I was completely blown off by listening to the debut album from CEA SERIN. ‘Where Memories Combine’ is an album that without any exaggeration triggered my interest on progressive metal again. Being a fan of progressive, I was convinced that this genre is walking to its end slowly and only few would remain to hold it. But with new bands like CEA SERIN, progressive metal will always have a future. The mastermind of the band, J. Lamm kindly accepted to answer my questions. Enjoy. |
Hello J. First of all I need to congratulate you once more for this magnificent album called ‘Where Memories Combine’.
Secondly, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. To start off the discussion, when I listen to the CEA SERIN music, I can only categorize it as the so called progressive genre. I know you must hate categorizing; however you describe your music as ‘mercurial metal’. I wanted to ask you what difference you think there is between progressive and mercurial metal and what is so mercurial in your music?
J: Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Yes, I didn’t really want to be lumped into the pot of the Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Prog Band X, because I feel that if people keep hearing about Cea Serin being this progressive metal band they’ll probably be disappointed with the CD if they get it. I don’t want them to think that I sound like Geoff Tate or James LaBrie because I’m not that kind of a singer. I’m talking vocally, of course, right now. The vocals being the most obvious difference in the prog genre. I use a lot of death metal growls and black metal screams and at times a bit of the Mr. Doctor (of Devil Doll) acting in the singing. I think most prog metal fans will find this repellent in a sense because it’s not as catchy or melodic. However, the vocals are done in a way to compliment the music (or play off the music some times) and do the lyrics justice.
The second difference in the prog vs. Mercurial is the music. I call it ‘mercurial’ metal because I bring my various influences to the table in different forms. The Yanni influence that I have may not be as apparent on the ‘...where memories combine...’ CD but it will be on the next album. The ‘adult contemporary instrumental’ style (as Yanni puts it) is more prevalent in the keyboards than in the rock instruments. Aside from the obvious death/black and prog metal stylings we’ll shift in styles into other genres: Flamenco guitar with extreme vocals, Latin percussion, Celtic tap-dancing, etc. There are also other songs people haven’t heard yet that combine industrial elements and so on. I plan on writing more material in this unexpected vein. There was even a point where Keith did a country style solo over an older song but we ended up scratching it because it didn’t hold to the concept or flow of the song.
I believe it is mercurial in the sense that you don’t know what is going to come out next. What the vocals and/or music do in one minute will change in the next. But the challenge for me is to keep in a strong context; a cohesive structure and flow is my purpose in the song writing.
Can you give us a small biography of the band so that the readers can know a little bit about the history of CEA SERIN?
J: - Sure. Cea Serin started off just with myself. I had been in a band with Keith prior to Cea Serin called Ashen Dawn. This band was a more straightforward melodic metal band in the style of Crimson Glory and Vicious Rumors but a bit more technical. While in this band I had grown to want to do different things that didn’t really fit into the concept of Ashen Dawn. I happened upon a drum machine that I paid for in half with Keith and I began to work on songs that were current to my past and present playlist. As I worked on these songs I ended up becoming more accustomed to song writing. I listened to different bands in what they did to get inspiration. I messed with different sounds and structures, and so on. When I had a couple of songs I showed them to Keith and he immediately liked them. Months went by and he brought up the idea of maybe doing a project with these songs that didn’t fit into the Ashen Dawn formula. This would be our first demo.
So basically, I began in a small melodic progressive metal band and started to do my own thing that happened to get more interest and enjoyment out of myself. I could write the lyrics I wanted without worrying about what others would say. I didn’t have to ‘okay’ any parts with anyone. It was all just a process of me finding myself musically and lyrically while learning how to write music with modern equipment.
I read on your note on the CD, that CEA SERIN does not hold a stable line-up for reasons that we are going to discuss later. Doesn’t this make things a lot harder with any live shows you might want to do or even with the progress/composing of the band?
J: - No. First, here is how we do things. I’ll write the songs and when they are done I present them to Keith to record. I’ll show him what I have written and he’ll take those guitar parts and make them his own. I’m more a bass player than a guitarist so my skills are lacking in the lead and rhythm guitar-playing department. When he takes what I have written he’ll often change a thing or two up and make it sound much cooler. For example, the opening riff to ‘Meridian’s Tear’ - the first four measures was what I had originally written, and when the riff changes slightly the last four measures that is what he took and improved upon. I write all the drum, keyboard, bass, and lyrics. Keith takes the guitar parts and improves them. I’ll also come up with the bizarre ideas and it’s Keith’s job to interpret that into the recording process. I came up with the tap dancing thing and what I wanted her to do, but it was Keith that took that tap dancing performance and chopped it up into sections and placed them into the audio, rearranging the original tap dance solo into something much cooler.
As far as playing live goes....
I honestly never really enjoyed playing live. You got a bunch of people just staring at you either really into it or just examining what you’re doing waiting for mistakes. I never could deal with drummers so I would be happy playing with a drum machine live. We’ve had a drummer in the past that did a great job with the material but it didn’t work out for one reason or another. Also, people keep telling me that no one will accept the material if we use a drum machine.... which makes me want to do it even more.
In a live setting I just wanted to sing so I could move around and not be a stationary singer. The bassist and Keith did the backing vocals; Forrest did some death metal backing vocals. The keyboard ran a click track to the drummer that played to a click and a drum program so that he would know where he was. All the while I had the keyboards sequenced and running to the mixing board. It sounded okay I think.
On many parts of your note, I got clearly the point that you do not want the members of CEA SERIN to elevate their selves through the music. For this reason, you do not send photos to magazines and you alter the line up quite a lot. Although I don’t agree with such a strategy, why do you think there is fear that each one of you will shroud the music?
J: - It seems silly to me when I buy a CD and immediately when I open the CD up there is a band photo. Like they’re the most important part of the product. I got this one metal CD and I swear there were four band photos in it. ‘Just in case you don’t know what we look like, here is another photo.’
This is mainly done because they want to be stars. They want people to recognize them. They want to be validated for what they do. They perform great on a CD and they put it out there with their faces on it just waiting to be worshiped. That’s one huge problem with music today. People get into cause they can’t wait to be in the magazines. Time and time again I see interviews with people that remark about how excited they are to be on the cover of Magazine X because they’ve ‘read it for so many years.’
Everyone wants to be a star. There are also those people out there that pick up a magazine or see a video and they judge a band by their appearance. Labyrinth has gotten flack in the past for wearing capes in their band photo. Metallica got crap for cutting their hair. The Kovenant changed to a more Marilyn Manson look and everyone remarked about that. There are going to be those people that look at a band and see that one guy is wearing a Rhapsody shirt and they’re never going to want to hear that band cause they think that they must sound just like Rhapsody. So there is that aspect of it. There is also the aspect that I want to take band photos that are vastly different than other bands. I’m not saying I want to raise the bar, I’m just saying I want to see a change.
I actually took band photos for the new CD. You can see this photo on the back cover I sent you. I made some mannequins to represent the three of us in this band. I made a chest cavity by blowing up a large balloon and wrapping it quilting string and then covering it up with watered down glue. When it dried I popped the balloon and voila, I had a chest cavity. I filled this void with certain items that represented us, and I had gold spirals coming out of the cavities as well. Our arms had chains around one limb and flower arrangements around another, and I used a torn up old couch in a natural and beautiful setting. It took a long time and the details are too much to get into (plus, the photo doesn’t show them all, but I know its there) but it looks pretty different and gets my point across.
My face isn’t why people go and buy a Cea Serin CD. My face doesn’t matter. People shouldn’t be star struck when they meet their favorite band in their hometown. I’m no different than anyone else and should not be treated like I’m special. Putting my image on a CD would just be some vain attempt to try and get women and stroke my ego.
Back to the music now. One thing I noted through the songs is that although you have quite a lot of complex parts, you keep a balance on the songs. For example, there is always a verse, a bridge and a very melodic chorus dressed up with instrumental parts. Do you agree with that and why do you think that CEA SERIN need to have all these instrumental parts? Does it help you to build maybe an atmosphere that you want, a sort of ‘A picture contains 1000 words’?
J: - Well first, I write the music and don’t even think of the lyrics. I know what the song is about and I’m writing the music to correspond with certain images in my head. I just try to write the best music I can. When I’m done I decide where those lyrics are going to go and what is going to be without lyrics. Sometimes there will be a part that’s cool by itself and I can’t imagine putting lyrics to it. I do have verses and choruses and bridges and things like that, but not necessarily in that order. I structure the song as if it was an argument and the chorus is where I get to my point in a very clear way. I like a very strong chorus. I want it to hit the listener hard like the song was cool up to that point and just got cooler. Could the songs use an edit to make them shorter and cut out the instrumental sections? Sure, but then again I would be subscribing to a theory of mine that I hate.
I believe that songs are the general lengths they are today because the songwriters have been conditioned to write them that way. We have all grown up listening to pop music in one form or another. Whether we grew up listening to Motley Crue, The Cure, or Megadeth, it’s all popular music. And these musicians who write these songs want their music to be heard. How do they get heard? Through the radio and MTV, that’s how. You can’t be on the radio if you have a ten-minute long song. And unless you’re Michael Jackson you’re not going to have a 10-minute long video played on MTV. Why would a radio station want to play one song when they can play 3? I will not subscribe to this ideology of 3-minute radio edit songs.
So even the most extreme metal band is writing songs of this duration and of this structure. It’s not their fault; it’s how they grew up. If the only thing you listened to growing up was Devil Doll and avante garde music then that’s how you would structure your own songs.
No thank you, none of that please.
I have read that you draw your influences throughout experiences in life. I can understand that lyrically, but how does this work with actually composing music?
J: - I’m not sure how other songwriters get their music but I’ll explain how my ideas come. Some people just sit at their guitar and noodle around for an hour before a riff materializes itself. Some artists just play their piano and mess around until something sticks. I’m a bit different. When something happens to me, when I see something, when I hear something, when I read about something, etc. music immediately pops into my head. It’s important to continue to stretch your knowledge of your instrument to become a better idea-translator. Maybe this is how everyone does it, I don’t know. This is how I do it.
For instance, I’ll see a movie that has a small thing in it that I think is cool. That small second gives me an idea and I start to think about it. When I get to a certain inspired point in this creation of an idea the music pops into my head as a soundtrack to that idea.
Recently I had this idea of a girl that kills herself in her home. Her parents are rich and have a nice big house with a second floor. She ends up jumping off the second floor and breaking her neck in the living room below. This family just happens to have a son with Downs Syndrome as well. I kept thinking about how this death would affect him. And I thought about how everyday when this girl came home from school she would practice piano, not that great of a player, just a beginning player but the brother didn’t know this. He would stay upstairs or watch her around the corner as she would play and he would envy how she could play the way she did. We know one would look, he would try to play the piano like her, but for some reason it didn’t sound the same. But now he sits in his room and he hears no piano, doesn’t understand why she hasn’t come home to play. He goes in her room and sits on her bed, watching the door for her to come home. The parents are in another room and there is an entire different situation with that. But for this one scene I composed this small piano intro for this song that deals with the ignorance of loss, anticipation for something you’ll never hear again, anxiety of not being able to understand. It’s my own challenge to put myself in these situations I make up in my head and to do it justice. But when I was thinking about his scene in my head: of an overhead shot of the living room, moving up the stairs, looking at the family pictures, going across the hall and seeing the brother in the sisters room, laying down on the bed and waiting for her to come home, that whole thought just put the music into my head.... I just had to translate it.
That was an imagined situation that deals with real life, so the same thing goes when I experience something in my own life...the music just comes.
Does Keith Warman (lead and rhythm guitars) does actually participate on the song writing or he is only doing the guitar parts on the songs?
J: - Like I said before he’ll take a guitar part I’ve written and improve upon it. He’ll also make suggestions while we are recording to change the drum sound, add a thing here or there. He has a lot to say about vocal performance, melodies and harmonies while we are recording also. The first time he hears the vocals is when I’m recording them for the first time. So it’s pretty fresh to both of us when we are recording. Because of that he can say things like, ‘make it more fragile’ or ‘try this note instead’.
He is the reason why the production sounds as good as it does. He really labors over the recorded material to bring out the best in it. The solos are all his too. It’s one of my favorite times in recording when we get to the solos. It’s great seeing how it comes together. He’ll start off with a great improvised solo and just build on it. Take all the great aspects of the improvisation and just build some of my favorite guitar solos.
Also some times when I’m playing guitar parts and Forrest or Keith is around, they’ll make suggestions to me. And these suggestions often work their way into the mix somehow.
‘Where Memories Combine’ will be released through Heavencross records if I am not mistaken. In which parts of the world this album is going to be released according to the deals you have up to now and are we going to see the albums on many European countries in the future?
J: -Around February of 2004 Heavencross is going to try and secure some license deals throughout Europe. I’m hoping we will get all of Europe covered. Also, we have an American deal in the works so it will be released there as well. Also, we are working on Japan right now. Hopefully, if interest grows for Cea Serin it will be easier to secure markets for our music. It is so important to me that the music is heard. I know that I am always looking for a new CD that will change my life. I honestly love Cea Serin and I think that if I love it so much that others will enjoy it just as well.
For the rest of my life I will be listening to Yanni’s ‘In My Time,’ Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Fumbling Towards Ecstasy,’ Lord Bane’s ‘Age of Elegance,’ and Devil Doll’s ‘Dies Irae.’ I would love to know that somewhere out there is a person who feels the same way and is affected by the music of Cea Serin like my favorite artists affect me.
I know that you are going to play on the Prog Power Pre Party and the Metal Mercy Benefit. If you have done them already please tell us about your experience there if not tell us what does it mean for you and the band to play such festivals?
J: - We have already played those gigs. I’m a bit negative about our past live experiences. I don’t want to talk bad about anyone, cause certainly I have my own faults, but everything was just thrown together in a short space of time. The bass player we had called me up and wanted to put the band together specifically to play at the Prog Power pre party in Atlanta. I said yes and had no idea how to do this stuff live. So for months the core three of Cea Serin were traveling to Houston, Texas every weekend to practice with this hired rhythm section. The material is far too complex to just get together on the weekends for an extended practice so we never got as tight as I wanted.
I also had some problems with the people; there were personal issues that would be low class of me to drag out in the open as well. So the experience wasn’t a positive one.
It was nice that there were people moved by the performances though. There were a couple of people that came a long way to see us that night who had been waiting for a live Cea Serin show for a long time. It was nice to give that to them. It was also nice to prove that, one way or another; we could pull it off live.
And please tell us about your future plans on touring. I guess we will not be seeing you a lot in Europe, or there is going to be any nice surprise?
J: If there is a big demand for us to play in Europe I can’t see why we shouldn’t go. Of course, there will be money issues. Will we be able to afford to go over there for a limited number of shows? We’re signed to an independent label so we’ll just have to see how things go. I would love to play out of our country though. I’ve traveled through a lot of the U.S. and love traveling. I love seeing new places and seeing how each region and each section has its own culture and brand of people. Every place has a different reaction and a different style.
The strongest point on the album, I think is not only the music. Lyrics play an important role to the total result. I have heard a lot of strong lines throughout the songs. I wanted you to give us a brief (if you want to make it long, please do) description of the lyrical content of ‘The Surface Of All Things’.
J: - The Surface of All Things was probably the most difficult batch of lyrics to write. First I’ll say that the songs are meant to be read and interpreted through two points of view. The first being the point of view from a single person, the second being from the perception of the world. So my challenge was to present the lyrics in a way that could be understood as if it were being relayed from a single or group of people. I couldn’t use any personal pronouns and I had to be very careful about how I worded things.
‘A Fracture in Forever’ is the jumping off point. Where the opening credits would normally be in a movie. I wanted to draw people in to the world of Cea Serin with the intro. The main point to the intros is to pull the person out of what they were originally listening to and then draw them into Cea Serin. I got the idea for ‘A Fracture in Forever’ while driving and then looking up at the sky. The formation of clouds looked as if a cut had been sliced through the sky. And the entire idea of ‘The Surface of All Things’ stemmed from there. What if God decided to kill himself, die of a disease, give up on us, etc? If whatever we consider God to be suddenly chose to end his own existence then we would see this trickle down to us. Let’s say, hypothetically, that God was dying of a slow death. Being that It is omniscient we would in turn feel this effect. And this is how I view our world right now. As if God has some terminal cancer and it’s eating away at our society. I don’t actually believe that, I’m speaking metaphorically of course. However, this is the idea in which the songs are based. I say that I base it on two perceptions (the one part and the whole) because I want people to see the metaphor in the idea of God. I touch on this a bit in the song ‘The Illumination Mask.’ Within us all are our ideas, our creations, memories, viewpoints, language, etc. Within us lies an entire universe that is vastly expanding each day. It is true that we reach a certain point in our life where we reach our peak and then we begin to resign and draw back. This is the first perception of the Surface songs. How one person is, in a way, their own universe, their own god, they can create where they are going and what they will become. The one strongest argument towards the divinity and validity of our own existence is what lies upon what we create: our art and our ideas and our precision.
So everyone is different, and not everyone leads a charmed life. So with that perspective of ourselves being a container for a larger universe, if we have a bad week or year, or if we suffer some loss, we feel the effects on our bodies. If we are depressed our bodies become tense. If we become stressed we can give ourselves stomach ulcers. Our minds and interactions affect this universe within us. And ‘The Surface of All Things’ plays up on a small story arc that resolves around this idea. The one thing I concentrate on is 1) a single person in a room, who has given up on living because he/she has been beaten down by the world; a resulting finale for a tortured individual and 2) a society that is witnessing their ultimate end. A group of people that at one instant absolutely knows what is going to happen to them as if a bullet ran through the brain of God and the echo is washing over them in one swoop. That is the essence of the Surface of All Things.
‘Embracing the Absence’ is when we find ourselves in the middle of all of it. It represents (on one end) our unconscious psychological impulses. The first verse, for example, catches this person or these people, tired and encapsulated by everyday cycles. Both sky and mind (representing the two points of view) is snapped by visual and oral depictions that beyond doubt limits them finite. And for all the words that have been spoken and for all the layers of life that have been built upon it, these relationships that keep changing come to light for what they are. It is a realistic coming-to-light realization of what you’ve laid down for yourself in the past. ‘Meridian’s Tear’ acting as if it were the ego: the self reacting to society, while ‘The End of Silence’ is the superego and conscious reacting to social rules. This is the end, the after effect and the culmination of all that has been stirring.
I could really go on and on about the details of it all but I think that would bore some people to tears as well as taking up far too much space.
On ‘Scripted Suffering: Within And Without’, there is a line saying:
‘I am a victim of my own design’.
Do you think that such a victim can exist? What I mean is that people do their own thinking and make up their own decisions about their design. In contrast with ‘Meridian’s Tear’
‘Trained by the word and hand… encircled by a frame’
where you make points about how society doesn’t let us make our own decisions. How can these two thoughts co-exist? Do you think we have can control our lives or there are too many influences from the environment outside our soul to let us do so?
J: - I think it’s great that you’re getting into the lyrics. This is the first time someone has asked me about certain details such as this. ‘Scripted Suffering’ and ‘The Surface of All Things’ work on different levels. Let me explain ‘Scripted Suffering’ first.
‘Scripted Suffering: Within and Without’ is about my sick need to put myself into impossible situations just to prove that I can get out of them. I constantly put myself into these situations where I tell myself that I’m either going to crash and burn horribly or just come out shining and triumphant like no other. I’ll give you a couple of small examples. When I got the call from the bass player in Houston about wanting to put together a live Cea Serin band and play at the prog power pre show I told him that I would do it. Now, I knew that this gig was already booked and we had only a handful of months to do the impossible. Only a brief period of time to find a drummer (that we couldn’t do for years where I’m from) teach him the parts, teach the bass player the parts, get things tight, and all this while being 300 miles away. I’m overnighting material to him to learn, changing stuff up, listening on the phone, and directing this and that. Everyone was pulling their own wait, don’t get me wrong. But I knew that if this didn’t work out the one person it would look bad on was me. Everyone knew that Cea Serin was my baby from the start so if it sounded awful live then it was my fault. Another example is getting the tap dancer part done. Keith and I had invested so much time in the recordings that we absolutely had to find a dancer to do that. We were on new ground and were learning something new but you can’t be afraid of that stuff. Stress out, sweat it out, do what you have to do, but get it done.
The biggest example was my recent marriage and divorce. I met this beautiful woman who I thought was out of my league. When I actually did get the chance with her she was seeing a famous ‘rock star’ who was well known. So that was my competition. But I knew in my head that no one can beat me out of things if I put my mind to it. To make a long story short and to avoid talking about her or anyone else that I don’t want associated with me, I won her over. But it wasn’t worth it. We got married too early and I ended up leaving her. Deep down I knew that it would never work out but it was the challenge. And that was it. I didn’t really want to be with this person for the rest of my life, it was just the challenge.
I’m always doing things like that. Trying to challenge myself to overcome obstacles that I don’t really care about, I just want to overcome something huge.
So that’s not really a song about social commentary. It’s not really a song about how I’m shaped by the forces around me. It’s a song about how I provide myself with a set of obstacles and goals that normally for me would be a grueling process. I feel that overcoming such adversities, in whatever form, makes me a stronger person. But these aren’t every day adversities. These are things that I intentionally put in front of me to break them down, just to prove to myself I can do it. There were times that I would light a match and hold on to it as it burned and challenged myself to hold on to it until it went out. But mainly, ‘Scripted Suffering’ is about emotional trials that have been put into place by myself. Getting involved with someone not for love but to obtain the unobtainable. And I’m not just talking about my ex-wife; I’m talking about most of my ex’s. However, it’s not entirely a love thing.
I can also throw in there that one time I had a good paying job, however, one day the ‘boss’ told me to put on a different shirt to cover my tattoos. I refused and he insisted, so I quit. That’s not something rational. So for months I had to go about without a job and struggle to get by. Why? Because I told myself that I would never have someone walk on me: no matter if it is a wife, a boss, a teacher, not anyone. So I made myself suffer for months because of my convictions and personality.
‘The Surface of All Things’ is a bit more general in the shaping of society and the individual. But those songs ask the question ‘why?’. The first bridge is ‘trained by the word and hand to complete the strand – encircled by a frame to abide the name’ but then on the second bridge it relays ‘from zero to end lay the stains of bonds left to mend – a subtle decay for the faith that remains of the day.’
Which in a way states that for all this time we have been repeating a cycle from where we begin and how we are raised, to complete the line in the fashion that was set behind you. But faced with such knowledge of the end being right in front of you, those goals seem trivial to the more important bonds that we have made and those bonds that need to be put into perspective. Monetary gain isn’t important, materialism isn’t important; living up to become something that people say you should be isn’t the answer. Some people aspire to become something...anything, when we should progress in what we are and want to be and feel what is right for us and not what has been told to us. Bring those two bridges together like that I want to draw a picture of a person who has gained great ground and has materials to show for it. But when faced with the end of everything there is nothing more to think about and appreciate but those links you have made with others.
I hope I don’t sound like I’m rambling...it’s clear to me, just hard to interpret into words instead of the images I see. The written word is limiting, I wish I could translate through gestures, images, colors, sounds, etc.
For me ‘Into the Vivid Cherishing’ is the best song of the album, musically and lyrically. Not that the others are not simply amazing, but let’s say this one is my personal favorite. Can you tell us the story behind the song, musically and lyrically?
J: - Interesting. I’ve actually been trying to outdo ‘Into the Vivid Cherishing’ for a number of years now. I wrote the song back in 98 or 99 and it was the first that I ever wrote with a keyboard for help. It happens to be a lot of people’s favorite, and admittedly, it’s one of my favorites too.
One thing I should point out is that it was inspired by the true events that occurred to an ex-girlfriend of mine who lost her mother to cancer. Her mother had deteriorated to such an extent where she seemed frozen in time, unable to move her arms, legs, or mouth. She talked about it quite a bit with me over the time that I knew her and it, in turn, affected me in a different way. Her point of view and stories inspired me to ‘Into the Vivid Cherishing.’
I focused on certain events and details and tried to put myself in those situations. It was my challenge to try to present the material in a way so it wouldn’t seem like an outsider, but from a person who had gone through it as well. The song focuses on a few events in particular. For example, the song starts off with someone remembering the way things were, ‘shaping the shadows that lament your final sighs.’ Remembering that night and going back there, over and over again. The most prominent detail, and the most important part of the song I think, is the scene where I’m focusing on just her mother and my ex (the daughter) in the same room, towards the end. I go on to paint a picture of a girl who is sitting beside the bed of her mother and she wants to say all these things to her to make her feel better but simply can’t find the words to express her self. And on the other hand, there is the mother who is lying in bed and although she has no strength to move her mouth or her limbs, she also wants to tell her daughter everything in the world to make her feel better, but can’t physically do it. So there is this moment of silence where they both want to speak but there is actually no need to. They are with each other and the words that could be said are, in fact, just words. I don’t think they needed to say ‘goodbye’ or say anything at all. They were in silence and they were together.
An event like that is so hard to convey in words and music. It was a great challenge to me to get that song done, and then present it to my ex-girlfriend (who I’m still friends with) hoping that I did it justice and hoping that I got certain ideas conveyed. I can honestly say that my efforts paid off.
There is another point in the song (towards the end, third verse) where I focus on the days after. I believe that there were times when you wake up after losing someone, and for those first brief seconds you forget their gone...but then everything fades back to you and you have to relive it again. How awful it would be to lose a wife or a husband that you’ve been with for 40 years (or however long) and you lose them. Waking up in the morning with that empty space in bed, and no one to have breakfast with, no one to help get ready for work, an empty spot at the holidays. Someone you’ve spent vacations with, and watched you’re children grow up and spent the majority of your life with is just gone.
But that’s what ‘Into the Vivid Cherishing’ is about: those moments after, those moments during, and those specific details in the passing of a loved on. It’s not just a song about losing someone; it’s a specific set of scenes. Staring off blankly and remember the worst of nights, waiting for them to die, staying awake because you know if you go to sleep that will be when they pass. Being alone with them in a room and having that absolute silence of the loss and incapable to say the words you want to say. The days after the loss when you forget and suddenly remember and having to relive it all.
Generally, I find that musically and lyrically, CEA SERIN move towards sad experiences and emotions. Do you think that this will change in the future or is it hard anymore for you to see any good to write about?
J: - There are lodes of good things to write about. But I tend to dwell on certain scenes that make me well up inside. I would like to write about the importance of strong friendships. Friends that you know would sleep beside your bed if you’re in the hospital because they know you wouldn’t want to be alone. Is that a happy thought?
There is something I heard about a certain section of Holocaust survivors that intrigued me. That certain topic has certainly been done many times over, but I remember hearing this specific story that really got to me. It was the story about how the guards in the camps would restrict the prisoners to sing their religious songs. They would tread through their day in silence until slowly a new song began to come about. This new song started to come together under the direst of circumstances. The song was about how one day they would be free of the place, they would throw away their shovels and be with their families again. Prisoners would communicate this new song amongst themselves while not being watched. It started to spread and it even affected some of the guards. It is said that some guards came to the prisoners in confidence to apologize and to speak of how they were moved that such a song could come to be. Some of my details are sketchy so if I’m wrong about certain historical things, I apologize. If I do write a song about that I would have to do better research.
But to answer your question I never really have a quest or an aim about what I plan to do. It just gets done. If I were to write a song about the story I just mentioned I would have to read up on it, dwell on it and think about it until the music came to me. Right now I have no music and no lyrics for it but I’m intrigued nonetheless. What else can I say besides I don’t want to make predictions on where the songs will be going.
I had a dozen more questions for you. I don’t want to tire you so I will leave things here. I want to wish you to achieve whatever you want with CEA SERIN and of course the same goes for you personally. Thank you very much for this wonderful album that will play a lot on my CD player. If you want to add anything please feel free to do so.
J: That’s the best thing I can hear. I know that I am always looking for albums by artists that will affect me forever. I’m always on the look out for that next ‘In My Time,’ ‘Dies Irae,’ ‘Images and Words’ and ‘Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.’ That’s all I really want out of all this: to know that there is at least one person out there that has a CD that we put together that will be in constant rotation in their lives. To supply the soundtrack to someone’s happiest moments, and most dreadful days it’s a great and noble aim for an artist. That’s what it’s all about for me. It’s not about the money, or having our faces on magazines, making videos, or fast cars. I live me like as if I were a virus...it’s not about the people I cure but the people I infest.