"Alive In An Ultra World"
This is an indulgent compilation of music with many little guitar notes!
Sitting in the Sebel Hotel bar Wednesday, February 6th, 1997 in Perth, Australia, thatís when it happened. The concept was to compose music for a live album that would be recorded at the concerts in various countries. The songs would reflect elements of the traditional music of the culture of the country they were recorded in. Unfortunately, the Fire Garden tour I was on at the time was nearly over and it was not going to be for another 2 years that another world tour would be launched. It was a cool idea but a logistical nightmare. First we had to build a mobile studio that would retain state of the art quality of the recordings and have the flexibility to be set up every night, and work without fail. Then there was the research involved in studying the music of these cultures and extracting the basic gist to create an original composition, then orchestrating the arrangements for a 5-piece rock band.
The Ultra Zone was released on September 7, 1999 and a world tour was scheduled. The tour was to take us to 32 different countries to perform a total of 104 shows, and it all worked. The title is derived form the fact that itís A-Live CD recorded in various countries around the World on the Ultra Zone tour: Alive in an Ultra World.
The music had to be written and rehearsed while on tour and that meant long sound checks every day before a show. And then there was the reality of the tremendous finance and the wear and tear on a group of guys who already are holding onto their health and precious sleeping hours dearly while on tour, without having to worry about 4-5 hour sound checks before the show.
The concept came in a flash. The reality of making it real in the world took 4 years, a lot of dedication and love, and a tremendous amount of sweat beads, but guess what? You're holding it in your hand.
Men like to promise themselves that they will do certain things in their life that many times they never get to. Sequestering myself with traditional music from various countries of the world and writing an album based on these cultures, and recording these songs in these exotic countries was one of these fantasies of mine. When the temptation and the incessant daydreams reached an uncontrollable peak, the construction of this record became a reality. My psyche had a push come to shove experience.
It was virtually impossible to hit all the target markets with completed songs that were rehearsed and ready to be recorded at the shows within the countries they were written for. In some cases there was no time for sound checks and some venues would not let us record without paying extraordinary amounts of money for the privilege of using their halls. Occasionally this resulted in the writing of the song in one country, the rehearsal in another, and the recording in yet another.
Is it all live? Arenít there any overdubs? Yes there are. The odds that the sound consoles in some of these places would work and pass beautiful and clean signals to the hard drive every night were slim. Some recordings sounded better than others, and on some nights, well maybe the kick drum or the toms or keys or even guitar didnít make it to the hard drive. In these cases they had to be replaced in the studio. Oh well. Such is the fate of a project like this. But the integrity of the song and the listening experience is intact, so I believe.
This band gave it their all. Never complaining and always encouraging, they took to the stage like dutiful soldiers for countless hours of rehearsal. I thank them endlessly.