I wanted to start a journal about the making of EPICK. I wanted EPICK to be an over-the-top, bloated, monstrous tribute to the double concept albums of the 70s that had everything, including the kitchen sink, in it. I wanted to show that one person, alone, can create a multi-tonal tapestry in the convenience of his own home.
I have always wanted to do either a rock opera, like Tommy or Quadrophenia, or a concept album, like The Wall. I was toying with a rock opera called Nosferatu. In 1991 I was set to produce and direct an over-the-top silent rock opera re-imagining of F.W. Murnau’s 1927 cult classic Nosferatu. The film idea got benched and life went on. The idea of turning Nosferatu into a rock opera was then realized in 1994 by Bernard Taylor. So much for that.
In 1998 I gave birth to King Lizzard® with the recording of The Sin City Symphony (and, yes, now that King Lizzard® is a registered trademark I have to use the R symbol ever ytime I write my name, or it violates trademark use). The music of Living Karma was almost electronica, with solid beats and a kick ass female vocals by the late Misty Bennetts. The only problem was, back in 1999 computers were still in their infancy (some may argue they still are) and the daunting task of turning the recorded mini-operas of Living Karma into live shows became an ongoing train wreck which pulled Misty and me apart forever. We just could not reproduce the complex sounds on stage. So, I threw that all out and asked myself, “what is the easiest God damned music in the world to play?” and from that I became Las Vegas’ godfather of heavy metal, giving birth to King Lizzard’s® Hearts of Darkness Band. The metal approach worked for my albums The Patient in Room 666 and The Return of the Patient in Room 666. But my heart always laid in the prog rock songs of Yes, ELP and Queen.
In 2012-2013 I teamed up with Cathe Jones to do the highly experimental Love Songs in the Key of Death, which I thought the lyrics were biting and imaginative and the music very out of the box. The public, on the other hand, thought the music was morbid and the execution painful to listen to. And those were the “kind” critiques.
Somewhere between 2013 and 2015 I started dusting off some old songs, re-mixing prior releases and writing new material. I had a huge breakthrough when I invested in virtual synth programs and several synthesizer keyboards. Little by little I started doing amazing tonal tapestries. After Love Songs I was planning on doing just an acoustic guitar and vocal album. But, instead, did 180 degrees the opposite and did the most souped-up, over the top, self-indulgent Magnum Opus I could. And what else could I call it but EPICK. That’s epic, with a K. The dictionary cites EPICK as an Adjective
(comparative more epick, superlative most epick)
1. Archaic spelling of epic.
And, of course, it would have to be in all capital letters. The story evolved other time into the story of an interplanetary space traveler and musician, Mr. MUGI, who brings music to a dead planet. The title for many of the new songs, the concept, and even the name Mr. MUGI, all came to me in dreams. Mr. MUGI eventually came to stand for the Musical Universal Godly Interface.
The original cover of the project was going to be an angel of death coming out of a nuclear explosion with a guitar in her hand…which was a recycle of my Beyond Forever cover. My wife immediately thought it was an uninspired piece of shit and chided “You can do better.” I started looking through old Hindu art and came across a picture of Radha and Krishna floating on an earth island that had a tree and a cow. Many weeks and versions later, and asking the wife, “What about this?” and hearing, “No, you can still do better,” I eventually came up with the man with a guitar on a floating island in space looking down at a dead planet, where he notices a little patch of green growing. Life. And the guitar started out as an acoustic guitar, then went to an SG, and finally became my white Les Paul I call “Lightning.”
And as for everything including the kitchen sink, here is a list of some of the instruments I bought or borrowed and learned how to play:
-Sitar, for “Believe: The Awakening Pt 2”
-Bagpipes for “Standing in the Rain”
-Theremin for “Voodoo Lady”
-A 1980 Oberheim OB-X analog synthesizer on whatever I could
-Dimension Pro, Rapture Pro and SFZ Pro virtual Synths with orchestral, world music and choir expansion packs
-Wood flute for “Standing in the Rain”
– Mandolin for “Standing in the Rain”
-The Kitchen Sink, for the end of “Standing in the Rain” I wanted a nice sound of rain falling. All the sound effect files were too harsh. I turned the sink aerator on and recorded that.
I was, however, unsuccessful at learning to play a saxophone, so that was a virtual instrument.
So, thus was the beginnings of EPICK. I will post some technical and interesting factoids over the next few weeks to celebrate the worldwide release of EPICK on all digital downloads.