If you've picked up the new Arch/Matheos release Winter Ethereal, you'll hear guitar solos in the songs "Never In Your Hands" and "Kindred Spirits" from Frank Aresti. Frank has been a part of the Fate's Warning extended family since the mid-80s and is also a part of new work from Fates alumni John Arch and Jim Matheos with Arch/Matheos.
Photographer and writer Mark Cubbedge had a chance to speak with Frank for Maximum Metal about some of his recording processes for the new release and his other project Dark Day Sunday.
"When it comes to learning new things it's very subjective... Overall, I learn I'm capable of more than I thought."
Mark Cubbedge: Your work on Winter Ethereal, I think, is your first recorded release since Awaken the Guardian Live came out in 2017. As you look back on those 30th anniversary shows and how well they were received by the fans, did that experience add to or give you greater perspective on how impactful Awaken the Guardian was for so many people around the world?
Frank Aresti: The fan reactions to the 30th anniversary ATG shows blew me away. I'm sincerely moved by the impact that album has made. I did not expect it and am deeply humbled and honored to have been a part of it.
MC: How did the conversation unfold on getting you to contribute solos on "Never in Your Hands" and "Kindred Spirits" off the new Arch/Matheos record Winter Ethereal? Was it as simple as a call/email from Jim or was it more involved than that?
FA: Super simple...an email. Pretty much, whatever Jim wants me to play on I will do. I trust him completely to write quality music, to draw the best from my performances, and to make the finished recording something I can be proud of. There's never a doubt about any of that. And I love his writing so it's always a blast for me to go through the process. I always end up learning something new and my playing gets better. So it's really the easiest thing to say yes to.
MC: Was there anything in particular you learned this time around that might be of interest to the readers?
FA: When it comes to learning new things it's very subjective. I learn new approaches to the solos, how to apply new scales, or note choices. Overall, I learn I'm capable of more than I thought.
MC: Your guitar work in both songs is quickly identifiable as Frank Aresti. One thing I think listeners will appreciate is the solos really move the songs forward in a complimentary manner. Did you get to hear a demo of the songs before you recorded your parts? How much were you able to make them your own in that process?
FA: I heard demo versions of the songs without vocals then with scratch vocals. The typical process for me is to listen to the song on repeat until ideas start to form. Then I play over my solo section parts over and over until eventually things start to gel. It's really a process of carving out the solo from within the rhythm parts, if that makes sense.
MC: For the guitar enthusiasts reading this can you share what you used when recording these solos on Winter Ethereal?
FA: I used the Majesty guitar that John Petrucci gifted to me. It quickly became my No. 1 go-to guitar. It is designed to make anyone a better player. It's like the difference between driving a sedan and a sports car; you become a different kind of driver, and in this case, player.
I recorded my parts into a Mac using an EVH5150 distortion pedal through a DigiTech Cab Dry VR. Full disclosure, those tones did not make it on the recordings. I mention it because the tone that gear provides is an important thing that inspires my writing and drives my performance. If I don't have a good tone while I'm recording I won't be inspired as much. While I was recording those tracks I simultaneously recorded a DI. That DI track was later re-amped. Re-amping ensures that the final tones fit into the overall mix properly. The technology is amazing. We did all of this via email.
MC: Is there any other music you are working on at present?
FA: One of the bands I've had is called Dark Day Sunday. It's something I casually worked on between 2005 and 2012. We played a few shows, opened for Korn and Dream Theater plus a few other shows here and there. We are in the process of recording 13 tracks. Jason Bittner, who played with Shadows Fall, just finished his drum tracks so now I have to get to work.
MC: Is Dark Day Sunday still the same lineup?
FA: Yes, Dark Day Sunday is me, Marc Lopes, Ed Lanouette and Jason Bittner.
MC: Do you have a target date for the release, and if so will it be available in physical copies or digital only?
FA: No strict time line. Might be a 2020 release. Probably just iTunes. We'll see.
Thank you for your time and words Frank. I appreciate it very much and look forward to keeping in touch.