With their debut offering Harmagedon released in a couple of weeks, The Music Fix spoke to Collin Leijenaar, drummer for the newest prog supergroup in town Affector, on how this trans-continental beast was born.
How did Affector come into being?
It all started around 2005 when I was on tour with Neal Morse. After the concert I had some time to kill and wandered round in the venue, talking to people. Then Daniel Fries walked up to me and asked me if I was interested in hearing his music. Since it would take at least another hour before we would leave we sat in the car for a moment to listen to his music. I really liked what I heard and we agreed on keeping contact. After a few years (I was too busy with my other bands & tours with Neal Morse and my own music school) we connected again and started writing and recording music that evolved into Harmagedon. Later in the process Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard/Enchant/Thought Chamber) & Mike LePond (Symphony X) joined in.
How would you sell Harmagedon to us?
Our label sells it with these words: Harmagedon fuses dark, apocalyptic scenery with themes of hope and light. Heavy riffs and fast solos offset more softer and fragile moments, throughout which the soulful singing of Ted Leonard embraces a wide spectrum of vocal harmonies. But I would personally say it more like: Harmagedon is an album written without a radio-friendly, idealistic commercially idea. Just music that came out of the heart of the makers. Music for those who appreciate it, not for the hit-parade.
Did the distances between the four of you present many problems during the writing and recording process?
These days with high speed internet and computer-based recoding it is very easy to make music without being in the same studio all together. Everyone involved in this album recorded in their own studio. We layered the recordings; we started with guitar and guide vocals. I added my drums to that, and those sessions where sent to Ted & Mike, who did their magic. When they were ready, the sessions where sent to the keyboard players. And we told everyone (including the ‘hired guns’) to just record what they felt inspired to play. So they could really make the song have a little bit of their own signature in it.
How was it working with the illustrious keyboardists guesting on the album?
We are VERY honored to have them guest on our album. It’s a dream come true. I remember our excitement when we received all the tracks, and put them into the master session. It’s so great having a bunch of our favorite keyboardists play on music we created.
You want to describe your music to a stranger on the street, who do you compare yourself to?
I would say: Genesis on steroids.
What's your earliest musical memory?
My earliest musical memory is the first cassette tape I got from my grandfather. A mix made by him with music from ABBA and the likes. Looking back on it, musically not really my thing, but I remember as a kid I played that tape daily, as it was the first music I owned.
Everyone has a defining music moment, one that lives on in the memory, what is yours?
I had many of these moments. One of them was seeing a drum clinic of Terry Bozzio about his solo drums theater show. To me this was a true mind blowing revelation on melodic and harmonic composing on a drum-set and thinking outside the box.
What is the best gig you've ever been to and why?
That must have been the first time I saw Earth Wind & Fire play. I have been a longtime fan of their music, and this was the first big concert I went to in my life. The production, the show, the groove, Sonny Emory on drums…. It was just fantastic! Quite the happening for a 15 year old music lover from a little town where nothing happened all year. Talking about ‘best’ gig… At least the one with the best memories. And since then I have seen so many bands play… it’s really impossible to name ‘the best gig’ as there is so much good music around.
What's next for Affector?
We are hoping to get a tour happening – but that all depends on how our album will be received, and how the promotors will react on it. Also, currently we are already writing and shooting ideas back and forth for songs that could end up on our next album.
Affector's debut album Harmagedon is out May 14th via InsideOut Music.