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InterviewsJames Williams Talks About His Band X Opus and New CD 'The Epiphany'

Posted on Saturday, June 11 2011 @ 09:39:25 CDT by Pete Pardo
Progressive Metal

With their debut CD The Epiphany out now on Magna Carta Records, progressive metal act X Opus are out to take the world by storm. Band leader, mastermind, and guitar stud James Williams talked to Sea of Tranquility's Simon Bray about the exciting new CD, his career in music, influences, and various other topics.

SoT: Congratulations on the album. We really like it at Sea of Tranquillity. What are the reviews like elsewhere?

James: First I would like to say thank you for the congrats and digging the music and wanting to interview me.Yes the reviews I have read are good so far and I'm pleased that the critics give it a high rating.

SoT: Do good reviews help to translate into sales?

James: I sure hope so- have you read some bad ones? (laughs)

SoT: How did your deal with Magna Carta Records come about?

James: Well after I recorded the album and started shopping for a deal,I had sent out a lot of press kits.I had 4 or 5 good offers,but I wasn't sure which one to sign with.I had sent Mike Varney, owner of Shrapnel Records, a demo in the 90s and he listend to it and put me in his spotlight column in Guitar Player Mag.When I was praying and seeking the right decision a voice said "send a press kit to Mike Varney". I was nah, he doesn't do Prog Metal Symphony X type stuff.The voice said send it to him.So I went to Shrapnel Label Group web page and emailed him to check out X OPUS BAND on My Space and he did.He sent me back an email asking me to send him a press kit so I sent it.Within 2 weeks or so he called me and said I'm the vice president of Magna Carta and would like to give you record deal.I was like that would be so cool, anything with Mikes name on it carries weight he discovered all the best shred guitar players from Yngwie Malmsteen to Greg Howe.I felt really like it was a family type label and I think I made the right choice with Magna Carta Records.

SoT: How would you describe The Epiphany?

James: Well the definition of The Epiphany is a divine revelation from God a sudden understanding or awakening.All the music means something,like good against evil,mans sinful nature.The crying out to God to save you when your passing on and going to Hell.Each song tells a story, it is very scary sounding at times with a mix of classical,very dark sounding like Alfred Hitchcock movie or any good Horror movie sound track...(laughs). It has elements of Jazz fusion,Hendrix vibe a few times and some fast bluesy guitar solos.However their is more emphasis on classical style guitar with Symphony X type of composing.I have a few more commercial prog metal songs but they have killer hooks and still good guitar shred solos....(laughs) No selling out from me!

SoT: Realistically, how do you see X Opus panning out in the long term?

James: Remembered for some of the best progressive metal of 2000s and hopefully one of the top 100 metal albums of all time.Thats highly unlikely with so much great music allready recorded.Only time will tell how my music will be remembered,hopefully there is more there than just Prog Metal compositions, with guitar,keyboard and killer vocals.I hope there is an eternal message for all of hope in redemption from God.Like my song Forsaken { Requiem of The Forsaken } or the good overpowering evil in Angels of War.The song On Top Of The World, about never giving up in life no matter what people say about you or what you face.

SoT: Myself and Peter Pardo played "spot the influences," in our reviews. We noted Queensryche and Symphony X amongst others. Were we correct and who are your main influences?

James: Actually as far as prog Metal its Symphony X{Micheal Romeo},Yngwie Malmsteen,Adagio,Nocturnal Rites and a little Pagans Mind.As far as my guitar influences, it was Hendrix first,then Robin Trower,Frank Marino,Al Di Meola,Gary Moore,Yngwie Malmsteen,Jeff Beck,Larry Carlton,Alan Holdsworth,Shaun Lane,Randy Rhoads.There are more but that should be enough (laughs).

SoT: On the album you have two lead vocalists, Brian Dixon and David Crocker. How did that work and how can we tell them apart?

James: It worked well because they sound alike! (laughs) However Brian has a more James LaBrie tone and David can sound closer to Dio at times.Lucky to have one great singer but two is not fair! (laughs) David sang on Ill Find The Truth,I Will Fly, and Angels Of War. Brain sang all the others with Brian and I sing background.I even sang the lead vocal line on the intro of one song,however I didnt credit myself for that on the inside cd jacket (laughs) Its a secret trivia question.I will tell you I sang the screamo vocals on the chorus of On Top Of The World!

SoT: I notice that David Crocker isn't listed as a band member on your website. What can you tell us about the rest of the band though? Don't forget yourself!

James: Yea Brian is my main singer for live gigs and X Opus. Brian is a local singer in Dallas I met after a lengthy search.He has a band called From Creation and sings in a Priest tribute band Judas Rising.Corbett Tucker the drummer plays around Dallas and so does Jesse Gallegos my bass player. Great guys and glad I meet them.On the cd I played every instrument, arranged all music, wrote all lyrics and vocal lines.I let Brian and David improve a few lines here and there but its basically the notes I sang and gave them on mp3 to learn parts for. Or I produced it on the fly to fit their voice better.I have been playing professionally since I was 15 and played my first time in a club with Jamie AlDecker, Eric Claptons drummer, way back in the late 70s! (laughs) Ive been in Guitar Player Magazine and won Tulsa Oklahomas best guitarist contest.I recorded on Atlantic Records and toured with the late smooth jazz bass player Wayman Tisdale.I have been on the same albums as Marcus Miller, Layla Hathaway,Shela E,Norman Brown,Howard Hewit,James Ingram,and many more Grammy winners. A lot of jazz and Gospel cats.I have written music of every style since age 15 and I have hundreds of songs,symphonies,from jazz,rock,blues,fusion jazz,funk,to country and r&b love songs. Not your ordinary Metal guitarist I can play all styles well even some country.I love it all and love life, my wife, my daughter and have some great friends and family.Magna Carta is a great label and Mike Varney is so funny with great stories to laugh about.He should be in the rock hall of fame for the talent he has pushed on Shrapnel.Probably more than any other guitar producer ever.

SoT: You tweeted last December that you plan to, "crush all pop music." Who would you exclude from that and why?Why would you want to crush all pop music?

James: Ahh Ha you read that, in my Metal take no prisoner mood! Let me say that would not refer to any 70s pop music or 60s back to the 30s.I like everything from James Taylor to Earth Wind and Fire and Glenn Miller Orchestra.I wouldn't exclude any current pop artist as they are mostly all terrible that I've heard.I don't wish bad on anyone and wish artists could write music to help others and not hurt with bad words in their music. Like rap non music!! The dumbing down of society is all that music does, from 50 cent, to Snoop Dog.They are just talentless and are not contributing anything to society and their fellow man.With the increase of crime,fatherless children, etc. All they talk about is killing , car tires, and call women hoes.That is no way to refer to a woman God created from the rib of a man. It's so sad that every commercial has some kind of rap theme to it, or Green Day type garbage composing musicians.I don't know what it's like in Europe but it's bad in the USA.So why not Bach, Mozart, more Hendrix,Symphony X,Malmsteen,Jeff Beck...good music ! Sometimes you hear a little classical,Hendrix or Zep but 99 % of all mainstream commercials in sports and radio songs are brainless Rap and Pop themes of sex. I'ts hard to sell real music and if you actually have a purpose with a message to your songs, man you are no longer a viable person for the system of evil that dominates our culture.Sex drugs and crime sell,God purpose and talent usually don't. Thank God Prog Metal fans are open to thought and have a brain.We are not going away with out a fight!! We can bring this music back to mainstream some day and give a better message of hope. Just think of the good Snoop Dog and others could do with meaningfull lyrics even if the music is not well composed.Money rules the World to the end and all will die in vain who put money before God.There is good in everyone,we have to choose to do good.I have many faults but what we write about in music should be very important.It can influence or cause harm to others,this is what I cant do and will only put out music to better the World not add to the mess we allready have.

SoT: I know The Epiphany has only just come out but are there plans for a follow up?

James: Yes X Opus two is mostly written and a lot of the guitars are recorded. It wont take to long to write the lyrics do vocals and cut the other instruments. It will be dark sounding with more guitar instrumentals. It will be better than this first one. However its to soon for that and this album is really strong lyrically and musically.I tried to paint a pallet of music that would appeal to prog symphonic,power prog and neoclassical fans.It has growling vocals,screamo and killer singing from Brian Dixon and David Crocker.The art work was done by Bob Hobbs a well known artist that did a great job painting my theme art of a dark knight having an Epiphany as he gazes into the water after battle.His website is www.moordragonarts.com. He has done a lot of amazing art books like Dark Art and children art books.My band site is www.xopusband.com also check out X Opus band at reverbnation,

SoT: Do you have plans to play live?

James: Yes we are wanting to play out soon in USA and work to playing in Europe.

SoT: Is there anything else you'd like to say to our readers?

James: Dont ever give up on your dreams no matter what ups and downs you have.I can thank Mike LePond bass for Symphony X for encouraging me when I was having a rough time with the decision on record labels,he is a great person.Your words to each other matter so love each other,please buy music NO TORRENT FREE DOWNLOADS.Buy X Opus and keep good music out there so we can keep making music and survive this bad World economy.We hope to see you on tour,thank you for the interview, X Opus loves you and God bless!

Simon Bray

(Click here to read our reviews of The Epiphany)



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