Hot off the heels from releasing the infectiously catchy prog masterpiece Walking on H20, the multitalented Daniel Flores talks to us about the production of the album, the state of metal in general and the future. Daniel has been involved in many projects as producer, keyboardist and more importantly drummer in countless session roles, and has full time commitments in Hubi Meisel, Tears of Anger and his pet project, Mind's Eye.
Firstly, I’d like to congratulate you on your latest album, Walking on H20.
Daniel: Thanks! Feels great that so many people seem to like it!
Secondly, does H20 refer to the molecule, or can we just refer to it as Walking on Water? I perceived it as it being the molecule, as this album focuses more on the scientific than the spiritual.
Daniel: I wanted something really futuristic, something that could live for years to come. A scientific solution is always better to me than something built of just the belief. Yes, it’s truly the molecule we are talking about here. For me it means really going into deep with all this lyrics and stories in the album. Just like an archaeologist would - deep down into the molecule.
The title ridicules the way of seeing apes/gods/we humans walking on water/molecule backwards. It really makes our evolution seem like a joke.
I’m not a spiritual person and I have always looked for evidence before I open my mouth and speak about it, there is always going to be a debate about who is right but I think in the end we will see that evolution is in the hand of us scientific humans, rather than with those who think a person or a god created all of this around us.
It’s widely known you’re a premier drummer, but I was surprised to see you’ve also taken up keyboard and songwriting duties as well. It was rather refreshing to see a drummer to perform these roles simultaneously. How do you approach songwriting in that regard?
Daniel: Thanks! I think it’s obvious that I work in a very rhythmical way. I think my approach to certain instruments have a different agenda when it comes to arranging them. This has certainly changed trough out my working years as a drummer. Putting this all in retrospective I might see a difference when thinking about my colleagues in other bands. Other than that I think I am some kind a normal musician. My twist would be the hard amount of work behind it all, while others have it easy I tend to fight for it.
My approach to songwriting and lyric writing is really different from time. Sometimes I write a drum pattern that sounds good to my ears and sometimes there an interesting story that awakes sonically ideas in my mind.
Do you find writing melody or rhythm easier, considering your diverse musical background?
Daniel: Well both com hand in hand fro me. As a drummer I tend to make them more enjoyable rhythmically at the same time I may do melodies that not a normal guitarist or a singer would just because my lack of musical knowledge and teaching in this area. Everything is easy while making them. The struggle is of keeping the melodies interesting trough out the song or album if it’s an theme/concept album.
A question that's been burning on my lips: how do you play both instruments live! Is there a session keyboardist/drummer you use?
Daniel: I think this time we will bring a keyboard player live as I have a lot of key parts which are of much responsibility. In this album the keyboards were more up front than in our last albums, therefore we need an identity behind them. On our last live gigs we had them on tape. Luckily there is a lot of keyboard players who have shown their interest in playing with us live.
What inspires you the most?
Daniel: Right now it’s the spring, making all the snow fade away with its ever so welcomed sunshine.
My wife is a big inspiration too. I am the luckiest guy in the world! She has a great pair of ears and luckily she loves almost everything I do.
It’s also of note your partner in crime is Johan Niemann from Therion. You’ve also been in numerous other bands with him (Tears of Anger, Hubi Meisel) – did Mind’s Eye culminate out of that or was there another story?
Daniel: I don’t really know. My guess is that people enjoyed the recent Mind’s Eye CDs so much that they wanted to have the rhythmic section on board. Though it might also be because we got the jobs and they can’t see anyone else in their bands.
Tears of Anger had been rehearsing in our rehearsing studio for years and Hubi already knew about me and Johan from Mind’s Eye.
Me and Johan have been playing on allot of other CD’s everything from pop to heavy metal. I think me and Johan sound great together and have a special way of making the music come out of its shell. All been said by person who hired our skills. I think both me and Johan are really honored to be on so many peoples CD’s because these guys could easily call anyone in the world, still they want us even though we are not worthy…
H20 features a plethora of 70’s and 80’s sounds such as The Sweet, ELO and Queen. Were you always interested in those sorts of bands prior to this album, or did you want to take this particular record in a different direction?
Daniel: Actually it was long time since I even picked out some of the CD’s you mentioned there. I might add though that I completely love Queen and would be really floored if somebody put our band beside them. I never thought in a million years that the album would come out and sound this way. I actually didn’t have a master plan for the sound; in fact I wanted the sound to come out naturally from whatever we threw in the arrangement. It was almost like the production took a life of it’s own a created it self. I mean, we where there but suddenly it was all obvious it was a progressive rock CD created with the intention of just creating good music.
Is production a difficult aspect in creating a body of work? Are you more hands on, or do you prefer to leave it in the hands of a “professional” so to speak?
Daniel: been able to make a living working as a studio musician and engineer I have developed a certain kind of atmosphere and professionalism around the mixing console. Thinking about all the work being needed to put on the next albums really makes me wonder if someone else could have done a better job. I always go back thinking “naaa, I will mix it by my self again”. I think when a band has taken the responsibilities of making their own sound in hand it’s going to be virtually impossible for another person or producer to come in and see the same picture as the guys in the band. That’s also one reason we could never find a new guitarist, it’s just too difficult to come into the circle of trust in this band.
Talking about production, is there a worrying trend that cheaper production costs are leading to a glut of releases by bands these days? It seems that as soon as a band has released an album they’re back in the studio again. Do you find it beneficial or detrimental to the scene?
Daniel: There is a certain responsibility to the audience and the business in general. Many who mix their own albums totally missed the point. On the other hand there is not enough money to hire someone like me or another engineer so people are forced to do it them selves, Both arguments that “there not enough good music coming out right now” and that’s “there too much music coming out right now” work for me. We are going trough an ugly time in the business and I think we all need to have patience when it comes to what music we will buy. But I will agree with you on that releasing too many albums with bad production or enough good songs is just a straight certain way of hammering the last spike in to your bands coffin.
Apart from progressive rock or metal, have you ever or considered branching out into different styles such as jazz for example?
Daniel: I played some big band jazz in school but I didn’t find my self enjoying that style of music. In some way Jazz doesn’t make sense why make so hard to digest? Even the musicians playing Jazz don’t get what deal is all about. I rather play Fusion or rock Jazz or even Latin Jazz. Frank Zappa once said “Jazz is the music of unemployment” and I strongly believe that too.
Haha! As I have many friends who are drummers, many of them seem to idolize the ethic of “speed” over substance, such as the style epitomized by Dragonforce. What do you think of this growing trend?
Daniel: I think it is just that, a trend… trends go by fast and then the next thing comes. I think speed is only one of the millions of things/elements you have to know/learn as a drummer, a modern drummer is not only fast he is also really technical when it comes to arranging his drumming and he can play any style.
Last year I played on a fast power metal album with the Italian band “Secret Sphere”; it was a real challenge to play those songs, now that I have done that and I’m looking for my next challenge. There is a big difference when it comes to being a working drummer or being a band drummer. Normally in a band situation you might rehearse 3-4 days a week for half a year before recording an album, I get about a week of practicing before recording, see. Last year I saw one of the fastest drummers in Sweden playing a ballad… it sounded horrible… I think you get the point.
Also, with my own research into the Scandinavian scene, there seems to be a lot of support for prog metal and rock through a great sense of community between artists and fans alike. Is that true?
Daniel: Sort of… We certainly have lot’s of bands here that’s for sure! The community for prog is kind of small but they are very supportive, they have been very supportive to us anyway. I wouldn’t say that the artists support each other, I have never heard of anyone helping another band. On the contrary there is a lot of bogus going around and people like to spread rumors… kind of childish in my opinion.
Maybe people are afraid to help other bands too much. Right now I enjoy the Swedish band Seventh Wonder which have recently recorded their second album in my studio. A great album is coming, check it out!
Will do! Now for controversy: do you believe internet forums are beneficial for promoting bands and such? Or is it just a lot of know-it-alls occupying virtual space for no good reason?
Daniel: A double edged sword in my opinion. I wished there where more people surfing around these forums and websites but it right seems that most of them are just other bands trying to cure their curiosity and checking how good their opponents new album is… sad really. But the internet is otherwise a blessing for bands like us, hopefully in the future we all can sell our own music through our own site. I am anyway really satisfied with our label and would continue working with Lion Music even if that was the case.
Random question: Favorite beer or alcoholic drink?
Daniel: Depending of where I am: Weisse bier in Germany. Lapinkulta in Sweden and Corona in South America. I also enjoy the drink Caipriña when I have the chance. Beer… good….
Prog Power 2007 – Mind’s Eye opens for (Insert your favorite band here)? (Or the other way around!?)
Daniel: I would really like to open for Rush, these guys are really great! I also would love to open for Genesis or Yes.
I would settle for Vandenplas or Symphony X too!
Where do you see Mind’s Eye five years from now?
Daniel: Ten studio albums and two live albums. Working as a music score composer and the other guys are HUGE rock stars touring around the world!
Anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Daniel: Thanks for following us since 1998. We couldn’t do this if the fans didn’t buy all the albums, this album is our gift to you. Next album is already in the works and it will be dark and heavy, easily the heaviest album ever done by us.
Check out our website www.roundrec.com for more info.
Thanks for the interview!
Walking on H20 by Mind's Eye is in general release from Lion Music.