South Florida based musician and songwriter Barry Weinberg is set to launch his Prog Rock influenced album Samsarana in January 2018. The first single, “Beyond the Astral Sky,” is an anthem, gorgeous track with soaring vocals. The song is the first in the series of singles taken from Samsarana, a release that sees the musician exploring through a number of styles evolving around Prog Rock.
“The album brings forth a message of the greatness of humanity and the trials and tribulations we all have to go through to reach that potential in each of us. It is my great hope that listeners take the time to digest the album and GET IT!” – Barry Weinberg
As Barry tells us, the album is semi-autobiographical and contains songs written as far back as the 80’s. When asked how the writing and recording process was for “Samsarana”, he says that for every song, it’s different.
“Some start as a musical idea and others start lyrically. Sometimes, I record the song as I write it. Then it’s almost like painting…layering the music as an artist does on a canvas. My new album, “Samsarana” is semi-autobiographical. Many of the songs I wrote back in the late 80’s/early 90’s and some I wrote in the last few years. Between 2006 and 2011, I had the opportunity to write and record the soundtrack for a documentary film, “Florida Crackers.” I wrote 18 songs for that film and in that case, the producer would say, “I need a song with this theme and feel for this part of the film…” and I had to come up with the just the right music and lyrics for what he wanted. That experience really taught me to how write a song on demand. Working on that film, was the first time I worked in a studio and I LOVED it. It was at that time that I decided it was time to record my album and started to slowly build a small studio in my home. As I performed all the instruments and vocals on the album (minus the drums), I would record a little each day, layering different instruments as I felt that day. It was very cathartic. Like Brian Wilson used to say, the studio became my instrument.”
When asked about who he worked with on the album, Barry says he usually works alone as a solo artist but admits there were moments of frustration that led to seeking out some help.
“At first, it was my intention to mix and master the album myself. (As you can see, I’m a bit of a do-it-yourselfer). I started reading everything I could get my hands on in the art of mixing…books, articles, videos. After literally a year of working on the mix of the album, I wasn’t getting close to the sound I wanted. I was very frustrated and decided I needed to find a pro who would take this on. After to speaking with a few studios, nobody wanted to use my recorded tracks….they all wanted me to re-record everything.”
Barry continues, “One day, I was browsing online and saw an ad for 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. His name is Jorge Guzman from World Beat Group, LLC. He is a classically trained flutist and pianist and an amazing jazz musician. He taught me so much about the “science” and production of music and I will always be grateful to him for all he gave me. Another interesting relationship I developed during the production of this album was with the drummer, Glenn Welman. Glen, who I also met online, is in South Africa. I sent him one of the songs and 2 days later he sent me back a drum track that just blew my mind. After that, Glen performed and recorded the drums for the entire album. He is a master and his drumming really brought life to the album.”
What were some of the things you wanted to achieve with the release?
I grew up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, and this was a revolutionary time for music. During this time, bands didn’t put out songs….they put out albums. Albums that you put headphones on to listen to…and you listened to in their entirety. The albums were not just a collection of songs to sing to… they were experiences. It was my intention to create that kind of musical experience. Samsarana was written as a musical novel with each song a chapter in the story. It has a lot of depth of meaning and it is my hope that the listener takes the time to delve into the depths of Samsarana and with each listen they will find something new.
Do you enjoy the process of creating? Are you someone who continually writes or does the best come out under a little gentle pressure?
I am an extremely creative person. If I’m not composing a song, I’m writing something. If I’m not writing, I’m drawing. I am constantly creating something. I write differently when I have time versus when I have a deadline. But some of my best music has been created when under pressure. I have a commissioned music business, where I write music and jingles for businesses, seminar leaders and such. So I am constantly writing and recording music. I am currently working on a song for an Empowerment Seminar Leader about being a WINNER. Besides music, I am also an author and have 2 published books, “A Clear Path to Healing” and “To Face a Dragon.”
What does it feel like as an artist waiting for the songs you’ve lived with for some time to get released to the fans? Is there a sense of excitement or a little panic in there too?
This is a Life-Long Dream becoming real! Hence, the name of my production company, Dream Reality Productions. I started playing guitar when I was 14…and started writing songs as soon as I could play some basic chords. Most of my life, however, I considered myself a “bedroom” player. You know, just sit on my bed playing along with records or following some tab. My first professional music gig didn’t happen until my 40’s. Now I’m almost 50 and my first album is coming out. It’s extremely life fulfilling. Another reason I wanted to create this album is to send out the message that it’s never too late to live your dream! Now matter how old you are or what your life circumstances, with a strong enough intention , persistence, and undying conviction and focus, you can always live your dream.
How does it compare to previous releases and songs?
I grew up listening and playing basically 2 types of music: Metal and Prog Rock. When I was hired to compose the “Florida Crackers” soundtrack I was asked to write music of a very different genre: Country and Bluegrass. Up to that point, I had very little exposure or interest in these genres….but a Job’s a Job! So I started listening to and studying Johnnie Cash, Hank Williams,Sr and Jr, Waylen Jennings and so on….and I soon found that their music had some of the same intensity as metal, just expressed in a different way. So I was able to write some songs that are Country, but they have that metal intensity. Songs like “Cowboy Up ‘n Get ‘er Done” and “Unsung Heroes.” For this album I was able to get back to my Prog Rock and Metal roots.
On the lyrical themes and inspirations for Samsarana, Barry explains that Samsarana” is a concept album written as a novel with each song a chapter in the story.
Samsarana is a Sanskrit word that literally means “The Wandering,” referring to the endless cycles of Birth, Life, Death, Birth, Life, Death, ad infinitum – hence, the title of the 4th song on the album, “This Vicious Circle. “ This musical novel is about the Polarities of life and existence…Life and Death, Light and Dark, Good and Evil, Disillusionment and Enlightment. It tells a powerful human story of life’s challenges, redemption and self-actualization. Circular in nature, the end of the album is its beginning and the last two songs hold a “twist” that become the start of the album leading back into song 1.
Not a religious person by nature, I have always been inspired and fascinated by the spiritual texts of many of the world’s religions. The 2nd track on the album, “Creation”, drew directly from the creation mythos of the Book of Genesis and “You Cannot Burn the Fire,” track 11, refers to the dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna in the Hindu “Bhagavad Gita.” The album as a whole was inspired by the great classic concept albums such as Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” Dream Theater’s “Scenes From a Memory,” Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime,” and anything by Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon, especially, “The Human Equation.”
Any favorite moments or songs on Samsarana?
I love playing with musical contrast and mixing different genres to conjure different feelings and tones within a song or between two songs. For example, in “Endless Sea,” track 8 on the album, the song gradually moves from a folky, Bob Dylan-esque vibe growing towards a grunge/thrash groove in the middle. And there are times that I follow a light, acoustic ballad with a raw, intense metal number expressing the polarity of life. These are my favorite moments on the album.
Did you imagine how these songs would play out in a live situation?
I always imagined a big, theatrical production with stage actors, movies playing in the background and dynamic light and pyrotechnics. I actually can’t imagine playing this album in a bar or small club somewhere. It calls for theatrics!
Barry Weinberg is a progressive rock musician and songwriter from South Florida producing conceptual albums through his production company, Dream Reality Productions. Crossing the boundaries of Rock, Folk, Blues, Heavy Metal, Jazz and Orchestral music, people have described his music as “Pink Floyd meets Rush with a Metallica Twist”. Starting at age 12 in the early 80’s, he bought his first guitar and started to teach himself listening to hard rock and heavy metal albums. Having always played by ear, he began writing music from the first moment he laid his hands on the strings. In his early 20’s, he studied music at the University of Florida, where he learned music theory, music reading and the fine art of classical guitar. With a unique style that bridges such stylings of Metallica, James Taylor, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Johann Sebastian Bach and Mozart, his music is greatly appreciated by his fans for its unique, eclectic sound.
What have been your greatest challenges to date, and your favourite moments musically?
My greatest challenge was the long learning curve of how to effectively record and mix. It took a lot of study and frustration to get the album to where it is today. When you play a song on guitar you hear it exactly the way you hear it in your head. But when you record it and play it back, it often doesn’t sound at all the way you imagined. People don’t realize the amount of time, effort and creative ingenuity it takes to get the final product they hear on an album or on the radio.
My favorite moment musically has to be the first listen to the final mix and master after working so many years on this album. I literally cried the first time I heard it. My next favorite moment was the tears I saw in the eyes of my family and friends who listened to it for the first time. There’s nothing like seeing your creation impact others.
Who or what inspired you to be in a band and/or play music?
It was the summer of ’83. I was 14 years old. Every weekend, my friend and I would ride our bikes to the local import record store and we would look for interesting new bands we never heard of. One weekend, a new record was there with a bloody hammer on the cover. It was called “Kill ‘em All.” It terrified me and I looked at my friend and said, “We gotta get this!” When I brought it home and put it on my turntable, I was blown away. I never heard anything like it and I thought, “I want to do that!” I ran to my dad and said, “I want to get a guitar.” His response was, “You got hands….work.” So I got a job, saved up and bought a black Kramer guitar and a Fender Super Champ amp. I still use that amp today. That was the beginning of my musical journey.
From what you’ve learned so far what is the most valuable advice you’ve been given so far as a musician?
First, so obvious, but often overlooked, TUNE THE GUITAR BEFORE EACH RECORDING SESSION! I made the mistake of not doing that many times, causing me to have to re-record hours of music. Second, more important than chords and scales, practice timing….Use a metronome on different speeds and practice, practice, practice TIMING. Lastly, and most important, always remember, Music is ART. There is no such thing as bad art. If you create from your heart with passion, your music…your art will be great. Not everyone will like it, but it will be great. Don’t let your own self-doubt and judgment keep you from writing your music. Write your music! Play your song!
How do you feel about the current music scene right now?
To be honest, I’ve been very disillusioned by the music industry over the last decade. When I was a kid, the musicians in metal bands were masters of their instruments and the music they brought forth was so creative and impactful. The music on the radio today to me is so shallow and one song sounds like all the others. It’s become so commercial and industry-driven, Music has lost its soul. That’s why I am so drawn to Prog Rock and Metal. There are always new bands and albums that are so creative and take you on a journey. I love that about music and was one of my intentions for this album: To Bring Music Back to Music!
On a lighter note, there is a great performance by comedian Jim Breuer called “Laughter for All.” In this show he talks about where all the metalheads from the 80’s will be when we are all in our 80’s. He talks about us being in a Nursing Home for Metalheads and they call over the loudspeaker, “OK, Everyone to the card room. It’s time for the Moshing Hour.” And he continues to describe all of these old metal heads crashing wheelchairs into each other. This gave me hope for METAL!
Do you believe music can still change the world?
Absolutely! Music has always been a driver of change and always will be.
If you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any album in history, what album would it be?
It would have to be either Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Master of Puppets by Metallica, or 01011001 by Ayreon.
What is the meaning of life?
To give life meaning.
Check out more info on Barry Weinberg at dreamrealityproductions.com