By Thrash-head

When it was originally announced that Ray Alder of Fates Warning would be forming a side project it was initially perceived as quite a cool idea. When news broke of who else would be included on the project, headbangers everywhere had high hopes and high expectations. When news broke of the musical direction the project would takeŠour hopes were dashed severely. We simply could not comprehend it. Why would the leading forces of several classic metal bands jam out with a punk/indie rock drummer and do a nu-metal project not unlike the Deftones?

The end result: a band called Engine. It featured the aforementioned Alder on vocals, Joey Vera from Armored Saint (also Fates Warning and now Seven Witches... see elsewhere!- Dr. Mality) on bass and producing, Bernie Versailles from Agent Steel on guitar, and Pete Parada from Face to Face on drums. It was truly a supergroup in every sense, and while the resulting debut gained a lukewarm reception with the metal-buying public, this journalist thought it to be quite excellent. As stated before, the music was very similar to Deftones in terms of feel and delivery, only with a trained vocalist and more melodic songwriting. The main reason why it wasn¹t received well was because everyone immediately, before hearing a note, assumed the specific crowd of the band.

Now with a new album on the way, the slightly more colorfully packaged ³Superholic,² the band will no longer have to define the right crowd for it¹s music, it will now concentrate on impressing them.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First off, let¹s set the record straight. When this band was first forming, there was talk that this would be a ³Ray Alder solo project.² Is this a solo project, or is this a fully-fledged band?

BERNIE VERSAILLES: At first it really was a solo project. Without Ray this never would have happened. I was out of the music scene for like a good ten years, maybe twelve years and nobody knew who I was. So it was definitely his solo thing, but to me it is now a full-fledged band. We¹ve taken it way more seriously instead of writing a bunch of songs in my room and then recording it. We¹ve spent a lot more time writing it up and recording, and everybody put their two cents in. We let Joey and Pete be way more creative on this album than on the first.

WC: I, for one, found the debut to be rather enjoyable. How would you say this release is different from the previous one? Faster? Slower? Heavier? More melodic?

BV: I think this one¹s a little angrier and darker. It just kinda reflects what we go through in life, especially with Ray¹s lyrics. He mostly writes about things that he goes through, just personal issues.

WC:When this band first came out, it was well publicized as to who was in this band. Do you think that might have led people to believe that this might have been just another classic metal project, and that it might have been misunderstood when it first came out?

BV: Absolutely, I think it was mostly a marketing thing. We were all on the label at the time in various bands that were more traditional or progressive metal bands. It was totally a misunderstanding I think. Speaking as an outsider, I would have totally thought that it would have sounded like a combination of all three of those bands (Agent Steel, Fates Warning, Armored Saint).

WC: It seems fairly obvious how three of you might hook up from like touring together or just being part of the same scene really, but how did Pete Parada find his way into the band?

BV: Pete was a friend of our who was rehearsing at Mark Zonder¹s studio with different bands. When I first met him he was playing with World of Pain, who I guess their singer¹s now in Diesel Machine, and I just realized it, but he played on a Steel Prophet album that I actually did a guest solo on, which I thought was kind of neat that him and I were on the same album together before hooking up in a band. So we were just all hanging out at the same studio and we were all friends, and we just thought that he¹d make a really good drummer for us.

WC: Joey seems to have a lot going for him in terms of musical projects. Does this ever cause a problem for Engine?

BV: We only really played three shows for the first album, and Joey was able to make all three of them, so we don¹t really have a problem with him. Pete, constantly being on tour was only able to play one of them, so really we have more of a problem with Pete¹s schedule. Joey just seems to work it out and make time.

WC: I know Joey produced the first Engine release, did he produce the new one as well?

BV: Well, in a sense. I guess it just depends it just depends on your definition of producing. To me, making it sound the way it does, not just mixing it but the arrangements and the intros and all the weird sounds and all the cool effects you hearŠall of that is pretty much just done in pre-production between me and Ray. He does mix it and makes it sound the way it does, but all the weird and cool stuff you hear is already done between me and Ray. I think that¹s why it was put down that me and Ray co-produced the album as we did on the first album.

WC: Is there a tour planned to support this release?

BV: As far as I know, we¹re planning to do a California mini-tour in June [already took place then by the time you are reading this –Thrash-head], and the Metal Blade 20th Anniversary Party in July, but we are planning on doing a bigger tour, whether it be the states or Europe, but nothing¹s confirmed yet, it¹s still in the works.

WC: This is a question which simply must be asked. This isn¹t going to become another Soil is it, where members of underground metal bands get together, play more mainstream-sounding heavy rock, and then break off from their #1 bands to make this one a priority? Has there been talk of that happening with this project?

BV: Oh yeah, absolutely. It just really boils down to whatever people are going to take more seriously. Obviously, if we were in these projects that weren¹t worth our while, and then all of a sudden Engine is this big, important band that¹s actually gonna support us and pay our bills, and at the same time is going to make our creative side happy, then I think it¹s a definite possibility.

WC: Would you still probably do the other bands on the side at least, were that to happen?

BV: Yeah, exactly. Life isn¹t just black and white. I think that right now all the bands we¹re in right now would realize that¹s a possibility and they would understand and support it [were it to happen].

WC: Speaking of other bands you¹re in, it¹s been a while since the last Agent Steel release. Has there been any talk about doing something new?

BV: Yeah, we¹re actually recording the fourth album right now. Just like Engine we¹re just trying to work on the basis of whoever can come down, whoever has the time [can come down]. I¹m just kinda juggling Engine and Agent Steel, but I also mix and produce other bands from around town. It¹s just a big juggling act. But we should be done by the end of this year, maybe even release it by August.

WC: Being you come from the background of playing the more power metal and heavy metal variety, and then you turn to Engine, which in my opinion sounds quite a bit more like the Deftones, was this an easy transition or was this something you¹ve been wanting to do for a while.

BV: Actually it was totally natural, it didn¹t even feel like I was doing something different. I think in ¹96, I formed a band called Pain Corps., which was that whole down-tuned thing. It didn¹t sound like Deftones, but it was that whole heavy, Meshuggah-style of playing, so when Ray and I started writing the Engine material, I was already in that mode, it wasn¹t anything new for me. It was a nice change to try and meld a melodic songwriting thing with that heavier down-tuned chug. It was a very nice thing for me, it came very easily.

WC: This is a question we ask quite a few people. What was the last CD you got that you thoroughly enjoyed?

BV: It was a band called Darkane on Century Media. I just really, really dug it!

WC: ³Insanity²?(Not yet but I'm almost there!--Smartass Mality)

BV: Um, I¹m not sure of the name of the album, but it was the one they released last year. I believe they are from Sweden.

WC: This is kinda an odd question. Would you have a Spinal Tap moment?

BV: (laughs) Yes I do, actually! Agent Steel played at L¹amours, opening for Exodus, back in ¹85. I think we went on about twenty minutes late because of some technical problems, so in the middle of our set, they told us ³last song,² but we just kept playing. The soundman shut off our PA, but we just kept going, still had the pit going and screamin¹, and then they lowered this video screen in front of us, but we still kept playing, and then they shut off the lights, but we still kept playing in pitch black. And when they realize we weren¹t going to stop playing they shut off the power to the whole club. [same thing happened to Skinlab at Metalfest ¹99. They keptplaying past their time limit, and so the PA got shut off. –Thrash-head]

WC: Any last words for your Midwestern fans?

BV: Hope to see you guys this time around, and thanks for the support. Had no idea of the good response that we got for either of these albums, so thanks!

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