The final installment of the Ian Parry Consortium Project is upon us, titled Consortium Project V: Species, and the singer and his cohorts are in fine form, once again delivering a dramatic set of progressive & power metal songs all within the Sci-Fi themes we've come to love from the project. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo recently had a chance to speak with Ian Parry about this latest CD, the history of the Consortium Project, and his future.
SoT: First of all, congratulations on your new deal with Lion Music. Can you tell how that came about, and give all your fans the logistics of the deal with the label?
Ian: I have had contact with Lasse and Lion Music for some years now, since Lion Music released the Kingdom of Utopia album from Infinity Overture which I co-wrote and recorded back in 2008. I contacted Lion Music first back in 2010 and once they saw my animated video trailer from Consortium Project V immediately started discussions about licensing not only the new Consortium V Species album, but also my 4 Consortium Quadrilogy albums which I had re-mastered. On July 15th Lion Music release C V Species, then every 2 months for the coming 10 months will re-release the Consortium Quadrilogy re-masters.
SoT: 'Species" is the latest installment of the Consortium Project, and the fifth in the series. Can you give some history on these releases going back to the beginning, and how you wound up at this latest?
Ian: Back in the beginning phase some 12 years ago I only had lyrical themes based on money; power and greed and 4 demos recorded which I thought maybe be good for a 4th solo album.
During the 1998 Elegy / Kamelot co-headlining tour Thomas Youngblood and Casey Grillo seeing the potential in my songs invited me to Florida and after Thom recorded some cool guitar parts, the whole Consortium thing started to take shape. The concept actually took it's real form from the Consortium Project II "Continue in Extremis" album. At this point I based all my songs and the titles from my concept story trying to work topics and everyday issues like depletion of the ozone caused by global warning. I used historical events such as the assassination of Martin Luther King and President Kennedy which helped me portray a world full of greed and continuous power struggles. As the years passed new issues and topics have arisen for example environmental disasters caused by oil pollution resulting in raising oil prices and the corruption in the financial and banking world leading society into an economic crisis. So what better back drop to have then real life topics all re-written into a fictional concept story. Having an epic tale has made it somewhat easier to stay focussed on all the productions from the entire 5 albums. As for finalizing my concept story I have always been a huge fan of Science Fiction. So writing a Sci-Fi saga combining a real life topic like the deadly flu virus recently highlighter in the media, helped me conclude the 5th and final part of my lyrical concept.
SoT: There's a complex storyline that goes along with these albums. Please talk a little bit about this dramatic story and how it has evolved over the years?
Ian: Consortium Project V Species is the fifth and final part of my lyrical concept where mankind enters into an epic journey this time venturing into outer space in search of the truth about our origins, but such a journey is met with dire consequences the world had never seen.
The complete story is about a world going of control (Consortium 1) which is saved by women whom split the species apart (Consortium 2). Hundreds of years into the future the species is united (Consortium 3) to discover our origins are not from this world but our ancestors are of alien origin.(Consortium 4) The fifth and final part finds mankind in a battle with our alien ancestors and the planet is saved once again but this time a common flu virus. Our human immune system protects mankind, but infects our alien ancestors and prevents them from destroying the planet and thus mankind is saved to live to tell the tale. I wanted to write a story dealing with everyday issues such as global warning, the oil and financial crisis and incorporate this into a lyrical tale performed by some of the best musicians from the world of symfo-prog-gothic rock and metal.
SoT: Musically, 'Species' is perhaps the heaviest of the Consortium Project albums-would you agree with that, and was that done intentionally?
Ian: I am so glad you can hear that I consciously made a more heavier guitar riff orientated album with C V Species. As with every production I do I try to improve each production where possible. I started writing the fifth part of the concept to the completion of the production over a period of about 18 months. I kept in mind what I had written and recorded on the previous 4 Consortium Quadrilogy albums. I'd done the progressive side of my music on the earlier albums and this time I wanted more metal guitar riff compact songs on C V Species. The challenge was to create a heavier album with compact songs, within the framework of a conceptual story, but not in the traditional style people are accustomed to with a concept album, which is a little cliché. Kick ass songs with metal guitar riff's and strong vocal lines that combined would grab you by the ball's. The track "Enemy Within" which I chose for the new C V video is a great example of what I mean. Guitar metal oriented masterfully performed songs by non other than Vanden Plas guitar virtuoso Stephan Lill. His performance combined with the riff I created (originally on bass guitar) is I believe more in line with what people want to hear these days rather than being put to sleep with extra long intro's and complicated progressive time changes. This I did in the past and like very much , but for the last part of my concept I wanted something fresh and inspiring that I could be proud of and a perfect way to end a musical era!
SoT: There's a bunch of guest stars on the new CD-can you talk about them and how they came to be connected to the album?
Ian: During these past 12 years since I embarked on this musical journey, I have been fortunate to work with some of the most talented musicians and singers in the world of Rock and Metal also Gothic and progressive melodic power metal. Mike Chlasciak (Halford), Thomas Youngblood (Kamelot), Arjen Luccassen (Ayreon/ Vengeance), Patrick Rondat (Jean Michel Jarre/ Elegy) Lou St Paul (Winters Bane), to name just a few. As you can understand I had many colleagues and friends to choose from for CV Species, but without making this last part of the Consortium Project a logistical nightmare I contacted my colleagues I'd worked with most recently. In actually fact it was the suggestion of the incredibly talented drummer Casey Grillo (Kamelot) who had performed on Consortium 3 which is one of my favourite Consortium albums. Casey said if I was to re-consider and write a 5th part for my concept then he'd love to perform drums on C V Species. Once I had the concept finalized and songs written and arranged it was obvious that the songs would be best suited if the main guitars were performed by Stephan Lill (Vanden Plas) who was there from the beginning 1999 and played on 3 other Consortium albums. Kris Gildenlow (pain of Salvation) had performed a number of live shows with Consortium back in 2008 who I had wanted to record with for a long time. Finally being a concept originally of a world going out of control saved by women and having recorded with Lene Petersen in Denmark (Infinity Overture)and recently produced the new "Miracle"c.d. from Bulgarian female singer Ani Lozanova, these talented and beautiful ladies where an obvious choice to play the role of the female singers on C V "Species". I'd recorded guest vocals with German metal newcomers Dawn of Destiny bassist Jens Faber and Guitarist Veith Offenbacher would be the perfect way to finalize the line-up on C V Species.
SoT: Do you plan to do any live concerts in support of "Species" ?
Ian: If our fans agree that this final closing chapter has been performed, produced and presented in a believable and credible way and start buying the album, instead of millions of people illegally copying, then I'll be happy also for Lion Music who have put there trust and belief in my music to want to release and all 5 Consortium albums worldwide, including the Quadrilogy C 1 to C 4, re-masters. Then my final dream to embark on a worldwide Consortium Farewell tour this time around would become a reality.
SoT: What is the status of other bands you have been in, such as Crystal Tears and Elegy?
Ian: Crystal Tears are busy in Greece doing pre-production for the next album and have asked me to work on vocal ideas for the next album. This will be produced by Liapakis Dimitris (Mystic Prophecy) who did the last album I sung on called "Generation X". After this I have a number of classic rock songs I'd like to continue working on maybe together with Lion Music. As for Elegy the has stopped since the re-releases of the Elegy catalogues by Metal Mind Productions Poland back in 2009. But like Ian Fleming the writer of James Bond wrote "Never say never again". I'd love to make one more album with Elegy and repeat the success we had in Japan and do a farewell tour in over there for our incredible fans who never had the chance to say Farewell!
SoT: There are so many strong acts on the Progressive & Power Metal scene these days-are there any you follow & admire?
Ian: I guess I am more old school and still admire Queensryche for what they initially did for progressive power metal, but more recently I love Evanescence for capturing the progressive gothic style combined with killer guitar riff. This really inspired me also for C V Species, that's why I involved Lene Petersen more and even dropped a lot of my own lead vocals. Her Angelic gothic style voice fitted the atmosphere of the concept story perfectly.
SoT: You have always had one of the most recognizable voices in metal. Who are some of your idols and influences?
Ian: I've been a great admirer of British rock singers such as Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Co. & Queen) David Coverdale (Deep Purple / Whitesnake) but I have also been influenced by America icons Ronny James Dio for his inspiration performances with Rainbow and later DIO and not forgetting Geoff Tate for what his vocal style did for progressive singers. I am sure he even inspired James LaBrie (Dream Theater).
SoT: Lastly, now that 'Species' is out, how happy are you with the album and what's next for Ian Parry?
Ian: As C V is my last major album production, it makes me even more happier because Lion Music are releasing all 5 Consortium Project albums including the Quadrilogy re-masters. It had been my intention to add bonus track material featuring unreleased guest performance from Ivar de Graaf (Within Temptation) Thom Youngblood (Kamelot) and Jack Frost (Seven Witches). Even before I had a license deal and re-release confirmed I asked my colleague and friend Marcus Teske from Bazement studios Germany who has worked for many years with Vanden Plas & on my last solo album Visions, to re-master all 4 Consortium Quadrilogy albums. This was something I'd wanted to do for years especially for the earlier Consortium releases from 1999. Back then we didn't have all the new mastering software and I knew the re-masters would make the Consortium Quadrilogy sound even better. So if the positive sentiment continues which I am now getting with some of the best reviews in my 25 yrs career, I put a tour together starting the end of 2011 into the spring 2012 to coincide with the last re-release from the Consortium Project Quadrilogy re-masters. Maybe during the live farewell tour we'll record a number of shows and later release a limited edition live CD or DVD.
But for now I want to thanks all our loyal fans and the readers of Sea of Tranquillity magazine who have supported my music and the music of many bands such as Elegy and Crystal Tears throughout the years and I hope to meet one day soon with the Consortium Project Farewell tour.
All the best Ian Parry 2011.
(Click here to read our reviews of Consortium Project V: Species)