Sons Of Apollo are the new big thing in the world of Progressive Metal. It’s undeniable how palpable the buzz and excitement is around the super-group releasing their debut album Psychotic Symphony and gearing up for a 2018 world tour. The mighty keyboardist Derek Sherinian is relaxing poolside when he receives my call to discuss all of the exciting details.
“It’s absolutely blowing up, people are freaking out all over the world. We’re really feeling the buzz on all the social medias. You can really just feel the enthusiasm of building from the ground floor and the fans jumping on at this point. So, we’re really excited and the record companies are excited at the initial numbers. We’re very anxious to bring this out on the road. We start in February in the U.S and we’re booking the tour for all around the world! We’ll be putting up the tour dates in the next couple of weeks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
This record kicks ass! This band is fucking awesome! Every member has a signature sound and style we’re like the Marvel Superheroes! We just go out there and fucking throw down!”
Our discussion turns towards the lyrical aspect of the album and how Derek has a lot of lyrical credits scattered throughout, he shares some surprising details however,
“Jeff Scott Soto wrote the majority of the lyrics, so I don’t wanna get into details. I wrote a lot of titles. I’m a master tweaker. Especially the vocal melody lines, that’s a huge part of what I do. And if there’s something that’s not sitting right I’ll suggest well why don’t we try it this way. But Jeff is the main lyricist. Absolutely on this record.”
Derek continues on to talk about how it feels for him to be releasing such a highly anticipated debut album at this stage in his career, pointing out his satisfaction with the whole affair,
“It’s very exciting! This is the first time that it’s been my thing from the beginning. Where I signed the deal, I’m the co-producer on the record and I’m one of the main songwriters for the band. I’ve never had this much influence in a band before. I’ve worked very hard in my career. I’ve played for a lot of great people, and had a lot of great opportunities, but it’s nice to be able to have some creative control for once.”
Eventually the discussion turns back towards the world tour and Derek answers the question on every Australian metal fan’s mind, if the band will be coming to Australia.
“Absolutely, it’ll probably be when we play Japan sometime in September or October. It’s definitely a priority for us to play Australian dates. We have a lot of fans down there and we love it there, we always love playing there!”
When questioned about what kind of live rig he’ll be using the virtuosic keyboard genius rattles off a long list which invokes images of himself standing on stage absolutely surrounded by instruments. An image sure to please any prog fan. He also goes into a bit of detail about the other processes of preparing for the tour,
“Well definitely gotta have my Hammond B-3…or C-3, one of the two, I haven’t made my mind up yet, with my Leslies, I’m gonna be bringing my Nord going through my half-stack with pedals. My mellotron. I’ll be bringing a Korg Kronos and then I have room for one more keyboard up there that’s yet to be decided. I’ve checked out a few things. But I’ve just been setting the rig up the last few days with my tech. And I’m just kinda like, relearning this music that we played on the record. It’s one thing to record it and it’s another thing to kind of put it all together in performance mode. I’ve been training really hard physically, tryna get into really good shape. I just really wanna fucking come out exploding in 2018. I’m just really excited about this band. The line-up, I’m so grateful to be playing with these killer guys and I just wanna give this my all.”
It became clear during the conversation that Derek is indeed so excited about this album that he couldn’t even pick a favourite track when asked to because he loves them all so much. His passion was contagious even over the phone,
“I definitely love God of the Sun. That was one of the first things I brought in to the band and I think it covers a lot of ground. Also, Labyrinth is really strong and I love Divine Addiction! I think that has a real old school hard rock vibe. I love the B-3 on it! But I think every song on that record is great and there’s something for everyone on there.”
Returning to the topic of keyboards, Derek details which ones proved most invaluable during the writing and recording sessions as well as how he decides what keyboard to use for certain parts,
“The Hammond B-3 was everywhere on that record. Pretty much on every song. And the Mellotron was used a lot. A Memorymoog. It’s really hard to say but definitely those three. But I use a lot of different keyboards on different sections. That’s the thing coz each song has its own personality, and I have so many different keyboards, there’s so many different options! But the songs when I hear them back for the first time or if I’m writing it it’s like immediate what keyboards I go on for a certain part or section. So, I just dip right into the collection and do whatever I do. Like a painter who’s painting, dipping in the easel, whatever colour he hears. And I do that throughout the record, I just keep tweaking and tweaking until I’m 100% happy with it.”
Looking towards the future of the band Derek shares the following in such warmth that it’s sure to build anticipation for the next release already,
“We’ve all cleared our schedules for 2018. We all believe that this record has the potential to be something big. Much more than any of the other projects that we’ve been involved with. The pedigree of this band is so strong. The fire! Everyone plays so well. We’re gonna go take this out to the people and we’ll see what happens. If everything goes as planned, Sons Of Apollo is gonna be around for a long time and we’ll just keep me records and touring. I know that it’s gonna do great. People have a tendency to gravitate towards warmth. And I think that Sons of Apollo is gonna generate the most heat.”
I push further and ask if there’ll definitely be more albums to come to which he responds, “Absolutely, I’ve already started writing.”
For a bit of a novelty question as the conversation nears its end I ask Derek what he would say to his 12-year-old self if he could go back in time. Safe to say his blunt response of “Wear a rubber” left me in stitches as he chuckled happily.
As is tradition, Derek gives his best piece of advice for any aspiring keyboardists in the prog metal world,
“I would just say find whatever style of music you love the most and write that kind of music and play it. Just work as hard as possible and if you stick with it, eventually something good is gonna come of it. Just don’t quit. Never give up.”
To conclude our conversation, I asked Derek what the one thing he would want everybody to know about Sons Of Apollo is,
“That you’re listening to the very finest musicians in the world, all congregated together on this record. You’re in for a treat.”