"This album is 20 years in the making..."In Conversation with Lee McKinney
Lee McKinney is the guitarist of Progressive Metalcore band Born of Osiris, alongside the release of their own record The Simulation released in January McKinney has found some time to put together an instrumental album diverse in its influences and one that sticks in the mind long after it finishes. We chatted to Lee about how this album came to be.
Infinite Mind is out now. Excited it’s finally out?
Definitely. The fact that this is my debut solo album almost 20 years into playing the guitar makes it feel like the culmination of all of the years of practice and hard work.
How did the project come to fruition?
I think every young guitar player dreams of having a solo record. Growing up and listening to Satriani's Surfing with the Alien," Vai's Passion and Warfare, and Eric Johnson's Ah Via Musicom made me dream in my earliest years about having my own solo album.
How did you approach this album compared to a Born of Osiris record?
I approached this album with no rules, habits, boundaries, or boxes. I would start with chord progressions that really struck me most of the time. Whether I was playing the chords on a piano, guitar, or synth - it didn't matter. Once I could feel a progression in my soul I knew it was going to be the groundwork for something that would strike the listener the same way the original progression struck me.
With the recent release of the BoO record as well, do you have plans to tour your solo work as well?
I do plan on performing it one way or another. I really need to get a couple versions of a live band together. I say a couple because most likely the Infinite Mind live band will be comprised of touring musicians that also have their own schedules. I hope to find a couple drummers, bass players, and a couple guitar players to be able to perform a set with me on quick notice. The dream down the road is to perform with a live sax player and a live piano/key player. A full size band like that will cost a lot of money and since this is just the first album, I need to be patient and realistic.
Having been with BoO for so long was it hard to get out of that creative head space and into your own?
It wasn't. I have been making music for movies, video games, other bands, and other projects for years now. The fact that I'm always in my own studio and in my own head space just made it feel natural.
What do you get out of your solo work compared to being part of BoO?
Freedom and control. Born Of Osiris is a heavy metal band, so when I'm writing for Born Of Osiris I have that "box" to stay inside of. My solo work can be rock, jazz, blues, acoustic, anything. That's the freedom aspect. As far as control, it was fun to be the only cook in the kitchen on all aspects. The music was my own, no second guessing or other opinions. Also, the artwork and song titles were my own. You'd be surprised how rewarding creating and conceptualizing artwork on your own can be! That being said, when Born of Osiris comes together on music or artwork, I believe the end result is something truly special. Just because I have total freedom and control as a solo artist doesn't mean I don't miss working as a team in Born Of Osiris. I will continue to love both avenues since they both bring me different types of joy.
The artwork is very striking, how did that come to be?
Well I knew the album was going to be called Infinite Mind before I had artwork. I also liked adding the concept of 'A Neverending Explosion' into the art as well. I think if you look at the cover with those two song titles in mind you'll see how it all came to be. Also, the being. The being is on a lot of BOO artwork as well. I'm not sure it will always be present in BOO artwork or my solo artwork, but for this release it still felt comfortable. Shout out to Steven McCorry and Daniel McBride for bringing it all to life.
The album is fused with many influences, jazz licks one moment and Djent grooves in another, what influenced you in your playing?
I would say guitar players and different genres ended up inspiring me the most. There's an endless list of guitar players new and old that inspired me. As for the genres you hear on the album - I listen to everything. All kinds of music. I think every style of music can be fitting for certain vibes, moments, places, or atmospheres. So I take from everything knowing that it all has a place.
The album is fully instrumental did you have any thoughts about putting vocals across it or was it always going to be instrumental?
At this point in time, I feel it will always be instrumental. That being said, I ALWAYS use vocal style synths. Even choirs. There is probably a choir on every song I ever make. Even if you don't hear one in the open, there is probably one filling out any big parts of the song. Fun fact about Infinite Mind - It is only female voices. Whether it was a sampled vocal style synth or a full choir, it ended up feeling prettier to me with only female voices.
Did you play all the instruments on the record or did you get others to support your vision?
I played every instrument except the saxophone. That was performed by Adrián Terrazas-González from The Mars Volta. He's a legend to me. It was an honor to have him on the record. We hope to perform some of the songs together one way or another down the road.
You can pick up Infinite Mind on all streaming platforms and whereever music is sold.