Not content to rest on his laurels as the 'former' lead singer of Dream Theater, Charlie Dominici put together a killer band a few years back, titled it Dominici, and cranked out two sizzling prog-metal concept pieces titled O3-A Trilogy Parts 2 & 3, which were a continuation of a storyline begun in Part 1 that was actually an all acoustic release. If you haven't checked out these two monstrous epics, you are missing out on some serious progressive metal that is bound to be talked about for many years to come. Recently, Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo got in touch with Charlie Dominici to talk about the history of the band, the new CD, touring, and his relationship with his former band.
Sea of Tranquility: So, after being away from the limelight for quite a while, how does
it feel to be an active part of the progressive metal scene once again?
Charlie: It feels Great! I was like a fish out of water for a long time. I spent 5 years or so in NY after the split with DT just doing other jobs to survive, including the now famous "Portnoy wedding" gig. After that I was living in San Diego for another 5 years and making a lot of money in my finance manager job. I was driving a Mercedes Benz SL500 convertible and living in a house among all the rich folks in San Diego but I was totally miserable. I guess I was repressing my creative urges and impulses for so long and that can only go on for a while before the whole thing started to gush out of me
like a dam that has been cracking for years and finally breaks. I began to write the O3 story, which is really based on the events of the last 15 or 20 years and after the events of Sept 11th, it all began to take shape in my head.
SoT: Can you talk a little bit about the years in between leaving Dream Theater and eventually formulating the idea of putting together a new band?
Charlie: As I was just saying, I was burned out from being in the music business for
years before the "Dream Theater" Album release, with "Franke and the Knockouts" and other projects that always left me penniless and disappointed. I finally decided to use some of my many other abilities that actually make me money and try to live some kind of a life of prosperity. I was doing that for a little longer than even I would have expected. Contrary to popular belief, when Mike Portnoy called me and asked me to do the WDADRU 15 year anniversary reunion show, I was already getting back into music and had already started writing the Trilogy. Many people have said that they believe that the WDADRU show was the inspiration for my return to the music scene. The fact is that I was already shaping the Trilogy in my mind for a few years and that show served as a "punctuation" mark for me in that it reminded me how I was on the wrong track for too long. I needed to "get back to where I once belonged" (to quote Sir Paul McCartney). When I was announced by JLB and walked out on that stage,(to the utter surprise of the
DT fans), a little fat and very out of shape, I wasn't sure if the people were going to throw tomatoes at me and boo me off the stage! It was reassuring that they showed so much respect and appreciation and I really felt at home up there with that wireless microphone in my hand. In that way I guess you could say that the show did play a small part in my return, I have to admit. But as I said, I was already writing the new stuff and
planning my Trilogy.
SoT: How did you meet up/find the musicians in Dominici?
Charlie: Believe it or not, It was Mike Portnoy that suggested that I put an ad online with a DT fan site. The Italian Dreamers was the fan club he was referring to. I was reluctant at first because the last thing I wanted was a DT cover band. I did it anyway and was about to give up when I got a package from a band that was not a DT cover band at all. They were an original Prog-Rock band in need of a viable project and I was in need of a band so we got together and the rest is history.
SoT: The storyline behind O3 A Trilogy is quite complex and really requires the listener to read along. Can you give a quick synopsis of the saga for those readers who perhaps have yet to check out the trilogy?
Charlie: Honestly, it is way too complex to even give a quick synopsis that would do it
justice. Readers can read the lyrics for free on our website,www.dominici.com if they want to get the whole story. Just click the "lyrics" links on the left of the page and you can read through the lyrics of the entire 3 discs.
SoT: The band has managed to put together a few albums now that effectively mix intelligent lyrics, great metal & prog chops, and memorable melodies. How hard is it to put together tunes that are demanding enough from a musical perspective to please this audience, yet catchy & memorable enough to warrant repeated spins?
Charlie: Easy as pie! That's a joke, by the way. I would say it might be comparable
to the difficulties involved in building the international space station with a broken space shuttle and uncooperative weather conditions. I had every obstacle thrown in my path all the way through the making and writing/recording of all three parts of the Trilogy but I was a "Man on a mission" and was unstoppable. We overcame every obstacle in our path as we encountered it. I have to say that when I was finally finished with the final mix of part three it didn't actually hit me that the Trilogy was not only complete but was a creative success until a few weeks after listening to the final mixes.
SoT: Has the band done, or plan to do, any touring to support the album (s)?
Charlie: We did a mini tour in June of 2007 when we opened up for Dream Theater in
Europe on a few dates and also a few headline shows of our own that summer. As for any future tour plans we are in a "wait and see" mode right now. The New CD is only out for a few days and we are still a relatively unknown band. I am hoping but not planning. We are ready for anything, though as we proved last summer when we were put to the test one day. We were late for the show in Budapest and then our van broke down. I sent the equipment van ahead so we could at least have the backline set up while the rest of the
band struggled to get to the stage in time. To make a long story short, we pulled up with literally 2 minutes to go before the DT stage manager yanked our gear from the stage and cancelled our 30 minute performance. We ran from the car to the stage, plugged in and tore into a monster set just as if we were not the unshaven, street clothed unprepared band we actually were. We sounded like we were playing together for 20 years. I was really proud of the guys and I knew at that moment that this was a real band!
SoT: Would the band consider doing a live show where the entire concept
piece is played in its entirety?
Charlie: Not the entire concept. I think only a few songs from part one might be necessary to set up the show without putting the audience to sleep from too much acoustic "unplugged" music when they probably are more anxious to hear some in your face Prog-Metal that we are becoming known for now. The entire parts two and three can easily flow from there, I'm sure. It would turn out to be a little over two hours and we could always do something fresh for an encore. Maybe unleash some REALLY heavy stuff that no one has heard yet from our upcoming CD which we are planning now for recording at the end of 2008.
SoT: Your voice seems to be holding out just fine after all these years. Do you regularly do any vocal training, and how easy was it to just fall right back into this style of music?
Charlie: I have been a little more attentive to the preparatory rituals that I never did much of back in the WDADU days. I have to say that my very good friend James La Brie influenced me in this way. We were talking backstage a few times about the training, exercises and warm ups that he always does before a show or recording when I realized that I have been a lazy bastard all these years when it comes to that stuff. I have since been more cognizant of the benefits of a little more routine ritual attitude towards the
preparation for a performance and I'm sure that it shows more than a little in my recent vocal performances. It just goes to show that no one can be as great a singer as James is without a little hard work. I must thank him for that little wake-up call the next time I see him.
SoT: Do you keep up with the goings on in the Dream Theater camp, and do you follow some of the other popular acts on the scene, like Symphony X, Pain of Salvation, Pagan's Mind, Epica, etc?
Charlie: I have always been curious and interested in the works of Mike and the guys
over the years just as if it was my brother's band. Actually it really is like it was my brother's band because we have always had that kind of close relationship, JLB and Jordan Rudes included. As for the other bands you mentioned, I have really only been listening to them as of late because I was purposely not listening to other bands so as not to be too influenced by them in my writing. If anything sounds like any of them, I can assure you that it is purely coincidental. Also, I was so busy and wrapped up in my own
writing and recording of the Trilogy, traveling all the time, producing, mixing, doing the CD covers and all of the other things like interviews, etc. that I have literally had no time to sit back and afford myself the luxury of giving any of it the listen that I know now it all deserves. Lately I have been finding a little more time here and there and I have listened to more of the other guys stuff and it sounds amazing! I was particularly surprised to finally give a proper spin to "Ayreon" and found that while Arjen and I were both too busy to even listen to each others work, we were kind of tuned in to a similar wave length with the DNA stories and Space men stuff. That was a cool surprise.
SoT: Now that Dominici has finished up with the trilogy, what's next?
Charlie: We will make a TRULY PROG METAL MASTERPIECE!
Photos courtesy of www.dominici.com