Epigram for the last straw’s interview with Frank Aresti (March 1999)
By Michael Menegakis
First of all I’d like to wish you good luck with your new band ‘All that is’. How actually this band was formed?
Well, ironically, this band was formed by accident. I left Fates the last week of April in 1995. I didn’t have any plans on what to do next. I was giving guitar lessons at a local music store, which was run by a very close friend of mine, Joe Lalli. He was asking what I was doing musically. We talked a while about some ideas I had and he suggested I give him a tape of whatever music I had lying around. Within a week, I gave him a tape with some songs, just guitar. He called me within a few hours of giving him the tape and I couldn’t believe what I heard: he had played the drums I had heard in my head. We never even discussed what style or feel I wanted. I just gave him a tape and said “go for it” thinking that if it worked out, fine, if not, oh well, maybe another day. But there it was-my vision being fleshed out. Eventually, after a couple of different bassists, we decided on Dave Chirico, who was also a friend of mine and Joe’s. He had spent some time in local bands, and even had a brief stint with WASP. His playing has the feel that fits All That Is perfectly, and he has an excellent singing voice that complements mine very well.
How would you describe the music of ‘All that is’?
I would say it is rock, hard rock and pop rock. If you combine the Police, the Beatles and U2 you’ve got a pretty good idea of what we’re like. Memorable vocal lines, catchy, powerful music, and lush harmonies. And of course, the musicianship is very good as well.
Why did you choose this name for the band?
I am very into the Seth books by Jane Roberts. In these books, the author goes into a trance-like state and speaks for an entity called Seth. Seth uses the term All That Is to describe the unified field from which the universe and all its events spring from. We are each not only intimately connected with this unified field but it is the source of power which we each use to create our day to day realities, events, and ideas. All That Is is a term which has become widely used since the time that the first Seth book came out back in the early seventies. Deepak Chopra, the famous doctor of medicine, is one of the many modern spiritual writers adorning the best-seller lists who uses the term in his books.
You are the frontman and main composer of ‘All that is’. Should we consider it a personal project of yours?
Well, All That Is began as my dream, my vision. But with the addition of each musician, the music takes on characteristics that would not be possible if I did everything myself. Each member contributes as they like. I am very open to ideas, and the three of us work very well bouncing ideas back and forth and thereby infusing the music with a feel, an emotion, a “vibe” that is both priceless and unique. It is difficult to describe but the end result is three personalities becoming one new personality, one new sound.
I’ve heard that ‘All that is’ is a very picky band, you actually don’t accept offers from non-major labels. How true is that?
Our lawyer said to us, “there is no such thing as a bad label or a good label; just good deals and bad deals”. This project is very dear to me and I want to be sure that whatever label we become a part of has the resources required to elevate All That Is to the success that I envision.
(question by Michael Meyers): The material you now play is drastically different than what you’ve done… Judging from ATG, I would never have guessed U2 or The Beatles to be a big influence for you. Has the Iron Maiden influence disappeared?
Iron Maiden was a big influence on Fates Warning. I was a part of Fates Warning. That’s pretty much where the influence was. I was a big Maiden fan, and still appreciate their early work with Dickinson. But there was a great deal more to what I loved in music and about music than what I was able to express with FW. That is why I formed All That Is.
What are the lyrics of ‘All that is’ about?
A great writer once advised, “Write what you know.” So I write about the things I think, and the things I believe. My main concern is to have my music affect the listener by producing within him/her a feeling of power, of love. My lyrics are affirmative. I don’t bitch and complain about things. Instead I offer a new perspective, my own way of looking at the world. Complaining about the things you don’t like only adds power to those situations. So I talk about the things I love, or would like to see, and give power to those events.
Which is your greatest ambition concerning ‘All that is’?
To be heard throughout the World over and over again for years and years to come.
And now some questions concerning Fates Warning. Back in 1986 Victor Arduini departs from Fates Warning and you replace him. How did you feel being a new member of Fates Warning? Was your guitar playing – in that years – good enough to play the old, and mainly the new songs of Awaken The Guardian live?
Of course. Do you think they would have picked me if I couldn’t? (they were very picky) I was proud and excited to be part of that band. I had known Jim ( we jammed classical guitar once a week together) and had lots of respect for each of the members. When I joined, very little of Guardian was written. I helped out with that, as did everyone else, and even contributed some music of my own (Giant’s Lore).
What do you think of Fates Warning’s recent music direction?
I give that band a great deal of credit to be able to stand their ground and do what they believe in year after year, album after album. They are a great bunch of musicians and to be respected.
Before you joined Fates Warning you were in a band called Demonaxe (or demonax?) which had a demo out. What happened with that band?
Demonax was the name of an 18th century BC Greek philosopher. (or was it 13th century BC?) The band members each had their own path to follow. Music for a living is not for everyone.
About you departure from Fates Warning Ray Alder said that you just phoned one day and said you didn’t want to tour. Mark Zonder said you wanted to do your own thing. What’s the *real* truth?
I had decided, before even writing and recording the album Inside Out, that I needed to leave. I decided to make the album and finish touring before making my departure. We had some hard times touring for that album and there was a great deal of pressure on all of us. We had finished touring with Dream Theater and there was talk of another record and a possible short summer tour to wrap things up. When talk of a tour came up, our bassist Joe DiBiase had announced his taking a leave of absence for personal reasons. A replacement would have been available but at that point, and because of the stresses of the previous tour, Fates no longer felt like a band to me, and I took that opportunity to do what I had planned all along, resign. The reasons for my departure were never discussed with the band. Jim and I spoke briefly about it and that’s all. Mark was under the impression I didn’t want to tour. I tried explaining to him that there was much more going on but at the time I don’t think he understood. And Ray and I never spoke after the tour so he was going on hearsay.
Why your contribution to the songs became less and less during your last years in Fates Warning?
Simply put, I grew in a different direction, both artistically and in terms of business, than everyone else in the band. My ideas were not fitting in with what the band was doing.
Are you still in contact with any past and present Fates Warning members?
Jim and I are in contact. I occasionally speak with Joe DiBiase.
(question by John Vidiadakis): The strand described in the same-titled song, and the whole of its lyrics, has to do with your problems on communication with the other members of FW, and your departure?”
No. The Strand has to do with having the courage to follow your heart, with having faith in your own direction. The symbolism of finding that golden, glowing strand after being lost at sea for so long is still a very powerful image for me.
Jim Matheos doesn’t reveal himself in interviews (he does in his songs of course). How was he as a person?
On the most recent tour of Fates Warning Bernie Versailles played your parts on the older material. Did you have the chance to be in any gig of Fates Warning and see that? If yes, how was the feeling watching your former band without you?
I never saw them tour. I can tell you, however, that FW is far behind me. I do not feel any attachment to them and view them as I view any other band.
For me and many fans of progressive metal Fates Warning is a very cult band. You know, a band with perfect albums that never did the big hit. I was wondering what were your feelings about that.
Fates Warning did what they believed in, and that’s all that matters. The success of a band has nothing to do with the size of their audience.
Which were the most pleasant and unpleasant things that happened during your career in Fates Warning?
You know, there were a lot of ups and downs for all of us. But time has a way of sweetening things so that as I look back on all my years with Fates I feel only a very dear regard for that experience. All that matters is that I was part of a great band doing great things.
Which is your favorite Fates Warning album and why?
Parallels. I think that with that album we were closer than we had been. We were holed up in a hotel together for months in Canada. We spent all of our time together and I believe that the songs and performance on that album are the best we did. I also have many fond memories of having so much fun together aside from making music.
Now that years have past, what do you think you gained from your experience as a Fates Warning member?
I believe that in reading this interview this answer will be obvious.
Which are your interests apart from music?
Everything in life interests me.
Do you prefer a specific kind of literature?
I enjoy all kinds.
You were rumored to be a teacher in Connecticut. Was this true? Do you have a permanent occupation for a leaving now?
Guitar teacher. I still work in music.
Who guitarists do you consider as your mentors?
Tom Scholz from Boston was my first big idol. Then Randy Rhoads. Ironically, one of my biggest influences is not known as a guitarist-Sting. I love his songwriting, as I do McCartney (with Beatles and Wings) and Lennon. Freddy Mercury is a big influence as a vocalist. I love his power and expressiveness.
Which are your favorite bands?
Boston. Police. Queen. Beatles.
Which are your future plans with ‘All that is’?
To conquer the world!
Frank, thank you for this interview. Is there anything that you’d like to add?
I want to thank you sincerely for granting me this interview, the first I’ve done since leaving Fates. I’m very flattered that there is so much interest in what I’m doing after all this time. I would like to invite everyone to visit the All That Is web site athttp://listen.to/allthatis [no longer valid]. We will be having a CD available for purchase, so keep in touch with our web site for all the details. We also have a showcase for some interested labels coming up later this month. Wish us luck! And thanks again.