Hi Chris. Before we get right up to date with your new project Rubicon Cross lets briefly cover some of your history. Our paths must have crossed when you were with Pride? But the Bailey’s were really knocked out when we saw Furyon live. Tell us how FURYON came about and how instrumental were you in the musical direction of the band?
Actually when I was in Pride we played a Firefest on the same bill as Bailey Brothers I think. Maybe it was when it was still Gods of AOR. Either way, I remember seeing you guy’s live, small world on that circuit man.
Actually it was my decision to fold Pride and change the name to FURYON. I’d slowly been writing heavier riffs and the more I wrote the more I realised that we’d just be kidding the fans if we released the material under the Pride banner. So I got the name FURYON from the ‘Chronicles of Riddick’ film and off we went in a new direction. I’m glad we did, we ended up playing some awesome shows with the new sound like Bloodstock, Hard Rock Hell, High Voltage. We’d have never done that as a Melodic Rock band.
The music of FURYON retains many catchy hooks but has a truck load of heavy riffs that give the band a fresh edge. Which bands on the scene influenced you to go in this direction as opposed to a more traditional rock & metal sound?
This may sound like bullshit but I promise you it’s the truth, I don’t really listen to music, i hate being too influenced by bands, there are obviously styles and bands that you subconsciously digest but I have a HUGE fear of ripping off music. So when I’m in writing mode, I religiously STOP listening to any other music, I’m really anal like that. The result is what you hear in FURYON, I love progressive music, I love playing fast melodic solos and I love heavy riffs. If anything, I just wrote music that I thought i myself would like. I guess it’s a pretty selfish way of looking at it....ha ha ha ...guitarists eh...
FURYON have had some decent live shows usually as support and created quite a buzz did the band have a game plan as far as touring and financing yourselves?
For the 1st 3 years of FURYON we were pretty lazy, in fact, I think as PRIDE, we may well have been the laziest band in the UK. Then, in 2007, I came off tour to find my girlfriend had run off with our Sound Guy and thrown me out my flat. It all changed there, well, there may have been a blackout drunk month that I can’t remember but when I came to I was ready to get serious. I practiced for hours and started formulating a plan. It went in this order, find a producer, find someone with money, make a killer album and get it in the public’s faces through any means. It worked, really quickly. Everything we did was off our own backs, no management companies, no agency, no label, no help at all. It showed me that if you focus, anything can be accomplished.
What sound were you trying to achieve as a band and do you feel it was accomplished?
I just wanted heavy riffs to bang your head to in a club, melodies and lyrics you could remember, and solos that i was proud of. So yea, i guess we accomplished that. We didn’t go out to change the world with a new sound; we just wanted to enjoy what we were playing.
How did you manage to get hooked up with Kip Winger and Scrap metal?
I have to admit, the majority of any success i may have had is down to 1 man, he’s now my best friend and we’ve been best men at each other’s weddings. His name is CJ Snare and he’s the singer in Firehouse. I remember we were sitting in IHOP just outside Milwaukee, I said to him “mate, get me a gig. There’s gotta be some work over here”, he picked up his phone and said, “Gunnar Nelson is looking for someone”..... BANG! That was it. Within months i was playing in Nelson and then asked if I wanted to be in this relatively new project he had put together called Scrap Metal, which is where i met KIP. I remember Kip thought I was crazy because I’d literally fly out to the states for 1 show and then fly back the following morning. It was worth it and that spawned an entirely new start to my career.
Kip recommended producer Rick Beato (Shinedown etc) who recorded your debut album Gravitas how did you find that whole experience?
Funny enough, the way that happened is that producer Beau Hill (He produced the early Winger stuff) had approached our singer Matt Mitchell about working with Furyon. Personally, I wanted more info on the guy so I called Kip while I was in Atlanta. I can’t say what was said in that conversation but it was enough for me to want to look elsewhere for a producer. When Kip asked “why would you want to work with Beau anyway”, I said “i want that modern Shinedown Sound”.......He answered “why didn’t you say, i know the guy that produced their platinum selling album”. 10 minutes later I’m on the phone to Rick Beato, and in a bizarre twist of fate, he was literally 10 miles from where I was calling him from. Stone Mountain, Atlanta. It was freaky, he loved the demos, loved the British vibe, loved the guitar leads (he’s an EXTREMELY accomplished player). We talked direction, co-writing, expectations etc.. Then we talked Price...now this guy produced Vince Neil, Shinedown, Fozzy, Need to Breathe, I mean these are heavyweight major label bands with millions of records under their belt. I consider what we paid for that album to be a gift all things considered. He even turned down an extremely well known band to record us instead (can’t mention their name but when their record eventually came out it was fucking awful so it was a good call on his part I think) we were over the moon. When I said “how the fuck do i find that kind of money” his answer was not only simple, it made perfect sense, and I’d like any bands out there in an unsigned situation to pay heed to this advice. “If you truly believe that millions of people will believe in your music, don’t tell me you can’t find just one person with money who’ll back your belief in the band”. He was right, in 7 days I secured finances for the album, and that summer we flew to The States for a couple of months to record GRAVITAS. It was absolutely everything that a band could dream how recording an album would be. I still pinch myself at the entire experience. Sorry that was such a long story, but it was necessary.
FURYON added Pat (the shred) Heath to the line up. What was the thinking behind a twin lead guitar band?
Actually, Matt and I were sitting by a pool in Atlanta digesting Beato’s advice on making the band a two guitar thing. It was a rhythm player that we wanted; we even advertised online while by the pool and had a huge amount of people reply. Pat didn’t even see the advert, he simply said to Matt “if you don’t give me a shot at the job, I’ll kick you’re fucking head in”...ha ha ha, it still makes me laugh now as I’m sitting by that exact poolside right now. We’d worked together in bands since we were 18 so it just made sense. BUT, the job WAS for a rhythm player, but I couldn’t in my right mind allow a guitar player of Pat’s ability to only play rhythm. So I gave him a few solo’s and arranged for it to become more of a 2 guitar outfit. I still think that the ‘guitar battles’ that we did onstage were some of the most entertaining things I’ve been a part of. We had to knock them on the head in the end as they started ‘taking over’ the show a bit. But it was great fun while it lasted, I think a couple of them are still on You Tube, check them out.
Have you managed to get a label interested in signing FURYON?
We’ve had many labels interested, but being signed isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be. It isn’t the dream that people believe it to be at all, in fact, i could tell you some absolute horror stories even up to current times how labels have been the result of great bands being worse off signed than if they’d just self released it . We had a clear idea of what we wanted from a deal, we owned the rights to the album, that scared the labels, it meant their bartering power (namely their bank that’d usually supply the funds to record) was gone. So we turned deals down, a few actually, it’s been a hard process, but when you put everything you have into something, you want at least for the label to share your enthusiasm and vision. We’re talking to some now that i think we’ll work with. It’s all good.
What has been the highlights so far being in FURYON?
I’ve played in front of thousands of people with my mates who i consider my brothers. It’s made me a better player and a better person. If that’s not a Highlight in itself i don’t know what is. OK, specifics........ Trading licks with Reb Beach backstage on the Winger tour....:)
You hurt yourself in a Motorcycle accident. How are you now?
Arggghh, i wish i could say it was as dramatic as a MOTOR bike accident. Actually it was a mountain bike. Yea i shattered my jaw and ended up with two titanium plates holding it together. I’m still on soft foods now actually. It happened just 4 days before the FURYON UK summer tour was scheduled to start, I was gutted. I missed the whole thing and watched as they went out as a 4 piece. They did REALLY well actually, Very proud of them for that. I did go against the doctor’s advice and played the homecoming show in Brighton, and then HIGH VOLTAGE festival in London. It hurt, but I just grit my teeth and gave it all i had. Actually, they turned out to be 2 of the best shows I’d ever played.
What are the future plans for FURYON?
I live in Chicago now so it’s a little more complicated. But right now, we have a 2nd video waiting to be released for the single ‘Don’t Follow’ (I think it’s better than the 1st video personally), another tour in October to back that release up, and some great press backing which we can’t talk about right now. Main thing is, we’re writing a 2nd album already, even though we haven’t signed the 1st album yet, we want to maintain a good work ethic.
Let’s get onto your new project Rubicon Cross, again very kick ass guitar riffs, plenty of classy clean guitar, some cool shredding and pretty cool vocals from Firehouse vocalist C.J Snare. It’s a good EP so why did you feel the need to do this album and not concentrate on new material for FURYON?
This ‘side project’ actually came about in 2006 I think, PRIDE went on tour with Firehouse and that’s where I met CJ. Since then we had to overcome 4000 miles between us, divorces, marriages, breakups, babies, band commitments. It was hard to get off the ground. Finally, the time was right, we found a perfect window in our schedules and we just hammered the tracks out for the EP, actually RICK BEATO mixed them for us. The reason it took precedence over new FURYON material is that in my mind the 2 styles were too close for me to differentiate. If I wrote a great RUBICON riff, it could just as easily be a great FURYON riff. I mean CJ and Matt are completely different singers, but when I write riffs (VERY different process from when I’m writing a complete song) I don’t discriminate against the vocal style; I just dig in a chunk away. I wanted to create a vibe without the worry that I was treading on FURYON’s toes. And by doing that, I think me and CJ really found our sound.
Are you looking at doing a full album together or will you test the market and reaction with this project?
CJ and I have a very clear idea on how we want Rubicon Cross to develop. Yes we intentionally released an EP to see how the public would receive it. We were really shocked with the response. The amount of physical sales and downloads shifted faster than we ever thought it would. So now we’ve blocking time to record the rest of the album. Actually it should be next month we start recording.
Have you any more songs in the can for an album?
I can’t even explain how many songs we have, but every time we get together to write another one comes along and we get in the trap of “that’s the best one yet, scrap the other one we’ll go with this”. The material we’ve written in the last 2 months is without doubt the most Rock n Roll stuff I’ve ever written. We’ve now set out some recording time and in a few weeks I’ll head to CJ’s studio to record the rest of the tracks that will make up the album. It helps that CJ’s in Milwaukee, only an hour and a half from my place in Chicago.
Will you put a band round this project and do some live shows?
Yes, I mean it’s not the priority right now, but both me and CJ are so fired up about this material, it’d be a tragedy if we didn’t get a full band together to play it. We’ve done some shows as a duo, not just acoustic but by using an I pad we run backing tracks (Drums, Bass etc) which are from the actual EP audio. The result was the sound of an entire band but only 2 people standing on stage, it shocked a few people. We did a hand full of those shows and they’ve been awesome. I can only imagine when we add another 3 musicians on stage; it’ll be a show to be reckoned with. I really feel we’re both at the top of our game right now so it would be a high octane, high energy rock n roll show.
Even though you are a shred guitar player you seem to understand that there’s a right place to go wild and a time to let the song breathe, do you ever listen back to a song you have played on and think ” I went on a bit too long with that guitar solo...”?
Are you kidding me, you’re talking to the guy that’s written entire songs around solos....ha ha ha. Seriously though, i like to think that i play for the song. The biggest compliment I’ve received from people is that they can tell it’s my guitar playing just by hearing it. That’s what I’ve always strived for. I think it’s what every guitarist strives for. There’s a lot of ‘Over players’ out there, and that’s fine if they want to do that, there’ll always be a crowd for guitar players that leave every single trick they have on the record. Personally, i always like the feeling that I’ll do my fastest chop on the next song or I’ll save that lick for that heavier track. It keeps me grounded to the song itself and keeps me in check I think. Actually I’ve been considering gonna doing a solo album, just instrumental, I reckon I’ll let loose a little more on that.
What guitar players inspired you to play and what did you learn from them?
There’s a lot of players that I think people would say are obvious ones, like Petrucci and Gilbert (both who I met this month.... AWESOME), those two especially taught me discipline and dynamics. But then there were the players that i felt truly inspired me, relatively unknown players to most people. Vito Bratta is probably the main one; he wrote solos that were ‘songs within songs’. Then there’s Eric Johnson, Andy Timmons (who i think is the most underrated player on the planet), Marty Friedman and Jason Becker who I think are most responsible for my arpeggio work. I may have forgotten some, but those players inspired me the most. I’ll remember another one in 5 minutes and freak out that i didn’t mention them........bollocks...John Sykes, K Marcello, Adrian Vandenberg, Pete lesperance..... I have to stop now.
What other artiste have you played with that we may know of?
Well, I’ll class this as the ones that I’ve actually played with on stage as part of the band and not the ones I’ve been ‘On Tour with’. Firehouse,, Winger, Nelson, Mark Slaughter, Jeff Scott Soto, Jimi Jameson, Eric Martin, Danny Vaughn. If I named the ones I’d hung out with, got hammered with or thrown up with, it’d get a lot more interesting. But that’s another story.
How did you and C.J first hook up and decide to write together?
I can clearly remember the night. We were playing a show with Firehouse in Madrid, Spain. The way the PRIDE set had worked that night was that half way during the set, Matt played a couple of acoustic tracks while the rest of the band walked off stage (generally to consume large amounts of beer before heading back on), While I was backstage drinking a beer, A friend of ours ‘Kieran Dargan’ (who you probably know as the founder of FIREFEST) introduced me to CJ and the rest of the band. We hit it off really quickly, I mean CJ is an honorary Brit to all intensive purposes, his sense of humour is every bit as dry as mine and he drinks like a fish. So anyway, I went back on stage and unbeknown to me, Kieran had told CJ to ‘Check out my solo in Still Raining’ which was our epic track with a huge solo section that demands a mountain to stand on while lightning bolts strike around..... Ok I get carried away. So he checked it out, luckily I didn’t mess it up that night. He came up to me straight after we finished and said “I’ve been thinking about doing a solo album, you’re the guy to play it”, I was like “SURE!!!!” That was it, that’s how it happened. He was actually going through a messy divorce at that point so over the next 2 or 3 months he came over multiple times and crashed while we wrote new tunes and tried to get our sound. The track ‘Moving On’ which is the 1st track on the EP was the 1st thing we came up with. Once we wrote that, we both knew that something special was going to come of it. I just can’t wait everyone to hear the whole album. There’s not filler on there, 100% high energy rock n roll, just how it should be.
Well what we have heard so far from you guys is pretty kick ass and we are looking forward to hearing the full album .Thanks for the interview Chris and the photos and looking forward to catching up with you again in the near future. Send our regards to CJ and the FURYON guys.
Take care Bailey Brothers,, thanks for the support and thanks to all the listeners out there. Please feel free to check out RUBICON CROSS at www.rubiconcross.net and hope to see you all on the road soon.