A Few Words With...Jonah Weingarten Of Pyramaze
by John A. Wilcox
Jonah Weingarten is a veritable 10-finger orchestra. His work is full of lush textures, accenting the dark visions of Pyramaze's Epitaph well. Progsheet had the good fortune to have a few words with Weingarten and glean insight into his work with Pyramaze. Read on, dear friends...
PS: What was the first keyboard you ever bought & why?
JW: My first real keyboard was a Korg Triton Classic Pro. I got it as a holiday present from my entire family after they realized I had a serious knack for playing piano and keys. It opened up a lot of doors for me and helped me start experimenting with sounds and instruments that appealed to my ear.
PS: Who were your greatest influences as a keyboard player?
JW: I would say my biggest influences are all film composers such as Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Thomas Newman (who I'm listening to as I'm typing these answers), Allan Silvestri, Steve Jablonsky, Two Steps From Hell etc. I also have always loved and been influenced by the great pianist George Winston.
PS: How did you come to join the band back in 2002?
JW: I posted a message on the Wacken Open Air Festival guestbook that I was a keyboardist from the USA that was looking to join a band in Europe. I got an e-mail from Michael Kammeyer, the founder of Pyramaze asking me to audition that very same day. I sent an audition VHS tape (yes I'm that old) and got the gig. I flew to Denmark in January of 2003 to record our debut album, Melancholy Beast. The rest is history!
PS: What do you see as Pyramaze's greatest strengths as a band?
JW: Even though we have had some obvious line-up changes over the years, we always consistently managed to make great albums that have always received critical acclaim. Our songs are always full of power, melody, and atmosphere.
PS: This is the 3rd album by this incarnation of the band. What do you feel has kept this particular line up so stable?
JW: I think we all share a similar musical and professional vision and want to keep growing together. We all feel like we keep getting stronger and stronger with each release. On top of all of that, we are great friends that go way back and of course we all feel like a big family in Pyramaze.
PS: How did COVID effect the recording of the album?
JW: It actually didn�t really effect it that much at all. We had almost everything finished up for the album before COVID hit, save for some of the vocals, but Terje was able to record the rest of them with his cousin up in Norway.
PS: Please tell me the story behind some of the songs. Let's start with A Stroke Of Magic.
JW: This was a song that Jacob wrote for the new album, and Henrik from Anubis Gate wrote the lyrics to it. It felt like a big anthem to us, so we decided to place at the beginning of the album to really punch the listener in the face with something that would make a big impact. It�s definitely a stand out track in my opinion.
PS: Your Last Call.
JW: This was one of my many writing contributions to the Epitaph album. I'm very proud of this and I feel like it stands out as unique. It�s got a bit more of the classic Pyramaze feel to it with the guitar riffs and melodies. I especially like the lyric in the second verse no more disciples of the sun which is of course a throw back reference to that album of ours from 2015.
JW: This track really stood out to us as an obvious single, as it has one of the catchiest choruses on the entire new album. It�s very modern sounding and I feel like it�s breaking some new ground for us as a band. While it certainly has a more commercial sound, it still has some really heavy and epic parts to it.
JW: Another one of my proud writing contributions on the album, I selfishly wanted Brittney Slayes from Unleash The Archers to guest on the track. The end result is pure power metal magic! This might be my all time favorite Pyramaze song ever in fact.
PS: Going back, tell me about Fearless.
JW: To me, Fearless is a really a song that bridges the gap between our old and newer sounds. It has its prog elements, but is really a heavy Power Metal song. We still love to play this one live!
PS: Ghost Light.
JW: Wow, this is going way back...I can tell you this is the first song I ever used an oboe sound on and that that has since become a fixture of my orchestrations. I know that our fans of our more classic material really love this song. Matt Barlow really kicked some ass on this track as well.
PS: What song on Epitaph came together most quickly?
JW: I would say that all came along at about the same speed, except for The Time Traveller which came about the slowest because it was so involved. That song was our single greatest undertaking a s a band in our almost 20 years of existence.
PS: What keyboards did you feature on this album?
JW: I mainly just used a Roland as a midi controller in the studio, but played my solo and some melodies on my Korg Krome.
PS: Please tell me 6 albums you never get tired of listening to.
In Flames - Colony
Children of Bodom - Hatebreeder
At The Gates - Slaughter of the Soul
George Winston - December
Soilwork - A Predator�s Portrait
Nightwish - Once
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