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29.12.2014
Belgian Neo-prog rockers M!ndgames recently released their fourth album, Paradox Of Choice. Benny: We still enjoy playing together but like every band there are always some issues to discuss and with the 5 of us we still can work everything out. Bart: When the band was formed in 1998, it took another 4 years before we started to record our first album (International Daylight). If you had to name one band or artist that inspire you more than anyone else today, what would you say and why?
All your albums are deeply rooted in the prog rock tradition as well as very modern, with elements of pop and classical music. Tom: It depends, when I’ve got an idea for the main theme of the song, I’m pretty sure about the general character of the song. How would you describe the typical working progress of M!ndgames when preparing for a new album? Sandro: Paradox of Choice is a special case, as it was the first time that this line-up worked together. Tom: In preparation of the recordings we have to work on different levels at the same time (recordings, artwork, promotion, teasers …). Your new member, guitarist Sandro Starita, has some big shoes to fill after Rudy Vander Veken, who played with you for many years. Benny: Sandro affected the band in a positive way and not only by wearing “Italian shoes” but also with ideas and musically thinking. Sandro: Rudy was key in shaping the sound of the band for the previous album, and is style and approach are quite different from mine. Tom: While recording the songs the biggest challenge for me was listening to it with a set of different ears.
Sandro: If I really have to pick one it’d be “Sands Of Time”, because of the dynamics of the music which match very well the lyrics, in my view among Bart’s best.
Can you recall the proudest moment in the recording process or something that turned out better than you hoped? Benny: My moment is always at the end when I hear the result after the mix and mastering, and when it gives me goosebumps. Tom: I’m satisfied when what comes out of the studio monitors exceeds the images I had in my head.
Sandro: There are various moments that have come out pretty nice, for example the “vaudeville” section in Revenge of the Wizard, the atmosphere of Context?
Your previous three albums can be found on Spotify, but you have decided not to add Paradox of Choice there. Tom: Prog will never be mainstream music, but it’s more and more subject of commercial trends.


Sandro: It was not difficult, in the sense that as for the other cases we had the song itself indicating the direction. Max: Hard to say, but we like to make music where melodies are more important than technical skills. Sandro: Indeed, so far we have received good feedback from people with different tastes, including and beyond the die-hard fans. With a strong collection of symphonic songs and a hungry attitude, members Bart Schram, Tom Truyers, Maximilian von Wullerstorff, Benny Petak and Sandro Starita speak to Jan Andree and explain why this record should appeal to both new and die-hard fans. Even if you don’t like their music you have to acknowledge their honesty, consistency and energy. Do you ever think about going in a certain direction when creating new music, emphasizing one element or the other? When I joined there were only a couple of songs already worked out, so we got to know each other while composing the new material in a kind of “trial and error” way.
However, the new album still sounds as M!ndgames, because further than Bart’s voice the other key elements of the music, i.e. When we started developing the music for this song, we realized it demanded a very powerful and ominous atmosphere. It seems to be an album that could be appreciated by anyone with an interest in melodic rock, as well as your most loyal fans.
The fact that the album can be enjoyed at various levels is certainly a good thing, we may take it as a compliment, although it was not a conscious decision to move in this direction.
We played with modulations, extraterrestrial time signatures, used unexpected transitions, I wrote surreal lyrics that just came to mind, but sometimes it didn’t mean anything… In hindsight we exaggerated a little bit, to my opinion.
Now we have 4 albums, lots of supporting contacts, collaborations with distribution centra and webzines, online visibility, our motivation of course, and… fans! How many bands would issue their first double studio album, with a few songs over 10min, after almost 40 years of career?
He knows perfectly how to translate feelings, moods, situations into music, and how to create images with his music.
For Paradox of Choice we wanted to create something between Actors In A Play and MMX.  We talked about it when we started writing new songs. Usually it starts with Tom playing some chords in a certain sound or Sandro (Rudy in the past) comes up with an idea for a riff and then Benny gives the rhythm he feels, and then the magic happens.
In most of the cases the music, including the vocal melodies, is jointly developed from a riff, a chord progression or a more developed idea coming from one of us.
And “The Sands of Time”, where I could express my genuine feelings about mid-life.  It also has a strong bridge at the end of the song that refers to the piano intro.
On Spotify you don’t buy the album, you pay for a license giving you access to a digital copy of the songs.


Tom had this theatrical section laying around, and it fit in perfectly with the mood of the song, followed by a quite aggressive and sinister solo section. Actually, Actors In A Play and MMX are not overly complex albums either, and the melodic component has always been a trademark of M!ndgames. And to be honest, the image of Steve Harris pointing his bass guitar is still an extremely powerful one. It has been like that with Actors in a Play, MMX, Paradox of Choice … It will always be like that. The biggest challenge in releasing the album: how to inform your neighbor’s mother-in-law we’ve got a new album. We are very satisfied with the overall sound of the album, Pierre Dozin did a very good job in capturing the dynamics and nuances in the studio. After that there are so many things in life you have to choose from, and that doesn’t make you happy, quite the contrary. At this point Bart had the great idea to turn some cliches on their heads with the title and the lyrics, adding the tragicomical effect while keeping the song powerful and interesting. If it is the case that we leave our “niche”, and that our music grows to a broader appeal, then I see that as a compliment!
We want each song to deliver an interesting story, told by with both the music and the lyrics, and we put our efforts in this. But at the same time we have to sacrifice a lot of freedom and privacy in order to feel safe. That’s more because of the compositions of the songs, not because of a deliberate discussion about sound. Because, if an important scientist comes up with a new discovery, he writes a publication.  Don’t believe him because he’s an important person.
The drone in this story is a symbol for: you navigate and control something that makes you see things from a different perspective. By the end of the album, when you became aware of spying technology (Whistle-Blower), you had to deal with too many choices in this world (Age of Plenty), environmental issues (Requiem for a Dancing World), the evil of social media (Context? Anyone?), the awareness of the limited time we live on this planet (The Sands of Time)… you are asked: “Are you ready to rise above?”.



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