PAGE 16 TILES ROCKNATION ISSUE 23 Interview with Chris Herin of TILES Hello Chris Herin of TILES and welcome to Rocknation. Please tell us about your “Off the Floor 02”release and how it came about. “Off the Floor 02” is a live album we released in 2014 and is the second volume of live songs we recorded to celebrate our 20th anniversary – and also bridge the growing gap between studio albums.But rather than set up recording gear in a club we invited a small group of fans to join us at a soundstage. This gave us a controlled environment where we could focus on the musicand take our time engineering the recordingswithout worrying about show preparation or juggling performance logistics. The first volume, “Off the Floor 01” was released in 2012.Overall, we selected songs we typically played in our live sets over the years and tried to represent the highlights from each of our albums. Everything was recorded over three separate sessions and we divided the songs up knowing we would release two separate albums.Admittedly, there was a bit less pressure than a typical performance, but it’s all live – there’s no overdubbing. We did, however, do a few of the songsover again if we felt the first run-through could be improved. The first pressing of “Off the Floor 02” is actually a limited edition double album that includes a second disc of live tunes from our appearance at the “Rites of Spring Festival” in 2005. We chose songs that weren’t already included on “Off the Floor 01” or “Off the Floor 02” so there are no repeats. The bonus disc has the only recording of the 17-minute song “Window Dressing” – which we actually only performed twice. So it’s lucky we have a multi-track recording of that show (although we only mixed about 35-minutes ofit for the bonus disc).We also included two videos from the “Off the Floor” sessions. You have worked with famed producer Terry Brown (Rush, Dream Theater, Fates Warning) again on this album. How has that helped the band over the years? Certainly, Terry’s pedigree and name recognition have helped bring attention to Tiles and his connections have opened some doors for us. The most obvious example is introducing Alex Lifeson (Rush) to our music and facilitating his guest appearance on our “Fly Paper” album. Also Terry brought artist Hugh Syme on board for “Presents of Mind” and we’ve worked with Hugh ever since. Certainly there have been many other situations where Terry’s name has lent a bit of extra credibility to the band as we communicate with other people in the industry. Of course, the most important reason we continue working with Terry is because of what he contributes to our songs and albums as producer and engineer. We’ve developed a great working relationship and can trust him to always do what’s best for the song, whether it’s getting the best performances in the studio, building arrangements, or working on song structures during pre-production. It’s always a sensitive issue having someone critique and suggest changes to songs, but having outside and objective input makes the music better. However, it is much easier relinquishing some control to someone of Terry’s caliber! For a band like Tiles it’s important to work with someone like Terry who brings a wealth of experience and technical expertise yet isn’t influenced by passing fads that aren’t “musical”. We want our music to have variety and dynamic range. So many albums these days have over-compressed fake sounding drums – like you’re slapping your hand on a pillow. Or a huge wall of guitars that are too distorted and indistinct. Nowadays the kick drum is the loudest instrument and practically drowning out everything else. Too many bands have the same sound and their albums lack character. Although Terry (and we) knows we need to keep up with the times, we are unwilling to follow these trends; but some people do criticize us for this approach… “Off the Floor 02” was nominated for a 2015 Detroit Music Award. How rewarding was that accomplishment? It’s certainly nice to get recognition from our musical peers in our hometown. We’ve always enjoyed generous support from the Detroit music scene and have had a few other albums get nominated: “Presents of Mind,” “Window Dressing” and “Fly Paper”. If you had to tell someone what your band sounded like, what bandswould you mention? Musically we seem to exist in a grey area between progressive hard rock and melodic rock with some metal tendencies thrown in. The easiest reference has always been Rush, or maybe Dream Theater or Porcupine Tree; but obviously we don’t sound exactly like these bands – nor do we want to! We try to keep an open mind about experimenting and trying new approaches to composition and arranging. All of us have a wide range of musical interests and we’re willing to try almost anything in hopes of finding something new and interesting. We all listen to jazz, classical and a variety of rock, pop and metal bands and this diversity finds its way into our music, at least to some extent. Some of my main influences are Jethro Tull, Elton John, Kansas, lots of jazz and classical music, Joe Walsh, Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, Radiohead, etc… Some newer bands I find inspirational are Haken, Leprous and Burnt Belief. Drummer Mark Evans is influenced by ELP, Buddy Rich & other jazz drummers, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Rush… Bassist Jeff Whittle’s influences come from Iron Maiden, Metallica, Yes, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Dream Theater… and vocalist Paul Rarick’s are Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Queensryche and Alice in Chains. 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