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A TALK WITH THE CRISES FORMER SINGER RUSELL GRAY!!!
Friday, 06 October 2006
Hello PerfectProg fans! We receive this mail from Crises former singer Russell Gray, so we deicide to make him an exclusive interview for PerfectProg, he’s gonna talk all about Crises and his departure from this great German band! only here at PrefectProg:
Hello Mr. Chuy,
I was looking up information on Ondrej Hurbanic (Crises guitarist) when I ran across your great article. Thank you so much for the review. It makes me happy to know that although we didn't sell tons of CD's that they have found their way around and that people are enjoying the music.
We have made our final CD which was released by Progman Records in 2004. It is called "Balance" it is by far our very best CD ever. I hope that if you will write to TOM ARGO the producer...He will be able to send you a CD. He has not continued distributing the CD which is too bad...It did not have nearly the Distribution that our Broken Glass CD did. Tom Argo is a fairly new Producer and I think we were actually his 1st CD...So he probably didn't have as much experience getting it out there. Although we are greatful to him for taking it on and getting it released.
I would love for you to review that CD! Take care and thanks again! Sincerely, Russell Gray (Former Singer for Crises)
RUSSELL GRAY UIT ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT FORT GORDON, GA 30905-5000 TEL: (706) 791-5986 FAX: (706) 791-7200
Hi Russell, is an extraordinary pleasure for me to receive a mail from you, what a surprise!!! I admire you so much, you're in the polls of our page, best vocalist, you're a top singer, I really enjoy your voice and Crises music, I heard "Balance", I listened before than "Broken Glass", great work in "Balance", but I'll be sincere, for me "Broken Glass" is the masterpiece, everything is perfect in this album, you sing much better and Pavel is more perceptible, Ondrej and the other guys plays better, the "BG" formation is the best, "Balance" is more commercial, but is a great lp, and of course I'll make a review, I'll promise, you'll like it, thanks for your kind words, I love music, and in PerfectProg we want to recognize all the excellent musicians and bands, thanks for contact me, I appreciate so much.
Good Morning Mr. Chuy!
Thank you for your response. Your comments are very flattering and I'm honored that you like my music!
I'm happy you have heard the Balance CD. I agree with you. Broken Glass is my favorite work as far as the Amount of musicianship we had to put into it. Balance I think was a bit more commercial like you said. But I felt we had a great blend of songs. Actually I like Balance from start to finish and All the songs sound in the same time "period". By that, I mean that when I listen to Broken Glass...The last Two Songs "Drops of Rain" and "Last Candle" were actually songs written during our 1st CD. One of the reasons that Broken Glass is a bit different from Balance is that Broken Glass was recorded Analog using 3 ADAT systems. In other words...If there was a note played wrong or out of tune or something like that. We had to go back to the mistake, punch in to try and fix it. If for some reason we didn't hear the mistake until weeks later...Then we had to try to recreate the exact mix and level settings as before. In this case...Sometimes we couldn't find it so we had to re-record an entire passage. Sometimes we lost our best ones! And then had to start again. Also it was Mastered in a Professional studio by a sound engineer who did the Mixing and mastering for many famous bands. So the level of effort put into that CD was literally blood sweat and tears. After we finished that project we decided that it cost quite alot of money for renting ADAT machines, Tape, and then the Studio time. With "Balance" The Entire CD was recorded digitally on computer studio systems...Which also was alot of work...But without the need to race against the clock because of money or lack thereof, we had the leisure to do our own mixing and mastering. Which also meant we had more time for listening and fixing parts. Ondrej had to do all the keyboard passages for this CD as we had lost Marko. Ondrej also did many of the drum ideas to give a ground work for what he was wanting, but then had Thomas replay them so Thomas was able to play using his own style. Pavel had to learn alot of the difficult arpeggios that Ondrej was playing who made them look easy. Pavel is an Awesome Bass player! I did the vocal arrangements, lyrics. We all contributed different ideas here or there to the process, and worked together collectively on the arrangements. The bulk of the instrumental music falls on Ondrej's composition.
Good Morning Mr. Chuy! Thank you for your response. Your comments are very flattering and I'm honored that you like my music! I'm happy you have heard the Balance CD. I agree with you. Broken Glass is my favorite work as far as the Amount of musicianship we had to put into it. Balance I think was a bit more commercial like you said. But I felt we had a great blend of songs. Actually I like Balance from start to finish and All the songs sound in the same time "period". By that, I mean that when I listen to Broken Glass...The last Two Songs "Drops of Rain" and "Last Candle" were actually songs written during our 1st CD. One of the reasons that Broken Glass is a bit different from Balance is that Broken Glass was recorded Analog using 3 ADAT systems. In other words...If there was a note played wrong or out of tune or something like that. We had to go back to the mistake, punch in to try and fix it. If for some reason we didn't hear the mistake until weeks later...Then we had to try to recreate the exact mix and level settings as before. In this case...Sometimes we couldn't find it so we had to re-record an entire passage. Sometimes we lost our best ones! And then had to start again. Also it was Mastered in a Professional studio by a sound engineer who did the Mixing and mastering for many famous bands. So the level of effort put into that CD was literally blood sweat and tears. After we finished that project we decided that it cost quite alot of money for renting ADAT machines, Tape, and then the Studio time. With "Balance" The Entire CD was recorded digitally on computer studio systems...Which also was alot of work...But without the need to race against the clock because of money or lack thereof, we had the leisure to do our own mixing and mastering. Which also meant we had more time for listening and fixing parts. Ondrej had to do all the keyboard passages for this CD as we had lost Marko. Ondrej also did many of the drum ideas to give a ground work for what he was wanting, but then had Thomas replay them so Thomas was able to play using his own style. Pavel had to learn alot of the difficult arpeggios that Ondrej was playing who made them look easy. Pavel is an Awesome Bass player! I did the vocal arrangements, lyrics. We all contributed different ideas here or there to the process, and worked together collectively on the arrangements. The bulk of the instrumental music falls on Ondrej's composition.
I'll like to buy all the Crises material, including the well-recorded version of "Broken Glass", please send me someone's mail to contact the indicate people...
Mr. Chuy...You can purchase the "Broken Glass" CD at Amazon.com. I think the Balance CD can be purchased at CD Baby.com, or Prog Records. OR...you can go to the Crises website www.crises.de and contact one of the guys there and arrange to buy any of the CD's. I personally don't have any in stock except for my own couple of copies of each CD. Russell, I'll like to make you some questions, this is between us, I don't publicate on the page anything we'll talk unless you allow me:
I'll consider this our 1st Interview and I'm very Honored!
Crises is a top band, what happen with Crises?
In the year 2001. My US government job in Germany ended. I was getting married at the same time as well to my wife Kathy. I had to choose between giving up my job and staying in Germany as an American that couldn't speak fluent German and had no skills other than my Administration Duties. Newly married with a wife and child, this was a very risky future. For the first time in my life I had to think of someone else and their needs and wants besides my own. While I cared a lot for the Band and the guys. I knew that a real family was going to be forever while there were no guarantees that our future as a band would always continue. At that time they were moving on with their schools and jobs and as far as music, Ondrej was devoting more and more of his time to his cover band "Crossfire" which did eventually make a very Huge impact in the local area. After I left for America I encouraged them that we could still make music by recording in separate studios. This is why computer recording is excellent. You can literally transfer music tracks via e-mail! They sent me some ideas, and it took me a long time, around 2 years to find someone with the right equipment and know-how to help me record onto their ideas. After all, I was in a new place and didn't know anyone yet. When I sent them back some recorded tracks, they didn't like it, and gave up the idea of distance recording after only one try, and because it had taken me so long to get situated. They searched for a new singer and found another American singer around 2003, But now he has left Crises as well because of Job and family reasons. So here we are 2006 and they are without a singer again. Personally I feel if we would have continued to try and hammer out the distance difficulties in the recording process, as well as improve on the Relationship issues, we would be making CD's now and be far ahead of where it is now. Maybe we would have landed a bigger label and deal by now. But I think the main issue was that they wanted the music to go in a more heavy commecialized direction. The main core of Crises is still together however, (Ondrej, Thomas, and Pavel) only they are looking for another singer. I have expressed to them that I would love to do more recordings with them, but so far they have not responded to any of my emails. Of course I didn't like being "replaced" but then they wanted to play live and that is sort of difficult separated on different continents.
Why the dream is over? Why not start again, there's a lot of talent in the members.
I'm sure they will eventually put a great complete band together again...you can go to view the updates at www.crises.de Personally, Ondrej is far too Genius of a Composer to limit himself to Commerical style music and could easily be on the level of the Professionals. He is truly an undiscovered Guitar Prodigy, and should be among the line-up of such greats as John Petrucci, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, or Steve Morse. I wanted them to see this when I was with them. They were all in their 20's at that time and I think they knew they were talented...but maybe didn't really understand at that time, what a GREAT unusual thing we had. Now I'm in my 40's and they are in their 30's...the age I was when I was with them. Now they probably understand more of the things I was dealing with and going through as well. Life is short, you only have a short time to accomplish a dream, or it may pass you by.
Why you left to do music? You're an incredible musician.
Thank you for your compliments! I am currently living in Augusta, Georgia and up until recently, I have not been able to find any musicians like the guys from Crises who were as dedicated musicians that put as much time into getting together and working on the music. More and more people only want to throw a garage band together for fun and playing in public and forget that to do something extraordinary takes a bit more work. I tried to put together a couple of bands here that never got off the ground floor. People have to show up for practice or it's pointless. I much prefer making music that can be remembered and enjoyed forever and have it on a CD...You can always look back and remember and always have proof of your accomplishment. Just playing live "gigs" for people is just alot of used up energy which really is a temporary band-aid for the ego. I've had that opinion since I was with Crises. I wanted to put out more CD's because I knew in the long run they would reach a far greater audience than the 30 or 1000 possible people that might show up for a local concert...or the 5000 that might show up because it was a beer fest night.
With all the respect, what are you doing in the militia? Why not continuing creating impressive music?
I'm not in the Army but I work for the Army as a Civilian. Making Impressive music while it is enjoyable to listen to is quite Self-rewarding. You have it forever to hold and listen too. But it is also a style of music that is quite self seeking and self promoting. I think making music that will uplift or help change someone's life, or encourage them through a difficult time is more of what I hope to do in the future...But if it's done in a style that makes people listen...Then that is a great accomplishment.
Any musical project for you? You got the gift of your voice.
Thank you. God gives us all gifts and talents. When we don't use them, we lose them. As far as music is concerned. I'm trying to give back to God in thanks for what He's Given me. I owe HIM for everything I've done or have become. Currently the only music projects I have been doing have been with the praise band through the church I attend called "The Sanctuary". I have played my trumpet as well as Percussion instruments such as Congas etc...Only Recently I've discovered that their is a Huge Christian Progressive Rock Scene out there. Some musical "name greats" from the Progressive scene are involved with many of these projects! Check it out! I hope to do something in this realm soon. Also music is really timeless. I'll bet most people don't even realize that some of the best Progressive Rock music coming out now are from people in their late thirties into their 50's and 60's. When the music is truly excellent it will reach all different age groups and not only a certain generation.
There's nothing to do with Crises? Forever gone?
Of course I would Always be thrilled to work with the members from Crises Again. All they have to do is send me music that they want me to work on, accept me back into the band and I'll put my heart into it. When I was with them I was a difficult person to like. I had done some things to them on a personal level that were wrong and I hope that someday they will forgive me. Especially for Ondrej, who I hurt the most cause of my selfishness and lack of feelings for my own friends. I was trusted and I blew that trust, and this is why he doesn't want to work with me. He's never answered an email from me since I left. So you're hearing it first from me. But everyone has the ability to change their lives right down to the core of their heart. My Core values now come from my strong faith and belief in Jesus, God's son who died for the sins of the World. If you look at how the world is in Chaos...This was all spoken about in the Bible as the beginning of the end times before Jesus God's son comes back. If you believe in your heart that Jesus is God's son, and that He died for you. God has said that we will be saved for Eternity. People don't have to blow themselves up to go to heaven to have 70 virgins. We are promised even greater things than that. The happiness I have found is greater than that anyway! .... Especially the not being blown up part :) In this day and age people are looking for answers... to enrich, improve their lives. Well there's mine, and I hope more people can find the same answer... Why keep searching? As far as is working with Crises Forever gone? That is entirely up to them. I made my mark in the band and I'm happy about that...I'm proud of the music we made and I wish we could do more.
The feeling in your voice is awesome, we'll never listen again?
I sure Appreciate those compliments! Thank you! Like any instrument or gift...If you don't use it...you lose it. Currently I haven't had a progressive style band to work with so I'm a bit rusty, but it will come back quickly with a bit of effort on my part...just recently I have met some very talented musicians! I consider them great friends who are talented Brothers. Christopher Bailey is an Awesome drummer very much along the lines of Thomas Abts from Crises. He also plays Keyboard masterfully as well as Guitar. His Brother Jason Bailey plays Electric Guitar and is Excellent on Acoustic Guitar. Both are very skilled musicians and great guys! Christopher and Jason know alot more than I do about the in and outs of Computer recording and also like Crises as well. It would be great if we could combine our forces together. Watch for some great things coming out in a couple of years! Either from Crises or from another project I'll be involved in.
It makes me feel really bad the fact that Crises will not make music, I consider your band the fourth best band ever...
That is a VERY HIGH Compliment! Thank you! There are MANY excellent musicians all over the world making music that we've never heard of even! Knowing I've made something that has lasted this long and has been an enjoyment to someone else is what it's all about! Knowing there are fans out there that enjoy our music even today after this amount of time since the CD has been out, is the best feeling ever. And I really should put in one more reminder that Although I'm not included in their future plans....Crises is still trying to make music...Once again, You can check out their latest endeavors at www.crises.de and also follow the individual links to their individual web sites! I encourage that!
I'll like to stay in contact with you, I appreciate so much your disposition and your time, greetings!!!
Thank You. I will answer your letters and questions if you have any! I appreciate the opportunity to do this interview with you. Also, although the band members from CRISES may not all agree with my Religious views or beliefs, I request that you please don't exclude or edit anything I've said about my beliefs and faith. It's who I am, and one of the reasons some great songs like "With Angel's Wings", "Last Candle", "Drops Of Rain", "Temptations", "Romans' Fall" and "Choices" even exist today.
If anyone else would like to write to me My emails are: ;
Greetings to you and your family from me and mine. Sincerely, Russell Gray.
Oh man, very moving answers, thanks for the confidence, you open your heart, you recognize your mistakes, this talks about your great maturity and wisdom of life, your involvement in the church makes you an open and wise man, I’ll hope Ondrej read this and understands you, forgive you and then start to work together again, and soon the Crises rebirth, a dream come true, you did the first step, let’s wait how your bandmates response.
There are a few questions more:
How did you get involve with the other Crises guys?
Believe it or not. I answered an add that I saw in the paper. It said "Band seeking singer". I went and met them and they gave me some songs to work on which turned out to be our Demo CD. I brought back the songs complete with lyrics and melodies and sang them for them and I was in.Did you write all the lyrics from Crises?
YES! They gave me creative room. I also came up with my own melodies to go over the top of the music.
By the way, descent to paradise lyrics are magnificent and captivating, from where come the idea?
My Grandfather had just passed away. It was a reflection of the sadness that I had felt at the time but also the joy that I knew he was going to a better place. So in the song I wrote about an older person that had some struggles, who was missing the love of his life who had already passed on before him...And their joyful reunion in heaven after he passed away.
We know Ondrej is the brain of crises, did Hurbanic tell you how he wants the lyrics and how you must sing?
Well, it's true Ondrej is a musical Genius. But all the guys are equal musicians in their own right especially Thomas and Pavel. We all played our own parts, and created our own parts. Ondrej did not tell me how he wanted the lyrics or tell me how to sing. If I had an idea that they didn't like...They would say "Not bad...But could you try something else" Sometimes I had to do this several times but in the end I was the one that came up with the final version. It wasn't like they had to show me the melody or the idea. We all contributed pieces here or there. One of my favorite was on the Balance CD. Ondrej had put in a drum fill he wanted to have Thomas play. I asked...What would that sound like with piano? With the click of the mouse, we tried the rhythm with the piano sound it was a really neat affect for that one measure break...And we used it...So we all had input. Sometimes they would say to me..."how about some harmony over that part?"...Sometimes we begged Ondrej to NOT redo his solos....he was always striving to do it perfect or make it better and sometimes the feeling or sound was already there...So we were like NOOOOOO! Don't change it!!! Anyway, in the end, We worked as a TEAM.
Which were your goals and thoughts when you were in Crises?
My goals and thoughts at that time were to do my best and hopefully to make more CD's...and maybe we'd be discovered or noticed.
Do you would like to incorporate to a well-know prog metal band? There a few without singer, Stride is one of them.
Well, of course I have a family now, a full time job, responsibilities. It would all depend on how far away they live...what their commitments were that sort of thing. Or if they would be willing to do recording at a distance. That is probably the main thing. I'm pretty settled where I'm living now...And would love to do more music but I think the band I would have to be with would have to be a band that understands some of these issues as well. But thanks for the tip!
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Man, how could we forget you guys!? :-)) We appreciate it very much that you came for main reason to seeing us at the PPVI !! That´s really awesome man! Many greetings to your friends, hope to see you all soon!