Elevenses Special With Rising Progressive duo: PROJECT 8105!

In an Elevenses Special, we catch up with UK Prog duo Project 8105...

"Project 8105" are a Progressive Metal/Pop/Rock/Jazz outfit comprising of 2 members - Lucky Singh (28) & Kevin Bartlett (31) both hailing from the UK (Telford/Shropshire). Having worked together for since 2003 on numerous projects they have hit the Music scene with there epic debut which contains musicianship that steps deep into Dream Theatre like territory.

Guitarist/Songwriter Lucky Singh also entered "Guitar Idol 2008" with his entry peice "Sorrow" which gained him a seat up amongst the honourable mentions (Best Of The Rest) www.guitar-idol.co.uk/sorrow. Lucky is also set to release his 10 track Instrumental debut album within the next couple of months which also features Kevin on Drums, alongside a 12 track commercial pop/rock based self titled album with their outfit "Tokyo Rules" If your a fan of music catering for all genres best keep a close eye on these guys.

So what’s your drink of choice at 11am in the morning guys?

Lucky (L): Jeez what a way to start an interview hehe....Would have to be a strong black Kenco (no sugar). Has to be the only way to be sure to kick start any day, (what were you expecting something alcoholic?) Lol....

Kev (K): A Good Cuppa Tea or Fresh Orange and Pinapple Juice.

Do you both play guitar and who are your main influences?

L: I’ve been playing Guitar for a good 16 years now, im completely self taught unless you count putting on records and learning from the best as private lessons?
If you ever saw the Guitar Legends Expo 92 show well that was what made me pick up the guitar, you can count any one of those guys as an influence to me but mainly Satriani & Vai when i first started out. Ive listened to a lot of music over the years but im playing the new PG album a lot these days along side Satchafunkilus of course ;-)
Oh... I did enter into Guitar Idol 08 too ya know lol... made the best of the rest which I was happy about. www.guitar-idol.co.uk/sorrow

K: I do play guitar, but have no real technical ability with it. I own a Schecter with EMG Pickups (and I really don’t know much else about it lol….drummers eh) which I’ve recently been using to write a selection of songs for a solo project. Musically it’s kind of Tool (odd time signatures) meets Killswitch Engage (heaviness). But it’s something I do in my spare time and not really of any importance in the whole scheme of things…..Oh and I’ve also written some vomit inducing balladry too.

As for Guitarists that influence me mmmmmmm…. I don’t really know – I know loads that I wish I could play like. Here are my top 7 players: John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, Steve Vai, Alan Holdsworth, Alex Lifesson, Satch and John McClaughlin from Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Project 8105 is a huge project to have taken on - tell us all about the Project 8105 album?

L: Well............
Because of it being a concept album we firtstly drew up an overview of the script along side a track running order including the emotions & themes that were to be contained within each song.
After taking the completed overview away and mentally digesting the content i imagined myself being directly invovled in the script as if i were the main character in that paticular scene (almost like an actor would get into character in a sense), then i just used my guitar as the tool to evoke my emotions in a musical context. It would sometimes be a fairly frustrating process but it was most definatley an exciting and fairly new approach for me apart from a few previous soundtrack compostitions i had worked on for people.
After recording demos of the basic guitars for the album Kev threw his Electric kit over my fence (since we live nextdoor to one another lol) and we recorded demos of the drum tracks. Now having a basic demo of the album recorded on my portastudio (Zoom MRS1266) i worked away for a month at recording demos for pretty much all the other instruments/vocals/samples you hear on the final CD including 2 songs that didnt make it. After that we sat back and listened to how the music worked along side the concept itself, there were a few amendments to make here and there but it all worked together quiete well!
All the demos were recorded without a click track we later tempo mapped the click using the demo versions to obtain the natural feel we had captured originally, so if the track would slow down by a couple bpm towards the middle of the track and then speed up by 9/10 bpm towards the end of the track the click would change pace accordingly. We wanted to have the option of editing to a time grid but mantaining a natural feel to avoid things sounding almost machine like and over quantized, i suppose more than anything the purpose of the click track was just a more efficient way for us to extend or decrease the length of sections in production stages.
Everything was then re-recorded with the programmed click track, Kev Recording his live drums in a local studio (A kit big enough to step into Portnoy Territory lol) in addition to that Kev Recorded his electric kit and Marching Snare drum parts at home.

K: Yeah, it was a large set up lol. I did experiment for the jazzier tracks with a smaller kit and coated heads, then changed heads to pinstripes and grew the size of the kit to around 15 drums (including Tymp Toms) and 23 cymbals for the heavy songs. I also used chimes and a Roland TD8 for different sections of the album to reflect parts of the concept.

L: All the guitars, bass, vocals, keyboards & samples guest appearances where recorded at my home studio, the Narration was recorded by a very close friend of mine Malcolm (www.scarecrowmoon.com) Using my little Zoom H2 Handy Recorder (awesome bit of kit) we sat out at our local town park for the day and thats why you can hear some natural park ambience alongside Mals strong Narrative. I originally wanted a "Devin Townsend" Type vocalist for the shouted lyrical content but couldnt find anyone and sure as hell couldnt pull it off myself, we had recorded a local band for a couple friends of ours using our mobile studio one of the friends being the singer Garf (www.myspace.com/wermonline) i really liked his vocal style so asked if he would jump on board and he gladly said yes. My good friend and Guitar Tech Damien (www.myspace.com/wermonline) helped me out a lot during recording, i had borrowed atleast 4/5 of his custom build guitars and a couple of his Fenders to record some of the parts in addition to using my 12 year old Ibanez JS100 (with upgraded spec using JS1000 hardware and electrics) Damien also features on the album playing lapsteel parts. All Fretless Bass was played by my big bro "H" (www.myspace.com/hsinghmusic) one of the best 6 string guitarists ive ever heard but decided to pick up fretless bass a few years ago after hearing the mighty Jaco, we are so happy these 4 graced the album with their talents.

Over the course of 3 years we have come to the point where we can both put hand on heart and say it was all well worth it, as hard as it was to find time around fulltime jobs and additional projects we certainly have an album to feel proud of.

L: My Favourite Songs: I love playing all of them but stand out tracks for me to listen back to would have to be Jakes Luv Note - one of the more commercial mainstream style of the tracks and most vocally challenging for me to record.
Piric War - Just because its one of the more obscure tracks that doesnt really have a style but is packed with emotion from the laid back drum groove to my brothers awesome Fretless Bass parts, THANKS BIG BRO!! Revealed (Through The Shadows Of Darkness) - Well its just full on from start to finish which is always a good thing hehe!!!

K: My Favourite Songs: I think from a playing perspective the more challenging tracks such as Lies Within The Dream – mad double bass in seven! Dictator/Conflict – Light and shade in this with a Gadd influenced section. Revealed (Through The Shadows Of Darkness) – As Lucky’s mentioned full on from the get go! From a listening point of view I love all the tracks and am very proud of the album.

Would it be fair to say that Dream Theater’s ‘Scenes From A Memory’ and Jeff Wayne’s ‘War Of The Worlds’ have had a big impact on your own music and vision?

L: It's a strange one this.......
So many people have said after listening to "Project 8105" they had noticed a similarity with those 2 albums but then you could throw in Queensryche "Operation Mind Crime" or Pink Floyd "Dark Side Of The Moon" which in fact was what i had playing on the cd player before myself and Kev actually decided to make the album a concept piece. Either way a comparison to those iconic classics is a good thing and i for one definitely wont argue with that.

It was also around the time of the 7/7 London Bombings and myself and Kev actually sat watching the news reports together that day, it was a real shock to this country and that shock factor just stirred up some of the reality based themes behind project 8105's concept.

K: Actually despite the fact that Dream Theater Drummer Mike Portnoy is one of my biggest influences playing-wise, when we came up with the concept for Project 8105 we weren’t really thinking about Scenes. Dark side of the Moon was playing and we were sitting in Lucky’s living room listening to news reports about the London bombings and suddenly we had an idea for a movie/concept. Now our biggest influences for this project probably came more from Film and literature rather than from music – we are both huge Steven King and George Romero fans and we wanted to combine the horrors of what was happening in the real world (terrorism/bombings and wars) with the horror of an apocalyptic supernatural twist. So we divided the album up in to two acts the reality section and the supernatural second half.

I guess the War of Worlds comparison can be made as the music is really the soundtrack to a film, but again we weren’t really thinking about it when we came up with the idea. Also Project 8105 differs from WOTW in that we have written the “screenplay” for the film ourselves whereas War of the Worlds was based on an existing novel and film by HG Wells.

In addition to the Music and Narration contained on the CD the story is filled out with a comic book (which is currently being self produced) which effectively storyboards the entire album. So the entire concept for the album was always Spoken word, music and art to give it a fully 3 dimensional package.

Who is the voice behind the dominant narrative on Project 8105?

L: Malcolm is a very good friend of mine, he’s a writer from the Shropshire area you can see his work at www.scarecrowmoon.com I've been working for our local Music Store (www.musicbros.co.uk) for 7/8 months now and Mal comes in pretty much everyday to chat music and other topics of great interest, not only does Mal own a distinctively recognizable voice but with his age comes years of wisdom too and his knowledge about near enough anything and everything is beyond anyone I’ve ever met.
Mal most certainly is blessed with a voice you could just sit and listen to all day, i honestly feel we couldn’t have found a better person to have asked he’s done an amazing job!

Have you had any luck with the labels yet and how have you gone about promoting such a complex work?
Are you going to perform this album live and if so, how?

L: To be signed to a label was never really our intention, but as far as there being interest from the general public that is without doubt our true aim here. We just wanted to do something that people would find interesting and that was for us as musicians both ambitious and exciting at the same time. That’s not to say that if a label were interested we would say no, the potential for this project growing with investment would be amazing and the help gaining exposure to a wider market both in the music and movie industry is exactly what we need.

To take this thing on the road would be a dream come true but to pull it off and to do it justice will take more than just our time and belief, we would need some real backing to get the visual side to this show up to scratch allowing us to pay fulltime animators to create in theory an animated movie for the concept as our backdrop to the live shows and also pay musicians a fulltime wage to rehearse the material. A lot to ask i know but I’ve always lived by the principles that you should never settle for producing something half done, you have to use the full ingredients to gain the benefits from the whole recipe!

K: We’re going to promote the album, through various online means (our Myspace page (www.myspace.com/project8105) and by doing a few live shows. The artwork for the album will also be playing a major part in the marketing as a full comic book is in the works!!!! Project 8105 is very involved and if picked up by a label could be marketed in so many different ways given the media crossovers that we’ve introduced within the concept.

L: As with question 6, we would need some real backing to produce the visual aspect of the show but we have considered using a backing track and going out as a duo providing the audience has heard the full album and is clear on what’s happening within the concept. Saying that i think that people could still enjoy the show regardless but i suppose it helps in getting the full picture knowing the story and plotlines etc alongside the music without the visuals.

Is Project 8105 your sole project at present?

L: I’m currently working on some new material, it’s away from Project 8105 but involves myself and Kev alongside additional band members, we figure its best to break things up and work on something more mainstream in between working on the follow up to the Project 8105 concept album. Although i have already started getting to work on some of the demos for Project 8105 Pt2....
I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued by the Japanese culture so have been working on music for a j-pop (Japanese pop) style album self titled "Tokyo Rules" I wrote all 12 songs in around 2 weeks so that should give you an idea of how straight forward these tracks are, there are some heavier rockier numbers in there too. It is a kind of mini concept album with a few stories scattered around the whole album that do tie in to each other for the finale a-la "Pulp Fiction".

Who would be in your dream line-up – past or present?

Vocals: James Brown
Keyboards: Bernie Worell
Drums: Billy Cobham
Guitar 1: Jimi Hendrix
Guitar 2: Nels Cline or Myself (it would be a blast) lol........
Bass Guitar: Les Claypool

I know it sounds far out but could you imagine,

Vocals: David Drayman or Maynard James Keenan
Keyboards: Jordan Rudess
Drums: Mike Mangini, Mike Portnoy or Neil Peart
Guitar 1: Alan Holdsworth
Guitar 2: Steve Vai
Bass Guitar: Les Claypool

Who’s music do you prefer and why - Metallica or Megadeth?

L: I was never a huge fan of either but recently got into a bit of Megadeth through Kev i would say i like them both equally but if i had to choose one it would probably be Megadeth because of the more progessive metal side of what they do but hey... Who am i to say whose better, though Metallica do Rock too!!!

K: Megadeth now (although I always loved both bands equally)!
Since And Justice for all…. Metallica haven’t struck the right notes with me. I know that I’m being controversial (and I hope that I haven’t offended anyone with my opinion) as the Black album was hugely successful and contains some amazing tracks, but personally I prefer the old Metallica sound of the early 80’s Ride the Lightening, Puppets, Justice – all greats!

So what’s your drink of choice at 11pm in the evening?

K: Well…. ***** and lemonade usually!

L: Thats more like it lol... Bring on the Red, i do like my red wine preferably italian. No other drink can chill you out and get you in the mood for a night of composing music via candle light, or get you and your lady friend in the mood for a relaxing evening via candle light if you get my drift lol....

Just want to say a big thanks to all the folk at All Out Guitar for taking the time to listen to the album, keep up the great work there guys ROCK ON!!!

Peace & Love ;-)

Lucky & Kev

Visit Project 8105 - www.myspace.com/project8105

Visit Lucky - www.myspace.com/luckysinghmusic

Visit Kev - www.myspace.com/kevinbartlettdrummer

Visit 'H' - www.myspace.com/hsinghmusic

Visit Garf & Damien - www.myspace.com/wermonline

Visit Malcolm - www.scarecrowmoon.com

Buy your music gear here - www.musicbros.co.uk