By: Rob Cavuoto
Glen Drover, best known for his precision and power playing with headbanger icons Megadeth and Eidolon, blends the venom and attack of modern metal and the technically demanding musicianship that defines the classic jazz-rock genre on his new CD entitled Metalusion.
The instrumental, 10-track album, presents a side of Drover’s musical identity that the metal community has rarely witnessed, while boasting diverse yet highly cohesive tracks, none of the songs seem out of place. The musicianship on this CD is of the highest caliber featuring Jim Gilmour on keyboards, Paul Yee on bass and Chris Sutherland on drums.
Also a number of special guests assisted Glen with forging a perfect musical balance including Nevermore’s guitarist Jeff Loomis, Opeth/Talisman’s guitarist Fredrik Åkesson, veteran Steve Smyth of the Bay Area’s Forbidden, Megadeth’s Chris Poland and classic metal master Vinnie Moore of UFO. I caught up with Glen to give us his perceptive on this fierce new CD.
Rob Cavuoto: Metalusion is pretty soulful are your musical roots in jazz and fusion?
Glen Drover: To a certain extent all the band member’s roots are in jazz. We all grew up with metal, fusion and progressive music. They all have a lot of parallels. It wasn’t my intention to be a heavy metal CD, but those elements are in there for certain songs and certain sections.
If you’re trying to do a metal instrumental CD, it can get a little boring without vocals, and without those particular melodies in the voice it’s easy for someone to get lost if the music doesn’t carry itself. When you are doing this type of music you really have to stretch things.
Rob: What is the meaning behind the title of the CD?
Glen Drover: Metalusion is the combination of metal and fusion. The fusing of those styles coming together. That’s what it’s all about.
Rob: How did you come up with the song titles?
Glen Drover: Some songs I just got a certain feel from. It’s something that comes to mind during a song. Sometimes the name we start off with changes from what we end up with. For example with “Ascension,” it was originally called “Reaching for a High Ground” and I thought it was too long so changed it yet kept the same meaning.
Rob: How did you decide what cover songs to put on this CD?
Glen Drover: After I left Megadeth and I was speaking with Chris Sutherland about doing this type of project and he shared the same ideas and enthusiasm. He suggested a couple of musicians, Jim from Saga on keyboard and Paul on bass. The big question was, are we all going to fuse together? Is there going to be a spark? So the best way to see if this would work was to try a song. I picked the “Egyptian Danza” by Al DiMeola. I thought it would be a really good test and the version came out so well, I thought we should add it to the CD!
The Frank Zappa songs are actually a medley of two songs, but for certain reasons we had to ID them separately on the CD because it’s harder to get permission to cover a medley than a song. The Zappa family is releasing a lot of his music and “Purple Lagoon” was the intro from a live CD from 1976. That riff was played much slower and I thought “Wow, that would sound cool if I put a heavier guitar on it and make it sound more metal.” It flows nicely into “Filthy Habits” which is more of a hypnotic song.
For the two Jean-Luc Ponty songs, my plan was to have Jeff Loomis play guitar on one and Fredrick Åkesson on the other and then pick the best one. After we heard them both we couldn’t decide so we used them both. There wasn’t a true reason for doing it other than that.
Rob: Where did you get your inspiration from when writing for this CD?
Glen Drover: There’s a lot of variation on this CD which encompass all the influences that I grew up with. These inspirations are different than what I’ve been doing over the last decade, which as been metal. I love that stuff buts it’s nice to branch off a little bit. I wanted to do something more adventurous. Something I haven’t done before.
Rob: Would you consider this one of the highlights of putting out Metalusion?
Glen Drover: It’s certainly one of the highlights for me from a musical standpoint. Not only because the songs were difficult to play, that’s part of the fun, but also working with these musicians. These guys are by far the best musicians I’ve ever worked with. I know everybody says that same cliché, stupid ass thing, but it hard to beat these guys.
They’re high caliber guys and this music called for it. It makes the whole project a major joy for me because it’s no fun to work with people that just can’t hold their own. I had to work with people like that in the past and it literally sucks the fun out of recording. It’s great when everybody is on the same page when develop new material.
Rob: Is the “challenge” the thing that turns you on about playing guitar?
Glen Drover: It’s inspiring to be able to tackle things that are difficult. I think what motivates me is when you’re able to challenge yourself and keep climbing that mountain. Aside from the flashy technique, I’ve always known that it was just as important, if not more important, to have melody in your playing. It’s all about “feel.” That’s what makes a great well-rounded player, someone who has great technique, great feeling, and great vibrato.
Rob: What do you want fans to take away from this CD?
Glen Drover: The versatility of the CD. None of us had any preconceive idea what we wanted to tap into. It was more coming from a self-indulgent angle, we weren’t concerned about doing anything else expect doing something that we’re happy with. It was developed over two years. Only the songs that stuck with me over time are the ones that made it on the CD. If I didn’t believe in a song we took it off. That’s what the CD is built from.