Sons Of Apollo the supergroup featuring former Dream Theater members Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses), Billy Sheehan (The Winery Dogs, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth) and Jeff Scott Soto (ex-Journey & Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force) follow the Psychotic Symphony that was their debut album with the numerically challenged MMXX – That’s pronounced “20/20” to those of us busy getting our rocks off instead f studying Latin!
Produced by The Del Fuvio Brothers – And that’s Portnoy and Sherinian to you and I – MMXX will be released on the 17th January 2020 through InsideOutMusic/Sony and therein lies a clue to how the album got its name.
“It will be one of the first releases in what is a new decade. So I came up with the idea of calling it 2020 except having it written in the Latin form of MMXX.” Portnoy, the band’s drummer, explained. This line of though to the album cover artwork that has again been produced by Thomas Ewerhard. “For the first record, we had a mythological feel. This time around though, there’s a much more futuristic style to what we’ve got. It has a very 21st century appeal. And the band crest is more polished, cleaned up and a lot more modern than last time, when it had an old fashioned look.”
“Stylistically, we have followed the same path as the debut,” continued Mike Portnoy. “But we feel that it has come out stronger, simply because we know one another better.”
“Each member of this band has their own signature sound on their instrument,” added keyboard player Sherinian. “And when you put all of this together what you get is a wonderful five-headed beast.
“It makes this a sonically special band, which is definitely what comes across on MMXX. You can hear odd time signatures and amazingly crazy performances here. Overall, we’ve been satisfyingly more adventurous this time than we were before, and I know people are sure to love what we’ve done.”
“Psychotic Symphony was the first time the five of us had worked together, so there was bound to be an air of experimentation happening. Now, we can draw on having the experience not only of recording that album, but also of touring together a lot. And now there is clearly a lot more obvious chemistry going on.”
“We did 83 shows on the last tour,” added Derek Sherinian. “And it was so worthwhile, because we came out of it with a stronger bond, and that is certainly reflected in what we wrote.”
The writing process began at the start of the year, between Portnoy, Sherinian and Thal. “The three of us were at my home studio in Pennsylvania,” said Portnoy. “And it took about three weeks to get all the music written. That was a very smooth process. The last time, it certainly must have felt a little weird for Bumblefoot to be writing with Derek and me, because we were strangers to him. Now, we know one another better and that helped things push along.”
“Because we all have our home studios, it meant everyone could record there as and when they had opportunity,” continued Sherinian. “We all had the luxury of being able to take our time to get all the parts done, which was a huge help in the way the album’s come out. I suppose in all, it took about eight months to record everything.”
The lyrics were written by Soto, who also came up with the melody lines with input from Sherinian. “While Jeff was left to come up with the words on his own, as the melody lines are part of the music, it made sense for me to be involved with that part,” expressed the keyboard player.
‘Goodbye Divinity’ is the first single off the album, and you can watch the video for it right here at RAMzine.
“From the minute we finished writing ‘Goodbye Divinity’, I knew we had our album opener and the first release off the album.” said Portnoy. “I even remember posting on social media how excited I was about the song the day I tracked it!
“The song has an immediacy that grabs you right away: great riffs, flashy playing and hooky vocal melodies. All of the elements that make up the Sons Of Apollo sound.
“The video was directed by Vicente Cordero who I have now done over 20 music videos with and its look helps catapult the band from the Greek mythological past of the last album into the 21st century with this new album.”
Pre-orders are available from today, with digital pre-orders on iTunes & Amazon receiving an immediate download of ‘Goodbye Divinity’. Pre-order now here: https://soa.lnk.to/MMXX
There are eight tracks on MMXX, with variations in length totalling 60 minutes. “The final song is ‘New World Today’, which is 16 minutes long,” said Portnoy. “This one has elements similar to ‘Opus Maximus’ and ‘Labyrinth’ on the previous album. It has some insane, brilliant instrumental moments, which I am sure the fans will love.”
“We wanted to do something epic here, as we did with ‘Opus Maximus’ last time around,” adds Sherinian. “You have to remember that Mike and I come from Dream Theater, where we never bothered about how long a song was. So, for us doing a 16 minute track is not a problem.”
The full track listing for MMXX is: ‘Goodbye Divinity’, ‘Wither To Black’, ‘Asphyxiation’, ‘Desolate July’, ‘King Of Delusion’, ‘Fall To Ascend’, ‘Resurrection Day’ and ‘New World Today’.
It will be available as a standard CD package, as a limited edition 2 CD package (including instrumental mixes and a cappella excerpts), a 2 LP + CD package, and on all digital formats. Pre-orders include an instant download of the album’s first single, ‘Goodbye Divinity’, on iTunes and Amazon, and are available by clicking here.
You can catch a teaser trailer for the album right here at RAMzine.
Sons Of Apollo play a single UK date as part of their Europe 2020 tour, performing at Islington Assembly Hall in London on Thursday 19th March.