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samueldales1Belgrave-based musician Samuel Dales is about to release ‘Waking From Life’, the self-produced debut solo album he toiled over for many years. Greg Phillips chats to Samuel about his prog-rock opus.

It was an itch that Samuel Dales just had to scratch. The Belgrave-based singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had been working on a particular set of songs for up to eight years. He formed a prog- metal band, Apsis, which he thought would be the vehicle to carry his musical vision to the finish line. However, as with any creative endeavour, life gets in the way. For one reason or another, band members left or were unavailable and he was faced with the fact that if he was to get the album done, it had to be on his own. So he did. His debut solo album ‘Waking From Life’ will be released on September 6th.
“I had written all the songs and had started the recording,” Sam explains. ” I auditioned and we formed the band and started doing shows. After six months to a year, a few things started to come up for the other guys and it kind of fell apart.  I decided to keep going and see what happens. When it got to the point where I’d finished the album and it was ready to go, I decided I wanted to release it as a solo album. I was still tossing up right to the end if would be an Apsis thing but decided it was a solo album now.”

On Waking From Life, Sam wears his influences unashamedly on his sleeve but like all wise artists, takes those elements and makes them his own. While at times there’s a kitchen sink approach to the production, amid the sonic epicness, Dales is savvy enough to know when to add light, shade and balance. Importantly, he also knows that the song is king. Whatever instrumental embellishments are made, they’re never to the detriment of the song. Think prog-metal, thoughtful, introspective heavy rock, ala Tool, Karnivool, or Devin Townshend and you’d be somewhere within Samuel Dales’ ballpark.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASam decided to cast-aside any live work post-Apsis to devote his life to completing this project and it shows. Thankfully, his almost obsession-like dedication to some of the minor details of the recording gave way to a more realistic approach in the end.
“I started being very meticulous and tracking things a hundred times and found that it was hard to hear a difference between a lot of the takes,” he explains. “By the time I’d finished, I was only doing things once or twice. I think on a couple of the later songs on the album you can hear a couple of fluffs but I decided I liked the feel it gave to the songs and left them in. I think that is an approach I will take moving forward. Instead of doing things a thousand times, I’ll just try to do it well once.”

Rather than just a collection of unrelated songs, Sam wanted his album to be more of a complete entity. Hence the addition of the short intro and outro tracks giving the listener a complete ‘journey’ feel. “I have always loved albums that seem to have a narrative to them,” he says. “Not so much a  concept thing but a vibe which runs through it. I really like The Mars Volta’s second album where it had an intro song and then it made an appearance again at the end. It backed everything up nicely and I wanted the same for this album. It didn’t seem right just coming in form the word go, it needed that intro.”

Not only did Dales write, record and sing on all of the tracks on the album, he also played the guitars, drums and bass. The keyboard sounds, he created with software programmed in Pro Tools. While there are a myriad of guitar tones on the album, Sam primarily used just one guitar. “I mainly used one guitar and that was my Warmoth Custom Les Paul,” he explains. “I have high gain pick ups in there and they sound awesome. I ran it through a 5150 for the most part. I also had a lot of fun playing  around in Guitar Rig and that’s where some of the more unique sounds on the album are coming from. So just going ‘di’ straight into Pro Tools and messin’ around in there.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPedal wise, he kept it simple: wah, whammy, Fullbore metal distortion and a Boss delay, preferring to explore software effects for the flexibility and control it gave him. His recording set up consisted of Pro Tools LE and Focusrite Liquid Saffire Pro with two Liquid pre amps, which he used for the vocals and guitars. The drums, he recorded in a professional studio. “The majority were done at studio owned by Tom from Shihad,” Sam says of the drum tracks. “For some of the tracks … the drums were recorded a few years ago in Perth at a place that had real old school gear, so that’s the analogue drum sounds you’ll hear on a couple tracks on the album.”

Australian Musician discovered Samuel Dales’ music via the artist website Reverb Nation, a resource which he  believes has been helpful . “Well they provide the exposure opportunities like this one and it is awesome that they do that and hopefully it allows me to connect to more people and so far it has,” he says of the site. Once the album is out, Sam simply hopes that people will take the time to have a listen.
“We live in an age where you can access the music from anywhere in the world but the hardest thing is to get people to press play. You can post it on Facebook or send it in an email but people are busy, so my biggest challenge is to get as many people as possible to have a listen to my music. I’d love to do a few shows to support the album and then see where it takes us but as long as I am able to keep writing and recording I will be happy.”

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