By Kelley Simms
Original Article: http://www.hailsandhorns.com/interview/jim-matheos-of-archmatheos-talks-about-the-the-new-archmatheos-project-the-status-of-fates-warning-and-future-plans/
Jim Matheos of Arch/Matheos talks about the the new Arch/Matheos project, the status of Fates Warning, and future plans
FATES WARNING guitarist Jim Matheos has teamed up once again with former FATES WARNING vocalist John Arch for a progressive metal collaboration called ARCH/MATHEOS. It’s the first recorded material together since Arch’s 2003 solo album, A Twist of Fate. The band also features former FATES WARNING guitarist Frank Aresti, current FATES bassist Joey Vera (ARMORED SAINT) and drummer Bobby Jarzombek (RIOT, ICED EARTH, SEBASTIAN BACH). ARCH/MATHEOS is two/thirds of the classic Awaken the Guardian lineup. Sympathetic Resonance is deeply rooted in the heavier progressive era of FATES WARNING, which will surely please the die-hards who are fond of their first three albums. After a busy morning of jogging and taking his 14-year-old daughter to piano lessons, Jim spoke to me from his home in New Hampshire about how the new ARCH/MATHEOS project came together, the status of FATES WARNING and what the future holds for the creative guitarist.
Sympathetic Resonance is your first recorded piece with John Arch since his solo EP, A Twist of Fate. On this collaboration, does it feel more like a band?
Oh yeah, it definitely does. A Twist of Fate EP was more or less Jon’s solo record. I only co-wrote one with him and the other one was more of his song but he brought it to me when it was an acoustic shell of a song. That’s how John writes. He comes up with chord changes and always has the vocal and melody lines — but not really fully flushed out musically. For this one, it was more of a true collaboration like we used to do in the old days. It definitely felt more like a band. The guys that play on the record; Joey, Bobby and Frank were involved pretty early on, but the majority of it was done by myself and John.
John got out of music for many years but on this album he sounds better than ever. What initially got him interested in this project?
Yeah, he definitely does sound as strong as he did back in the day. I don’t know if it’s just because he hadn’t been singing full time or in the studio like a lot of singers; a combination of that and modern technology. But I think he sounds pretty amazing on this record. Even though we hadn’t really worked together since 2002 with the EP, we still stayed in touch. We go on hikes now and then and see each other and talk. It was really just a question of the right opportunity with me having some music and John having some free time, really. Things just lined up. It wasn’t any kind of grand scheme that we decided years ago that this was going to be the time. I just happened to have the music that I thought he would sound good on and he was starting to get the itch again.
Especially with Frank Aresti participating, this seems like a FW reunion in a way. This is basically the classic Awaken the Guardian lineup with the addition of Bobby and Joey. After you and John were certain on your collaboration, how did the other members come on board?
The first few of these songs actually started off as songs for the next FATES WARNING record. For various reasons I had them shelved. They were supposed to be FATES songs, those guys, Bobby, Joey and Frank, had already started working on them and when it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be a FATES record and John was going to be involved, I just didn’t see any sense replacing those guys after they put hard work into it, just because it wasn’t going to be a FATES record.
You really need to tour for this album with this lineup. The shows would be incredible. Is there a possibility that this will happen?
It’s all been left in John’s hands at this point. As I said, he’s been out of it for a long time and even back in the day when we were a touring entity, it wasn’t his favorite thing to do. We’re talking about doing some live dates next year and we’ll probably do a few festivals next year in Europe.
No knock toward recent FW releases, but Sympathetic Resonance is the closest you’ve come to the classic FW metal sound in many years. I think a lot of FW fans have been hoping for a return to this type of sound as on the first three albums. Were you going for that vibe?
We’re not really conscience of trying to do anything old school or new school, it’s just whatever comes to me when I start writing. I really have no idea where I’m going to go when I start a new record. I just start playing around and let the music take over and (it) dictates where I’m going to go. This was going to be a FATES record and it started out … the first couple of songs, and just let the music kind of wrote itself and decided it was going to go in a heavier direction. It kind of surprised myself, actually. It wasn’t anything intentional to make it sound like anything other than good to my ears.
The mix of melody, harmonies and heavy riffs is thrilling. Every song moves, twists and turns. But the music doesn’t sound forced. What was your mindset while collaborating with John on this?
A good half of the record was written before John was even involved, musically anyway. Obviously, as I said before, he did all the lyrics and melody lines. Musically, it just happened before he came in. It wasn’t even in my mind to be writing for John until the last two songs when we’ve gotten 30/40 minutes of music together and it kind of indicated where the record was going to go. It was something that was put together blindly, just me strumming and putting riffs and songs together in my house.
On Sympathetic Resonance,are most of the leads more you, Frank or 50/50?
It’s leaning pretty heavy toward Frank. If you listen to it carefully you can tell who’s who. Frank is the really fast, flashy player and mine are the more laid back and more melodic ones.
The cover art by light painting photographer Dennis Calvert is pretty stunning. What were you going for with the concept?
It’s pretty abstract. We saw the cover picture after we had the title of the record. We just thought it fit in nicely. Sympathetic resonance is somewhat of a musical term, where a vibrating instrument; a chord, piano can actually make another instrument vibrate in sympathy with it, even if you’re not striking it. If you hit a piano really loud, the guitar will really ring. We just transfered that to human emotions and what the lyrics and music resonates with us and hopefully it strikes a chord with people that listen to it. The cover looks like the guy’s on fire and there’s some kind of vibrations emanating from him. I thought that was a cool connection.
Since these songs started out as FW songs, does that push back the new FW back?
They’re not all initially back when this was first coming to fruition about a year ago. Now we’re back in the safe mode. I‘ll start writing in a few weeks and we’ll try to get something out next year.
What was the reason John left FW anyway in 1987? Did he leave under bad terms?
I would say it wasn’t real bad, but it certainly wasn’t friendly. He had his heart and soul in the band, but had to leave. There was some bad blood. We patched things up a few years after that. It came down to … Awaken the Guardian, the band had its real first taste of touring. And most of us being young at that time really loved it and thought we could do more and wanted to go out on the road 300 days a year and play in every club in the country and drive around in a car. We gave John an ultimatum that it was time to go out on the road and really try to break this open. He wasn’t ready to do that.
The last OSI release was in 2009. Is that project on hold? Will there be another album?
That one’s in the can. We finished mixing a few weeks ago and it will come out on Metal Blade in January.
What’s next for you Jim? What’s the future hold?
Just keep doing it. I don’t really have any grand schemes or any goals I want to achieve. I’m honored that I get to play music for a living. Not a lot of people get to do that. If I’m lucky enough to keep doing that in whatever capacity and make a living at it, that’s good enough for me.