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Interview with Derek Sherinian

interview by: Bart Jan van der Vorst


Hi Derek,
First I would like to congratulate you with another great album. I really enjoyed reviewing Inertia and recommended it to our readers.

Thank you very much! We are all proud of the outcome of "Inertia".

You've collected quite some renowed talent around you on Inertia, among which two guitarists and three bassists (as opposed to Planet X where you only had 1 band). What was the reasoning behind this? How would you determine who plays which part?

On "Inertia" I wanted to cover a lot of musical ground. I needed different players on each of the songs to achieve that. When I make my records, I think of it like making a movie in where each song has a ultimate cast.
I have been fortunate to work with some of my favorite players on Inertia.

Who else would you like to work with? And if you could choose anyone, either dead or alive, who would be in your ultimate band?

I would love to play with and produce a Eddie Van Halen solo record, and also a Jeff Beck record.
I would like to produce Al DiMeola, and make a classic DiMeola Cd circa "elegant Gypsy" or "Casino"

What kind of keyboards did you use on Inertia and what are your favourites.

I used one of everything. All of the organs and pianos, including electric pianos, are authentic.

I noticed that when playing live with Dream Theater you played some really antique equipment. Does this mean you're not that much into the new digital technologies?

I am into hybrid rigs. I have all the new KORG gear, but also a Leslie and taurus pedals.

Which artists would you say have influenced you in your playing?

Eddie Van Halen, Allan Holdsworth, Jan Hammer, Elton John, there are too many to mention

It is quite unusual for a keyboardplayer to co-write an album with a drummer, yet you have done it twice. Both Planet X albums, with Virgil Donati, and now with Simon Phillips. Is this a coincidence, or do you prefer to write songs with drummers?

I am open to writing with all instruments, I have always had a unique relationship with drummers throughout my life and career. I guess that it has been coincidental.

All your music is instrumental, yet the tracks sometimes have quite interesting (or funny) names. How do you come up with these names and do any have a significant meaning?

They have no meaning, and usually have no meaning deeper than an inside joke.
It is always the last and most tedious part of making a record in my opinion.

Have you ever considered vocals in your music and writing lyrics?

I would be open to working with vocals, but I am very picky on tone, and vibe.

You have played in side projects like the Finnish Condition Red. How did you get involved in this and could you tell something about your experiences with them?

The Leopard Room There are a few bands around the world that have hired me to play on their Cds. Since I have the Leopard Room (Derek's own studio at home, named after its striking interior - BJ), I am able to do all of my keyboard tracks in my house. So people can Fed-ex me their masters, and I just play whatever they want me to, which usually is, "just make It sound like Derek!"

Simon Phillips and I are Producing a Band from Southern California right now, and intend to expand our production company.

If, in some wicked form of reality, you were asked to join the touring band of Britney Spears. What would your reactioin be?

How much and for how long?

How would you compare your style of playing when playing with Alice Cooper, Dream Theater or Platypus, and when playing your solo music? It seems you prefer a jam-style type of playing over compositions. Is this true?

I dont know about that, but all I know is that people tell me that no matter who I am playing with, they can pick out my sound and style from a mile away.

Which is very true in fact...

To me that is the ultimate achievement as a player, to have your own identifiable voice. There are not many keyboardists that can claim that.

I totally agree.
However, after embarking on a solo career, would you still see yourself returning to a supporting role like for example you had with Alice Cooper or Dream Theater?

I will play for someone else, but it would have to be under the right circumstances.

What exactly is Planet X? First it was the title of your first solo album, then it became a live band with you, Virgil and a different guitarist than on the album (sorry, I lost his name). And then the second Planet X album came as a band-album, even though this wasn’t the same band anymore as on the first album. Could you explain?

It was a very clever way for me to create 2 record deals instead of one, and two creative outlets. I am free to change my line ups every year on my solo Cds, while in Planet X, with Tony Mac Alpine and Virgil Donati, we are a band...

Will there be more Planet X albums in the future?

We are halfway done with our 2nd band release. It will be co-produced by Simon Phillips.

Which part of your career are you the most proud of (excluding, of course, your solo albums)?

I am proud of every gig and everyone that I have been fortune enough to play with. It has been a great ride, and I look forward to an even greater future.

To conclude, could you give a short (max 5 words) reaction to each of the following names/words:

Alice Cooper:
The original androgynous shock rocker

Keith Emerson:
The king of rock keyboards showmen

Tony Banks:
Very cool atmospheric keyboard playing

Jordan Rudess:
Incredible technician, nice guy.

Simon Phillips:
Amazing amazing amazing amazing incredible

Solo artist:
Freedom to do whatever

Painful democratic process but gratifying

Fame and stardom:
I saw it when I was around Alice Cooper and KISS. Looks like fun to me!!

Derek Sherinian:
... (no comment)

Thank you very much for your time, and the best of luck with your career.

Derek Sherinian Discography:

Planet X
"Planet X"

Planet X - Universe
"Planet X - Universe"



All images taken from the Official Derek Sherinian Website



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