Interview with Jim Matheos and Mark Zonder for PROGnosis Magazine (12/08/1994)
With Jim Matheos (guitar) and Mark Zonder (drums)
Interview By: Antonio Kontokanis for PROGnosis Magazine
Photography By: Richard Rodriguez for PROGnosis Magazine
PROGnosis- In brief, describe the musical history behind Fates Warning?
Jim- It’s really hard to answer briefly we’ve been around for 10 years
now.Um,started together in ’83 in Connecticut bunch of guys from
different local bands just getting together deciding to do some
original material. And to make this really brief we did a demo got
signed to Metal Blade, put a couple of albums out had a few member
changes another couple of albums another couple of member changes…
Mark- Here we are!
Jim- Here we are basically.
Jim- Um yes, so that was… I mean without going into a lot more
detail, that’s about it. Mark came in 19′ (hesitation) was it ’89?
Mark- ’89 Perfect Symmetry album.
PROGnosis- Yeah, I remember Mark from the Warlord days.
Mark- Actually this is the longest that the band has been together
with any lineup, three albums, there has never been three albums done
by the same lineup
PROGnosis- Give us a little insight on “Inside Out”, the new album, a
little brief description, how did you guys get together and worked on
it…and so forth.
Jim- Um, this one was done a little different then the last one,
Parallels (hesitation). Parallels we’ve kind of all worked together in
Toronto on it. I did still a lot of the writing but we’d get together
every night at rehearsal and go over new arrangements and new ideas
and things like that and really a lot of bouncing off each other
bouncing ideas off each other.
This one more or less was done Um, via tape really, me and Mark were
in LA. I would come up with the basic writing of the song, me and Mark
would work on the arrangements and things like that get it to a fairly
fine construction hopefully and then send it out to the different
members and then they would add there parts on to it and send it back
Mark- Done a lot through the mail.
PROGnosis- Yeah, a lot of bands are starting to do that now, I don’t
know why? (Guess Tony, duh?) Maybe it’s because ahh everybody is
Mark- Don’t hang out with them all year long.
Jim- Yeah you kind of limit yourself if your just going to get a band
member from your neighborhood you know?
PROGnosis- Right! There you go…that’s true!
PROGnosis- How is life on the road with Dream Theater?
Mark- It’s great, it’s great!
Mark- It’s probably been the best thing that we’ve done!
PROGnosis- Yeah, I was going to say, what other bands have you toured with?
Jim- We’ve done…nothing this extensive where it’s night in night out
with the same band, we’ve done little stints with Manowar and
Saxon…a few shows…
Mark- Five dates.
Jim- Things like that!
Jim- This has been, you know four or five weeks, and just playing night
in night out with those guys, its been great we get a long great!
PROGnosis- You guys have the chemistry for it! Man, I tell you…(tell
Jim- Yeah we all get along great.
PROGnosis- Actually this one is geared a little towards Jim, what made
you want to record an album like “First Impressions”?
Jim- Um, well I think me, just like everybody else, we all have a lot
of different influences you know? What you see on a Fates Warning
record isn’t the result of everyone influences, everyone is interested
in a lot of outside music aside from what we do. Um, that was just
really what I was into at that time, I’m still really into that kind
of music too. Just want to explore some different fields outside of
PROGnosis- Yeah, a lot of people are doing that, Michael Manring is
Jim- Right! He went the opposite actually! (smile)
PROGnosis- Yeah exactly!
Jim- H was kind of more like the acoustic stuff…yeah his great!
PROGnosis- Do you plan on following up on your solo album?
Jim- Yeah, I like to do something, you know,I’m just starting to think
about it now I don’t know if it’s going to be same style or again go
into a totally different field again. ‘Cause I do it more or less just
for myself you know? Just things that I want to explore so whenever
I’m…I don’t know what I’m going to do next.
PROGnosis- A question for both of you guys, influences…
Mark- Um, in this band it really varies, it’s like when your talking to
a lot of guys who listen to a lot of music and a lot of DIFFERENT
music really, really spans,there’s lot of influences, I can’t really
name it down to three or four I think just um, a lot of good music and
what we consider good music.
PROGnosis- Did you have like any drummers that you listen to when you
were growing up?
Mark- Oh, now when I was growing up, like everybody else there were
certain bands you know certain rock bands and stuff, it was the
Rainbow, Rush, Black Sabbath whatever! You know that kind of stuff.
Jim- Yeah, I think a lot of the stuff that you can call influences is
mainly… I can consider my influences the stuff that I listen to like
when I was nine or ten ,eleven, twelve. When I was growing up that’s
really what gets you in the mood to want to do this for a living and
get you started playing things like that. So I mean, same bands you
know, Rush, UFO, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath…
Mark- A lot of Europeans!
Jim- Just keeps going on.
Mark- Classic metal bands of the 70’s and 80’s, I guess.
PROGnosis- How do you feel about the music scene today? What are your
Jim- One word, one word to describe them would be alienated. (laugh)
PROGnosis- I know there some pretty bad stuff!
Mark- Completely out of it.
Jim- Right, the stuff that is popular today, I don’t really feel any
Mark- Association to it whatsoever!
Jim- I guess that about sums it up.
PROGnosis- Is there any artists…?
Jim- Oh yeah, there’s a few here and there. Yeah, I’m just talking
about the majority of things that are out there right now that are
really popular, I just don’t understand? Obviously there’s a few
spots, there’s Dream Theater, for me anyway, Dream Theater, Kings X,
PROGnosis- Great band!
Jim- Tribe after Tribe…
PROGnosis- That’s another great band!
Jim- Yeah, I mean there’s things out there!
PROGnosis- A lot of these bands don’t get much recognition!
PROGnosis- Do you guys plan on playing any of the older Fates Warning
classics? Everybody is asking, ‘Guardian’, you know this and that…
Mark- We actually do ‘Guardian’ on the headlining set but tonight we
only played 45 minutes.
Jim- Yeah, you got to keep that in mind, we did 45 minutes tonight, we
have 7 albums to pick 45 minutes…
Mark- Promoting a new record.
Jim- Yeah we are promoting a new record, exactly!
Mark- And then you have to think, OK ,well your promoting a new record,
your record before this was the most popular…
Mark- So there’s seven songs right there before you start between those
two and that’s, you know, the 45 minutes goes by really quick…
PROGnosis- But definitely as a headliner…
Jim- As a headliner we dove into the past a little bit, it’s kind of a
an issue we’ve been talking about a lot lately ’cause, I mean just for
myself I really don’t like playing a lot of the old stuff.
Some of the other guys want to play some of the older stuff.
PROGnosis- Right, I mean everybody is…
Jim- Yeah, The fans, we hear it a lot, you know we hear it a lot from
some of the fans they want to hear the older stuff but for me it’s
kind of like looking at a picture of yourself ten years ago you know,
I don’t feel comfortable with it.
Mark- Also what happens, you got to remember it was a completely
different band, shit you know. You talk about a major singer change!
PROGnosis- Plus your drums.
Mark- That the styles, and the drums too but it’s the singer change!
It’s like a guy trying to sing something else…we’ve tried stuff and
Jim- It bores us every time we play it.
PROGnosis- Where is?… Um, now I kind of heard this a bit ago, but
what is Jon (Arch, ex Fates vocalist) doing these days? (Directed to
Mark)-And then from your band (Warlord) do you ever keep in touch with
any of the Warlord guys?
Mark- Well after they got out of the cocaine rehabilitation program…
PROGnosis- (surprised) Oh is that what happened? (laugh)
Mark- Found religion now (relating to ex Warlord member ).
PROGnosis- Yeah, most of them?
Mark- No just the one…
Jim- There is only two of them.
Mark- There is only two of us.
PROGnosis- Well, yeah? Really? (like this is news to me!)I thought
Mark- Tell him what Jon is doing!
Jim- Um, Jon is just, is just a happily married guy with a kid and
working a day job, his just a…average guy!
Mark- We see him all the time when were in Connecticut and everything.
PROGnosis- I heard that you guys did a couple of shows with um…
Jim- We did one show and he came out and he did Guardian with us, yeah!
PROGnosis- Yeah, was that the Connecticut show?
PROGnosis- I heard that there was some tapes floating around!
Jim- (Wise remark) Yeah I bet there is!
PROGnosis- (Mumble) Yeah, I like to get my greedy hands on them! (smile)
PROGnosis- What is next for Fates Warning? Possible European tour?
Headline in the US or Europe?
Jim- Immediately is Europe, sometime in January or early February. Were
still trying to finalize the plans right now. After that you can
definitely say the rest of the band would want to come back here and
tour the states some more!
Mark- I think we definitely agreed that we liked the opening type slot!
Jim- I mean this is what we wanted to do for the longest time, I mean
like, were like complaining about 45 minutes but this is what we want
to do! We want to get out there and play to a lot of people.
PROGnosis- I was at the Foundations Forum and that was one of Ray’s
(Fates lead vocalist) wishes when they had the panel, (talking about
Fates wish to do a tour with Dream Theater during the annual
Foundations Forum, back in September of 1994).
Jim- Yeah, Yeah!
PROGnosis- I guess…what? I Mother Earth got the first…
Jim- Yeah, they did the first two weeks actually.
PROGnosis- Wow, that was pretty short!
PROGnosis- What does the future hold, is there any albums? Do you have
any new stuff that you are working on?
Jim- Not really, This is still pretty fresh and that is what we are
focused on right now, supporting this album.
Mark- This was the first five weeks of the tour, this is the initial
touring for this record, it sort of early on!
Jim- Hopefully it’s still has a lot of life in it!
PROGnosis- There is definitely a lot of life! Man, I tell you!
PROGnosis- From the past, present, drawing from your memory, can you
tell the fans about a unique moment in the bands history, it could be
funny, death defying, fascinating or just simply weird!
Jim- It’s sitting right there! (pointing to a model of a miniature
Stonehenge prop that was used that night during the Dream Theater
set. Jim and Frank came out dressed like elves prancing around
Stonehenge in the middle of DT’s set! For those who might not now
where this skit is from, it’s taken from the cult classic “Spinal
Jim- (after lots of laughter, picture taking and reminiscing about the
repairs that will be needed on the Stoenhenge model we finally get to
the point)-This is it man, this was just fucking hilarious!
PROGnosis- So how did you guys decide this?
Jim- We originally came up with it but obviously its the end of the
tour and you start thinking about pranks pretty early on. So we wanted
to really do something to really show them (Dream Theater that
is)up. We always wind up watching that movie when we are on the
Mark- You know everybody knows what it is, so…a little ingenuity…
PROGnosis- Here is a couple of questions that I got from the
Internet.Do you guys feel really strongly about the information
highway, the Internet?
Jim- Um, a little familiar with it, yeah.
PROGnosis- I mean, they have for Dream Theater, they got a whole fan club.
Jim- I know.
PROGnosis- I mean, you guys are mentioned like almost, you know every
two or three sentences (did I say that?), so it goes boom like that
(man Tony what are you thinking about? <G>).
Jim- We know!
PROGnosis- Here is a couple questions that I got off the Internet, and
this will be passed back to the guys.One of them asked, who played
keys on ‘Inside Out’?
Mark- There are no keys…
Jim- Well, yeah, there is a little bit of piano that I did.
Mark- Oh! That’s right!
Jim- The rest of it is guitar synth actually.
PROGnosis- Guitar synth!
Mark- Jim played it all!
(Interruption, JJ, Fates tour manager, gives me the 5 minute sign!)
PROGnosis- There was talk about a release of a Fates Warning
compilation video? Whatever happened…?
Jim- Were still talking about it. We talk about it every six months or
so it’s just, I don’t know time hasn’t been right yet, I would still
guess that there would be one out sometime in the new year.
It’s something we want to do it’s just something we never really, I
guess got all the paper work together for it but hopefully this year
or next year we’ll get one out!
PROGnosis- Basically that’s about it! I know that bands hate been
labeled and stuff, I know here it comes, what category would you
PROGnosis- No progression? Close?
PROGnosis- Good album (I thought he said ‘Thonk’, pertaining to Michael
Manrings’ new album)!
Mark- Sorry, jazz…(laugh)
PROGnosis- What are you guys listening to today? I know we’ve mentioned
this, but if you had to pick an album…
Jim- That’s easy for me that is…
PROGnosis- I know, “Awake”(puzzled when I heard their answers!).
Jim- Sarah McLachlan.
Jim- Day in day out, for me!
Mark- Melissa Ethridge.
PROGnosis- (To Jim) I heard that you are a big Kevin Gilbert fan too
(Kevin Gilbert ex-Toy Matinee, Giraffe singer now solo)?
Jim- Awesome man!
PROGnosis- There’s rumors that he might be showing up somewhere
tomorrow.(apparently, Kevin couldn’t make the Los Angeles show the
Jim- Yeah, hopefully it’s more then rumor man, I’m dying to meet him!
PROGnosis- Yeah great guy! I mean he just did Progfest not to long ago!
(other things were said here that I can’t repeat to protect the innocent <G>)
PROGnosis- (Parting words!) Anyway guys, thank you very much!
Jim- Thank you man!
Mark- Thank you, my pleasure (exchanging parting words, blah blah blah blah).
Richard Rodriguez (PROGnosis photographer who remained quiet for most
of the time)- (To Mark) you are great drummer!
Mark- Thank you!
PROGnosis-(Passing out magazines to the guys!)Here you go, here is a copy!
Jim-(surprised!) Oh! It’s this one, OK, we had this floating around
the bus in Salt Lake City.
PROGnosis (snide comment ) So you guys don’t need it (jokingly)!
Jim/Mark- Huh huh