– Hello, thanks for answering to our questions. What are you guys currently up to?
Hello, it is a pleasure to talk with you.  Currently we are getting ready to release our second album “Echoes” and we are really very excited about getting this music out of our heads and into the world.  We hope that other people will like it as much as we do!  We have a few shows coming up but we have so much material in the works that we are already largely focused on writing the next album.


– First off, could you make some history of the band?
Gracepoint has been together since the mid ‘90s so it is a long story.  We all wanted to play metal that was exciting, complex and challenging to perform so when we got started we worked out a few cover tunes to explore our influences but really started to work on original music almost right out of the gates.  Since we were from a small town it took us quite a while to find a singer but when we finally did we were able to put together a 3 song EP.  At that point it was clear what direction our music would take.  We relocated to Minneapolis and after a year or two of playing anywhere we could, and one more EP, we ended up parting ways with our first singer and adding Matt Tennessen and at that point we really became Gracepoint.  In 2000 we released our first album, “Science of Discontent.”  “Science of Discontent” is full of really cool tunes loaded with time changes and fun stuff but it was self-produced and engineered so it sounds cool but it is really raw.  Guerilla recording!  We then parted ways with our original drummer Lance Reed and guitarist Lon Kunze (who was replaced by Joe Jachimiec).  The next several years were spent looking for a new drummer but we could never find anyone that quite fit the bill. Despite this key setback we still managed to keep focused on writing lots of new material.  Lance even came back as a favor to us to cut drums on our current release, “Echoes,” but around the same we finally connected with drummer Justin Koch and he ended up playing the final drums on the album.  Now the album is ready for release and we are happy to be back together with Lance and Lon and have what we consider to be our original line up ready to move forward to the next album.
– How could you describe your sound?
Metal! Our music is really a guitar driven, riff based style with a lot of syncopation and time signature changes which gives it its progressive qualities.  Our goal has always been to create riffs which are rhythmic, melodic, heavy, and most important of all, memorable.  We try to write riffs that will be strong enough to have a life of their own so we don’t end up having some fuzzy, non-descript guitar stuff buried under the drums or some kind of bland chugging that no one will remember 10 seconds after the tune is over.  The bass and drums are aggressive and syncopated and tend to carry their own counter rhythms and even counter melodies underneath.  We also take advantage of the two guitar format with plenty of harmonies and double leads.  The songs on “Echoes” are predominantly 7-string guitar tuned to Eb so the album has an overall heavier feel.  Vocally, Matt is a very strong singer. His vocals are hard and clear but he is not a typical progressive singer nor is he a death vocal type guy.  In some ways he is a traditional metal singer who just sings balls out but who also can carry some great melodies and that what it is really all about. All that being said, one of the great things about metal music is that it really is not just heavy and aggressive stuff all the time but it also has lots of darker, moody elements. We like play with this mode of metal quite a bit throughout “Echoes”. There is some musical depth to the overall work.
– What are the band’s main musical influences?
Having 5 guys in the band we naturally have quite an extensive amount of influences that have played a role in our musical thinking over the years. There is the classic heavy rock and metal like Zepplin and Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden.  There are the eclectic and progressive bands like Jethro Tull, Yes, Rush, and Pink Floyd. There was a big influence from the great thrash bands like Megadeth, Metallica, Testament, Cynic, and Slayer. You could even throw in the alternative metal stuff like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains as well. Lots of other cool bands like Fates Warning, Queensryche, Ozzy, King Diamond, Dream Theater, Death, Corrosion of Conformity, Devin Townsend, Flotsam and Jetsam, Death Angel and many others have played a role in what we try to play and write.  All in all we are very open to all kinds of influences and really anything that sounds cool, is played with conviction, is funky or groovy or crushingly heavy, or if it has a cool mood or interesting arrangement, can find its way into the music.  Even if it is just in how we are inspired or when and how we decide a riff or song has really come alive to us.  We try our best to channel all the awesomeness!
– How is the feedback for your new album being?
So far so good!  Mostly feedback has been from friends and family and other musicians that we know but it is starting to creep outside the inner circle as we get closer to the release date.  We are really anxious to hear what people think once the album is out.  We hope that people will spend a bit of time listening to in order get into the vibe of album and to really learn the stuff and we think they will like it.  Hopefully they will spread the word! We plan to make tabs available on our website because we really think musicians will have fun jamming through the tunes.  They are challenging but musically accessible and I think most metal guys will find them fun to play.  We all like to check out tabs from other bands too so we thought that might be cool.Gracepoint 21916
– And are you personally satisfied with the final outcome?
Overall we are very pleased with the album but if you only knew the challenges that came with this record.  To tell the truth, working with Neil Kernon has been a tremendous boon for us.  In the darkest days of our seemingly endless search for drummers just knowing that Neil was waiting patiently to work with us really helped us keep our spirits up.  He has been a huge help in so many ways that it really cannot be overstated.  His generosity, his patience, and his friendship are incomparable and often undeserved. From his work with the tracking of the original album drums that Lance played for us to his work making the drums that we tracked ourselves sound the way they should, he has been fantastic.  His engineering and producing experience and knowledge during the guitar tracking was priceless.  Everyone learned so much and had such a good time that it is hard to think of how the experience could have been more enjoyable.  Well, maybe if the guitars stayed in tune.  And of course Neil’s mix is sterling!


– How could you describe this opus in just 3 words?
Involved. Heavy. Musical.


– How has the production process for your new release been?

Echoes took a long time to finally come together largely due scheduling issues.  Neil is Chicago based (sometimes) and we are in Minneapolis so even though the two cities are not on different planets in terms of distance it does make it more challenging to be in the same place at the same time.  Neil is never standing still so that is always a factor.  We traveled to him and he traveled to us. Life’s crazy schedule is part of the reason we took on some of the tracking ourselves.  We did the clean guitars, the solos, vocals, and Justin’s drums in our own studio or at Triple 4 Studios with our friend Jamie Strobach. There was a big learning curve, especially with drums and vocals but we really learned a lot and we can’t wait to get back into the next album.


– And how do you use to work on the songwriting?
There are a few different ways that tunes come together.  There are riffs that are written individually, in groups of one or two or three of us, and there are things that come alive when the whole band is cranking. Sometimes we will demo out the riffs with sampled drums or in little video clips or tabs and then we all kind of pick up on the ones that we really dig and use those as an inspiration and a stepping off point.  Once the song starts to take shape we will demo out the young arrangement and pass on the ideas to Matt to get some vocal input.  After all that gets underway it is just a long process of listening and editing and reimagining the song to refine it so everyone is happy.  Or, if you get lucky, a song will just throw itself together and you can sit back and say “Wow, how did that happen!”   Creating solid songs really is a labor intensive process but it is always worth it. We all really hate “filler” songs on albums where it seems like a band worked really hard on the first 2 ½ songs and then they whipped off the rest to fill up the track list or hit a deadline or something. We try our best to give the listener strong songs from front to back.


– Finally, what are you near-future plans?
In the immediate future all guns are aimed at another album.  Since we are back with our original line up we are excited to get the ball rolling and to apply a lot of the lessons we learned from recording “Echoes.”  We have so many riffs and ideas that they are falling all over the floor so we are anxious to move forward writing and to continue our relationship with the always inventive Mr. Kernon.
– That’s all from our side, thanks again for taking your time to answer our questions. If you now want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
We would really like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk about our music and it is cool that you gave us a chance to spread the word about Gracepoint!  We are extremely pleased with the album. We hope that people will check us out and that they will enjoy our particular twist on metal!  Cheers!

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