with Joey Eppard of THREE (italian
by Giancarlo Bolther
The End is Begun is your fourth studio album and (in my opinion)
you did an impressive growth since your start, would you like to do
a balance of your career?
We began as friends doing what we love to do and that hasn’t
changed. Of course our playing has improved over the years, but the
passion has always been there.
3 got its start in 1993 in the basement of my parent’s house.
It was me and bassist Chris Bittner, who went on to co-produce all
of Coheed and Cambria’s records to date. We needed a drummer
so we shoved a snare drum in front of my little bro, Josh and it just
clicked. We were kids but we were very serious about what we were
doing. We got our start opening for a stellar NY prog/punk band called
Peacebomb. It was their creative arrangements and spontaneous live
show that inspired a lot of the early 3 material.
We quickly developed a solid local fan base and a reputation for playing
music that was highly sophisticated for such a young group of musicians.
We traded labor hours for studio time to make the demos, which eventually
led to our first deal with Universal. We were about half way through
the making of our first record, “Paint By Number,” when
a large corporate merger left us sidelined. They dropped every artist
that hadn’t sold 150,000 records that year. Because we had yet
to complete our first album we stood no chance. This was a crushing
blow and soon after the first incarnation of 3 dissolved. Josh quit
playing drums altogether, and Chris went on to intern at the studio
where we’d been working. After some time off, I transformed
my frustration into determination and decided to forge ahead with
In the years that followed, I assembled a new band and released several
albums on Planet Noise Records. Meanwhile, our good friends from Coheed
and Cambria, known as Shabutie at the time, needed a drummer and asked
my brother who’d begun to play drums again after a 2 year hiatus.
They signed a deal with Equal vision and hit the road, quickly rising
to national popularity.
By 2004, I had finally put together my dream line up including key
members of the very band who’d influenced 3 in the early days,
Peacebomb. The project had come full circle, making a matured return
to our progressive roots. With the new team in place we took matters
into our own hands, setting up a studio and recording “Wake
Pig,” our self produced Metal Blade Records debut.
In your opinion, which are the main differences between your
“Paint By Number” (2000) is
a very melodic and diverse collection of songs. The producer chose
to focus more on our pop sensibilities than our progressive ones but
the music is still intricate and powerful. This record features the
original line up of “3.” Chris Bittner on bass, who went
on to co-produce all of Coheed’s records to date, and Josh Eppard
who went on to be Coheed’s drummer. www.planetnoiserecords.com
“Half Life” (2002) was an attempt to
capture the live energy of the band and add some studio polish. Most
of it was recorded live in Kingston, NY. There are several other live
tracks from radio and television performances as well. There is a
good chunk of improvisation and this was also the funkiest era of
the band. I had been touring with George Clinton a lot and it had
a big impact on my writing. www.planetnoiserecords.com
“Summer Camp Nightmare” (2003) Our second
official studio release, this record put the focus back on our deeper
songs. It was a return to our Pink Floyd influences and also an evolutionary
leap for the band as we really began to cultivate our own sound out
of the myriad of diverse influences. This record has a very vintage
sound as we used all old tube gear and removed all computers from
the studio because we didn’t like the vibe. www.planetnoiserecords.com
“Wake Pig” (2005) By 2004 I had finally
put together my dream line up including key members of the very band
who’d influenced 3 in the early days, Peacebomb. The project
had come full circle, making a matured return to our progressive roots.
With the new team in place we took matters into our own hands, setting
up a studio and recording our self produced MetalBlade Records debut.
This is the record we’d always wanted to make. www.metalblade.com
“The End Is Begun” (2008) After touring
Wake Pig for the last couple years we were good and ready to come
home and create a new masterpiece. We had over 30 song ideas to choose
from and eventually paired it down to 13. We set up recording rehearsals
in which we multi-tracked everything and could listen back and make
compositional adjustments. This also helped the band feel comfortable
in the recording situation. This time around our compositions are
a bit less orthodox, there are also more progressive elements. TEIB
has a bigger and more classic sound to it. It was mixed by Toby Wright,
where as I mixed Wake Pig. This album has the feel of 2 different
sides as well. The first half is very different from the last. This
plays into the duality that we wanted to portray on this album. This
is some of our best work to date. www.metalblade.com
Can you tell us about the songs from The End Is Begun and
what does the title mean?
“The Word Is Born Of Flame”:
This is the intro to the record. It starts like a movie, with the
camera slowly zooming in from above. The vocal draws the listener
in instantly with softly sweeping melody drawn upon a spine of acoustic
triplets. You immediately get the sense that “something is about
to happen” and it does. You’ll have to see the movie to
find out what happens...
“The End Is Begun”: The Launching point
of the record. This started as a wicked acoustic flamenco driven demo
and evolved into pretty heavy tune. When I was a kid I used to listen
to Zeppelin for hours, and then sing through a fender twin with the
reverb on 10 doing my best Robert Plant. They used to call me “The
Electric Squirrel.” Some how that part of me resurfaced in the
chorus of this tune. People keep asking me: “who did you get
to sing on the chorus?”
“Battle Cry”: A solid, dynamic, melodic
and progressive tune. A lot of fun live, just as good on record. We
wrote the harmony guitar solos while driving in our van all over the
“All That Remains”: The first single
from the record, it represents the band well. The drums have that
special shuffle and The Gartdrumm is in full effect with his tom and
ride work. The percussion has a bit of an afro pop feel in the verses,
complimented by very choice bass playing. The guitars are unique,
one a rollicking rhythmic spine of triplets weaving through the other’s
dark epic rock chords. At the fore we are confronted with a strong
heart wrenched vocal melody and revealing lyrics... “Aiming
at the enemy I only smash the mirror. Pluck out your wicked eyes,
see for the first time in your life defending All that remains, Drowning
in flames, the same old story but the names have all been changed.”
“My Divided Falling”: The first tune
we had composed musically speaking. Lyrically it took a while to come
to fruition. This song is an interesting groove; it has that feeling
of falling down the stairs the way each note is anticipated.
“Serpents In Disguise”: The last tune
to be finished lyrically. I stayed up for 48 hours straight to finish
lyrics and vocals on this track. Then I hopped on a plane and flew
to the mix. I broke some new ground on this one.
“Been To The Future”: The Title track
from 2002’s Been To the Future (my solo album). I was doing
a little acoustic gig in my hometown of Woodstock and I played this
song. Our other guitarist, Billy, was in the audience that night.
At the end of my set he came up and insisted that 3 does a version
of that song on the new record. I agreed!
“Bleeding Me Home”: Some of my favorite
lyrics and vocal arrangements on the album, this song features a lot
of Keith moon style wild drumming.
“Live Entertainment”: The oldest tune
to make this record. This was written before the Summercamp Nightmare
era. It’s a great pop song, even if musically it is the shallow
end of the record. It has a raw but smart energy that translates very
nicely in live settings.
“Diamond In The Crush”: This tune scared
me when we first wrote it during the making of “Wake Pig.”
It sounds a bit like Motley Cure and Elvis Costello combined. A natural
born rocker with a memorable hook.
“Shadow Play”: Originally conceived for
my next solo acoustic release, the music for this song was written
during a heated ping pong contest in our friend Rudy’s basement.
This one has a Zeppelin quality when the drums come in.
“These Iron Bones”: Just in case you
thought we were getting a little soft we threw this one in to shake
things up. This was the last piece of music we recorded for this record.
“The Last Day”: This song was an evolutionary
leap for my writing, and marks the cross pollination of my progressive
and folk influences. The song is its own journey and is a hybrid of
melancholy and hope rising up out of the ashes of our self-destruction
/ deception. “It’s the last day of the world, all the
stars fired up to unfurl. Gonna meet you in the space within. You
and I, we’ll race the light and win.”
The next question pretty much covers the meaning of the album title...
Your new album is very strong and dark, which is the message
that you want to give with this story?
Yes, at first glance it seems rather dark. Yet any ending
is a new beginning, so it’s a matter of interpretation. It’s
all in how you frame it with your own perspective. We’re often
taught to fear and resist change, but change can be good. The truth
is, humanity is on the verge of an ending of sorts. We have to be.
We can choose to end the cycle of violence, of needless suffering
and the abuse of our planet’s resources. Or we can choose to
allow the end to consume us. Either way, we must live with the consequences
of our actions or inactions. We determine whether the end is a good
or bad thing. We have to face the darker possibilities, master our
fears in order to look beyond them. There is so much more to the grand
scheme of things than our physical senses can provide us. It is in
these realms that our true salvation awaits. This record is a hybrid
of melancholy and hope rising up out of the ashes of our self-destruction
/ deception. I think the final line of the final song sums it up best:
“It’s the last day of the world, all the stars fired up
to unfurl. Gonna meet you in the space within. You and I, we’ll
race the light and win.”
My fave one is “All That Remains”, it deeply
touches me! Can you tell me more about this song, please?
Much of this song was written in the van during travel between
gigs. Billy had a Pandora’s box and some battery operated computer
speakers that he wore around his neck and I had an adapter that allowed
me to play through the stereo system. We worked out the entire harmony
solo that way. Conceptually the song deals with duality: “Ordinary
town” / “Devils underground” Things are not always
as they appear to be. “Pluck out your Wicked Eyes” is
a reference to your physical sight limiting your spiritual perception.
The song revolves around the epic struggle of light and dark dressed
in different situations and names.
In your songs you usually use complex rhythms, but in a very
natural way, how do you go about the process of composing songs?
For this record I started with a lot of acoustic demos, some
were well developed and others a bit rough. We would listen as a band,
choosing the ideas that were most fitting for what we were feeling
at the time. The next step was pre-production where we basically practiced
recording the songs. This is where we would make decisions about arrangements
and compositions. Once we had developed pretty solid full band demos
I would take them home and perfect vocals, melodies and lyrics.
Where do you find inspiration for writing your lyrics, can
you tell me more about them?
I don’t usually write from a logical standpoint. It’s
really more based on feeling and intuition. I’ll begin by finding
the melody and the allowing the notes to form shapes and words. Soon
I’ll see a concept developing, and I just go with it. I try
to stay out of my own way. Much of what inspires me is the great mysteries.
There is so much that we don’t know and yet we can sense the
possibilities. I know with all that I am that there is so much more
to our existence than what our physical senses have to offer. I think
we’re being faced with so many great challenges, challenges
that require us to strive to see absolute truth without succumbing
to our own prejudice. I think the purpose of all that we face, and
indeed of life itself is the evolution of consciousness.
It seems that you have tried to face some philosophical aspects
of life, do you want to wake up people about the reality that surround
us, or it’s just a personal reflection about what was happening
in the world?
I don’t even know for sure that I’m awake, I
only know I want to be. My main goal is to dissolve the illusions
of life, to better grasp the truth, the totality of reality. Contemplation
is a big part of who I am.
Your music and your lyrics have got a spiritual vibe, can
you tell me more about your belief and how much important is spirituality
in your life?
Spirituality is reality to me. We live in a materialistic
age, which I believe is incredibly dangerous to the soul. In fact
in my studies I have discovered evidence that your thought patterns
between birth and death may, in a sense, create the “landscape”
of your afterlife. Essentially you become what you think. After death
those who believe they are nothing more than flesh become bound to
the physical level of reality until they can develop sufficient spiritual
knowledge that will allow them to rise into the higher realms. This
can take a very long time. Those who have developed in life, proper
conceptions of worlds beyond the physical, have indeed created those
possibilities for themselves. If you’re curious about these
concepts I suggest checking out some of Rudolph Steiner’s work.
Specifically “Secret Brotherhoods and the Mystery of the Human
If my music has a purpose (and I believe it does) I would think that
it would be to give the listener a sense that there is something more
to the totality of reality than merely the physical side. Not to tell
them exactly what that may be but to plant and nurture that seed of
It seems to me that the interest for spiritual belief is
increasing, do you feel the same?
I know for myself it has, and I believe it is an important
aspect of human evolution.
What kind of feedbacks are you having back from the messages
in your albums?
All very positive. I think people find an honesty in what
we do that has been obscured from a lot of other music. People often
say we’ve changed their lives for the better.
Some people doesn’t believe that rock music was made
to change the world, on the contrary they think that rock music aim
is to help people to forget the problems…
Rock music is art, and therefore it is up to the artist as
to its purpose. Certainly a lot of rock is just about having a good
time and there’s nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact
if everyone went to a show, let go of their problems and had a good
time wouldn’t that would change the world?
What do you think about the tendency to link hard rock and
heavy metal with evil contents?
People fear what they do not understand. It began with Zeppelin,
who cultivated an esoteric identity for themselves as part of their
general band “mystique.” We’ve all heard “Stairway”
backwards and such. I don’t know if there is any validity to
it. Certainly there are some bands that like portraying themselves
in a darker light and even some may be malevolent in their nature.
Of course it goes back even farther to the “cross roads”
in which the blues guy sells his soul to the devil in exchange for
fame. We’ve never sold our souls and that could explain some
of the difficulties we’ve had building an audience!
In your opinion, can song lyrics really influence young listeners?
Sure they can. But I think the combination of lyric and music
is particularly powerful. I think its possible to absorb concepts
into your being without even consciously comprehending them at the
time. Eventually the seed grows into fruition later down the road.
Can you tell me more about the meaning of the band’s
name and why did you choose it?
3 is a concept. We live in a 3 dimensional physical space,
experiencing time as past present and future, in a form that consists
of mind, body and soul. 3 is the apex of the triangle, the transcendence
of our dualistic “good versus evil” view of life. We are
a 3 dimensional band, with more than one side to what we do. I feel
like the name chose us as much as we chose it.
Another thing that hit me a lot is your guitar playing style,
a mix of nu-metal, flamenco and virtuosity, how have you developed
I started with finger picking which led to more percussive
applications of my thumb and fingers. I have never used a pick. Billy,
our other guitarist has always used a pick so we get a nice combination
of sounds when we play together.
When you listen to a guitar player, what is that you like
and what do you dislike?
I like rhythm and soul. I like tasty tones and well orchestrated
parts. I don’t like notes for notes sake and constant shredding
all over the place.
You have crossed many different music styles, funky, soul,
pop, metal, prog... and as a result your sound is very impressive,
what kind of music you are shooting for?
We’re just being who we are, and that kind of honesty
is central to creating music with an emotional impact. I want listener’s
to share in our passion to explore music. I don’t know exactly
what to call that. All I know is that we are blessed with multiple
musical facets. The whole of our artistry contains and yet transcends
the paradox of our music’s duality.
What kind of music do you listen to? What are your favorite
bands actually and what are your inspirations from the past?
I like “good” music. I have an open mind so if
it is played with passion and soul chances are I’ll dig it.
Stevie Wonder and John Lennon were two of my biggest early influences.
The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Police, Prince, Steely
Dan, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Ani Difranco, Joni Mitchel, Elvis
Costello, P-Funk, Sly and the Family Stone...
Last year you have played with Porcupine Tree and the Scorpions,
two very different bands with very different audiences, what can you
tell me about this double experience and how have you faced both situations
(i.e. different set lists...)? Did you was satisfied at the end?
Yes, these were very different tours. I think it’s
a testament to our band that we were so well received by both audiences.
With PT, it’s really like being at home. We really connected
with the audience. We were able to play some of our more ambitious
stuff and it never went over anyone’s head. Instead we were
a direct hit night after night. With Scorpions we soon realized that
certain songs weren’t working as well, like “The Word
is Born of Flame” and ‘The End Is Begun.” The songs
with the really epic and memorable chorus’ seemed to rise to
the top, like “All That Remains” and “These Iron
Bones.” Our tour with Scorpions was very successful and we picked
up a lot of new fans. We always learn from the tours we do.
New York has got an impressive musical scene, what can you
tell me about it?
I live in Woodstock, NY about 2 hours North of the big city.
It’s a small arts community but runs very deep with musical
talent and history. I used to rehearse in a barn where Jimmy Hendrix
played. I played my first gig in a bar that Bob Dylan used to live
above. David Bowie and Mick Jagger have homes in the nearby mountains.
You never know who you’ll run into.
In your MySpace profile I’ve seen (and listened) that
you’ve got some great music still unreleased, don’t you
plan to do a new solo album?
Yes, I don’t know when but it will happen!
Can you tell me something about your future projects, please?
Look for me to do something with my bro Josh. We just did
a gig together last night and it was badass!
The End is Begun... Do you have a word of hope to end this
interview or we must live in fear?
Any ending is a new beginning, face the fear and conquer
it. Our bodies may come and go but we will never die.
Reviews (only in italian): The End Is Begun;