1. Please tell me about what you have been up to since releasing your previous album.
Douglas R. Docker discusses Docker's Guild’s new album “The Heisenberg Diaries – Book A: Sounds of Future Past”. (Lion Music 2016)
Space: 1999 Year One Main Theme
2. Flash Gordon Suite
a. Flash’s Theme
b. In the Space Capsule (The Love Theme)
c. Football Fight
d. Flash to the Rescue
e. Vultan’s Theme (Attack of the Hawkmen)
f. Battle Theme
g. The Hero
5. When the Wind Blows
6. The Neverending Story
7. Red Dwarf Theme
8. The White Light /Echoes From The Past /Dying Station /Delenn's Sunrise (from Babylon 5’s final episode “Sleeping in Light”)
9. Doctor Who Main Theme
10. UFO Main Theme
11. The Black Hole End Title
12. Space-Patrol (Raumpatrouille)
13. Dune Suite
b. Main Title
c. Leto’s Theme
d. The Floating Fat Man (The Baron)
e. Paul Meets Chani
f. Take My Hand
14. Space: 1999 Year Two Main Theme
Busy! Mostly arranging, recording and producing Docker’s Guild’s Book A, but also managing and running my rock music school (Black Swan – Rock School of Music), playing with my AOR tribute band Event Horizon (now defunct) and lately setting up and performing with a Cheap Trick tribute band.
2. How would you like to describe your new excellent album ?
Thank you for the compliment. Book A was a labor of love, I’ve been wanting to do something like this since I was 12. It is a collection of vintage sci-fi soundtracks reworked in the Docker’s Guild stile, but the cool thing is that they are worked into the main storyline of The Mystic Technocracy. The album functions as a bridge between Season 1 and Season 2 and introduces the main character of the project, Doctor Jack Heisenberg. I needed a “happier” sounding album, more removed (both musically and conceptually) from the intensity of the main plot, to present him to the fans during his young days as an ambitious researcher, before the dark times ahead, and there are some pretty awful things coming up for him. Additionally, since I like to keep things simple (not ;)), the album is formatted as a tribute to David Bowie’s album Low. A first half with vocals and a second, more orchestral and intricate, instrumental half. Even the colors and the design of the sleeve go back to Low. Now, before I get a deluge of outraged comments, let me make it clear that this was designed years ago in non-suspicious times. There is also a Bowie cover, “When the Wind Blows”, which pays tribute to the single most fundamental influence on my musical path than any other artist.
3. Can you tell me something specific about each of the songs on the album ? (track by track)
As mentioned, the album structure is inspired by Bowie’s Low. The album therefore starts with the instrumental “Space 1999: Year One Main Theme”, which is quite faithful to the original, with added metal drums and guitars. We then go to the vocal half of the album with “Flash Gordon Suite”, sung by Amanda Somerville of Avantasia. This “best of” of Queen’s classic soundtrack has been reworked quite extensively in the rhythm section and is much heavier than the original. “Barbarella” is next and I’m singing this one. A really cool ‘60s lounge or jazzy tune. I’m quite proud of how this one turned out. “Suspension” is the soundtrack to Buck Rogers from the ‘80s, but it features both versions, the fast instrumental and the slow vocal song. It is a duet between me and Elize Ryd from Amaranthe, which was a big thrill for me. “When the Wind Blows” is a much heavier version of the Bowie classic, entirely sung by me, and it was quite a challenge, covering Bowie is always a huge risk. I hope I did ok! “The Neverending Story” is very different from the original. Faster and much heavier, with a modern metal vibe to it. Since it is my second duet with Elize, I tried hard to move in the direction of what Amaranthe would have done. I think it turned out very cool, but many people seem to dislike it profoundly, including their manager! “Red Dwarf” is a special version which includes the long instrumental intro and the added verses not available on the TV series. It is sung by upcoming talent Valentina Procopio who did a splendid job.
The second part is all instrumental. It opens with an entirely orchestral version of the ending theme from “Babyulon 5”’s last episode. It was massive work to rescore it, but it worked out great. Then we go into a series of metallized versions of classic themes: “Doctor Who” is a unique blend of all themes since the ‘60s. I went crazy researching all the different versions, but it’s got a great buildup and arrangement. “UFO” is another Gerry Anderson classic, and I turned it around by changing the rhythm tracks to a shuffle instead of the straight ‘60s version. Disney’s “Black Hole” is very dark and brooding with an added metal rhythm, section. “Raumpatrouille” is also much heavier. The “Dune Suite” was another massive undertaking, I had to rescore half the original album by ear. I hope Toto would be proud, I really tried my best. The album closes with “Space 1999: Year 2”, which mirrors the opening track. There are also two bonus tracks that were available only to crowdfunding pledgers: “S.O.S Spazio 1999” has been completely reworked from the original country arrangement of the Italian band who wrote it to a heavy shuffle. It is sung by me in Italian and there is also the English translation. These will probably appear as bonus tracks on some future album or as downloads on the official website.
4. What kind of equipment did you use for recording the album? And can you tell me something else about the process?
Well, the production process was similar to the first album Season 1: preproduction demos, then guest vocals, then all the instruments, and finally mixing. There were two major differences though. This album being much more orchestral, I used tons of orchestral plug-ins from Logic and Komplete and the orchestration part was a massive undertaking. On the other hand, the album has very few keyboards as such, but I am fond of the Arturia V Collection. The second difference is that I sang or co-sang pretty much every song on the first half of the album, and that was a major ordeal as my voice was in pretty bad shape for a long time.
5. Would you say that this is a concept album, and if yes, what is the subject.
It’s definitely a concept, but it doesn’t tell a story as such. It’s a diary. Dr. Heisenberg’s diary and we get to know a bit more about him, his wife and his relatives, both from the songs and from the diary pages in the CD version of the album.
6. Are you also performing with other bands frequently?
These days I often perform with the students of my rock music school, as there always seems to be a need to plug a hole! I also have this new Cheap Trick tribute band where I play Robin Zander/Tom Petersson, playing 12-string bass and singing vocals.
7. What goal did you have with making your new album?
To fulfill a dream I’ve had since childhood and pay tribute to my sources, to have fun making music, to create something fun for DG fans who also love vintage sci-fi and to move the story forward to bring the project to Season 2.
8. How do you feel about the music and the business side of things of today?
Hmmm… do you want the brutal truth or the diplomatic answer? I’ll give you both: the music holds, lots of cool stuff out there if you dig. Superstars with a personality? Close to none. I’m afraid the days of a Freddie Mercury or a David Bowie are over. The business on the other hand has lost its head. Quite frankly, I stopped caring. I do my thing and I’m quite happy that way.
9. What bands would you say have a sounds and style that is somewhat close to what you do?
None really, because I use an odd mix of influences and sounds that are quite my own. More than the prog or AOR influences, I think it’s probably my love for Jarre, Bowie and Duran Duran that puts that weird element in there that you don’t find that often.
10. What are your influences, both now and while growing up?
The same, I’d say. Classic AOR (Journey, ASIA), prog (ELP, Yes), the Rockets, Jarre, Bowie, Duran Duran, Cheap Trick. Today I have much appreciated Devin Townsend, Amaranthe and Threshold.
11. In what way would you say your new album and aso you as a musician differs from everything else that is out there?
Apart from the influences mentioned above, I think it’s the way I write and arrange with absolutely no concern regarding what a label or the press might think my work should be sounding like. I got some fierce criticism about this new album. Very little fortunately, but very loud and aggressive. People get angry. Labels who tell you “how do I sell this?” or “there are too many women, it won’t sell” (I swear! I had to read it twice to believe it), or some press and fans that go “how dare you do this? Your ego is out of control”. I think it’s the contrary really, I made Book A as a tribute. I think it’s a lot better than sounding like the 99th prog metal band with the same sounds, songs and arrangements.
12. Don't you think that the progressive metal market is over saturated these days compared to, say 10-15 years ago?
Absolutely. In fact, I’m not even sure I see Docker’sGuild as a prog metal project any more at all… The same goes for AOR, I feel a staleness that doesn’t bode well for the future of the genre.
13. How much do you rehearse per day or per week?
With the Cheap Trick tribute band, 2-3 times a month. But I never practice anymore. No time ☹
14. How do you think that music will survive this new "everything for free" world that we seem to be living in?
As we know it, it won’t. I believe the system will eventually collapse, and that’s a good thing. A new system will emerge. Creatively these are not bad times, it’s the economy side of it that is in deep gangrene.
15. Any other future plans or anything else you wish to add?
Season 2 starts preproduction this month ☺. 75% of the music is already written, a good portion of the lyrics and the storyline has been developed all the way to the ending of Season 5. I’m having great fun writing this and I hope the fans will too when it all comes together. Thanks to all the fans who have been believing in Docker’s Guild since the beginning in 2012 and keep following faithfully ☺
THE MUSICIANS Douglas R. Docker (Biloxi, Area 51)
KEYBOARDS, LEAD AND BACKING VOCALS
Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) LEAD VOCALS
Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Epica) LEAD AND BACKING VOCALS
LEAD AND BACKING VOCALS
Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper) GUITARS
Mio Jäger (Frantic Amber) GUITARS
Yasi Hofer (winner of the 2014 female guitarist competition) GUITARS
Anna Portalupi (Tarja Turunen, Hardline) BASS
Roxy Petrucci (Vixen, Madame X) DRUMS
Elisa Montin (Corrupted Minds, Cellulite Star) DRUMS