An Interview with
Guitarist, Bassist and Keyboardist of 'Project: Alcazar'
Date: 16th October '01
By Glenn Milligan, BA Hons CS
Glenn: Why and what made you decide to go down the classical orientated rock/metal style?
Chris: I guess I have always just been able to hear the styles mix together before I would go to pick up the guitar. When I listen to certain pieces I can feel what the drums, bass and keys should be doing to not only keep the original composition there, but add that 'metal/rock' element to the music.
Of course Malmsteen was a big influence as well as the composers themselves.
Glenn: What was the influence behind the name 'Project: Alcazar' and the project itself?
Chris: The band was originally called 'Alcazar' which is a Spanish castle, back in '88. We started with a vocalist but then decided we were tired of hearing 'You guys would be awesome IF you had a good singer' Well we couldn't find a vocalist that worked and I had just been into the early Shrapnel stuff a couple years before that so we decided to go it instrumental. The band always got great reviews but of course it came back around as we then began to hear "You guys are great BUT you need a good singer -hahahaha".
I decided to go with 'Project: Alcazar' simply due to the fact that this wasn't going to have consistent players as the bands I had in the past.
Glenn: How did you manage to make the album stand out and keep it so interesting - which many other albums of a similar style from other artists fail miserably on?
Chris: That's a big compliment. I wanted the album to be that way from the start. I think my music background helps a lot. I've always listened to all sorts of music whether it be pop/rock on the radio to more guitar oriented stuff. I might not always like what I hear but I am able to tell why it is liked so much by everyone else.
It is my goal to be able to be appreciated as a guitarist as well as a songwriter. The album changes colours the entire CD. I wanted the listeners to know I wasn't just another 'shred monster' and it's not always about how fast or technical the playing is. The song itself, if written well, will let the technical side shine even more.
Glenn: Which classical composer(s) do you consider would have made the greatest rock stars these days and why?
Chris: I think Mozart. He would have been a cross between Steve Vai and Motley Crue. (laughs) Just because he would have the composition and effortless skill ability like Steve Vai and the guy loved to party like nobody's business.
Glenn: How did you go about selecting the cover pieces for the album?
Chris: Just searching through catalogs and Internet sites. I was looking for all sorts of different time pieces to reflect the period of time that I had written and performed with the different lineups of Alcazar over the years. I think the music reflects all of the different influences I have picked up over the last 10 years with the musicians.
Glenn: Is it your favourite work to date so far - if so why?
Chris: Most definitely it is. It is really just a milestone for me and my career as a musician. I have always wanted to have a CD that everyone enjoys from a wide spectrum. I have gotten great response from musicians and music lovers as well.
Glenn: Do you prefer to be a solo orientated artist or do you prefer working in big bands (and why)?
Chris: I will have to say solo. It's not that I haven't enjoyed playing with bands but for me it has been dealing with one problem or another. As a solo artist you cant sit back and make excuses on why something wasn't done or played the way it should have been. If I don't go out and promote the band, then that's MY fault. No more pointing fingers at someone else. It's on me and I just feel more comfortable taking on that responsibility all the way across the board that sitting back and hoping someone else will follow thru for me.
Glenn: Which artists have you most enjoyed supporting?
Chris: Tony Macalpine was a really down to earth guy. We actually played one of his tunes off 'Edge of Insanity' when we opened and his road crew came out and headbanged.
Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci actually came out and watched our entire set from side stage and met us in the dressing room afterwards. I thought that was really cool.
They really enjoyed the songs we were doing from 'Yes to Steve Morse to Al Dimeola'. I remember Portnoy said they wished they could do what we were doing and this was back when 'Images and Words' just broke for them.
Of course now they have done the Liquid Tension Experiment thing which totally jams!!!!!
Glenn: What has been the crowd reaction to your music?
Chris: It has always been great. We still hear 'Man if you guys would ever get a singer', But the first reaction when we would play shows locally, you could see everyone just stop what they were doing and stare. Nobody talking, nobody shooting pool, just mouths open and staring. Eventually they would applaud after the 2nd or 3rd song -Then we knew they were into it. (laughs)
Glenn: Do you have particular influences for your original material like 'Transmission' and Silk 'n' Honey?
Chris: Obviously Macalpine influences seem to surface for 'TranceMission'. We used to call it 'the Macalpine song' at rehearsals before I named it. (laughs) 'Silk n Honey' has the Eric Johnson similarities thru it with the wide interval stuff and string skipping in it.
Glenn: Who would you like to tour with in the future? Why?
Chris: Probably Yngwie or Dream Theater. Steve Vai would be a very humbling experience night after night too.
Just to be able to share a stage with those guys and play my stuff for a crowd that is really into the music would be a great experience.
Glenn: What's your favourite moment of 'Project Alcazar' ?
Chris: Watching the songs from the CD sit in the top 5 at MP3.com for months and months before I got to release the CD with a label. I really felt that I had done what I had always wanted to do with the music and I received literally hundreds of emails from fellow musicians and fans who enjoyed it. I was confident that good things were going to come from this CD and they have.
Glenn: What's the history of you and John? Are you long-time friends? How did you get together? When did you decide on the project?
Chris: We go way back and everyone who knows John and I are saying 'Almost too long' (laughs) I have known John since he was 14 and I was 17. We lived in the same little town and I was considered more or less the hot guitar player around the area and John always wanted to jam with me. Well let me tell you, we have jammed together and the CD reflects that. We haven't always seen eye to eye on things but regardless, we both know that when we play together, it's gonna be something special. John was getting ready to move out to LA back in Fall of '99 and I flipped him a tape of the songs to see if he would be interested in playing on the CD. He was ecstatic about it and just as expected, did a tremendous job in the studio for me. John is truly a natural talent when it comes to music and I am sure he will get the notoriety he deserves one day as a drummer.
Glenn: Is a follow up planned?
Chris: A follow up is planned for release next year around this time with Lion Music. The players haven't been confirmed yet for the new material though. I have milled around the idea of doing a vocal album but everything that I seem to be writing lately has been instrumental so who knows.
Glenn: What do you most enjoy about playing?
Chris: Sitting back and listening to the finished parts as they are put together. On this last CD I spent so much time on pre-production. I would get a rough mix of the song, drive around and listen to it. There would be this feeling I can't describe that just says 'it's going well' or 'that isn't what you were shooting for'. I also enjoy the ability to release my emotions thru music.
Glenn: What else do you like to do outside music? hobbies etc?
Chris: Spend time with my son Christopher. He is totally awesome! I like to watch football, spend time at home doing nothing. I think I do too much of that though!!!! (laughs) I do an acoustic duo around town which enabled me to purchase my Taylor 410cse which is an incredible sounding guitar. I've gone through a lot of changes in my life the last year and hopefully things will reflect positively on the next CD. Thanks to everyone out there who has been supporting Alcazar's music for the last 10 years.
Glenn Thanks for your help Chris.
Be sure to Check out the CD review of Project: Alcazar's 'Reasons for a Decade' under 'P' in the CD Reviews section.