Duke O’Briens – Crystal Lake, IL
I got to meet up with Mike, Joe, Tom & Larry of Nemesis Theory at Duke O’Briens over the weekend.
How did you guys get into music?
Tom: I started with Karaoke, I don’t play an instrument, I just sing. I was out Karaoking out with friends
Larry: When I was 13 I went over to a buddy’s house, heard an electric guitar plugged in for the first time and I was instantly hooked. I started on guitar and then a couple of years into it I picked up drums faster, it’s just been life’s passion.
Mike: I started playing trumpet when I was in grade school, played that thru grade school and middle school. It was when I got into high school I started getting into Rock ‘n Roll and heavier music and right away I was drawn to the bass guitar and have been playing ever since.
Joe: I was turned onto music just like everyone else. You go to a buddy’s house and hear something that just draws you. It was like Yngwie Malmsteen, Rising Force album never look back, it was crazy.
What do you do in your own time to keep up with your musical skills?
Tom: Singing in the shower, maybe…
Larry: Practice through out the week, doing covers and originals we’ll all decide on a new cover and work on that during the week.
Mike: I constantly listen to music whenever I can; in the car, the headphones, even when I’m working on the computer. It’s always going, always listening to stuff and it’s always coming into your self conscious influencing what you want to do.
Where did the name Nemesis Theory come from? Any stories behind it?
Mike: The Nemesis Theory is actually a celestial proposition if you will from a bunch of scientists, they believe that there is a sister star to our sun that disrupts comets and asteroids outside of our solar system and showers them down on our planet periodically on a large scale. So they think that it was probably related to why the dinosaurs became extinct. Major impacts to the planet causing devastation world wide.
Tom: Pertaining to us when we first started the band we were nameless and Mike had brought up something that his grandfather’s brother had worked on Nemesis Theory and I thought “hey that’s a great name” let’s use Nemesis Theory.
What do you enjoy most about performing?
Joe: That’s it, performing is excellent.
Tom: For me I like seeing the people on stage with me having a good time and then that translates to everyone else having a good time. Cover band or not, it doesn’t matter who you are up there, when you see people out there loving what you do, whether they are head banging at a show or throwing up the rock on sign, it’s the best. That gets you going, that’s what you live for.
Larry: Personally never performing with a better group of people and the energy that we’ve gelled and we create just transcends completely.
Joe: This is the first project I’ve done that’s been when we first started off to be an all cover band and when you see people, when you play a song that people know you are touching back to a part of their lives that brings back memories. And that’s the coolest thing.
Larry: People don’t cover the material that we do and that’s the biggest thing.
What are your favorite songs to perform?
Larry: Last in Line, Theo
Joe: Pull Me Under, Dream Theater
Mike: I would have to say mine’s Dream Theater as well. It’s very technical, very sophisticated and people that grasp that really have a fine understanding of music.
Tom: I don’t have a particular one, I guess each time we play out it’s always something different cause from night to night my voice might be a little different. I might be sick or something, I might be able to hit something that I couldn’t hit before. It all depends on what I do, I like the Queensryche because that was one of my favorite bands as a kid growing up and knowing what a fantastic singer he is and be able to at least somewhat sound like him.
Speaking of Queensryche, you are in their contest, tell me a little about that.
Tom: We got a message sent to us from a fan of ours that I had to sign up, I signed up. I wanted to do a Friday night, they were supposedly not doing a Friday night because the Loop had a show. I got picked for the Saturday night and then I declined that because we had a show. And it just turned out that I got a call from Susan Tate, the band manager of Queensryche saying that they are having a show on Friday night. So I got picked for both of those I won the Friday night show, now I am entered into a 25 or 26 person National Contest and that will be brought down to 3 and those 3 go to Seattle. So I am still awaiting that.
When will you find out more information about that?
Tom: The show in Seattle that the 3 are supposed to be at is March 1st, so I’m hoping to hear sometime before that.
So it was a fan that got you to enter the contest?
Tom: I didn’t even know about it.
Mike: They kind of brought it to light for us.
Tom: I think that for them it might have been a last minute thing too.
Larry: He got into the studio quick to lay down the vocals and it was shipped out, it was all really fast.
Tom: By the time we heard about it to the time we recorded it and then I was picked, it was a week.
Where is your favorite bar/venue to play?
Larry: This is definitely one of them, Duke O’Briens, we love performing here, they love us here.
Mike: I’d have to say Duke O’Briens, we’ve adopted this as our home place to play now.
Tom: Penny Road has been great to us. We’ve only been to City Limits twice, but both times we have had great responses and even the sound guy has said over the intercom “you’ve gotta get these guys back.”
Larry: They have really good sound there, it’s great performing there.
Joe: Durty Nellie’s, we’d love to get back into there, that’s in the works right now.
Tom: The Brat Stop, The fans have been great everywhere.
Joe: And venues that we haven’t played, we are looking into getting into some new places this year, that is our main focus is, trying to get into a lot of new places that we haven’t really played in so we can expand fan base.
Who influenced you personally growing up and wanting to get into metal?
Larry: Dave Lombardo from Slayer, even as far as I really did start fairly young branching out on other stuff, incorporating Stewart Copeland from The Police was a very big influence to try to create my own identity within the drumming of metal, a pull from many things but those are my two.
Tom: Queensryche, was always something to hear the guy scream crystal clear. Christian metal band Stryper, the lead singer of that band I always thought was phenomenal. Not just metal, I like jazz singers, blues, soulful; I like people that can get into the music. You’re not just up there playing it like a robot, I like the feeling of it. I can’t say all metal singers are that way. It’s just an identity thing, whatever I listened to I tried to make it my own, just like Larry trying to make drumming his own style. But yeah, Geoff Tate.
Joe: The first guitar player I heard was Ingbay, anything on the Shrapnel Label, Richie Blackmore, all the technical neoclassical guitar players.
Mike: Back when I was playing trumpet and I first wanted to pick up the bass guitar had to be Steve Harris from Iron Maiden, that really drove me to play bass guitar. Other influences also came to light and I kind of took what I liked from everybody and kind of brought it all together and kind of made that the essence of what I wanted to try to do.
What do you think of the state of metal today?
Joe: I think it’s sort of going into a really cool direction because it is a lot of throw back to the metal that actually influenced us. If you actually listen to a lot of the metal that is coming out now, like Trivium and Killswitch Engage. They all have two guitar players, they all have a lot of double harmonized guitar solos which always throw back to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest. So to me it’s turning around a little bit, it’s actually getting to throw back to what made metal metal.
Mike: I agree, I think a pendulum is swinging back and forth within the genre of metal. It’s definitely going back to those days where you’ve got the really shredding guitar solos and the duel harmonies. Like Joe mentioned Trivium, bands are bringing back that older school of metal back to the forefront.
Larry: I agree, personally within the last several years when it was all the down tune metal, I really had it up to here in a very short amount of time. Guitarists are creating riffs again, rather than just one muted down tune after another. There are many countries outside the US that have really helped keep metal alive, like Sweden and the Netherlands, I think it’s helped get America back.
What are you listening to now in general (mainstream or not)?
Tom: I just got Chuck Prophet, a lot of indie stuff, XM radio is always on all day at my computer, no metal for me.
Larry: The Solution which is a side project of Nick Anderson is real Detroit Motown type sound that is just really rockin’ and raw. I’m big into the genre of “Stoner Rock”. Divine Harrisey, the new project of the guitarist of Fear Factory.
Joe: I threw myself back into the 80’s again, and I just came back from California I went to the NAMM Show with Mike. Got to see Joe Santriani performing his Surfing With The Alien album from beginning to end and I actually have been listening to that again because I actually forgot how awesome it was.
Mike: I’ve been listening to a lot of propositional jazz and jazz fusion lately. A band like Tribal Tech and some Allen Holdsworth. Kind of off the wall stuff, try to shake things up and bring some things loose, take my playing in a new direction.
What are the some other recent shows you’ve been to?
Joe: I saw Living Colour while in California, the reunion show with all the original members, that was cool.
Mike: Well of course we were at the Queensryche show
Larry: We all went to support Tom
Tom: I haven’t seen any shows in a long time.
If given the opportunity, what artist or band would you love to meet and interview?
Larry: For Tom, it was one of his dreams come true with Queensryche. It was more of a meet and greet. It was cool to see.
Tom: It would be great to sit down longer with them, it was just a half hour. They had kind of like a drill sergeant kind of taking them through, “talk to this guy, yada yada sign this.” So I didn’t really get a chance to really talk about stuff that I really wanted to ask them but, even still I’d like to sit and talk with them. Hopefully if I win get to sing on their album, then I can talk to them about some stuff.
Larry: I would say Slayer for one and Confessor from North Carolina, very big influence on me especially in the drummer part. They got out of the scene for a while and they actually came back with a new album 2 years ago and supposed to be putting out a new album, very excited about it, I would love to pick their brain.
Mike: For me it would have to be Rush with Geddy Lee, Iron Maiden with Steve Harris to kind of pick their brains and see what’s really kept them in the industry so long, what’s kept them continually producing stuff that is quality both to the fans and to their own liking of music.
Joe: I would like to sit down and have an interview with Vinnie Moore, he’s probably one of the most influential guitar players other than Ingbay. And I actually did get to meet him and the NAMM show.
Mike: Yeah, Joe picked him right out of the crowd, Joe’s like “hey Mike take a picture of me and Vinnie” I’m like ‘oh, ok”
Joe: As a band I would have to say Testament, I forgot about Testament. Testament has been influential on me earlier in the 80’s.
I just have one more general question only because at Live Hub there is always this argument on what’s better, either PC or Mac? Zune or iPod? What do you guys prefer?
Larry: PC, iPod!
Tom: I’m indifferent to the computer scene, I work on both of them.
Larry: What do you work on at home?
Tom: A PC
Larry: That’s right!
Mike: I’d have to say even though they are more of a hassle the PC because there’s just so much more available right away. I’m really thinking of getting a Mac though. But PC and iPod, I haven’t tried the Zune yet. Joe likes the Zune.
Joe: I like mine, Zune, you have to compare the 80 gig Zune to the 80 gig iPod
Tom: Is it a world of difference?
Joe: Nope, the screen is bigger!
Mike: I don’t know how Sony lost that market, Sony had the walkman back in the day and they even progressed it into the cd version and Steve Jobst just stole that market.
I think we can all agree that Steve Jobst is a smart smart man!
check out Tom Wilson’s performance for Queensryche at queensryche.com/sing
You can find the link on their myspace page.