ALCHEMY X BIO
I was actually the last guy to join the band in the fall of 1996. They were called something else at that time, but they had some really great music. No lyrics or melody lines though. So after I started writing those, I then heard all kinds of places for vocal harmonies, strings/keys etc. and we were treading the same head space. We were all prog heads in the vein of Rush, Kansas, Deep Purple etc. so stylistically it was a great fit. They needed a bassist and I could also provide keyboards, lyrics and all the high harmonies.
When we began working on our first record, “A Delicate Balance”, it dawned on me that we were greater as a unit then the sum of our parts, even though all those parts were pretty damn good. So I came up with Alchemy as in the science of alchemy. Later, Chris Scorsese's famous uncle's lawyers suggested we needed to differentiate ourselves from the band Acoustic Alchemy - hence the “X”
Almost from the beginning we were getting the Dream Theater comparisons. We were honored, but we never saw that as a particularly apt critique. We thought our sound was more Kansas meets Marillion meets Iron Maiden. We did record “A Delicate Balance” at Beartracks in upstate NY. The guy from Spiro Gira owned the place and ironically enough, the engineer and co-producer was Doug Oberkircher, who had engineered the first couple of DT records!
To this day we're all very proud of that record. My personal favorite piece is the Autumn Sonata trilogy that begins the album. Lyrically it was taken from some reciprocal poetry between myself and someone who was quite close to me at the time and musically I think it's the best work Rob Schreiber, Chris Fox, Chris Scorsese and I ever produced.
Rob and Chris had just adopted 7-string guitars. I was intrigued and one day I stumbled into a guitar center, ostensibly to buy a wireless unit, which I ended up getting. But I also walked out with the Conklin Groove Tools 7 string bass, an instrument that I became synonymous with over the years. Bill Conklin ended up being a great friend, and made my signature model 14 string a few years later.
Of course having 3 seven string players was something of a novelty, particularly in the late 90's/early 2000's when we first started doing this!
Later, when we needed a vocalist for our follow up “11:59:59” I recruited Bob Mitchell of Attacker fame to come aboard for the new record. Of course, he added the caveat of having me join his band Vyndykator for their upcoming record and subsequent tour.
Bob was a godsend. His pedigree in the power metal field exposed Alchemy X to a whole new audience, and our material gave him a chance to really shine in a new genre for him. I wrote most of the album, with lots of musical assists from Rob and Chris, and Bob wrote some terrific lyrics for the few songs that I was having some writers block on. It's a concept record, where the individual songs can exist on their own but are part of the whole mini opera.
“A Kiss Before Dying” is, like so many of our songs, quite long and crosses so many time changes and movements that it's a signature song of sorts; probably my favorite from the album. We played most of the record at a metal fest in Chicago back in 2003 where we were a co-headliner.
Probably the most memorable Alchemy X story I can recall is our record release party/show in Manhattan back in 1999. This was for the “A Delicate Balance” record at a very trendy Manhattan club called Down Time. At that point, 800 people was the biggest crowd any of us had played to, and the evening was everything one might aspire to. The punchline to the whole thing was the owners/operators of the club asked us if we could come back the next week, not realizing we had promoted this release for 6 months!