Derek Sherinian  - 26/03/2009

DEREK SHERINIAN is an American ‎rock and jazz fusion keyboardist based in Los Angeles, California. After studying at the Berklee College of Music, Sherinian became a keyboardist and sideman for a number of artists, including Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Yngwie Malmsteen, Kiss and Zakk Wylde. He has also played keyboards for Dream Theater and Platypus, and is the co-founder of the band Planet X. His solo albums feature several prominent artists, including Slash, Allan Holdsworth, John Sykes, and Jerry Goodman.

 

Sherinian has been called the "King of the Keys" and the "Caligula of keyboards" due to his performing style. His influences include Elton John, Keith Emerson, Jan Hammer, and a variety of guitarists. Sherinian endorses various equipment, including Korg and Clavia keyboards. He is of Greek-Armenian descent and has a special interest in Armenian history.

 

Since 1999, Sherinian has recorded several solo albums, featuring performances by numerous well-known musicians. Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society), Tony Franklin (The Firm, Whitesnake), Brian Tichy (Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne), Virgil Donati and Rusty Cooley (Outworld) are among the guest musicians who appear on Derek Sherinian's latest solo album, entitled "Molecular Heinosity".

 

 

It appears there is much to talk about so we had a chat with DEREK SHERINIAN. Here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com

 

Congratulations on your new album ‘Molecular Heinosity ’ which will be released next week, so of course we’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it!

How did you launch into writing the material for ‘Molecular Heinosity’, did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
I collaborate with a few people on each record, and I write on my own. It always starts with a riff or idea, then we expand and polish it. Soon we have a whole song and start building it from there.

What were the goals you had in mind when you started writing this album?
I wanted to make a more focused heavier album, but at the same time more progressive. There is none of the jazz fusion influence that I have showed on my previous releases.

Any elements you definitely wanted to have on it?

My main concern was making a very heavy record, rhythmically and harmonically challenging to the listener.
 

Did you have an idea of which musicians you wanted to feature on this album before you wrote the songs for ‘Molecular Heinosity’?
I knew that Zakk Wylde, Tony Franklin, Brian Tichy and Virgil Donati were going to be on it.  I brought in some new talent in guitarists Rusty Cooley and Taka Minamono.

What about the song writing – how can we imagine you work on new songs?

I collaborated with Virgil to open the record with a trilogy titled "Antarctica". This is very reminiscent of my first solo record "PLANET X" that Virgil and I wrote in 1999.
I also collaborated with drummer Brian Tichy again on this record. We have worked together on my last four records and have a great chemistry together.
 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Molecular Heinosity’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

Heinosity is a word that I invented. It is a combination of the words heinous and monstrosity. Molecular was thrown in because I thought it would be a fun word for my Asian fans to say.
 

On this album you had help from Zakk Wylde and Rusty Cooley to name a couple, but each of you guys is from a different musical background, how did you manage to come to one musical agreement when you worked on the songs on the album or did you just instruct them what to play?
I pick the musicians for my songs the way a casting agent picks actors for a movie. After the song is completed, it becomes very obvious who should play what. I then try and make it happen.

 

 

Can you give us a little background about the songs on the album, is there a story behind them?
 

01. Antarctica  (Sherinian / Donati)  
02. Ascension    (Sherinian)
03. Primal Eleven  (Donati)

Brett Garsed- Guitar
Jimmy Johnson- Bass
Virgil Donati- Drums

I wanted to write a trilogy with Virgil reminiscent of "Atlantis" off of my first record. This pompous epic had to be worthy of a title grand as a continent, I think that we more than hit the mark with Antarctica.
This song could have easily been a Planet X song, even the same line-up was used that was on the "Quantum" record.

04. Wings Of Insanity  (Sherinian / Tichy)

Zakk Wylde- Guitar
Brian Tichy-  Drums
Rob Mules- Bass

This is the first song written for this record. The verse melody reminds me a bit of Satriani on steroids. The track is very Sabbath and Meshuggah influenced. Zakk's guitars are brutal as ever, and this is probably the sickest drum track Brian Tichy has recorded to date. Let us not overlook the mighty Rob Mules on bass.

05. Molecular Intro  (Sherinian)
06. Molecular Heinosity (Sherinian / Tichy)

Taka Minamono- Guitar
Brian Tichy-  Drums 
Rob Mules-  Bass

The title track is very "Swedish" in that the main inspirations for this song are Yngwie and Meshuggah. Again, Taka shreds it up on guitar. I think that I am the first to ever use the word "heinosity" in an album or song title.

07. Frozen By Fire (Sherinian / Cooley)

Rusty Cooley-  Guitar
Brian Tichy-  Drums
Rob Mules-  Bass

Somebody turned me on to Rusty Cooley about a year ago and my first impression was that he was an amazing player.  Rusty contacted me about six months ago about doing something together, Frozen By Fire is the result. I think that Rusty has the potential to be one of the big guitar names of the future. This was the last song written on the record.

08. The Lone Spaniard  (Sherinian)

Taka Minamono- Guitar
Tony Franklin- Fretless Bass
Tina Guo- Cello

The Lone Spaniard was an unfinished piece that was written during the Blood Of The Snake sessions. This piece was originally written for Yngwie to play the guitar part, but our schedules were not permitting this time around. Ladies and gentleman....introcucing Taka Minamino!! Besides his obvious blistering speed and precision, the thing that moves me the most about Taka's playing is his spot on bends and beautiful vibrato. This is rare for a player of any age, let alone a 23-year old.

09. So Far Gone  (Sherinian / Tichy / Wylde)

Zakk Wylde-  Vocals And Guitar
Tony Franklin- Fretless Bass
Tina Guo- Cello
Brian Tichy-  Drums

I get goosebumps everytime I hear this song. Brian and I wrote this in three days, and recorded the rhythm tracks on the fourth day. When Zakk recorded his tracks, he was going through a very dark period in his life and it bleeds through his performance, especially in the vocal track. The song was missing a vocal chorus, and Zakk started singing "So Far Gone, there's no return...So Far Gone, there's no return..."  It fit perfectly completing the epic. The combinaton of Tony Franklin on Fretless Bass and Tina Guo on Cello provide a haunting low end to the song that completed the arrangement perfectly. 

Did you spend a fair amount of time working on the record before heading over to record the album?
No, I do it all at the same time. I make all of my records at my home studio Beachwood Manor Studios. It is very nice to have a recording studio right at my house so I can work whenever I want to.

 


 

How much time did you spend in the studio?
This album took a little bit longer than normal to make because I had my daughter 2 years ago. I took sometime off to enjoy fatherhood. I normally take 18 months to make a record.

In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to Derek Sherinian?
That it is a good song! That is the only thing that is important.
 

Do you have any favorites on this album, songs that you think are somehow above the others?
I like all of the songs, or they wouldn’t be on there. I think the Trilogy is great, I think So Far Gone is really great.- I like it all.
 

With such a big fusion of styles in your music, are there any particular bands who’ve been a big influence in your song writing, metal or otherwise?

Van Halen, Ozzy, Led Zeppelin, Meshuggah, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck, Al DiMeola, Yngwie, and many others.
 

Have you received any feedback on the new album yet?

The feedback has been great from all over the world. Everyone is digging the heaviness of the record.
 

How do you feel about this album – are you satisfied with the outcome or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective? How are fans responding to it?
I am proud of the outcome. I don’t put out anything that I am not satisfied with. The fans that have heard ´Molecular Heinosity´ are calling this my best record.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing?

I am motivated by the people I write and play with on my records. That has a big impact on the way my record is going to sound. Also I take life in as it comes to me, and filter it back through my music.
 

How difficult is it these days to sound original?
I will always sound original, it couldn’t be any other way.
 

Tracking back a little bit, when you were just getting started out playing, you obviously put in quite a few hours honing your technique. What was your practice routine like, especially during that period and compared to now?
I used to practice all of the time when I was younger. Once I turned pro, I haven’t practiced as much.
 

 

What were the highlights and low points throughout your career up ‘till now?
The high points have been : Being hired by Alice Cooper in 1989 for my first major gig. Working with Simon Phillips on my solo record ‘Inertia’. Producing Yngwie and Al DiMeola on my solo recod ‘Black Utopia’. Playing a live gig with Edward Van Halen in 2006.


The lowest point was getting fired from Dream Theater on a conference call from the band.
A career in music is a constant rollercoaster ride. Anybody can be happy when things are riding high, it is how you deal with the lows what makes you who you are.

What is the ambition you still haven't fulfilled yet?

I would love to work with Jeff Beck one day soon.
 

Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?
I would have to say that the first Van Halen record in 1978 really inspired me more than anything I have ever heard.
 

Finally, where do you see yourself going in the coming years, or do you not think of the future too much?
I try to take things as they come and not think too much. I would love to start a progressive metal band with vocals and be able to tour with that.

Any last statement?
I hope everyone enjoys my new record. Make sure you turn it up loud!

 

Stay tuned at http://www.dereksherinian.com

Thanks for the interview!

 


Selected Discography:

Soloalbums :
Planet X (album) - 1999
Inertie - 2001
Black Utopia - 2003
Mythology - 2004
Blood of the Snake – 2006
Molecular Heinosity – 2009

Dream Theater :
A Change Of Seasons - 1995
Falling Into Infinity - 1997
Once In A LIVEtime – 1998

Planet X :
Universe - 2000
Live from Oz - 2002
MoonBabies - 2002
|
uantum – 2007

With other musicians :
KISS - Alive III - 1993
Alice Cooper - The Last Temptation - 1994

Alice Cooper - Classicks - 1995

Platypus - When Pus Comes to Shove - 1998

Platypus Ice Cycles - 2000

Jughead - Jughead - 2002

Yngwie Malmsteen - Attack!! - 2002

Billy Idol - Devil's Playground - 2005

Ayreon - 01011001 - 2008