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Concept Of God: Heavy As An Elephants Ass!

Interview with guitarist Steve Moseley of Concept Of God by Vera in November 2007

Concept Of God is Solitude Aeturnus without guitarist John Perez, it is as simple as that. The idea goes back to 1999 when Solitude Aeturnus announced a sabbatical period and the individual members started to compose on their own. Things were put on hold for several years, but at last we are able to enjoy the skills of two bands. Solitude Aeturnus released ‘Alone’, Concept Of God is the new one. With ‘Visions’ they gave birth to an eminent doom record. Let us dive into the world of Concept Of God and see what guitarist supreme Steve Moseley has to tell about it!

The very beginning of this band goes back to 1999 after the release of the Solitude Aeturnus album ‘Adagio’. Can you tell what happened then?
Solitude began experiencing some problems, which included personal, financial, and work related issues with a few other members not long after the release of the ADAGIO album. Around that time I began putting material together for a side project to keep me busy, and musically active. Once I began writing and arranging the material, I spoke with Robert about becoming involved. It just happened that he had been working on lyrics for a project he wanted to call Concept of God, and asked me about playing guitar. We went over some of the ideas, and everything just seemed to fall in place seamlessly. Having played with John Covington for quite some time previously before he joined Solitude made him the logical choice for drums on the album. I brought in my bass player River Tunnell from Omega Thesis, a band I was playing in before I joined Solitude, and Concept was born. While we were working on the original material, we also played a wide variety of cover tunes for fun. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Mountain, Bad Company, Dio, Black Sabbath, Kiss, and many others. This kept us playing out quite frequently, and helped us get accustomed to one another. Eventually, the original material was fully arranged and ready, so we began talking about booking some time in the studio to record.

As a matter of fact, ‘Visions’ was recorded in 2000. Can you tell about this first recording process?
We entered Pineapple Studio in Arlington Texas around the middle of December 2000, and finished that session in early January 2001. Not long before we went in to record,
our bass player River left the band to pursue another project. I brought James Martin in on bass whom I had worked with in other projects over the years. James brought the project together with his solid low end sound, and top notch technique. It wasn’t long before we were up and running again, and ready to record. There were a lot of studios in the area back then, but not really any engineers that had worked on material remotely similar to ours. I knew the owner of Pineapple real well, and felt comfortable that I would be able to easily influence the direction of the sound. That isn’t always possible with just any engineer. You have to have someone that is willing to take suggestions, and try new things. Barry Saling, our engineer at Pineapple was very open to different ideas, and helped me get the sound I was looking for. Our recording budget was limited to just my bank account, so we had to make the most of our time in the studio. We ended up recording most of the tracks live, or simultaneously. This really helped in giving the album a raw, concert performance kind of feel I think.
I just didn’t want the music to sound over-produced, or polished. I was really going for a simple, straight-forward, no frills, cake without the icing kind of sound.

You played a few regional shows in that period with different keyboard players. Can you tell us about these shows?
There is not really much to tell. Most of those shows back then had a mix of eight or nine original songs, and one to three cover tunes. There are a few different boot-leg
videos out there of some older gigs that I’m sure will re-surface sometime in the future. If you are reading this, and you have a video performance of Concept of God, send me an e-mail, because I would like to see the show myself. It’s been a while since we’ve been on stage as Concept, and I’m sure it would be fun to watch.

But on ‘Visions’ no keyboards are used. Any reason for that?
When we started out, I wanted the music to have backing keyboard sounds, and some industrial type over-tones from time to time on a few songs. We played with a few different keyboard players, but I just couldn’t seem to find the sound I was looking for.
Most of the keyboard players I know around my area are usually very busy, and constantly in demand. It became somewhat difficult to get a commitment from someone long enough to develop the sound I was looking for. Eventually I began performing the keyboard sounds myself with a Roland Guitar Synthesizer. In the end, I decided that the music sounded best in it’s raw state, un-processed, and without keyboards. I still think there are a few songs on the album in which keyboards would have sounded good with some of the sections. But overall, I think the album sounds best without keys. I’ll probably make use of those types of sounds on the next album.

It feels very good to listen to a classic (doom) metal album as ‘Visions’. Of course the band has much in common with Solitude Aeturnus, but one of the different features is your guitar work. It has a warm vintage sound. Can you tell me a bit more about this particular sound?
I could tell you more than a “bit”. As a matter of fact, I could probably fill another two pages with the details of that subject. Unfortunately, it would be rather boring for the majority of the readers. I’m a pretty quiet person most of the time, but that is a subject I enjoy talking about. Like most guitar players, I’m on the quest for the perfect tone.
It’s like a drug to me, and I’m addicted. Although I enjoy a wide variety of guitar tones,
there are a few that really stand out in my mind. It’s those few that are the hardest to obtain. I’ve been using the same guitar rig for around 20 years now. Over the last two decades, I’ve tried just about every rig and pickup combination known to mankind.
Having worked for Guitar Center for many years, and attending around 35 of the last
40 guitar shows in my area, I have had the privilege of playing through a wide variety of different guitars and guitar rigs. Unfortunately, like many things in life, I want the one sound that I can’t have. 99% of the rigs I’ve played through just didn’t have the sound for me. They work just fine for a lot of other people, but they just don’t seem to have the sound I’m looking for. My guitar sound is actually very straight forward and simple. I build my own guitars with parts from Warmoth and a variety of other manufactures. I use strat shaped bodies made of swamp ash with very little finish on them. Usually a maple neck and fretboard. These two elements alone are probably 50% of my tone. As for pickups, all of my guitars have a Seymour Duncan TB4 JB trembucker in the bridge position, and either a Dimarzio DP404 virtual vintage solo, or an AGI Lace blue sensor in the neck position. A pickup selector, and a single volume, that’s it. I like to keep it simple. The rig I play through is all solid state, old school rack gear from Rocktron. I think they stopped making the pre-amp that I use around 15 years ago. I guess that makes me old too. Fortunately, I’ve got a few of those pre-amps, in case anything ever happens. That kind of rig isn’t for everyone, but it gives me the sound I’m looking for, where all others have fallen short. I could go on for ages about which strings, cables, speakers, cabinets, etc…. But that’s the basics of my sound.

When did you start to play guitar and were there bands or guitar players that inspired you to pick up this instrument?
I started playing guitar around 11 or 12 years of age. I remember finding out very quickly that it takes a lot of practice to make the thing sound like anything other than crap. I sounded like crap, so I put the guitar down for about a year or so. Originally it was people like Ace Frehley (KISS), Tom Scholz (Boston), and Ritchie Blackmore (Rainbow) that inspired me to pick up the guitar. As I got older, bands like Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, Cirith Ungol, Man-O-War, and Venom helped solidify my interest in electric guitar. By that time I was 13 or 14 years old, and all I could think about was the guitar. So I don’t guess I really started playing, or got serious about the guitar until around 1982 or 1983. That was a good time period for music. A lot of really heavy stuff began to emerge on the scene around that time.

Has the name Concept Of God something to do with religion? Or shall we see it more universal, like Heaven And Hell let’s say?
I believe that it is more universal. I think that everyone has their own “concept of god”, even if it is “nothing” itself. The name shouldn’t imply belief in any specific religion, or belief system. Each of us have somewhat different religious beliefs.
The name Concept of God is something that Robert Lowe came up with as I mentioned earlier. I don’t think that he meant it to be specifically religious, or anything like that.

Rob Lowe is an extraordinary vocalist with an expressive voice that gives me goose-bumps. Now he is singing in three bands. Are you guys going to manage this when these bands are involved in touring and playing gigs?
Solitude Aeturnus does not have a demanding schedule by any means. Up to this point we have not had a scheduling conflict with anything going on in Candlemass. There is usually plenty of advanced notice when booking shows, which gives us the freedom to adjust our schedules to accommodate the different bands. Because none of the bands are tremendously busy, that also gives us all plenty of time to fulfil our responsibilities in each project whether it be recording, touring, promotion, or just a few shows. I don’t foresee any problems with anyone working with more than one band, unless one of them suddenly sells a couple of million records. In the unlikely event that the general public decides that DOOM METAL is more appealing than Britney Spears next year, we will adjust our schedules, and work it all out. Until that happens, everything should be alright.

The remix of the album was done this year. Why did you choose another studio and producer to fulfil the album? (Nomad Studios, JT Longoria) And what was done during this finishing touch? Did you change a lot?
The only reason that the album was finished at NOMAD STUDIO with J.T. Longoria, and not at Pineapple where it was originally recorded is the fact that Pineapple Studio had closed down during the few years we were away. When we were finally ready to proceed with the mix and mastering of the album, I called the owner of Pineapple, who I know personally. He told me about the studio closing down, and eventually relocating to a different city. By that time I had become confident in the sound I was getting at NOMAD, and basically just needed to transfer the master tapes over to the new studio. We were told not to get our hopes up, that magnetic tape like the ones we recorded on isn’t designed to last that long, and there was a chance that after seven years sitting on the shelf there could be some degradation, or damage to the tapes.
I’ve never spoken to anyone that resumed recording on magnetic tape after a period of time longer than three or four years. So yes, we were all somewhat nervous. Fortunately, everything turned out fine, and all the tracks were transferred over to Nomad Studio in Carrollton Texas. Once we got things going at Nomad, Robert came in around June of this year and finished a vocal track that was never completed during the original sessions. Other than a vocal line, a couple of vocal harmonies, and a guitar harmony or two, all the tracks are from the original recordings. We didn’t really have to record much at all. I would say 99% of the recording was already done, and nothing was “changed”, or altered in any way from it’s original form. I spent most of the time in the studio producing the right sound for the tracks by means of mixing and mastering. J.T. Longoria’s expert use of the studio equipment, and professional approach were key ingredients in getting the sound I was after. I very much look forward to working with J.T. in the future.

And what is the reason of this hiatus of seven years? (I know the history of SA is kind of similar)
If you are familiar with the history of Solitude, then you know the reason already.
For those who aren’t familiar with what went on during the long break between ADAGIO and ALONE, suffice to say that it was a difficult period for everyone in Solitude. We went through more than our share of personal, financial, health, and work related issues that cost us quite a bit of time to resolve. I won’t go into lengthy detail here, but in the end we had multiple line-up changes with bass and drums before we got James Martin to play bass, and Steve Nichols on drums. Those kinds of things can take its toll on a band, and we all hated to see Edgar Rivera and John Covington leave. They are both still great friends to us all, and Covington still plays with Concept of God. They just had issues in their lives that required their complete attention. With everything that was going on in the Solitude camp, that didn’t leave us much choice but to focus our energy on resolving those issues and stabilizing the band before we put any attention towards Concept of God, or any other projects.
We were all just as much surprised at how much time had transpired between albums as the fans were. The last eight or nine years has passed very quickly for each of us in the band. We would rehearse a set list, new material, or a combination of the two with one line up for months and months, only to have another line up change, and need to do it all over again, and again. Couple that with divorces, having babies, child support, changing jobs, relocating our rehearsal room several times, having our equipment stolen, moving to a new city, health problems, and a multitude of other issues and you have what is called “LIFE”. That’s the biggest challenge for any musician, to balance life and music perfectly. Those few that can do that are truly gifted.

Let’s have a look at the lyrics. Are there songs or lyrics you want to tell us a bit more about? What is the general source of inspiration / themes / input?
Robert Lowe wrote the lyrics for VISIONS. I believe that he has written about a variety of different subjects, and that he draws his inspiration from a multitude of different things including life experiences, fantasy, fiction writings, religious belief systems, and others. There is not a continuous “theme” to the album lyrically, nor should this album be considered a “concept” album, or a single story divided into sections.

Are you planning to tour to support the album?
There are no tour plans as of yet, but all of us would very much like to play the Concept material live. With a little luck we can get overseas to some of the larger open air festivals.

The beautiful artwork is done by Torsten Gebhardt. Please tell us about this man, his works and where did you know him from?
Torsten Gebhardt was room-mates with on of my good friends Sven Hering in Germany for a while. Sven highly recommended his artwork, and once we took a look at it, we were all totally convinced, and loved his work. Torsten’s artwork is as much a part of the album as the music itself in my opinion. He has an amazing ability to capture the “vision” in each of his works. To see more of the artwork he did for Concept of God, and a wide variety of other pieces, visit him on the web at: or .

Richard Peters is another important name when talking about the artwork. A bit more details about this would be nice…
Richard has been a friend to Solitude for a long time. He runs our website, and actually designed the original “COG” amulet that is similar to the one you see hanging around the cross on the cover art. Richard was instrumental in helping with the layout of the CD booklet and jewel case.

Why did you choose a cover of ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’?
At the time when VISIONS was recorded, all of us were also playing only cover songs in another band around town. When we entered the studio to record, it just seemed natural to include one of them. It wasn’t something we really planned out, or anything like that, but Ritchie Blackmore has always been an influence on me. I believe he pioneered the use (or at least championed the use) of phrygian dominant modes in progressive rock. His use of dark melodies was something that always inspired me growing up. The main reason for that cover is probably how each of us in the band feels about Robert singing Dio's material. We always enjoy hearing Robert's version of Dio's vocals, and it encourages us to include material that Dio has performed on anytime we are considering a cover song.
Did John Perez hear the album already? Do you have a reaction from him? Isn’t it creating a kind of tension?
John Perez is one of the main reasons that Concept of God exists. When we first began having problems within the Solitude camp around 1999, and a few of us (including myself) had a little extra time on our hands, John encouraged me to focus on my own material to stay musically active. John has been a part of Concept from its inception, and is the main distributor of the album in North America through his record label Brainticket Records. When I completed the material for Concept, I presented the songs to John for him to hear, and asked for his suggestions and criticism during the production of the album. John has helped me with the realization of Concept of God more than any other single person. He offered valuable insight into the details of distribution, layout, duplication, and many other aspects that only someone who runs a record label such as himself would know. There isn’t any “tension” between us, it’s quite the contrary. Concept of God has strengthened our relationship. As for his reaction to the album: “Heavy as an Elephants Ass !”.

What are your plans and wishes for the near future?
Right now we are just focused on the promotion and distribution of the album here in North America. That takes up most of our time right now. In the future I plan on releasing a follow up to VISIONS. Hopefully we can have it ready for sale before Christmas of 2008. Our only wish is that we can continue to get our music into the hands of the few people that enjoy listening to it.

After a long Sabbatical-period, there is suddenly all kind of busy activity in the Solitude camp, so what are the plans with SA and COG in the next year(s)?
As I mentioned before, both Solitude and Concept should have a new album ready next year. In addition, we are working on a DAYS OF DOOM part II, which will include a lot of behind the scenes stuff, while on tour, in the studio, live performances, and other things that went on in the last decade with Solitude. Hopefully we can do some more shows overseas as well.

To occlude it would be nice to tell the people ‘Visions’ is worth buying and to whom people it will appeal…
Visions should appeal to fans of Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, and all who like it heavy. It has been described as: “Powerful Doom Metal with a Technical Edge”, and
“Very Friendly to the Ears, a Must Own for all fans of Doom Metal”. I think that any fan of metal that enjoys the occasional straight forward no frills raw listening experience will find a song or two on VISIONS that they like.

I think they actually will like the entire album!!!

Geplaatst door Vera op vrijdag 07 december 2007 - 16:02:23
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