South Florida’s Barry Weinberg is set to release his debut album “Samsarana” in January 2018, a “cinematic rock experience” that is also a semi-autobiographical release that’s been in making for many years.
In a new interview, Barry tells us about what it took to write this album, and more.
Alright, first thing is first. Before we dive into all the music stuff, how’s life?
Thanx for asking… I’m doing incredible! A lot is happening in my life right now. This album is a life-long dream and it’s finally coming to fruition. Last week, on the same day, I received the final physical CD’s and that evening I took my 12 hour overnight Black Belt test which I had been working towards for 5 years. It was an amazing day of fruition of 2 things I had been working on for a long time. Nothing beats achieving long-term goals!
Speaking of new music, you have an album coming in January. What can people expect from “Samsarana”?
Like it says on the cover, A Cinematic Rock Experience. I arranged the album “Samsarana” as a Musical Novel, with each song a chapter in a story that extends from the Big Bang to the Enlightenment of Man. It’s the kind of album you want to put the headphones on and lose yourself on a musical journey.
I explored many genres of music on this album. The main theme of the album is the polarity/duality of life’s experiences, so in many of the songs I combined contrasting sounds and feels to express that duality. In some songs I combined classical acoustic guitar with heavy distorted heavy metal sounds and in one song I transition from a folky, Bob Dylan-esque sound into a 90’s grunge groove. It was a lot of fun finding ways to combine different, almost antagonistic musical styles in a way that worked.
“Samsarana” is a Sanskrit word that literally means, “the wandering,” and refers to the Hindu concept of the endless cycle of Birth, Life, Death, Rebirth, Life, Death…. ad infinitum. I refer to this in the album as “This Vicious Circle” and the last two songs on the album are a story “twist” that turns the end of the album into the beginning of the next replay!
What was it like working on the album?
The album is semi-autobiographical in nature having written the songs at different times in my life. Putting all the songs together into a cohesive story was a profound reflection on my life. It took me some time (almost 5 years!) to get the recordings just right as it was my first album and I recorded it in a home studio I put together. Having never recorded and mixed on my own, it was definitely a learning experience with lots of up and downs. Many times I’d be intensely frustrated and ready to give up, only to have something “click” and come together almost magically.
My turning point was when I met Jorge Guzman. Jorge is a classically trained flutist and pianist and an amazing jazz musician. He’s been a music production engineer for over 20 years withhis production company, World Beat Group, LLC. He had an ad online that he was a producer who was looking for a mentor to teach what he knew about mixing and mastering. I gave him a call and we got together. The next 6 months was a rare experience… for what started off as “mixing lessons” turned into a collaborative effort that resulted in the finished album. Jorge taught me so much about the “science” and production of music and I will always be grateful to him for all he gave me.
Are there any touring plans in support to “Samsarana”?
Not at the moment, but we’ll see what the future holds!
While we are on the subject of touring, what countries would you love to tour?
I’d love to tour Europe. My wife is from Germany and we’ve spent a lot of time over there. It would be amazing to perform this album in its entirety in one of the giant Medieval castles they have over there!
Who and what inspires you the most?
What inspires me most are stories of individuals who are small and become Great. Stories like the film, “Rudy” about Rudy Ruetigger who played for Notre Dame… or Frodo in “Lord of the Rings.” Also, People who start from nothing and accomplish great things in the world. You read stories of how Metallica or Pink Floyd started with nothing except a vision and passion and they became the biggest stars in the world. There’s a quote that always inspired me from motivational speaker, Les Brown, “You don’t have to be Great to get started, but you got to get started to be Great!”
What other genres of music do you listen to? Have any of the other genres you listen to had any impact on your playing?
The two genres I love to listen to and have influenced me the most are ’70s hard and progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, Boston, Kansas, Rush, Van Halen… and most of all ’80s thrash: Metallica, Exodus, Testament, Megadeth, Slayer. I also enjoy a lot of Classical music: Mozart, Berlioz, Vivaldi. I love music with passion.
Two other bands that have been a big influence on me are Dream Theater (of course!) and Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon. I love how they take you on a musical journey with their songs and albums.
I really appreciate you giving us your time today. Is there anything else you would like to tell us and the fans before we wrap things up?
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my music with you. This has been a life-long dream of mine. I’ve been playing guitar since 14 and now I’m almost 50 and putting my first album out. I put a lot of myself into this album and it is my hope that my fans get as much meaning and inspiration out of the album as I put into it.