there in the palaces of song
and i knelt down to forgiveness for all i had done wrong…”
the beauty of Arc, The Light Poured Down on Me, I Caught Fire, Liebe über Alles the title track, Change of Heart and Made for You make this one of the most powerful violets albums that we’ve ever made… the key to it’s beauty lies perhaps in the journey now continuing outside of the chaos of the web, the television, the news, the social media or whatever the latest trends that try to get our attentions and affections…
it’s really an album of love songs, brokenness, forgiveness and beauty on the journey of this life outside of the machine…
in the end the final part of the Story of Our Lives and the last song on the last album
is summed up with the ancient idea that goes back to my Catholic/Christian upbringing. and my current Anglican/Christian faith.
we always closed mass when i was a kid, and we close services today with a prayer that includes this thought,
“Heavenly Father, all things were made by You and for You…”
now, i’m not sure about a lot of things.
the older you get, the less you really “know” compared to when you were 21 and “knew everything”.
but i do know that the world we live in, is not what i’m made by, nor is it what i’m made for…
a world filled with machines and systems that are always trying to get my attention, be it through the ads near my email, the ads in my mailbox, the drama of the news or the political parties, the presentations of in place of worship services by some churches, the billboards, the phone solicitors, the online dating services, the barrage of billboards along the highway, on and on and on it goes.
that’s for sure not what the purpose or meaning of my life is about. I was not by this world and it’s systems nor was I made for this world.
as i’ve grown older and become more spiritual, i recognize that the prayer of my Anglo-Catholic faith is more true than ever.
Heavenly Father all things were made by You and for You….
Who is currently in your band and tell us something about each person.
Lenny Beh – aka Night Ranger – Drums and generally the best musician I’ve perhaps ever been around. He’s a great friend, really intelligent, loves to play the comedian, has been playing violin since he was 3 and currently he teaches violin in San Diego.
Daryl Dawson- aka Black Cherry – Bass and vocals. One of the nicest people you will ever meet, another great friend, also has been known to play guitar on tour (usually we are trying to get up to 3 guitarists on stage at a time), loves to laugh and dance. we’ve spent many an 80s night dancing in some city around America or Europe.
Michael Pritzl- aka revemrae – Guitars and Lead Vocal. usually filling orders between tours, recording, mixing and producing, loads of his friends and fellow musicians come to him for advice on sound, pedals, amps, guitars, microphones, cabinets, loves the ancient future faith and teaching of the Anglican church, loves creatures, vespas and all things timeless.
other great friends and musicians who join us from time to time live and/or who’ve joined us on the Story of Our Lives: Kevin Buhler, Paul and Marnie Stebner (the Hollybells), Jeff Schroeder (Smashing Pumpkins), Eleanor Beh and Chris Buelow.
What are your top-7 lessons you are eager to share with young, eager and talented musicians?
1. the song is the king – not the drummer, not the singer, not the guitarist. The Song is the King, so everyone play their parts to make the song the best it can be.
2. learn about songwriting, song architecture, song structure, song arrangement, and so on, from someone outside of your band who has an objective ear that can help you and challenge you towards greatness.
3. practice your instrument like there is no tomorrow. and when your arms are falling off or your fingers are bleeding, practice some more.
4. get the heck off of facebook and get back to practice. do you think that a successful pro athlete spends more time on facebook? or more time training? more time learning the strategy or playbook or more time on youtube? more time with their team or more time twittering? do you like Arcade Fire? do you like U2?
do you like Metallica? do you think that they spend more time on the internet than they do at their craft, at practice, on their instruments?
do you think they built their following on bandcamp or reverbnation? the internet is a great tool, but it’s an even better tool if you’ve got a great album to share with the world. Make playing on your own and together the priority.
5. Beauty and Truth are NOT defined by texting “1” for your favorite american idol contestant.
in the Age of Self Proclamation this is a challenging one, but believe it or not, there is real truth and there is real beauty,
no matter what the internet or media is selling you… they’ll be selling something new next year and the year after that.
6. Don’t follow trends, follow your hearts instead. This way you won’t be left behind when the trends change. Because they will change, almost every 2 years.
we’ve survived Hair Metal (circa 1990), Grunge (circa 1993), Ska (circa 1996), Boy Bands (circa 2000), Emo/Screamo (circa 2003) Boy Bands sold now as “rock bands” (circa 2006 -present), and so called “indie bands” who play accordians, banjos and other instruments not true to themselves (circa 2010- soon to end). I can remember when “indie” referred to such awesome guitar bands as Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., The Pixies, and so on… let’s face it, nobody really looks good in those vests that look like they came out of a 1920s black and white cowboy movie…
7. for those of you in HS, Middle School, College: remember this: your friends may make fun of you for being in the HS Band or Choir while you’re in school, but when you’re 23 and in a great rock band you’ll be the one they’re all coming out to watch perform. those of us who are the nerdiest in school are soon enough, the coolest.
Anything else you’d like to add?
yeah – how is it that Doug Van Pelt always gets these great interviews with famous rock bands and guides them towards questions about spirituality and faith? I’ve always loved this about you, Doug! thanks for bringing great music to so many of us through the years.