As a teenager, Charlie recorded his first album with a major label as one half of the semi-acoustic duo "Billy and Charles" on Faithful Virtue records.It would not be until the early 1980's ,however, that he would actually see some of his work reach top 10 status with the release of the debut album from "Franke and the Knockouts". The band enjoyed some top 10 hits and very successful touring. Charlie sang and played 2nd guitar with the band that featured the front man, Franke Previte. Franke would later co-write the hit songs "Time of my Life" and "Hungry Eyes" from the movie "Dirty Dancing". Tico Torres from the band "Bon Jovi" was the drummer and John "Skinny" Regan from Peter Frampton and Ace Frehley was the bass player. Many musical projects would follow but it would not be until the fall of 1987 when Charlie met up with the soon to be renamed band "Majesty". That alliance led to the release of the acclaimed debut album "When Dream and Day Unite", featuring Charlie on lead vocals and the band was renamed "Dream Theater".
Charlie was among the bands numerous subsequent lineup changes. He spent the next 10 years in a self imposed semi-retirement from the music scene until he was asked to perform with Dream Theater again at the 15th anniversary show celebrating 15 years since the debut album was released. He accepted the invitation to sing with them once again and the show was documented on DVD, which was released this spring to a fanfare of praise from the music world. The DVD is called "When Dream and Day Re-Unite" and can be found on the Dream Theater website.
Charlie has now released the first installment of his very ambitious solo project, "O3 A Trilogy." It is an acoustic solo project that shows his lyric and songwriting ability in its purest form. A "concept" work with no overdubs and completely recorded in single "live" takes, this trilogy of albums will prove to be the definitive statement from this long absent and frequently under rated artist. The rest, as they say, will be history.
A recent interview with Charlie...
Tommy Hash Speaks With Charlie Dominici
Date: Sunday, May 15 @ 00:30:00 EDT
He is the original voice of prog metal icons Dream Theater. Having provided the vocals for the band's 1989 debut album "When Dream and Day Unite," which although at the time might have been overlooked by critics, he was one of the pioneers of the beginning of a new musical revolution in metal. That record would be the only record to feature vocalist Charlie Dominici fronting the band, and would be the first of many lineup changes that the group would endure over the lengthy years.
Fans of the band have always posed the question, when will Dominici come out and make a record and/or front a new band? Recently that has been answered with the first installment of his new trilogy, with the first being a stripped down performance of just him and his acoustic, playing and singing material that although might seem like it leans towards the simplistic approach, it is anything but. You can almost hear in your head what the arrangements might be for a full band (playing technical material) proving that Dominici's musical mantra and ability has not faded in time. It's great to have him back.
"I really had not been doing a lot musically until recently," explains Dominici, "I recorded a couple of tunes in the past with my brother who is primarily a blues guitarist. I did some writing with some friends and recorded some of those songs but I have to say that I have been pretty much out of the music scene for the most part until now, professionally that is."
Concept albums are musical versions of films, and Dominici explains that his interest in filmmaking and world events provided the backbone for the inspiration, "The inspiration came to me one day as I was thinking about the events in the world lately," he says, "I always wondered what would happen if a "sleeper" was planted here long enough to start seeing how great this country really is to live in. From there the idea just exploded into all kinds of conflicts between democracy, politics and religion. I always loved film and filmmaking. I guess it was the most convenient alternative to making a movie since I don't have the experience or equipment to make an actual film. I thought it would be cool to do a CD instead. I know it isn't the first "concept" album anyone ever did but it's the first time I ever did one. I don't think anyone has ever done a concept album with only one voice and one guitar before, however."
With the first album being completely solo, no drums, no electric guitars, and no keyboards are present, the most was made out of this stripped down approach. This is something that you don't hear too often in the progressive rock world, but as he explains, why not give it a try, "Necessity is the mother of invention. One voice and one guitar was all I had. Besides, I liked the idea and the challenge of doing it all without the benefit and support of other instruments. I always thought that if a song was good, it should be good even if only played on one instrument and voice. It made a lot of sense that the music is coming from one person alone since the story is being told from the main characters point of view. Anyway, this time it's not about the music as much as it is about the story."
When it comes to listening to a concept album, most of us are used to one CD and maybe an additional CD that usually comes along for and extended storyline, but what Charlie Dominici has offered us is three albums to be released separately. He gives us insight into the storyline of the trilogy, "The story is about a guy who is taken from his home and family at a very young age," begins Dominici, "He is forced by his captors to train and learn in preparation for a task that he has no prior knowledge of. When he eventually finds himself alone in a foreign land, he begins to get a little too comfortable. He finds that he is actually starting to like the new country that he believes he may be asked to do something along the lines of a terror act in. A lot of time passes and he naturally starts to have a life. He has a business, meets a girl and falls in love. He starts having strange nightmares about mass death and a strange blue liquid. Just when he believes they have forgotten about him, someone shows up and gives him the secret order. At that point all hell breaks loose and...Oh no; I'm giving away too much!!"
With the first solo record being completely acoustic, we might hear something different for the next installment, but as Charlie will tell you, it basically one step at a time with ideas intact here and there; so what will he do on parts two and three, "That's a good question," states Dominici, "This project only started a few months ago I wrote and recorded this one so fast that I'm still in the creative process on the rest of it. I would love to have the music progress along with the intensity of the story and maybe have a full band on the second CD. That remains to be seen. I kind of like being self-contained and all that, but I think it may be a natural development to have the second CD get a little heavier and more intense. Right now I don't even have a band, so it's just the guitar and me."
Turning to how the record was recorded, we all know how computerized digital audio workstations have made life easier (and affordable) for all of us who love to record music, whether we are tinkering around with sound, recording demos, or master session projects. This type of technology was the medium of choice for Dominici, "This record was recorded in my home studio on Cubase digital computer tracks. It was pretty simple being that it was just one acoustic guitar and one voice, along with a little harmonica and whistles here and there. I wanted to keep it that way so I did not add anything that I couldn't actually play and sing by myself in a live situation. The technology advances of home recording made it even easier to do. It wasn't easy to engineer the sessions though. I didn't really have anyone to work the studio gear while I was recording so I had to do every guitar track and every vocal track all in single complete takes. I couldn't "punch in" at all because I was stuck in my recording booth so if there was a little mistake in an otherwise good take, I just went with it anyway. Life is not perfect, so neither is this recording. I like it that way. It seems more honest and natural when I listen to it. In this respect, it's pretty much a "live" recording."
Besides wondering when Dominici would surface with his own project, many wondered if he would ever reunite with Dream Theater again for an appearance. That would be answered when he would make an appearance on "When Dream and Day Re-unite," the latest release in a series of "official bootlegs" from Dream Theater. This release, on both DVD and CD, contains footage of Charlie performing with the band again for the first time in years and Charlie was extremely ecstatic about being able to perform on stage with them. "That was a total blast!" says an excited Dominici, "I am so happy that Mike asked me to do that. I cannot tell you how much I missed performing with those guys. Even though it was a tough gig for me, the vocals being so high and really out of my natural range. I loved going out on the stage with Dream Theater again. I have to tell you though, I had no idea what the reaction to my presence would be that night. I wasn't sure if the crowd was going to throw tomatoes at me or not!"
At this moment these records are being released on Charlie's own independent label, keeping it an "indie" project, "we'll see if anything else pans out," explains Dominici, "It's kind of hard to do it all but there's still that "necessity is the mother of invention" thing. I'm trying to hook up with a distributor. It's not easy because the record stores only like to deal with wholesalers and distributors. I hate having to do that F***ing end of the business."
Musical inspiration from Charlie seems to come from a wide spectrum, but having involved himself with so much music, it seems the musical influence for this record comes from a synthesis deep within. "All my life I was listening to so much different stuff that I kind of cut myself off from listening to anyone anymore," explains Dominici, "I just wanted what came out of me this time to be myself. I'm sure you will hear influences but they will be too many to pin down. I would hope it has become a synergy. That's where the whole equals more than the sum of its parts. The creation of this project just flowed out like a river. There was no attempt at sounding like anyone or emulating any other singer/performer. It just flowed out and I let it flow. It is what it is."
Back when "When Dream and Day Unite" came out in 1989, bands such as Poison and Warrant dominated metal in the mainstream. In those days there was more of an emphasis on image rather than the musicianship. This would also be the only album that would be released on Mechanic/MCA Records before the band would move on to Atlantic's associated labels, "They did what they could," says Dominici on Mechanic, "The band was ahead of its time back then. They still are in many ways. Prog rock was still a relatively new music back then, also. I guess they did all right since the world does know about DT."
So closing out the interview Charlie explains that it might be a while before he tours or plays any gigs behind this record, saying, " I think I might like to get the other two out first. The second one at the very least." And when it comes to his opinions on the present state of progressive rock and mainstream music, he gives both insight and humor that we all can agree with, especially when it comes to mainstream rock, "Everybody is growing up, getting older. The music is becoming a bit more sophisticated and hopefully will stay fresh. Prog is really Jazz and Fusion "plugged" into metal and shifted into overdrive, like a Ferrari. Damn I would love to have a Ferrari! Mainstream? (Vomiting) Like what's on the radio? Mainstream makes me want to start mainlining!" Besides making the next two records, Charlie does have some other plans that he would like to fulfill for the future, "I want to move to Europe and tour the world from there."
In the end we all wait to see where the next installment of his trilogy will bring him and the story itself, not to mention where it might go musically. The first installment of the Trilogy, is the long awaited return of Charlie Dominici, so until next time...
Visit Charlie's Website at http://www.dominici.com
Read Ytsejam.com's past interview with Charlie Dominici: March 22, 2001 and the Afterimage Interview.
This article comes from Ytsejam.com - Your Progressive Rock One-Stop
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