ProgPower USA – Interview with Ray Alder (07/2009)
By Bill Murphy
This article was available in the ProgPower USA X (2009) program (reprinted with permission).
Thanks to Oscar Quintero for providing a scan of the article from the program!


“This is not the time for us to go quietly into the night…we’re gonna make another record and see what happens” — Ray Alder

Bill: Just wanted to do some chatting with you about your career and upcoming gig at ProgPower.

Ray: My career?

Bill: [laughs] It’s a long and famous one, yes.

Ray: Sounds so official, damn.

Bill: First of all, what’s the latest with FATES WARNING? I know you guys are playing ProgPower and I hear from Glenn Harveston it’s the only gig you’re playing this year. But what’s going on with the band? Are you guys going to do anything more?

Ray: Yeah, well right now we’re in the middle of writing another record, which has been a loooong time coming, obviously. But the things that we do in our off time, our little other projects, other bands and things. They tend to get away from us, you know? Time just goes by so quickly, before you realize it. I was working in REDEMPTION, Jim [Matheos] was writing and recording OSI, and it takes time to get back together and do something. You know? But OSI’s done now, and the focus is doing the [next FATES] record, and not really going on the road. We haven’t had a record in so long, it doesn’t make sense for us to really tour, you know? It’s kind of like punk bands. Punk bands can just tour all the time, you know.

Bill: [laughs] So you’re gonna be like THE BEATLES now, huh? You’re going to put out albums with no tours anymore. [laughs]

Ray: Well, me and Jim actually had a big sit down, over the phone of course. But we were talking about our careers. We’ve been doing this for so many years. [We were] wondering whether or not it was time to throw in the towel. We want to do. And we had a good run. We had a good time and made a lot of fans and did some good music. But we just decided this is not the time for us to go quietly into the night. We’re gonna make another record and see what happens. So we actually signed to a different label, the first time we’re going to release a record that’s not on Metal Blade. We signed with Inside Out in Europe. They’re having a hard time here, but as far as I know, we’re all good.

Bill: Well that’s good. Can you take me back to that first album with FATES that you were on – No Exit? What was going on at the time? Were you a fan of the band before then? And how did you get that gig?

Ray: Yeah, man. John Arch, he was my favorite singer. They were pretty much my favorite band at the time. I mean, I lived in San Antonio at the time and I was a kid, I think I was 17. You know, I’d listen to [FATES], they’d play it on the radio. We had a DJ named Joe Anthony, the Godfather, they called him. He would play, you know, he was one of the first DJs in America to play like TRIUMPH and RUSH and things like that on the radio in San Antonio years ago. He played FATES WARNING on the radio, and that was the first time I heard it, and it blew me away, it just totally blew me away. And “Guardian” was the first song I ever heard. Since then I was a fan. [laughs] And I remember thinking, I remember hearing that John Arch was no longer in the band, and I remember thinking, “Whoever they get’s going to suck!”

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: “It’s never going to be the same!” And I was signing for another band and there was a guy managing us, and he had actually brought FATES down, as a promoter, to play a show. And they contacted him and asked if he knew any singers. He kind of went behind my band’s back and asked me if I wanted to do it. So we made a four full track demo, and sent it in. Unfortunately, they picked another guy, named Chris Kronk, with a k, who was from San Antonio as well. And they flew him up there. But they said it just didn’t work out. Their personalities didn’t gel as well as we did. So I was their second choice.I’m second fiddle.

Ray: But you know, whatever. I’ll take it. [we laugh] I was really the kid, joining when I had just barely turned 19, maybe. It was crazy. I mean, I’m auditioning, I’d never even been out of the state of Texas in my life. And here I am I’m auditioning for my favorite band in the world in Connecticut. It was really fucking scary, I’ll tell you that. It was frightening. I mean if you’ve ever felt alone, if you ever want to feel alone, try something like that. That’s how it was.

Bill: [laughs] Well, what was your goal back then, Ray? Was your dream to be a rock star, and this, when you landed the gig with FATES, did you think, “Man, I’ve made it?”

Ray: No, I mean, I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I was young, and I joined, I was just having fun. My brother had a band and I just thought, “Maybe I’ll sing for you guys.” I didn’t know how to sing, but they let me. It was cool. And I was singing for several bands. I’d only been singing for about, I don’t know, just three years, maybe? Before I joined, and I had no plans. I just didn’t. I was playing in different bands, moving up in bigger bands since I was in San Antonio, and then that happened and I guess destiny took charge.

Bill: Were you singing in that sort of John Arch style at the time, so it was a natural switch over to FATES? Or did you have to work at that?

Ray: No. I was really, really influenced by Steve Perry. Then I heard, you know, Rob Halford and SCORPIONS and IRON MAIDEN and bands like and I was totally hooked. And then I heard FATES and it was totally different to me. I mean, it did sound a bit like Bruce Dickenson, but not that much. It was just a different kind of band, and I loved it. So I guess I had my own style at the time, but I don’t know. Still to this day, I think John Arch’s melodies and vocals are just amazing. Amazing music.

Bill: Yeah. Everbody keeps asking about him, like on the ProgPower forum, everybody says, “Where’s John Arch? What’s John Arch doing?” [we laugh]

Ray: We’re going to make t-shirts that say, “Where’s John Arch?”

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: People always ask that. “Where’s John Arch?” “I don’t know. I don’t talk to him.” He had that studio thing a while back, the solo thing But I don’t think he’s doing [anything]. I haven’t talk to him in years. That was cool meeting him too. I was like a fan, you know? All googly and “Hee-hee.” He goes, “Who are you?” It was really cool. And then we sang a song together in Connecticut, which was amazing, you know, one of the pinnacle moments definitely, for me, during this whole thing. [DREAM THEATER drummer Mike] Portnoy was there. Portnoy cried. It was fantastic.

Bill: [laughs] One of the things I like to ask the musicians I talk to is about the albums throughout their careers. I like to know what their most vivid memories were along the way. You just told me what your memory of No Exit was. But what about the next album, Perfect Symmetry [1989]? What do you remember most about putting that album together?

Ray: You know, we just did a complete 180. I remember I loved the direction [on No Exit], which was totally different than “[Awaken the] Guardian.” It was heavier in a different way. This was more raw, we had a lot more time changes and things. I really, really liked it. And then when Symmetry came around, they started writing music and laying it down, and it was just more modern? I don’t know, cleaner, not as heavy, more technical than anything. And I remember kind of being taken aback, I mean like, “Huh. Is this the route we’re gonna go?” But you know, then we had songs, “Through Different Eyes” and stuff like that, with a lot of melody, they’re kind of single-type songs. And then I really, really fell into it. I really began to love what we were doing, understanding the band, knowing that we can change styles and still be the same band, and still somehow kinda sound the same, you know? But that was my memory. Kinda being a little worried that I wouldn’t be happy with what we were going to do in the future.

Bill: [laughs] Well, how about Parallels [1991]? You went with Terry Brown, the RUSH producer, for Parallels. And that album is just loaded with so-called hit songs. I think it’s my favorite album, next to Perfect Symmetry. But what do you remember about making Parallels?

Ray: Oh man, that was crazy. We all met in Toronto. For some reason, we had this crazy idea to get away from everywhere, get away from everything, you know, why not go to Toronto? We don’t know anybody there. We had a lot of songs written – several, five or six songs written – and the plan was to, like, make four or five more, and then record it there with Terry Brown. Then, you know, I don’t know, it just, too many cooks in the kitchen and it just got to a point where we had a big band meeting and it was decided that Jim would write all the music, we would can everything that we were working on. I don’t know what happened to those songs, either. And Jim would just write all the lyrics and all the music. And I think it was a great decision. [laughs] Obviously. So he just, of course, holed up in his hotel room. We lived there for six months, literally. Living in hotels. So he just started writing the record. And you know, he would give us things, and we’d go to the studio, I’d work on it at night, and they’d work on things. Terry Brown would come and listen to things, and he’d have his two cents. In the studio, while we were recording, I just knew these songs are really, really great. It was a definite chance that some of it would make radio, you know. TV, whatever. [we laugh]

Bill: Yeah, well it’s an amazing album, like I said. The songs are just so memorable. Hit songs with a progressive metal band is just astounding.

Ray: Yeah, it was. I mean, I think the timing was just right, too. Everything was just kinda happening at that point. QUEENSRYCHE and that whole scene of modern-kind of rock. Prog metal was really a big deal, I guess. But it was fun. We had our long hair and black shirts on. Our hair was waving in the wind. [we laugh] We look at the pictures now, it’s like, “Oh god, we look like girls, man.” [we laugh] But you know, it was the style at the time. It just was, you know? The timing was right, and I think Jim just wrote some great songs. It worked out.

Bill: Well, how about the next album – Inside Out [1994]? You had a new producer with that one, Bill Metoyer And you’ve got a writing credit on the song “Down to the Wire.” Tell me, what do you remember about Inside Out?

Ray: That was our grunge record. That’s what I remember. I mean, after Parallels, it was our most successful record and the most successful tour we’ve ever done as well. I mean, it was like pretty much 99% of the shows were sold out and it was just incredible. It was the greatest time of our lives. And then all of a sudden everything crashed. So we got one American tour. That was it. For as big an album as it was, I don’t know exactly what happened, I just know that somehow, it probably got pulled on us. And we became very defensive and angry and just said, “Fuck it. Fuck this whole business.” It doesn’t make sense. You try really hard, and then it’s not up to you anymore? So we basically, after Parallels, broke up.

Bill: Really?

Ray: For two years, yeah.

Bill: That’s why there’s three years in between those two albums.

Ray: Yeah. We never really announced it or anything. We just didn’t talk. We all just kind of moved on, did our own thing. Two years later or so, we started talking again and decided to do another record. And that’s what happened. We were really confused as to what direction to go in. Because obviously the record’s so different. And then all of a sudden we do Parallels, and then these singles kind of come out, and we didn’t know if that’s what we wanted to do, or should we try to be more prog band than what we are or whatever. So I think we were a little confused in the writing and things like that. I mean, I’ve heard some people say that’s their favorite record, but I don’t know. I think they’re lying.

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: It was just a weird time. It was a really, really weird time. That was a really serendipitous moment and “Monument” was one of those songs that I laid the entire vocal down, and Jim came in, and we’re all listening to it and he just had this look on his face. And I was like, “You don’t like it, huh?” And he was like, “No. I really don’t like it.” And I was like, “Alright, I’ll write something else.” So I stayed in the studio all night, until like five in the morning, it was like 12 hours, me and Bill, or Bill was asleep, I think. I kept trying to talk to him, “Bill! Bill! Bill!” I look up and he’s asleep. He’s a good friend of mine, though. But then I’d lay another vocal track over, and left the other one on a different track, and then Jim came in, and we were listening to a new vocal track. And Bill hit the wrong button, so the other vocal track came up at the same time. And it was just absolute serendipity that when both vocals were running, there was actually harmony at some points, and it was like an answer and a call kind of thing going on. And that’s what you hear on the record now. It was a mistake. [laughs] So that was really, that’s my biggest memory from that record. That and being confused.

Bill: That’s a great song. The lyrics, this is the first time you’re credited with lyrics. Were lyrics something that you were writing all the time and were comfortable with?

Ray: No. It was my first time. Even with my other bands, I never really wrote lyrics, it was just kind of, I’d sing. And then Jim asked if I wanted to write lyrics for a song. I figured, yeah, it’s an opportunity, I mean if I’m going to go further in my career, then I need to do something. Be productive. So that was scary, because I didn’t know what exactly to write about, and unfortunately, as I dealt with my dad, who had cancer and was dying at the time, was the only thing I could really think of. I figure pain is art, so why not? [laughs]. So that was my first writing credit.

Bill: This would be a good time to ask about your vocal style. Because when FATES started you started off with a sort of John Arch sound, with the really operatic, high vocals. As FATES progressed that quieted down. The music got less dynamic and flamboyant. And your voice mellowed a bit. Was that a conscious decision? Or was it just you guys getting older and you wanted to do something different?

Ray: I’m sure it had a bit to do with both. I mean, obviously, my voice isn’t what it used to be. But, again, it was the style at the time to sing really, really high. As I got older, I realized I can do different things with my voice. You can actually emote more if you’re not screaming. So you know, again, I’d only been singing for a few years when I joined the band. So I started finding myself, I think around Parallels time is when I really started figuring out what sounded good to me. And yeah, I was an adult, I’m not 20, I’m not saying anything about anybody else, because that’s fine, whatever they want to do, because I did it. I’m saying personally, I just didn’t like the high screaming any more, you know? It just sounded better singing. And somehow, my band mates agree. They said, “You know what? Yeah, let’s not sing high anymore.” “Ok.”

Bill: [laughs] The next album – A Pleasant Shade of Gray [1997] – is another three-year delay between albums. What do you remember most about recording A Pleasant Shade of Gray?

Ray: I remember arguing with Jim because it was taking so long to write melodies. I remember that.

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: I was in Arizona, and at that time I had a full-time job, but it was a cool record because it was so different. And I remember the whole idea was, ok, we did Parallels, did great. Did Inside Out, confused, didn’t do as well, obviously. So we figured, we’ve been writing singles, and singles didn’t work for us, so we’re gonna write a song for us. And we’re gonna go the complete opposite route, and we’re gonna write a song that’s 51 minutes long. You know? And have no titles. [we laugh] You know, it was anti-, it was very anti-popular. We just went the other route, and decided to do something for ourselves. And it was fun. It was really, really great in the studio once it all started coming together. We loved our record. It’s probably one of my favorite records, actually, to tell you the truth.

Bill: I was going to tell you that for singles I’d say Parallels is my favorite. But as an album, A Pleasant Shade of Grade is one phenomenal piece of music.

Ray: Thank you. Yeah. And I agree. And it was funny, because when we were writing it, in the studio, we were thinking, “How the hell are we going to pull this off live? I mean, who’s gonna wanna listen to one long song?” And we won’t be finished for three hours, or who knows? [we laugh] But, I mean, we took a chance, obviously. But we went out, and our fans are great, man. Our fans have really, always been there. We went out, we played the entire album. Then we came out for encores and we played whatever else, and it actually went off pretty well. [we laugh] We toured a lot for that record, man. I mean, we were all over the place for that record. It kept us busy for two years.

Bill: Tell me about Disconnected [2000]. I saw you on the that tour. You played with Savatage. You played in Grand Rapids. It was a great show. What do you remember about that album?

Ray: You know, Disconnected’s kind of a grey area for me. And it was, again it was probably one of those, to me, one of those albums that I didn’t really know what direction we were going in. I think we were maybe perhaps going to do some more singles kind of things, and then maybe mix it up with the prog thing. I don’t know. It’s not one of my favorite records, but I don’t remember a whole bunch, I really don’t. Odd. [laughs] That’s a grey area. [we laugh]

Bill: What about the next one, your most recent; FWX [2004]. What do you remember about that?

Ray: FWX. We’ve always recorded in studios and such. This time we actually went to Jim Matheos’ house and recorded there. So it was definitely different. And you know, everybody was really busy doing things, I was busy myself, and writing that record, it was just kinda, it was really hard, actually. You know, trying to get around to other stuff, and I had done the Engine thing already, and I was, I’m trying to figure out how I should sing, you know, I changed my singing style a bit, and it just didn’t really gel with what FATES did, you know what I mean? That’s me personally. I don’t think I did as good a job as I could have. Probably because, as I said, I was trying different things I probably shouldn’t have. [we laugh] But you know, we’ll see.

Bill: Well, when you look back on FATES, what would you say is your finest hour, either as a lyricist, or a vocalist, or what are you most proud of so far in your career with FATES?

Ray: I would have to say just longevity, you know? I think the fact that, again, when we [Jim and I] had the conversation, we realized that we’re not really trying to get a lick of that brass ring, you know, just one lick. [we laugh] You kind of realize that we’re older. You know, we are older, and we’re lucky to even still be around, and to still have people wanting to hear our music. So I would say probably the best thing about the whole thing is the longevity, and we can still do it. I want to go on the road, it’s my favorite. I hate being in the studio. Hate it more than anything in the world. I mean, obviously we have a good time, but you’re under the microscope, and it’s not the same. When you’re on tour, you’re experiencing everything. It’s been a lot of fun. I never thought that I would be doing this, when I was a kid, as a job. I never thought that.

Bill: [laughs] Well, everybody who likes prog metal looks at FATES WARNING and says, “Wow, what a band!” Mike Portnoy, writing in the liner notes to the Awaken the Guardian re-issue, says that people usually credit Dream Theater as starting the whole prog metal genre, but he acknowledges you guys were playing it years ahead of Dream Theater. That reminds me of something. I remember watching a talk show once with Paul McCartney. Maybe it was Oprah. And they were joking about his contribution to music, and he said something like, “You know, sometimes I do wake up in the morning and say, “Jeez, I’m Paul McCartney.” [we laugh] You know? [laughs] Do you ever look back at your career and say, “My god, I’, Ray Alder. I was in FATES WARNING?”

Ray: I don’t know. Maybe tomorrow. [we laugh] No, I never really, I mean I’ve got a lot of compliments, obviously. People saying this and that. That’s really, really nice to hear. I mean, I’ll never get tired of being complimented, obviously. But I don’t think I’ll ever wake up and think, “God, I was Ray Alder.” That’s funny.

Bill: Well, I’ve seen you live three times, a couple times with FATES and once with REDEMPTION at ProgPower. Each time you’re on stage, you look like you’re having a great time. Explain to me what it feels like for you to be on stage. What’s going through your mind when the audience is kind of roaring and clapping for your music?

Ray: [laughs] Oh man. There are many people that say they want to be a rock star, whatever the reason is. It doesn’t always turn out to be a perfect fantasy, but it’s great energy. It feels great. And just being able to sing, I love singing. It’s just a passion. It just feels really, really good. I wish everybody could try it once, you know.It sounds great. That’s why people love doing karaoke, because they get to lick that ring good.

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: But it’s just a great feeling. Even at rehearsal,I mean, if you’re ever at a rehearsal, you’ll see. I have a great time, because I like to sing. But it’s always better if there’s someone watching you.

Bill: [laughs] Tell me about your Engine project. Was that what that was all about? Did you have so much creativity inside you, you just had to find an outlet?

Ray: You know, it just, I was listening to different music at the time and just getting into different things. And I wanted to try something, just see what happened. And Bernie Versailles, the guitar player, we’re always good friends. And I brought the idea up to him and said, “What do you think about writing some heavy stuff, something completely different?” That’s what I was going to do, a solo record, that would be completely different than FATES WARNING, obviously. I didn’t want to do something that sounded the same, me singing FATES WARNING songs with a different band. So I wanted to do something totally different. And it was a great time. It was very, very liberating I guess I can say because there was really no pressure. I didn’t have any fans, so it didn’t really matter. We’re never going to take it out live, so whatever we did , we’ll be fine. That’s how we saw it. And it was a good time. It’s funny. We recorded the whole thing on ADATS, for Pete’s sake. In a tiny studio.

Bill: Are you ever going to do any more Engine albums? Or is the Engine out of your system now?

Ray: I want to do something else. I definitely want to try some other stuff. You know, I’m older now. But, you know, Engine still has a contract actually for one more record. I don’t think something’s going to happen, actually. Yeah. We’re trying to get an album deal. We never really got officially dropped, either.

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: But I don’t know, I’m ready to talk about it. We blaze over it now and then, I don’t really think it’s going to happen. You know, like I said, I really like singing so I wanted to, I want to do something… here it comes, every singer wants to do… I want to do something really mellow, acoustic with strings, and just be…

Bill: You want to do some pop standards like Rod Stewart or something?

Ray: You know, just, I like all kinds of music. I just feel like, all kinds of music. One of my favorite types of music is like, folky, I guess, sort of. Most of my favorite singers now, or they were, I haven’t listened to them in a while, but you know lke a lot of femaletype folk singers. Edie Brickell, and Maria McKee, and K.D. Lang. I just love the way the music flowed. I’m a guy, I can’t really pull that off. But you know, I want to try to do something like that eventually, maybe. If I get the right people.

Bill: Yeah, but folk music is not known for necessarily raoring crowds and high energy, is it?

Ray: [laughs] No, not at all. I have been working with a friend of mine too, actually, he’s a drummer from a band called Stroke 9. They had a hit record a while back. And I don’t know, we’ll see what happens. Nothing is really set in stone.

Bill: Well, you have a great voice. You have a very powerful voice. I’d love to hear it so something like folk or pop standards, even. [laughs] You know, the old Gershwin tunes or something. [we laugh]

Ray: Well thank you. Yeah, who knows? I really don’t know what’s gonna happen. I mean, I don’t know.

Bill: Well, tell me about your gig with REDEMPTION. How did you hook up with Nick [van Dyk], and what was the deal with the first album? You were sort of co-producer or guest vocalist? Tell me about the REDEMPTION gig.

Ray: We were just, I mean, I think we actually met at a bar, at a Saxon concert, actually. We just got to talking, He was a fan of FATES and you know, he came up and said so, and he was just a really normal guy. He wasn’t pusjy. He was just sort of a cool person in general. So we started talking, and oh yeah, he bought me quite a few beers.

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: So we got along, and he came to rehearsal, and we became friends, became fast friends. You know, a year or two later or so, he mentioned that wanted to, you know, maybe start writing some music an start a band of his own. And asked if I would produce. And I said, “Yeah, yeah, of course, man. I’d love to.” So I helped him get some guys together. I got, what’s his name, Jason Rullo?

Bill: Yeah, Sumphony X.

Ray: From Symphony X. Yeah, got him. And I think I got the singer, Rick Mythiasin. Got everybody together for it. And you know, it was a cool record. The songs were pretty cool, and I was thinking to myself, “Ah, I want to sing it. I’d like to sing. I want to do some singing on this thing.” So that’s pretty much what happened, pushed my way in. [we laugh]

Bill: Well you did. You’re know the vocalist for REDEMPTION, the second and third albums, and you have a new one coming out, don’t you?

Ray: Yeah, yeah. It’s finally mixed, it’s finally done. So they’ll be printing it up pretty soon. I’m not sure the date of release quite yet. Nick is working with producers and mixing and stuff like that. He’s a very driven person.

Bill: I interviewed him at length about two years ago for ProgPower. He seems to be a great guy.

Ray: Yeah. He has the best work ethic I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s a good kid.

Bill: How about the contrast between REDEMPTION and FATES, working with Nick vs. Jim? What are the differences there? Is that a major shift for you, or is it pretty much you do your thing and it doesn’t matter whose band it is?

Ray: Yeah, I mean, both are very open to suggestions and things like that, you know. But I don’t know. It’s definitely different working with them. I’m great friends with both of them. I think when we’re doing the REDEMPTION stuff, it’s just probably a bit more laid back, because we had probably a bit more time, and things like that. Nick and I start hitting the sauce three hours into the thing, and it ends up taking a long time to do the record.

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: We are friends, we hang out with each other, he’s really close to me. We’d start singing for a while, “This isn’t really working out, man.” “Alright, well, let’s go out.” “Ok.” That kind of thing. Whereas FATES, we have a set schedule. That’s how we do it. We’re gonna spend eight days or nine days on vocals, and that’s it. And then, once you go over, you’re really disappointed, because then it starts costing money. You know what I mean? But I think when we’re doing REDEMPTION stuff, it’s probably a lot more laid back.

Bill: You said you toured a lot. Do you have a favorite road story? Did something happen to you out on the road that was either really funny or really scary, or what? What do you remember?

Ray: There’s a few weird things. I rememeber once, where was it, Utah, I believe. We were at this gig one night, and we were playing, and then we left the bus to walk out on the parking lot, the parking lot was completely covered in snow, about a foot of snow. You couldn’t see anything. So we were just like, “That’s weird. The hell happened?” And someone else told us that they had closed the freeways, or they had closed the road we were driving on, we didn’t know. We were just driving down this road, wondering why we were the only people on the road. I remember we drove for a while, we were driving really slowly, and just everyone kind of went to bed. I got up to get a glass of water or something, I don’t remember what it was, but I felt the bus doing really weird things. So I got up front, and the driver didn’t know I was there, so I was standing behind the driver for a second, and he was holding the wheel, like turning it left and right, left and right, and the bus was going straight.

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: And we were just sliding all over the road. And he was going like, “Come on, baby. Come on. Oooh, come on, baby.” I was like, “Holy shit. I’m just going back to bed. I don’t want to know what’s going on.” I just laid in my bunk feeling every bump and I was scared to death. I eventually fell asleep. That was on moment. And the other time our bus filled up with smoke, and I thought we were on fire.

Bill: Oh man. [laughs]

Ray: We were on our way home. It was the last show. We were actually driving back home to Connecticut, it was a long time ago, and the bus blew up, just literally, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. It was full of smoke inside the bus, so we had to pull over. Middle of nowhere and we called, we were like, “How the hell are we going to get home? Wait around?” We had probably 800 miles to go or something. So we just called a U-Haul or whatever, or I think there was one there or something, I can’t remember what happened. We said, “Alright, we’re gonna get a U-Haul.” We put everything inside the truck, everything, including us. [we laugh] In the back, all the way in the back of a U-Haul truck, Sweating. I’ll never forget how hot it was. Just seating and yelling at the stupid truck. You know, after six or seven weeks on the road, you want to go home, you can’t wait to go home, you know. Other than that, being young, and loving girls and all that kind of thing. I’ve made a lot of really great friends, too, oh yes.

Bill: The rock and roll lifestyle. [laughs]

Ray: Yeah, I was still girl crazy, so yeah, that was fun. It was definitely an experience, man, and it’s been a great ride, man. It really has.

Bill: That brings up another question. What have you learned about yourself through the last 25 years of being in these bands – REDEMPTION, FATES WARNING, Engine, your tours, your death rap stuff?

Ray: Oh yeah. [laughs]

Bill: All these experiences. What have you learned most about yourself during this whole time?

Ray: I guess to kind of take opportunities that come to you. If you pass on certain things, not to be a yes man, but if something’s offered to you that you’re a bit unsure of, I don’t know, I’ll take an opportunity. I’ll take a chance now and then. And it’s paid off. Maybe not monetarily, but…

Bill: [laughs] Yeah.

Ray: But you know, I’ve made a lot of really great friends. I’ve met a lot of really cool people, I’ve seen a lot of places, and I know I lve to travel, definitely love to travel, and meeting people. I mean, I don’t know what would have happened if I’d stayed in San Antonio, Texas, not to join the band. So, I don’t know. I’m happy that I was able to take that chance, I was really scared, again, when I went to audition, and I took a really, really big chance, and it paid off. That sums it up.

Bill: Well, I’ve got two questions, and that’s it. The ProgPower show coming up, everybody’s going nuts seeing FATES WARNING. What’s it like for you to play ProgPower? And what can fans expect from your guys’ show?

Ray: Well, I mean, we’re really honored to be doing it. Glenn’s asked us a million times. Unfortunately, our schedules are mixed up, or something obviously got in the way. We talked about it, and we’re not doing anything right now, it’s the perfect opportunity right now to do the show. And it’s right up our alley. Come on, it’s ProgPower. I mean…you know? This was made for us. So again, we’re honored to be doing it, and I think it’ll be a lot of fun.There’s a lot of really cool bands that are playing there. I don’t think we’ve really come up with a complete set list yet but we’re digging through the old stuff and seeing what exactly we want to do. And I may, I don’t know if it’s between you and me, or whoever else, I don’t know what’s going on, but I know you heard about the death of Midnight, in Cromson Glory. They asked me if I would sing a song with them on stage. I said yeah.

Bill: Talk about a high-pitched vocal. I mean, he was…

Ray: Yeeeeeah, yeeeeeah.

Bill: [laughs]

Ray: I listened to some stuff and said, “Well, maybe I can do this.” We’ll try. But they’re really great songs. Transcendence is an amazing record. I love that record. So we’ll see what happenes with that. But I mean, I think we’ll do our best to try and make everybody happy, you know, play as much as we can from every album. Maybe not every album, but a lot of albums.

Bill: The last question I wanted to ask you was posed by a reader of the ProgPower forum. Somebody wanted me to say, ask if you’re still into muscle cars?

Ray: [laughs] Oh yeah, totally. Totally.

Bill: Really? That’s your big hobby? Is that what you do most, collect or drive cars?

Ray: Oh no, I have an old car. I wish I could collect them. I just never made that much money. No, I just love, you know, I’ll go to Scottsdale, Arizona when I can, and just being around it, it’s the sound, the smells, you know. It’s American, damn it. I don’t know. [we laugh] I don’t know, I’m not like that, but literally, they’re just beautiful cars. There is something about them, the power.

Bill: Do you have a muscle car of your own that you tool around in?

Ray: I have a Mustang. I’ve had Mustangs my whole life. I just don’t know what to do, so I guess I’ll get a new Mustang. [we laugh] I like my five liter. I don’t really like the feel of the new ones.

Bill: I bought one in the ’90s when they came out with that new Mustang Cobra. I bought the high-end Cobra version of the Mustang and it was a wild car.

Ray: Oh nice, nice.

Bill: Yeah, it was great.

Ray: I have one with a stock GT engine, though, but my Cobra had a bunch of other crap that makes it set off car alarms when I drive by. [we laugh]

Bill: Well, Ray, it’s been a pleasure to talk to you. I’ve been a fan of yours for 20 some years. And I really appreciate it.

Ray: Oh, thank you.

Bill: Yeah, take care, and we’ll see you at ProgPower.

Ray: Absolutely. Let’s have a Coca-Cola.