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Sevenstring.org Interview - Paul Masvidal and Tymon Kruidenier of Cynic
Cynic's Paul Masvidal and Tymon Kruidenier take time out of their busy schedule to chat to sevenstring.org about life, love and marble-swirl finishes.
Published by DDDorian
02-24-2009
Sevenstring.org Interview - Paul Masvidal and Tymon Kruidenier of Cynic

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<strong>Sevenstring.org Interview - Paul Masvidal and Tymon Kruidenier of Cynic</strong>
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<div id="post_message_89657" align="justify"><!-- google_ad_section_start --><div align="right"><img src="http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/hosted/191849a41542a39ad.png" alt="Chris Broderick" /><br />
<b>Interview: Paul Masvidal and Tymon Kruidenier</b><br />

<font size="1"><i>Interviewed by: DDDorian</i></font><br />
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"On the basis of “Traced in Air,” more so than its 1993 predecessor “Focus,” Cynic should be understood not so much alongside any metal bands but along with the radical harmonic progressives in the last 45 years of pop and jazz: composers like Milton Nascimento, the Beach Boys or Pat Metheny." -Ben Ratliff, New York Times



<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/hosted/191849a41a494569e.png" alt="Tymon (left) and Paul (right)" /><br />
<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">Sevenstring.org</span>: Greetings, Paul and Tymon! Many thanks for taking the time to speak to us! You've been re-united as a band for about two years now, and the response you've received from the point you announced the reunion to the current album and tour has been overwhelmingly positive. Is it vindicating to know that, decades on, the public finally seem to get what Cynic is about?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">Paul Masvidal</span>: It is vindicating. This experience again reaffirmed the belief of trusting my own instincts and following my heart when it comes to art. As young musicians entering the business we can be swayed by people around telling us what they think we should be doing artistically in order to progress. From the business point of view there may be some constructive advice that may help, but in the realm of music itself, it's a different ball game. The gig is to uncover your own voice, constantly refine it and share that with the world. Nobody can do that for us, and we may seemingly go off into some non-commercial deep end (as business people thought we did with Focus), but that's ok too, as long as the work is authentic and true to you. The results of that work are not our job, all we can do is concentrate on making the music as convincing as we are capable of. Focus was essentially recorded against all odds and although it took many years before the greater public understood, we always knew it worked and surrendered the result of that work. We are in the digital age now and self-promotion seems to go hand in hand with recording and making music so the responsibilities are greater for the aspiring artist, but ultimately your job will be much easier if your songs are good. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Prior to the reunion, Aeon Spoke seemed to be in quite a comfortable position both creatively and commercially. Were there any reservations about putting Aeon Spoke on hold to pursue the Cynic reunion?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: We had some reservations in terms of knowing Aeon Spoke would now be splitting attention with Cynic, but it made more sense to sleep less and trust in Cynic's reawakening as part of our path now.<br /><br />



<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Tymon, what led to you becoming a member of the band? Has there been any pressure knowing that a million angry Blabbermouth comments are going to be directed at the new guy for ruining the band if the album doesn't meet the internet's lofty standards?<br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">Tymon Kruidenier</span>: Paul and I were talking through email for a couple of years but when Paul and Sean were looking for a new guitar player / growler a mutual friend of ours suggested Paul to look into me. At first I was totally shocked when I got that first email, being the long time fan I was of Cynic, but everything went really quickly and smoothly from that point on and the entire relationship felt very comfortable. As far as pressure goes, no that hasn't bothered me at all to be honest. I know I'm my own worst critic, all I can do is the best I can and trust in that.<br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: At what point during the initial reunion did you decide to work on another album?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: When we returned from our Eastern Europe reunion tour in Oct of '07, I went into my studio and explored more musical and lyrical concepts with the Cynic antenna open. I soon discovered that the signal was loud and clear with fresh ideas that felt like Cynic's voice. It was much like a return to innocence for us, since Cynic is part of our roots and development as musicians. Soon after, I brought Sean Reinert in to run through some songs and it became apparent to both of us that Cynic had something to say again. <br /><br />


<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/hosted/191849a4198543a4b.jpg" alt="Tymon" /><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: The new album is being released through Season Of Mist, a label more known for avant-garde black metal than the relatively smooth sounds of Cynic. What led you to sign with them? Did your old label, Roadrunner, show any interest in re-signing the band?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: We had about seven offers from different companies, and RR did express interest but our minds were in a different place. We were interested in finding a company who would make us a priority and believed in the band artistically beyond riding the reunion wave. At this point I can tell you there's no such thing as a perfect record company and the nature of the business is inherently complex with often disparate agendas. We are in a day in age where we have to rely less on the company and more on our own collective efforts to build the art into something tangible. Personal relationships and clear intentions can go a long way. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Traced In Air is only now hitting stores outside of Japan but had leaked online several months ago. How do you feel about your music being trafficked so brazenly? Does the state of illegal downloading offend or concern you as professional musicians?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: It's a mixed blessing. Fan enthusiasm and passion is great, but it does affect the artist when that fan chooses to not purchase the music. But again, a result of the digital age is the disposable nature of media, and music often falls prey to that perception regardless of what went into the work. There's middle ground here somewhere and I don't know if we've found it yet.<br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: From the artwork to the lyrics, there seems to be a common thread running through the album that deals with an almost Buddhust-like understanding of existence and non-existence. What influenced the overall theme of the new album?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: Meditation, introspection, working with chaos, our impermanent nature as humans, training our minds, realizing we are not our thoughts. Simply put, the album is trying to look in the mirror as truthfully as possible and explore the alternate perspectives we have available to us as we navigate through this cosmic dance called life. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: What was the songwriting process like for Traced In Air?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: We went through four stages of pre-production. I wrote most of the foundation of the record alone in my studio with my guitar or at the piano and a note pad. I start by going through libraries of folders I keep with musical ideas and see which ones resonate with me over time. Whichever particular idea still stands the test of time (over the course of a few days in this case) usually gets further attention to be developed. For Traced In Air, I was keeping matters in a hyper state of presence which meant after the embryo sparks the initial idea, I would just try and allow the music tell me where it needed to go. It's almost about being transparent at that point and has nothing to do with me. The record essentially wrote itself from these 'sparks'. Once I have a solid working foundation on a bare bones level (harmony /melody), I'm ready to move the song into layers. I would then bring Sean into my studio and we would explore his rhythmic approach and how that affects the arrangement which leads to further refinement. Next comes 2nd guitar parts and bass lines, although some of those elements are in the early stages also depending on the section. We then move deeper into the arrangements and details including the last phase which would be production ideas and how the record will ultimately sound. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Having lived with Focus for fifteen years, were there any elements of the Cynic sound that you consciously wanted to improve or expand upon on the new record?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: I knew as a musician / songwriter / producer that has matured over the years, the improvements would just be a natural course of events and not something I would have to think about much. The results of the record are more about just capturing where we are now with the Cynic head and heart than anything else. Due to the growth Sean and I have had over the years, we've gotten better at carving sonic shapes, telling a story and hearing the whole arrangement and record as a piece versus being caught up in 'parts'. The bigger sonic picture is one of the major areas of expansion for us.<br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: For a while there it was rumoured that you'd be recording with Jason Suecof, but in the end you went with Warren Riker, whose resume is eclectic to say the least. What did Warren bring to the recording process? <br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: Warren is able to think and feel music in a free association way without all the intellectual baggage. He goes straight to the heart of vibe and yet has as good as engineering chops get. He's intuitive and objective which helps the artist work without much language interference. He brought a casual sensibility to our album that was more about transparent performances than production glamour. Warren's skills come from loads of diverse recording experience which spoke to us. <br /><br />


<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/hosted/191849a419850a870.png" alt="Traced In Air" /><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: What guitars were used in the tracking of Traced In Air? I've not noticed any low-B action, so I guess the Agile seven-string didn't make the record.<br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I've used my trusty Steinberger for all the recordings. Somehow I think Cynic doesn't need any 7 string riffing. Don't get me wrong, I love low tuned riffing when it's done right but I don't think Cynic needs it.

<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: I used three different Steinberger's on the record. Two of them have EMG's and the other has Bareknuckle pickups.<br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: How did you approach the guitar solos on the album? How do you decide who takes a solo and where?<br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: It probably sounds pretty cliche, but I try to work from the song, give it what it needs. I tried to get into the vibe of the song and started improvising until I found some ideas I liked. I went for composed solos over improvised solos (the approach I usually go for) because I feel this suits Cynic's style better.

<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: Usually the song dictates what the vibe of the solo needs to be, including the lyrical content. Sometimes I draw, sing or imagine a melodic shape over or inside the harmony and try and recreate that shape with a solo. Usually that involves improvising until I get something I like, then turning it into a more composed piece. Solos for me are more like an extension of an existing idea than a featured moment. <br /><br />

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: There's a healthy mix of both vintage and modern tones on the album. What amps and effects were used in the recording of the album? <br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: I recorded with Deisel, Krank, a vintage Fender Super Reverb and Fractal Audio's Axe-FX . We had an array of different pedals and external effects used, and many came from the Fractal. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: One of Focus' signature elements, and a big point of contention at the time, was the robotic vocoder-treated vocals, which have been taken to a whole new level on Traced In Air. How did you go about modernising the vocal treatments and what inspired you to adopt them in the first place?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: I wanted to have more freedom vocally with the Traced In Air songs and pulled back on the overtly processed sound of Focus and went for more of a half android half human approach. Originally the vocoder sound was adopted as a result of wanting a unique alien like sound that was more like an instrument than a 'lead singer'. I was also insecure about my natural singing voice during the Focus days and found a healthy and creative way to disguise it while bringing something new to the music.
<br /><br />

<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: What are you both playing live? Is it difficult to recreate your recorded sound on-stage?<br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: We're both using Fractal Audio Axe-FXs going direct to the board. The sounds on the album are pretty easy to recreate since a lot of the clean and lead sounds on the album actually came from that device.


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: The Fractal along with an Axon synth setup with a Korg TR-Rack for blending synth sounds with clean guitars.<br /><br />


<img style="padding:20px;" align="right" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/hosted/191849a41a498618a.jpg" alt="Paul Masvidal" /><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: For a lot of the gear-nerds here at ss.org that stunning marble-finish Steinberger is arguably as revered as anything you've done musically. What is the history behind that guitar?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: I saw it at a local music store called 'Not Just Guitars' in Miami in the early 90's. I knew I couldn't afford the instrument, but my mother who understood my commitment as a growing musician made a deal with the store (we knew the owners) and they let me take it home and she thankfully helped me pay for it over time. I was enamored and still am with that beautiful instrument. It was hand painted and signed by Jim O'Conner, '90, who I was told had painted some of Eddie Van Halen's guitars. Years ago, a Cynic fan from Italy had a Stein custom painted to look almost exactly like mine. He sent me a pic and I was blown away. It's described as a kind of a marble / granite look.<br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Who are your biggest musical influences, both generally and guitar-wise?<br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Allan Holdsworth for his otherworldly approach to the guitar and Scott Henderson for his incredible improv skills. I also really like this guy I just found out about called Guthrie Govan, incredible guitar player! Then there's Björk for her amazing songs, vibe, melody and emotion. Of course there's a ton of other influences out there but I'd say the above ones had the biggest impact on me as a musician.

<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: Guitar wise - Ben Monder is one of my fave guitarists. I'm always inspired by Metheney, Holdsworth, Henderson, Segovia for his brilliant execution of the classical repertoire. There's so many great musicians / writers out there. I love Antonio Carlos Jobim, Debussy, Bach, pop artists like The Beatles, Radiohead, Elliot Smith, Brian Eno, Spiritual Jazz artists like Alice Coltrane and Sun Ra, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return To Forever and other 70's fusion acts, also pianists Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, the list goes on and on. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Paul, how do you think Tymon compliments you as a guitarist? How would you compare him to your former guitarist Jason Gobels?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: Tymon has a more analytical approach to playing but gets the feeling underneath and I'm probably more in the opposite order. He understands when something is executed well and how to develop melodic ideas. He did some counter guitar parts and solos on the new record that work really well and I think he gets the basic underlying Cynic approach as a guitar player. We play well together and are getting better at recognizing the subtleties in each others playing. Jason was more rhythmically freaky and less orthodox of a player while Tymon is more precise and articulate in a different way. They're both unique musicians. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Do either of you have any formal education in performance or composition?<br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: I just graduated from a study in Music Production & Composition at the Utrecht School for Music and Technology.

<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: I studied classical guitar as kid and got into music theory and composition through my college years. Eventually I ended up at MI with a full scholarship studying with Joe Diorio, Sid Jacobs and Scott Henderson. My greatest teacher was a fellow named David Weissbrot who I studied with for 2 years when living in Miami. He taught me how to listen and encouraged my creative pursuits as an aspiring writer and musician. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: What is bassist Sean Malone's status with the band? Do you intend to work with him on future Cynic recordings or are you looking for a full-time replacement?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: Malone was hired to play on the record and that's about it for now. Robin Zielhorst is working out well as our current live player. <br /><br />


<img style="padding:20px;" align="left" src="http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/hosted/191849a41984cf4fd.jpg" alt="Tymon (left) Sean Reinert (center) Paul (bottom-right)" /><span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Tymon, what is the status of your band Exivious?<br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: We're actually about to release our debut album! The album turned out great, we're all very happy with it and can't wait to get it out to the world. Pre-orders start March 1st, album release is May 11th. We just released our first song through our website Exivious and our myspace.<br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: It's almost seven years now since Chuck Schuldiner's untimely passing; much like Cynic, the music of Death seems to resonate with a broader audience as time passes. Paul, what are your lasting memories of Chuck as a friend and a musician?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: I remember his passion for music and guitar playing. His sense of humor and his sensitivity. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: During Cynic's absence, many bands have appeared to carry the progressive metal torch, so to speak. Are there any new metal bands in particular that you both currently enjoy? <br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: To be honest I'm not really hip to the progressive metal scene of today. I really liked Spiral Architect's album from a few years back but other then that I don't really listen to progressive metal. There's some metal bands I enjoy listening to like Meshuggah and Katatonia.

<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: I'm listening to all kinds of music, lately it's been jazz and ambient and not much metal or even rock. The past two bands we've toured with Meshuggah and Opeth are doing some cool progressive work. I need someone to turn me onto the whole new wave of bands, I'd be curious to really give them all a good listen and get a sense of what's happening out there. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Between the many demos the band recorded pre-Focus and the post-Cynic recordings of Portal, there's a lot of interesting stuff locked away in the Cynic vault that the fans would love to get ahold of. What are the chances of a rarities CD or perhaps even a box set?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: Not sure at this point, but anything is possible. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: For whatever reason you've toured exclusively in Europe so far. When can the rest of the world expect to see the reformed Cynic?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: We're touring the states now and have further plans for S. America, Australia and more stateside touring on 2009.<br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: Finally, do you feel like the current iteration of Cynic exists to bring closure to something started fifteen years ago or as a new entity unto itself? Perhaps more importantly, will the fans be left waiting fifteen years for another album, haha?<br />


<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">PM</span>: We're here to bring something new to the table and communicate as artists today. But there is a full-circle here on a spiritual energetic level that has brought some closure to our past. We've healed an old wound. <br /><br />


<span style="color:red;font-weight:bold;">SS</span>: That brings us to the end of the interview. Any last words for the fans?<br />


<span style="color:green;font-weight:bold;">TK</span>: Thanks for the interview, please come check us out on tour with Meshuggah and The Faceless!




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<span style="color:orange;font-weight:bold;">For more information on Cynic:</span><br />
<br />
<span style="color:white;font-weight:bold;"><a href="http://www.cyniconline.com" target="_BLANK">Cynic Online - The Official Cynic Website</a></span>

<span style="color:white;font-weight:bold;"><a href="http://www.myspace.com/cyniconline" target="_BLANK">Cynic on Myspace</a></span><br />
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  #1  
By -K4G- on 02-24-2009, 10:20 AM
Awesome!!!
  #2  
By DDDorian on 02-24-2009, 10:42 AM
I wanna give a big thanks again to Paul and Tymon for the interview, as well as those of you who submitted questions and/or helped me actually put this up. Enjoy!
  #3  
By Groff on 02-24-2009, 10:45 AM
I've been addicted to "Traced in air" the last week or so.

Awesome interview!
  #4  
By Cancer on 02-24-2009, 11:24 AM
Applauds.... Very nice. I saw these guys in Baltimore last week. They were amazing.
  #5  
By wannabguitarist on 02-25-2009, 12:01 AM
"Traced in Air" is still my favorite album purchase of the last 3 months, great interview
  #6  
By Stealthdjentstic on 02-25-2009, 05:52 PM
Awesome interview, no stupid questions at all
  #7  
By Ishan on 02-26-2009, 05:35 AM
Very good interview, I wish I could see them with Meshuggah and The Faceless
  #8  
By renzoip on 03-01-2009, 11:02 PM
Great interview, I had been wanting an interview with them for awhile!
  #9  
By TimothyLeary on 03-02-2009, 05:01 AM
Thanks for the interview!
  #10  
By distressed_romeo on 03-03-2009, 02:19 AM
Great interview!
  #11  
By Hoj0 on 03-03-2009, 05:32 AM
Just purely awesome!
  #12  
By Naren on 03-03-2009, 10:28 PM
Awesome! Cynic rules.
  #13  
By proggm on 03-04-2009, 09:58 AM
If they come to south america I'm gonna sh*t my pants.
  #14  
By Tymon on 03-04-2009, 10:54 AM
We will come to South America, it's just a matter of time!
  #15  
By progmetaldan on 03-04-2009, 05:56 PM
wow, AUSTRALIA!!! Yeah that makes me excited... Great interview guys!
  #16  
By Xanithon on 03-08-2009, 09:36 PM
Zomg if they come to NZL i might fork out some money to go see them as they rank 2 in my current favourite bands :P
  #17  
By canadianmetal89 on 03-08-2009, 11:36 PM
i like cynic, but since when did "sevenstring.org" become "sixstringersthatusedtoplaysevenstring.org"
  #18  
By DDDorian on 03-09-2009, 12:53 AM
Since the interview questions were formulated at a point where Tymon was using his Agile seven-string with Cynic and there was no reason to think he might not choose to continue doing so. Sheesh.
  #19  
By ArtDecade on 03-10-2009, 02:53 PM
That was a great interview - Thanks!
  #20  
By MerlinTKD on 03-15-2009, 10:26 AM
Fantastic interview, can't believe I missed this! Great job, DDD!
  #21  
By Blackrg on 03-31-2009, 04:11 AM
Verily thou doth rock DDD.. thanks for the IV!
  #22  
By dmguitarist99 on 04-02-2009, 08:44 PM
awesome interview, been into Cynic for a few years now. Amazing band
  #23  
By ArtDecade on 01-15-2010, 01:22 PM
I always seem to go back and re-read this interview. I should have it memorized by now!
  #24  
By brae2009 on 01-28-2010, 12:14 PM
nice man keep going
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