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Jasun Tipton – Guitars for Zero Hour

Date: 10/24/06
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. Do you and your bother write all the music for Zero Hour?

JASUN: Yes we do but we do things a little different than most. Our formatting is not done in the studio while we jam our music. It's a more organic process that way as opposed to something that's already worked out ya know . It can be a little stagnant that way and you kinda put boundaries on yourself that way and we are the kind of band that just wants to do our own writing style that has no boundaries. We like to jam together and decide that way if it should be a long or short song, if its going to have a verse chorus or not, what have you. We have done the typical verse chorus thing in the past on something like “Eyes of Denial” off our debut and then with other albums we have there are a couple of other songs like that. But with this cd it was not put together that way. Yeah you can say “I am Here” is a little different because it's a clean passage song but when you are dealing with more of the material that is long compositions, long technical parts, drumming changes, clean tone passages, its like a short story with each song. That's what is cool about progressive music. The more the band goes on the further we are trying to get away from stuff like “The Subterranean” off “The Towers of Avarice”.

2. Obviously there are a lot of different styles of music and influences in your music. So tell us about those.

JASUN: It changes all the time but from the beginning it was the Patmetheny group, he had some amazing stuff. Then there are bands like Cynic, Dream Theater, Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah , Tool, we are all over the place. King Crimson, Pink Floyd, James Brown, music was always running in our house from Elvis to George Benson it was all over the place in my family. That all has something to do with what we do.

3. Since you play progressive metal obviously there would be some influence from Dream Theater. So how much of that do you think is in Zero Hour's music?

JASUN: Well they are the big guns in the genre. There are plenty of other greats in the genre like Symphony X and Cynic who have their own style, I mean the list can go on. But when they released “Images and Words” in 1992 lets face it they really did change the way people listened to music and a lot of people started to listen to progressive Metal. They did make things known to a point when it comes to the genre. They changed our way of thinking in the way of music, but Zero Hour is its own thing. I think maybe the first album in 1999 with “Metamorphosis” which actually came out in 97, that was maybe a little more Dream Theater influenced with the keyboards but we don't have a lot of keyboards in our music ever since. I mean “The Towers of Avarice” have very little and its more of a background thing where with Dream Theater the keyboards are very up front.

With Dream Theater there is a lot of guitar and keyboard soloing, you don't really hear that with us, I mean there are a lot of parts in our music where we're interacting against each other where the drums are doing one thing, the guitar and bass are doing another things, its all rather separated ya know. Its kind of our sound. But I mean Dream Theater are a fantastic band and earned their right to be one of the big guns of progressive metal.

4. What kind of music training have you had?

JASUN: I started out playing classical piano over five years or so and my brother Troy was taking lessons for a pretty long period as well. After a while you start running into other people and that's when I started to like the guitar and hearing something like Jason Becker or Paul Gilbert and after hearing that I was like what is this. There are so many good musicians out there to learn from that you can jam out and pick their brains when making music. Then after that I started getting into a lot of jazz and really diving into Coltrane stuff, the Warren Nune books because he is an amazing jazz guitarist and I was supposed to take some lessons from him before he passed away not too long ago. I mean he was fantastic. That's about the extent of our training. Playing piano for many years, reading music for such a long time really helped me to know what I wanted to do when I did finally pick up the guitar.

5. Tell us about the title of the new cd “Specs of Burnt Pictures Beyond” and the artwork.

JASUN: That's a good question. I was going for a sort of U.K. setting for the artwork, that's what I told the artist. You have this guy who is going through many different processes, not sure what is going on, reflecting on his past through these burnt pictures flying around in the air. Those specs of burnt pictures symbolize the ideas and memories that are here in his brain one minute and gone the next. Because its not a conceptual album we have so many different ideas like “The Falcon's cry” which is about a man who is climbing a hill, he used to do it when he was young and strong and now he wants to prove he can do it one more time ya know. My brother was in Oregon where he was writing this and he remembered a story about his friend who purchased a motorcycle even though he had Parkinson's disease, and was told he couldn't do certain things. So he use to ride his bike up this hill on a mountain to prove he could still do it one last time. So that's what something like “Falcon's cry” is about. Life is very short and we forget about the simple things like riding a bike. Life is what you make it and can be very beautiful. I hope that's a good answer Hahaha . There is so much I want to say but that could take hours Hahaha .

6. Tell us about this Proghouse you are playing here in New Jersey ?

JASUN: Apparently it's a very intimate place for the people who are really into the progressive genre, Symphony X have played there. It only sits 75 people. You look at it and its really a house Hahaha . The guy who owns it Jim has been so cool, said he was a fan of our band, they had Spocks Beard there and many others. It just seemed like a cool thing to do that way.

7. Are you shooting any videos for the album?

JASUN: We thought about it but its really hard for a band like ourselves who are not on the biggest label ya know. Sensory has been just awesome to us and they're doing more for us every time we put out another record. But the problem is that there are a lot of labels that have control over what is going on with the videos that people actually see. I think it would be better if we record a concert since there are a lot of people who don't get to see us live. Plus it would be cool since we do a lot of technical things with our music to see how we actually do those things ya know Hahaha . Not sure if we are gonna do it for this or the next album.

After we get done with these U.S. dates we are gonna do some shows in Europe .

8. So you played ProgPower USA in Atlanta three times, 2001 ,02,06 . How did you get the opportunity?

JASUN: When the festival's promoter Glenn started putting the thing together in 2001 it was originally held at JJ Kellys in Chicago . At the time “The Towers of Avarice” was just coming out when the show was being put together so it was a perfect opportunity to be on the bill. The event sold out and what was great about it was it only held like 450 compared to what it hosts now in Atlanta . I think Glenn just saw such a strong underground for this music at the time that afterwards he tried to make it into a bigger event.

9. How was it the second time around in 2002 with all those big headliners Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Angra ?

JASUN: Man that went great we were really well received from the crowd. I mean every time we go to ProgPower it's a great experience and the support from the fans for this music is awesome. It's a great festival for this type of music, bands like us who are into the progressive genre. I mean it sells out every year now, its ran fantastic. It's a pretty big deal for this music. I don't know if Glenn plans on making the event any bigger than it is. I mean it would be nice to see it hit city to city like a Gigantour you know but he seems to like keeping it at one venue which is a good thing because it is what's working for him and the people who attend the event come every year. Sometimes if you try to get a little further out there you can lose your shirt over it. That's a lot of money they are putting out there for a festival like Gigantour you know. But then again he has taken risks before with this festival so you never know. But I don't think it's a bad idea to try and get a festival of this nature to a larger audience.

10. What is the difference, if any, between your earlier albums and “Specs of Pictures Burnt Beyond”?

JASUN: I think now we are better players, Mike is an amazing drummer and Troy is just the goods. We just know each other so much better now the material just flows and comes together much better. We always have thoughts of what we will do in the future as far as our abilities and with each record we try and top what we did before. I think on the next record we were thinking of maybe doing a real prog album and may hire a keyboard player. We will always be a progressive band that's who we are, and we will always incorporate classical, jazz, rock, new age, etc. We just wont bring a rapper in or something like that Hahaha . Even though prog isn't the in thing thats what we'll always be.

11. What is Zero Hour doing for the rest of 06 into 07?

JASUN: We are doing these shows in the States then going to Europe in 2007. We are trying to get on a festival in Holland but we have not been approached yet by any of the big European festivals yet. We are hoping to though.

Official website: www.zerohourweb.com

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