Cry for Eden is a female fronted progressive rock band hailing from Portland, Oregon, and are comprised of Lisa Mann, on vocals & bass; Larry London, on drums; Don Graham, on guitars and James Borst, on piano, keyboards, and orchestration. On their latest CD The 11th Hour the band was augmented by Teri Untalan on violin & viola, and Samantha Kushnic on cello. The album was mixed and mastered by engineer Kevin Hahn of Opal Studio in Portland. For someone who has been waiting for a cool female vocal led heavy progressive band, this is just the ticket to some future live shows. But their debut album is worth the price of admission for anyone that loves well written and performed music. SoT's Mark Johnson was lucky enough to catch up with James Borst and found him willing to talk about the band's debut album The 11th Hour.
SoT- James Borst, welcome to the Sea of Tranquility. We appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule promoting your new album "The 11th Hour" and rehearsing for your tour to take some time out to answer some questions for your fans.
So please give us a brief history and genesis of the band Cry for Eden.
James The inspiration for Cry for Eden was to promote higher ideals in life through music. Cry for Eden originally began taking shape back in 2008 after I had outlined a few symphonic metals songs and wanted to take the songs to the next step. I began looking for a recording/sound engineer and soon met with somebody locally in the Portland area, who was also a guitar & bass player. Both of us had been musically inspired by such bands as Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica, Lacuna Coil and other female fronted symphonic metals bands. We began working together on finishing some songs I had outlined, but over the next 9 months couldn't find a great singer to fill the lead vocal part; in fact we went through 7 different singers and still no one worked out.
At the end of 2008 I ended up parting ways (but still friends) with the engineer I had been working with and moved down to the Salem area after buying a house. Over the next 6 months I went through some turbulent times (to put it mildly) with another engineer who I ended up parting ways with as well.
Although a little dismayed and uncertain about getting the band formed and album completed, in the fall of 2009 I heard about a great sound engineer and producer from Portland named Kevin Hahn and soon was able to meet him in person. I liked him right away and could tell that he had the knowledge, skill and experience to get the music professionally produced.
When I started working with Kevin I had almost decided to use a vocalist (number 8), but after speaking with the drummer (Larry London), he had recommended that I ask Lisa Mann to audition for the part. Wow, that was some great advice! When Lisa auditioned for the part, she sang 'Echoes of Eternity' and just nailed the parts dead on! Lisa was a perfect fit for the part of vocals and also added her great skill on bass to the mix. Another thing of note is that Lisa has always been a great contributor to charitable causes in her life, so naturally she was a great choice to be the front person for Cry for Eden.
Don Graham was the last to come into the group, but certainly was not the least and added his excellent chops and dynamic guitar solos to Cry for Eden the icing on the cake.
SoT Now tell us about the inspiration for the epic story behind "The 11th Hour".
James "The 11th Hour" is based upon the uncertain times we all currently live in. In these times there is still great fear of war, depression, sickness, terrorism, crime, poverty, etc
, and people like ourselves are asking, "Where is the way out?" As the album progresses it takes on the perspective of an individual human being who begins to awaken to a higher part of them selves - the inner or higher self. This higher self, which is beyond time and space, knows an existence that is not subject to death and destruction, but is rather centered in love, truth and permanence. As this awakening occurs this individual realizes that there is a higher calling to life, one of understanding, love, service to others and the world at large.
The last song on the album is named 'Finally Free' which talks about the ideals and possibility for peace in this world through this higher calling in life.
SoT Do the characters in the story bear any resemblance to real people you have known?
James Not necessary, but rather to everyone in general or the idea of what the potential of a human being is.
SoT The story is epic and I mentioned several influences in my review. Which bands have inspired you?
James Dream Theater and SymphonyX has definitely been two of the biggest musical influences, as far as progressive metal music is concerned, but female fronted bands like Nightwish, Epica and Within Temptation have been big musical inspirations over the years as well.
SoT My favorite tracks are the epics, but all the tracks have their own power. How hard is it to balance the desire to amaze with powerful solos and at the same time calm and relax with soft instrumentals?
James There is definitely a balance to be kept. On this album I really wanted the vocals to stand out and the lyrics to be clearly understood, so we made sure to keep everything well placed so that nothing was overpowering or drowning out the vocals. Certainly we left enough space for lead parts on the album as well, which you will find in abundance on songs like, 'The 11th Hour' and 'Echoes of Eternity'.
SoT Many of your members come from diverse musical backgrounds. How easy was it for everyone to create together? Was the collaboration done in person or by file sharing over the Net?
James Once we had the right people put together, everything actually went quite smoothly. I outlined all of the song parts and then everyone was able to able to work on their individual parts by themselves, and of course make them better, and when time came they came in recorded each of their individual parts.
Along the way, the music progressed and got better with everyone's input and of course Kevin Hahn had a big part in helping make the music the best that it could be with his experience and great creative input.
SoT Who are some of your favorite bands and would you be willing to support their efforts to play locally?
James SymphonyX, Nightwish, Epica, Dream Theater, Kamelot, Transiberian Orchestra
Yes, I have been to quite a few progressive rock concerts and have seen most of the above bands in the Portland area.
SoT This city and area of the country is so in need of the talent and style your band produces, with the inspiring message as well. Thank you for forming and creating this debut masterpiece. Will you perform this masterpiece in full with a full theatrical presentation someday?
James Yes, our plans are to have a full theatrical performance once we are able to arrange for a great venue and pull all of the key players (actors, lighting crew, sound crew, stage crew, etc
) together to make such a performance possible. It's really important to me to have a full theatrical performance which communicates the message behind the album. Head banging and mash pits certainly have their place in the metal and progressive rock worlds, but Cry for Eden's music is more geared towards promoting and communicating a message kind of like Pink Floyds 'The Wall'.
SoT Are there other projects the band members are currently working on that you would like to discuss here?
James Don Graham has partnered with a great vocalist named Michelle Mattair and together have created a progressive metal band named 'Tyranny of Hours' which is due for their debut album release later this year. Lisa Mann, one of the best known blues singers and players in Oregon, has won several awards for her singing and bass playing and just released another album in February of this year. Larry London is working with his wife on a 2-CD release for their group "Molada London" which is due out later this year as well.
Sot What is next for Cry for Eden?
James We are looking to promote our album and also grow our fan base in the local area to hopefully be able to put on a great show in the fall. We may put on a smaller venue show before then but nothing is set in stone yet.
So far we have been getting some great feedback and if the support is there we already have the next CD of music outlined and will start moving ahead later in the year to start getting it produced.
Sot - With 2012 being an epic and historic year, what are your or the band's feelings about the year so far?
James Good things are on the horizon I feel for all of us and I think 2012 is going to mark a big change in the world. We hope that Cry for Eden's music can help promote a positive view and outlook towards peace and understanding in the world and that these things are really possible.
Sot Is there anything else you would like to mention that I have not touched on here?
James Cry for Eden is a concept and through its music has a message which I think most everyone in the world can relate with let's get along, help one another, live and let live and support a healthy environment for our children and grand children to come.
SoT- Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for us. We at the Sea of Tranquility wish you and Cry for Eden much success with the launch of "The 11th Hour" and all that you do in the future. We the fans will be celebrating the fact that our local music scene finally has a voice in this genre.
(Click here to read our review of The 11th Hour)