Yesterday, I forgot to do a song of the day. I posted the new Bands at Bauska Castle past the 12:00 AM deadline so that is counting for today. But, because I forgot to post yesterday, I wanted to do one more post today. So, I thought that instead of doing a song of the day like everyone expects, let us switch it up a little bit. Why? Because the Music Court is full of surprises.
This semester in Binghamton University I am a four-credit intern at The Binghamton Press & Sun, a Gannett newspaper publication. Being a four-credit intern means that I get four credits from my university (equal to one class meeting 3 hours a week), but, get the absolute pleasure of working 14-hour weeks. Just kidding! This is actually one of the better experiences of my long writing career starting when I was just a wee lad writing the alphabet. I have to start sounding sarcastic because I really am not. This has been awesome. One of the perks has been awesome interviews with some really interesting people. Therefore, while the section may be for a limited time only, I wanted to post an interview I conducted with Horseheads, NY native Jeff Plate, the original and current drummer for Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) (the reason they are officially called east is because, like a big theatrical act on Broadway, it performs with a different cast on other stages around the world. For TSO this means one east touring band and one west touring band.)
Plate, who is an awesome drummer by the way, was signed on for the TSO project during its early stages because of Savatage, a progressive metal band he was in pre-TSO that included Jon Oliva, who has become one of TSO’s main composers. Plate, and the rest of TSO, hit much success and now for around 13 years they have just been getting bigger and better in both musical quality, awesome show effects, and story-telling. I interviewed Plate a few days ago about TSO’s new huge release, five years in the making, entitled “NIght Castle,” which has already climbed up the Billboard Ladders.
Like what you read. Album can be purchased: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Castle-CD-Trans-Siberian-Orchestra/dp/B002K9RTR6
1.) “Night Castle” has finally been released. What about this album took it so long to be finished?
Paul O’Neil (the main producer and composer) goes about doing things very particularly. He takes into consideration the amount of time that is needed for a CD to be as perfect as much as possible. The CD contains a lot of different musical ideas between everybody. With the amount of material, as well as exploring some of the early stuff and, of course, with every the story that had to be written everything had to be interwoven.
2.) 26 songs, a 68 page booklet with story, is this, in your opinion Trans Siberian Orchestra’s best work. Why is the album different and better then last CD’s
With every album there are certain moments and songs that I think are really spectacular. I believe this album is a combination of everything that has been done. A lot of work, songs and ideas were shared. Some instrumentals are fantastic, vocal stuff is great. As far as a collective effort we have matured musically, which has a lot to do with the amount of time we have been together
3.) So, I understand that there is a TSO east and west. Who is your west counterpart? Did you work with him on the drum tracks for the new album? Describe for me the process of recording your TSO parts, are you sent a song to lay the drum tracks over in a local studio?
The way the process works is generally Paul O’ Neil and the rest have ideas. John Oliva is adept to doing demo drum work. They work incredibly closely. They put down demo drum tracks. When I received these songs there has been a demo track that has been there for a lot of time. I know what they are looking for and they know that I will expand on it. John Reily, the TSO west drummer is in the same situation. They give us demo tracks and we add our own color. They know us well enough to let us explore.
4.) What is your favorite track on the new album?
“Toccata-Carpimus Noctem” is really cool. “Moonlight and Madness”. “Night Enchanted” the opening track is a little out of the box because of orchestration but it is interesting. You need to read the story that goes along and let it all sink in and then it all begins to make sense. “Sparks” is a little different but it is great.”
5.) What is your favorite part of touring with TSO east that draws tremendous crowds of loyal fans?
The overall reaction. We have a commitment to upping the ante every year. Every year fans come back and are very excited and floored and appreciative of the effort that goes into the show. My favorite part is the end of the night when you are taking a bow and people are clapping and screaming. They got there money’s worth.
6.) Is your work with TSO seasonal, since the tours are fall into winter? Is it like a baseball season where you have your off season for different projects?
For me by the end of the tour I am pretty tired. Seven or eight shows a week. I like to go home watch the NFL playoffs and then as things develop I have a couple of other projects. “Machines of Grace” just released this year.
TSO gets busy. “Night Castle” opens door for potential for other touring in middle of the year and things are looking quite promising for other shows.
You gear yourself up for it, you start the tour out and then it becomes part of a daily routine.
The TSO show is fortunately broken up, narration, ballads, acoustic songs. It is broken up into segments where I can catch his breath. The end of the show is this full out rocking. It is luckily not two and a half hours of music and drumming.
Check out Jeff’s website: http://www.jeffplate.com