What specific forces facilitated the creation of Seconds Before Landing?
I had just finished up a project that I had created, called “Mister C’s Beginning Drums. I, of course being Mister C.
I love what I do so much, I wanted to be able to share some of my enthusiasm with kids. I created an audio book, and also a Cd Rom, that went over wonderfully.
Once I finished with that, my plan was to go back into my studio and begin writing music for a new album.
I wrote a few tracks, and they sounded really good, but I wasn’t satisfied with the direction they were headed.
Every night I would go home, listen to the tracks and say to myself, “this isn’t me anymore”. I have more to say now, and these songs are simply not saying it.
After some soul searching, I decided to write an albums worth of material that only mattered to me.
An album that said everything that was on my mind, and that created the ambience and the sounds that were in my head.
The Great Deception is the result.
How does a track move from initial thought to finished effort?
Keeping in mind, I write completely alone, I spent about 2 years in the studio working 6 days a week.
I began experimenting with sounds, loops, midi keys, you name it.
I tapped on pots and pans, used wind chimes from the backyard….anything I could get my hands on, I recorded and then manipulated the sounds to suit me.
As i did that, my vision on what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it became clearer and clearer.
I was beginning to reinvent myself, from a drummer/percussionist, to a composer.
Once I was comfortable, the next step was me creating and recording all of the principal tracks by myself….After that, I reached out to some wonderful musician friends of mine, who fortunately said yes when I asked them to contribute.
Once their parts were added, I had a nice conversation with Andy Jackson from Pink Floyd fame. I explained to him my ideas and direction I was heading, and he agreed to master it for me.
I sent all of the files overseas, and after 3 tries, “we” (Andy and I) decided it was ready for release.
I was truly blessed to have some of the finest talent on the planet involved with me on this project.
What artists and styles most influence the band’s overall sound?
Well, reviewers/critics have said that this album has elements of Pink Floyd, a touch of King Crimson, and maybe a few others.
If possible, I both agree, AND disagree with that……
Which musicians (living or deceased) would you most like to play with?
Well, keeping in mind that I am a drummer, as a kid, I was hugely influenced by Carmine Appice, and Tim Bogert when they played together in their band Cactus.
Fortunately I have been able to tell personally them both how I would sit on the floor in front of my parents big box stereo that had a single 15 inch speaker, and blast One Way Or Another, over and over and over again.
It’s interesting how life works too…….. Years later, Carmine is sitting at my Mom and Dads kitchen table, having breakfast and listening to me ramble about how much I loved him and Tim.
It was one of the greatest moments of my life, and I truly owe it all to Carmines late mom Mary for helping make that happen.
Thankfully for Tim, when I was able to tell him of his influence, I toned it down a bit 🙂
To really answer your question correctly though, I would have LOVED to play with the original “Funk Brothers”. Although I am a so called progressive rock guy, my heart truly lies with all of the old music of Motown, Stax, Chess, and the like.
In my opinion, they created the best “groove” music ever.
And, had I been able to, I would have loved to sit beside the late great Joe Morello, just hoping that a speck of his greatness would have somehow attached itself to me.
Listen, there are MANY others who I would love to play with, but the list would be too long for here.
For those that do not know SBL, which one track would you have a potential fan listen to? What does that song say about the band?
Boy, thats a tough one.
I am going to choose “Solitary Man”, and here is why.
When I wrote this one, I became so lost in this character, that I frightened myself a little bit.
I felt the loneliness, the despair, and the complete isolation of this guy.
I keep the studio dark when I am working. Too dark some say.
For x amount of moments, i “was” this guy, and it was very hard to resume my day after going that deep inside this character.
And then, when Steve Schuffert added his lead guitar, it really was a moment for me.
Tell us more about the recording process for The Great Deception. How long did it take to completely lay down the album, and how was the dynamic between the members of the band?
Well, my process goes something like this.
I get to the studio by about 11 a.m. each day. I turn all the equipment on, and just sit there for a few minutes gathering my thoughts.
Then, I say a prayer and begin.
I have an idea where I am heading most of the time, but if I am working on music, and a lyric pops into my head, I immediately stop what I am doing and write it down.
That lyric may change the entire tone and tenor of the day for me. Without sounding too “hippie-ish, I am all about going with the flow of things.
Once I create all my parts, I usually lay down a scratch vocal, and then present it to whomever I am going to have play on it with me.
All of the guys I have are so talented in their own right, after just talking a bit, they understand what I am looking for, and their parts(s) are then recorded.
Once all of the music is recorded and in place, I go back and re record my vocal track, and then after that, I begin the mixdown process.
If something needs added, its added. If something needs subtracted, its subtracted.
Once I get it “close” I send it to Andy. He works his magic, and then sends it back to me to listen to.
Its at that point, all of the “tweaking” begins. More reverb on guitar, turn the bass up a bit, etc etc.
I have learned a ton from Andy just by him being patient with me. I am very appreciative.
What are your most memorable experiences as a band, either live or in the studio?
I would say having Trey Gunn from King Crimson, and Tim Bogert from Beck Bogert & Appice, Cactus etc, say “yes” when I asked them to play on this album with us.
Inside I am still a 12 year old boy. I am huge fan of both of these guys, and having them play on music that I have written….having them help shape the sound and direction on a specific track has been very gratifying for me.
Also, i really feel the need to thank my core group of players here as well.
Maurice Witkowski who plays Acoustic Guitar & Rhythm Guitar on the tracks, as well as Lead Guitar on “They’re All Around You”
Steve Schuffert, who plays all of the remaining Lead Guitar parts.
J.D. Garrison, one of the baddest bass players on the planet.
And last but certainly not least, my 2 amazingly talented background vocalists, Vanessa Campagna, and Carrie Marie Jackson.
Working with these people has been a very memorable experience for me, and I would publicly like to thank them all !
What does Seconds Before Landing contribute to music? How is the music on The Great Deception substantively different from other progressive rock?
Another interesting question….
Of course, I hope Seconds Before Landing has created something that the listener will enjoy sonically.
i “highly” recommend listening to this album with a headset on, to experience it the way it is meant to be experienced.
More importantly for me though, I hope that the subject matter and overall theme of this album makes people “think”.
We are living in troubled times. Volatile times. And I do not just mean here in America. I mean worldwide.
You may be surprised how many emails I receive daily now, people telling me how I have said what was in their hearts.
How the music has touched them in some way.
Not just in the states here either…… Russia by far has embraced this album right away.
Places like China, Brazil, Japan, and on and on, have reached out to me by the hundreds, telling me that they understand my message.
I spent a long time alone writing this material. Truth be told, sometimes you ask yourself at various points, “will people get this” ? “Will they understand what I am trying to get across here” ?
Thank God for the musicians I worked with on this project. I could always call them and vent.
Each one always gave me the nudge of support I needed at that time, and I cant thank them enough.
Also, DaraD, Riaan, Boz, Bill Harding, and Patty……. The project would have never made it to this stage without your support, and I thank you as well.
Thats what we contributed here….. A body of work that tells a story, and sounds sonically great.
What does the rest of 2013 hold for you, and how can readers connect with your band and your music?
Right now, a conceptual video is being made for the track “Welcome, To The Future”.
I received and approved the treatment about a week ago, so production is just beginning.
I’m very excited about presenting the music this way. Assault the senses !!
I am already writing for the 2nd Seconds Before Landing album. It takes me a long time to do it, and do it correctly, so I figured I better get right back to work.’
There are no plans to tour this first album. The production would be so big, and costs so high, that it just isn’t the right thing for us to do right now.
The road is in our future, but not till after album 2.
For people who would like to connect with us now, we have a variety of ways….
We truly appreciate all of the support that has been shown for this album early on. Thank You !!! John Crispino.