BY: MICHELLE PEREZ-VEGA
Imagine hearing voices. Voices that can be your best friend at one minute and your worst enemy the next. They are persistent, there all the time. It comes to the realization that you have to figure out how to deal with them and what to do with them, because the voices are not going away. A lot of Heaven and Hell, a lot of questioning as you go through the process.
What happens next? Well, you have two discs to figure it out, courtesy of Projected’s latest, “Ignite My Insanity,” while listening to one of the most hard- and heavy-hitting releases offered to mankind as we know it.
TAKE IT FROM THE TOP
Why two discs? It’s a predicament many bands face, and Projected was no exception: The members over-wrote and have too many songs to fit in one album. How do they choose?
Lead vocalist and guitarist, John Connolly, admitted that was a little unorthodox, but ultimately the logical answer. Hey, anything is permissible when it comes to Projected, a “supergroup” that boasts not only Connolly, but fellow bandmate and bassist Vinnie Hornsby from Sevendust; Scott Phillips from Alter Bridge and Creed; and Eric Friedman from Tremonti.
“It WAS going to be just one record, that was the plan,” Connolly said. “Scott’s a big advocate of, okay, take about 16 to 18 songs to begin with, trim it, get it down to 12 songs and you have an album. So, we had 16 songs and every time I would cut one, someone would freak out. So, okay, let me try cutting THIS one, and then someone else would freak out. Two or three weeks into this, I was like, this isn’t working. So, I pushed the other way, a double album, thinking it would be easier. People were then, HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?”
Connolly then thought of doing what friend Mark Tremonti (who, by the way, also co-wrote “Rectify” and “Call Me The Devil” with Connolly) did: releasing two separate albums spaced a year or two apart, even though the material was all recorded at the same time.
“We don’t live in an era where people want double CDs like they used to,” Connolly mused. “Most people now want music a song at a time, maybe an EP at the most.”
Connolly approached Rat Pak Records with a presentation based on this precedence. One album was to be called Ignite while the latter would be known as My Insanity and released at a later date. Rat Pak Records, however, embraced the idea of a double album.
“It was a pleasant surprise,” Connolly said. “I never expected that to come out of our meeting, but when they said to make it a double album, I said, okay, let’s do it! You didn’t really have to convince me, because that was my gut feeling in the first place! The songs really did need to go together.”
BUT BACK TO THE VOICES
When Projected wrote and eventually recorded its 2012 debut album, Human, a concept album was the last thing on the band’s mind.
“Human was really organic,” Connolly said. “We just wanted to put it out and see if people liked it. The response was a lot better than what we expected. But, there was no agenda where we sat down and said, ‘you know, this is going to be a recurring theme here. Let’s do a concept record.’ And yeah, we went almost five years before we released our sophomore album. People stuck around for us, which we thought was amazing! If anything, Ignite My Insanity is a cool way for us to reward those people for sticking around. It was just a strange way that we eventually got around to a concept album.”
As its title suggests, Ignite My Insanity is about someone who thinks he might be going insane. Connolly said it was basically Chapter Two and Three, a continuation of Sevendust’s Alpha, Chapter VII: Hope & Sorrow.
“Alpha’s main character was dealing with divorce,” Connolly explained, “going through good and bad things. Ignite My Insanity is further down, more radical. It’s going a little bit more down that rabbit hole. This voice has now manifested into multiple ones, they parade around in the mind, one minute with love, the other with hate.”
The videos released for the Ignite My Insanity (“Ignite” and “Reload”) also do a great job of screwing with the viewer’s mind as well: What is red in one is white in another…or…is it just the imagination?
“They connect,” Connolly said. “Screwing with people’s minds? That’s cool. Well, yeah, maybe a little bit!”
A SIDE PROJECT? BUT THEN AGAIN…
While all members of Projected gave 100 percent of themselves to create Ignite My Insanity, Connolly stressed that Projected is definitely a side project. No one is leaving Sevendust, Alter Bridge, or Tremonti. In fact, Sevendust is fresh from the studio recording a new album and Tremonti will be releasing another one soon.
“It’s like, we’ve all known each other in some shape or another,” Connolly said. “We toured with Creed originally for five years straight; we did two different album cycles with them. We have the same management company. Our kids have grown up with each other. So, you know, we’re always together. It was one of those things that evolved from sitting out on the back porch, listening to music, and you know, it’s three o’clock in the morning, you’re sitting there talking and going, you know, we gotta get in the studio at some point, let’s make some music. So, I hit up Scott and Vinny, they were both into it. And Erock (Eric Friedman) was the weirdest one,” Connolly continued. “He was actually over Mark’s house, and we were listening to some of the Tremonti music they were working on. It eventually got around to everyone passing around their demos. I played some of the Projected stuff and Erock said, ‘You know, man, I need to get in on this!’ And I was like, come on, let’s do it!”
And yes, Projected cannot be compared to Sevendust in any way, shape, or form.
“It’s a completely different animal when it comes to writing for Sevendust versus Projected,” Connolly acknowledged. “In Sevendust, you have five very, very strong personalities and five cooks in the kitchen. Plus, I can’t even compare to that singer in Sevendust! In Projected, the guys basically let me take the ball and run with it. They might be looking over my shoulder now and then,” Connolly added with a laugh, “but I usually get a thumb’s up from them.”
Ignite My Insanity was mostly recorded at Architeckt Music in Butler, NJ and Connolly’s home studio in Orlando, Fla.
“It really was super-organic,” Connolly stated. “I didn’t do a lot of re-writes. Actually, I think I re-wrote two choruses and made myself stop there, because then I thought about re-writing 10 more. That’s just because if you spend too much time with it, you can kind of talk your way out of a good song. It’s music that we enjoy playing and we really wanted it to come out very easily, without a lot of bells and whistles. It’s completely stripped down.”
The only frustrations Connolly really encountered was blowing his own voice out…not once, but twice.
“When you’re at home and tracking it by yourself, you don’t have someone to say, hey, you know what? You should probably give your voice a rest for a little while. But no, here I am, feeling good, trying to push out two songs a day…so that was one,” Connolly grimly remembered. “So I rested, went back in, hey, my voice sounded even better! So I tried to push more songs out. Three days later, Blow Out Number Two! And I was looking at this board that has 23 songs on it with very few X’s on it, looking at all the open holes, frustrated that my game plan was not working!”
But, Connolly said it is a process he would do over and over again.
“Doing Projected is fun,” Connolly stated. “I think, as a musician, as soon as you stop challenging yourself, when it feels like work, or when you just don’t have it in you anymore, that’s when you should quit. For me, I’m still looking for how to pull this off, hey, let me hear that again, hey, that gives me an idea! There’s not a lot of expectations put on it, but the delivery is fun for sure.”
And what might Projected’s next offering be? Connolly said several new songs have been written, but time will tell as to when they will reach the ears of ardent listeners.
“People are asking, ‘what are you going to do with the next record? Release a triple one?’ And I’m like, ‘I know, right?!’ I just might,” he laughed. “Really, I just want to thank everyone for all the support given to us over the past five years, all the love and positive feedback. It’s been humbling!”