Foto: A Dying Planet

Interview with Jasun Tipton of A Dying Planet and Zero Hour

The guitarist and songwriter talks about his talented band members, a well-known guest musician and the stories behind "When The Skies Are Grey"

Artist: A Dying Planet

Origin: San Francisco, CA, USA

Genre: Progressive Metal

Label: Lifeforce Records

Link: https://www.facebook.com/adyingplanet

Band members:

Vocals – Paul Adrian Villarreal
Guitars – Jasun Tipton
Bass – Brian Hart
Drums – Marco Bicca

HIER geht’s zur deutschen Übersetzung des Interviews.

Jasun and Troy Tipton are behind many brilliant bands: among others, the twin brothers founded Zero Hour, Cynthesis, and Abnormal Thought Patterns. Now, with the current band A Dying Planet, the second studio album When The Skies Are Grey (Sept. 17th, 2021) is on the schedule. Is there more than one reason for fans of US Prog to celebrate? Read for yourself what the pleasant guitarist had to tell …

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
Hi Jasun,

first of all thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m a big fan of your works since the early Zero Hour records. The last record Dark Deceiver was already released in 2008. So before we talk about A Dying Planet, I wanna know, how is the actual situation in Zero Hour? What does the lineup look like, and when can fans expect some new material?

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
Right in Florian, and I appreciate the very kind words. Zero Hour is currently mixing our upcoming 2022 release. Yes, we’re back! Announcements will be coming soon. (AN: Great news!)

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
Let’s go straight to A Dying Planet: You formed the band a few years ago with your brother Troy, who also sang most of the songs from your debut Facing The Incurable (2018). As some might know, Troy suffered an arm injury years ago, and can’t play the bass anymore. How is he doing? Was he involved in the songwriting process of your upcoming record When The Skies Are Grey?

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
I’m happy to report that Troy is doing great. He and his wife have a handsome little boy named Jasun and a beautiful little girl. Troy hasn’t played bass for over six years now and had some reoccurring injuries when he started singing. So Troy is no longer making music. I wrote all the music, melodies, and lyrics for When The Skies Are Grey. However, I did send the lyrics to Troy, as he overlooked it and made some great suggestions.

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
Next to your trademark guitar playing there are three „secret weapons“ in your sound: The first one is the fabulous Paul Adrian Villarreal on vocals, who some might know from Sun Caged. He already sang on the song Resist from the debut. The other one is drummer Marco Bicca who did an outstanding job on When The Skies Are Grey. And last but not least, the exciting bass playing of Brian Hart – hear the basslines in the title track. Where did you first meet the guys and decided to form a band?

Photo: A Dying Planet (from left to right): Jasun Tipton, Paul Adrian Villarreal, Brian Hart, Marco Bicca

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
Paul was in the band Sun Caged, and we did some shows together (with Zero Hour) in Europe and (both bands) supported Liquid Tension Experiment at BarFest in San Francisco. Paul has an amazing voice, and he’s so great to work with. I send him all the sounds, lyrics, and melodies, and he sends it back to me better than I can imagine. He has an amazing ear, as I haven’t had to change one thing he had done.

I met Marco at one of his performances, and obviously, he’s a very talented progressive metal drummer. Not only is he a fantastic drummer, but such a great guy. Very, very easy-going. He told me he was a fan of Zero Hour and if I ever wanted to hit out some material to hit him up. He did an amazing job on this release as he really put his awesome style and stamp into the music.

I met Brian at one of the music stores I give lessons at. Super talented guy as he repairs instruments for a living. I love his playing on this release. His bass playing adds so much color to our music. Plus, he does a good job of making me laugh.

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
You’ve already read my review. Your new album earned 8.8 out of 10 points – congrats! Your trademarks are unmistakable, but A Dying Planet is not a 2.0 version of your former bands. There are a lot more melancholy or atmospheric parts in it. How much influence do the other band members have?

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
PaulMarco, and Brian are amazing musicians, and I’m so stoked to be playing music with these guys. We get very well together, and they give great life to A Dying Planet. The process starts with me tracking the guitars, keys, and click tracks. From there, I pass it on to Marco to work his drums out. Brian comes in and lays down his tracks. Then, I start writing the lyrics and work the melody lines out. Paul is an amazing lyricist, but he’s very busy with school and his family. So that’s the reason why I took on the responsibility of writing the melodies and lyrics for When The Skies Are Grey.

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
Some days ago, you already told me that the crazy keyboard solo at the end of Embrace was done by Derek Sherinian (Sons Of Apollo, ex-Dream Theater). How did the collaboration come about?

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
A friend of mine on Facebook shared a post that Derek was holding a contest. The contest consists of a band or artist sending one track, and the track he enjoyed the most would have a free guest solo appearance from Derek. Come to find out, that contest had already passed three weeks before. Fortunately, he took a listen to Embrace and said „Hey man this is an awesome track and I decided to do a solo over it“. What he did was amazing and fit perfectly! We chatted, worked something out, so his solo could be on Embrace.

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
Is there a common theme on the new album, or which themes do you cover in the most personal lyrics?

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
I’ll do my best to give you a somewhat short version. When The Skies Are Grey is about the homeless problems we have around the world. Honoring Your Name is about how a loved one leaves the family for an uncertain amount of time and how the families try to cope with their absence. Honoring them every day with the hope of reuniting. Hope For Tomorrow is about holding it together through the difficult moments to endure the light of happiness. Embrace is about escaping genocide. Seeking new land to embrace new beginnings. Far From Home is on the sci-fi edge. A planet is invaded and only one escapes to find themselves waking up to a completely different world. Does he risk being seen in hope of acceptance? A Father’s Love is written especially for my brother and his little boy Jasun.

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
You’ve already released a solo record called The Dream To Fly this year, which is my go-to „work at home soundtrack“ by the way. Was the lockdown a creative booster for you to write new music?

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
After Night’s Pulse (released 2000) I had many people asking if would I do another solo instrumental CD. I had thought about it, but the bands are always my priority. The pandemic was in full swing and I had finished recording my parts for A Dying Planet and Zero Hour. To keep me sane through the pandemic, I decided to start writing The Dream To Fly. To this point, I’ve basically written five albums worth of material due to this pandemic. I guess I’m a little crazy.

Foto: Jasun Tipton

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
A virus, people who don’t take care of each other, wars all over the world – is this planet already dying?

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
It’s so sad what’s going on in the world, and I hate to point out the obvious. Just speaking about one topic and how it’s snowballing. California for the last five years has been having horrible brush fires throughout the state. It’s become the new norm, unfortunately. Our water resources are at their lowest ever. The water levels at Lake Mead and the Colorado River are evaporating quickly. They’re already planning to take water resources away from our farmers. We need our farmers, as that’s vital. They’ll shut the farms down, build houses on that land, which will still use up our water resources. It’s all about money, greed … what about the future?

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
Let’s get back to more enjoyable topics: A possible tour in Europe: Where and when may I be there? 😊

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
We’re in as we’d love to perform the material live. As much as we’d like to do it now, we’ll have to wait for time, being due to the virus.

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
Lately, we have had a column about the „best albums of all time“. Which three records would you take on a desert island?

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
Oh my goodness, that’s a tough one, and it would probably change for me every day. So many amazing metal releases, and where to start. Well for Jazz and somewhat progressive, Pat Metheny’s Travels would be one. Oh, so many good metal releases, I don’t think I can do it. Pink Floyd, Journey, Gary Moore, Blue Murder, Meshuggah, Dream Theater, Killswitch Engage, Tesseract, Iron Maiden, Tool … I can’t do it.

Time For Metal / Florian W.:
Jasun, it was a pleasure to have you as a guest at Time For Metal. The last words belong to you, and you could address them to our readers and your fans.

A Dying Planet / Jasun Tipton:
Thank you, Florian, for spreading the word! We’re so proud of what we created with A Dying PlanetWhen The Skies Are Grey. You can pre-order the CD and limited vinyl at Lifeforce Records BandcampA Dying Planet. Our new video Hope For Tomorrow drops later this week.

 

Go to the review for When The Skies Are Grey (German version, the translation could be found on the band’s Facebook page):

A Dying Planet – When The Skies Are Grey

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