With the release of their second CD Rooms of Anguish, Power of Omens are prepared to make an impact on the crowded prog-metal scene. Guitarist David Gallegos shared some info with Pete Pardo recently on the making of the new album, which is sure to be a classic of the genre.
Sea of Tranquility:It's been almost 5 years since the release of Eyes of the Oracle-how difficult was it putting together Rooms of Anguish?
David Gallegos: Well, putting this CD together wasn't very difficult at all. Actually what took so long between discs was the problem we had with member changes and our previous label. After the release of Eyes of the Oracle, we worked in a new keyboardist and a new bassist and it took us almost a year to have them feel comfortable enough to finally play out. However, soon after a couple of shows, the keyboardist decided to leave the band, and soon after, our bassist left as well. We spent a year after that auditioning people, eventually finding Chris Herring… but never finding a keyboardist. We immediately put him to work, and debuted him in Chicago at the 1st ProgPower festival. After the show, we went to work on writing Rooms of Anguish. A year later, we had the disc completed, but then the whole problem with Elevate started up…and the release date kept getting moved back until eventually they couldn't even guarantee a release at all. Fortunately we were able to find loopholes in our contract that allowed us to move to a new label, and FINALLY had Rooms of Anguish released another year later after it was already completed.
SoT: Tell us a little bit about your new bass player Chris Herring, and what
happened with Matt Williamson.
D.G. : Before the completion of Eyes of the Oracle, Matt, who was serving in the U.S. Military, was called upon to be re-stationed to Germany for the next 18 months. He was able to finish his parts, but literally had to leave a couple of days after. With him being gone for so long, it was discussed about what the future of the band was going to be ...and he did not want us to become stale waiting for him, so he gave us his blessing to look for a replacement. A few months later, after the completion of the album, Henry Sanchez joined the band, and was with us for a little over a year. He was with us long enough to play a couple of shows and recorded with us on the Queensryche Tribute CD. After Henry left, our next bassist was Chris, who came to us from Dallas, Texas and was playing in a band called Mind Gallery at the time. They were fans of the band and actually came down to catch our very first show. It was about a year later when Henry left the band and I sent Chris an e-mail asking about his band and how things were going. After a bit of e-mail trading, I mention the vacant spot in the band, and he immediately showed interest…a few months later, his band came down and played a show in San Antonio. Alex and I went to catch the show, and were absolutely blown away by him. So after a few more e-mails, we convinced him to help us out for the ProgPower show. He had an overwhelming response, and his acceptance by the fans as well as by us eventually led him to a permanent spot with Power of Omens.
SoT: Power of Omens has a strong Queensryche (thanks to Chris Salinas' vocals)
meets Dream Theater sound. What bands are you guys influenced by?
D.G. : Aside from older Queensryche, the band's influences vary quite a bit. Dream Theater and Fates Warning are the obvious for us, but we also got into bands such as Kansas, Rush, Yes, Jethro Tull, Journey, and Kiss to Yanni, John Tesh, and Flamenco music.
SoT: Rooms of Anguish is a major step forward for the band. As good as Eyes of the Oracle is, the new CD is very mature sounding in both the
songwriting and instrumental departments. How do you feel the band is progressing at this point?
D.G. : Well, after almost 10 years together as a band, we're finally starting to find our comfort zone. We're really starting to gel well, and it's starting to show in our music. We've become very comfortable with each other… and we're at a point where we're actually starting to read each other's minds…. heheh ! When we rehearse or even jam together, we know where the other is going, and what he's thinking and feeling. We've come a long way in our writing, in our technique, and in our communication and our growth has finally become evident in how we write.
SoT : Chris' lyrics are at times very personal, deep, emotional, even dark and
disturbing. Where does he get his inspiration from?
D.G.: Everything Chris writes about is in some shape or form an experience of what he has gone through in every day life. He only writes what's near and dear to his heart, and likes to reflect what his mind sees and experiences from day to day. In my opinion, I would say "life" is his biggest inspiration.
SoT: How tough was it to come up with a track like the epic "In the End"?
D.G. : "In The End" was a song that took on so many different variations …(laughs) We originally started writing that song before Chris Herring joined the band…. And in fact we played a version of that song as our opener at ProgPower… of course we realized as we were playing it that it was a HUGE mistake playing it as our opening song…. Hahaha! We got so many blank stares as we played it…. I think it was then we realized you can't play a new Power of Omens song live when no one has ever had a chance to let it absorb. Anyway, that song slowly took form over several months…and even up until we were finishing the recording, we were still adding and changing parts on it. The completion of it came when we got Michelle Loose of the band Brave to do some vocal comps in the mid section. That completely did the song justice and put a close to the writing of that pic. All in all, the song it self was not really hard to write. I think what took so long was perfecting the pieces and ideas.
SoT: The addition of some flamenco guitar work adds a nice touch to a few of
the tunes on the new CD-do you plan on doing more of that? It kind of sets
you guys apart from some of your contemporaries.
D.G. : Thank you! You know, it's funny, because the whole flamenco thing was never really a planned thing… it just sort of happened with us. I'm a huge flamenco fan, and the first time I added some flamenco playing to the songs, it just seemed natural. It felt good, and it sounded great so we stuck with it. Now it's kind of become our signature, so it will definitely have a presence in everything we do.
SoT : Every artist has their favorite songs that they have recorded-what are yours on the new CD?
D.G. : Wow! That's a pretty tough question, because I love all the songs for different reasons… but I'll try to name a few here. "With These Words" has a guitar/keyboard solo that I absolutely love… it's such a fun thing to play…and the opening riff after the keyboard intro is the very first thing I ever wrote on a 7-string guitar… so it will always have a lasting affect since 7-strings is all I play now. "As Winter Falls" is such an emotional roller coaster, and the whole opening is just chilling for me every time that I hear it. Not to mention, I had been carrying around that guitar idea for years, and finally found a place to put it (laughs) "The Calm Before the Storm" was another stab at flamenco style playing with a metal twist… I really enjoy listening to that piece, and never get tired of it. "In The End", well, the writing of that song alone was written during trying times, and a lot of the ideas take me back to those moments in my life… and not to mention, the whole mid-section with Michelle singing still gives me chills to this day.
SoT: Where do you see Power of Omens fitting into the crowded prog-metal
scene? Do you think the bands lyrical content and mix of technical/heavy/melodic music will propel the band to major acceptance like
bands such as DT, Symphony X, Shadow Gallery, etc.?
D.G. : As much as I would love to see Power of Omens propel into greater acceptance, I think we will always have an element to us that will keep us fighting to get to that point. Hopefully over time, our music will become more accepted, and more people will become familiar with our work, and will appreciate it or what it is. Hopefully that day isn't too far away.
D.G. : Any plans to play any of the metal or prog festivals in the future?
D.G. :We're always up for playing any show that comes our way, especially festivals. I'd love another crack at ProgPower here in the states, but would also love to travel to Europe and do some of the festivals they have out there as well (ProgPower, Head-way, Wacken, etc.) I think it would be great exposure for us, and an incredible opportunity.
SoT : What's in the immediate future for the band?
D.G. : Right now, the band has taken a little time off to allow some of us to work on side projects. Chris is singing for a Queensryche tribute band based out of Houston Texas called Mindcrime, and I'm working on a full-length flamenco solo CD as well as re-recording, re-mixing, and re-mastering Eyes of the Oracle for re-release through MetalAges Records. We should be back to work in the next couple of months on another new Power of Omens CD, and will hopefully finally try to hit the road for the next year to support all three of our CDs. So for now, it seems things will be busy for quite a while.
SoT: We have some serious film buffs here at SoT-what kind of movies are you
D.G. : Oh man, you want a movie buff, you need to talk to our drummer, Alex. He's the ultimate movie buff in the band. It's kinda funny, because after rehearsals, that's all we seem to find ourselves talking about. Me personally, I love comedies, dramas, and action. Some of my favorite movies are The Ace Ventura & Austin Power sequels, The Mummy 1 & 2, Spider-Man, Forest Gump, Braveheart, Desperado, the Lord of the Rings, and The Lion King.