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an Interview with Shadow Gallery's vocalist Mike Baker

Vocalist Mike Baker has been with Shadow Gallery since their inception in the early '80s when the band was known as Sorcerer. He is currently my favorite vocalist and in this interview, he talks about Shadow Gallery's upcoming album, his approach to songwriting and his admiration of Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Ayreon.

Questions by Joseph White


Q: Which vocalists are your biggest influences and what aspect of their singing do you like most?

The first guy that I got into is still my favorite to this day, Alice Cooper. He is the all-time greatest performer in my book. He writes such great music and he's been doing it for over 30 years now. He crafts his voice to whatever particular song he's working on calls for. Add in the fact that he is 52 years old and just made one of his heaviest albums! The others that have influenced me are many, but to name a few I would say Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Ian Gillan and Dio. They all have great range, and they all have been singing at a high level of perfection for a long time.

Q: In the bio section at Shadowgallery.com, you credit fellow band member Carl Cadden-James (bass) with helping you develop as a vocalist. In what way has he helped you?

Well, I definitely consider Carl a big influence in my vocal approach with Shadow Gallery. Mostly because as the engineer of our first 3 cds, he was there every step of the way. He usually has a very good idea of how the songs should be sung because he writes a good part of the lyrics and vocal melodies. We also do the bulk of the back-up vocals as well, so we warm up together and give each other support when we need it.

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Mike Baker - Shadow Gallery vocalist

Q: Which bands are your all-time favorites?

There are many bands that I would call favorites, some of the older ones are Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and older Scorpions to name a few. More recent favorites include Gamma Ray, Ozric Tentacles, Rammstein, Ayreon and Heavens Gate.

Q: Which albums are your all-time favorites?

That is a very tough one! I would need a few weeks to name them all, but I'll try to pick a few. In no particular order I would say Alice Cooper - Welcome to My Nightmare, Billion Dollar Babies and The Last Temptation. Next would be Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny, Stained Class and Sin After Sin. Iron Maiden - Powerslave, Piece of Mind and Number of the Beast. Black Sabbath - Dehumanizer, Heaven & Hell and Sabatoge. Ayreon - Into the Electric Castle, Utopia - Ra, King Crimson - Thrak, and Fight - War of Words. The list could go on and on and on though.

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Click for the review of the Self Titled album

Q: I noticed that with Tyranny, you became more involved in the songwriting, specifically the vocal melodies and lyrics. Why was Tyranny the album you became more involved in as far as songwriting is concerned?

I think it was just a natural progression for me. I really did nothing but sing on the first one, although there was a track I helped on which wasn't included. The same with Carved in Stone, although i did a little more with the melodies and shaping of the songs. Tyranny certainly was much more of a group effort. There was just so much that needed to be done that everyone had to be involved in some way, shape or form. Plus the band is always pushing me to write more material so I guess I try a bit harder now.



Q: What do you bring to the lyrics and vocal melodies that differs from Carl Cadden-James (bass)?

I'm not so sure, I guess I would say that I take a different approach than he does. Most of the time I come up with lyrics first then try to create a melody. Carl on the other hand usually comes up with the melody first which I feel is very hard to do.

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Click for the review of "Carved in Stone"

Q: I believe Shadow Gallery is working on a new album. How is it progressing and what form will it take?

Yes, we are happy to say the new cd is coming along nicely. Basic tracks are recorded and we will be starting the vocals very soon. As far as what form it will take, I can only tell you that it is a more song-oriented album, more like Carved in Stone than Tyranny in that regard. Another big difference to note is that Gary Wehrkamp will be producing this time around, so it will have a slightly newer feel to it.

Q: Who or what has influenced you the most in the process of writing for the new album?

Personally, Gary has had a big influence from my point of view. Not long after Tyranny was finished, Gary and i set out to record some new ideas and some became songs that will be on the new one. We were also influenced by the Ayreon - Into the Electric Castle cd. Great stuff!

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Click for the review of "Tyranny"

Q: Where do you see Shadow Gallery's music heading in the next few years?

It's hard to say, because this is the last cd for our current contract. But I believe Shadow Gallery will continue to write and record solid music well into the new millennium.

Q: Is there a band you listen to that you think is underrated and would like people to know about?

Yes, Ayreon, who I mentioned before is fast becoming one of our all-time favorites. At least for Gary and I, anyway. I think everyone should go out and buy it! Into the Electric Castle is just incredible. How did he write such a cool album? Then to follow it up with another two-disc release - The Universal Migrator Pts. 1 & 2 is just outstanding. To compile all that talent is one thing, but to make it all work together is genius!

Q: Ayreon - Into the Electric Castle is one of my favorite albums as well. I know fellow band mate Gary Wehrkamp played guitar and keys on one of Ayreon's newest discs (The Universal Migrator Part II, I believe). If Arjen Lucassen asked you, would you perform on an Ayreon disc as well?

That is a no-brainer, where do I sign up? Actually I was trying to get on the song Gary performed on. I guess Arjen had everyone picked to sing vocals already. I'm not even sure if he likes my singing! If we would of known a few weeks earlier, I might of been able to get Gary to pull some strings and yours truly might of been doing a cameo!

Q: This may sound like an odd question/idea but here goes: "Supergroups" (side-project bands whose members come from different bands) seem to be the "trendy" thing to do in the progressive rock/metal genre in recent years (LTE, SMPTe, etc.). And with all of these side-project bands of late, I think it would be cool to see something that expands on this idea-- something that would be truly different and unique: Imagine TWO different bands writing and recording an album together. I know the logistics and timing would be impossible but a Shadow Gallery/Ayreon project, for example, would be incredible. Arjen Lucassen uses all these different musicians on his albums anyway so why not one where Shadow Gallery is "backing up" Mr. Lucassen? Except this album would be a Shadow Gallery album just as much as it would be an Ayreon album. Now THAT would be a supergroup! Comments?

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Shadow Gallery


It sure would! I can only say be careful what you wish for because you might just get it one day. Gary and I have talked about doing something with Arjen in the near future. Possibly a cover by Pink Floyd, since we all seem to have a common love for this band. A whole album is tough to say, though big trees do grow from small ones! You never know...we shall see. There was also talks about Arjen maybe doing a guitar solo on the new SG cd. Not sure if we'll have the time though, I'll keep you posted.

Q: Any parting comments you would like to share with the readers of RainbowFlame's Metal Domain?

Yes, as always, we would like to thank all of our fans, old and new, for their continuing support, and for keeping the flame alive so that we may move forward with our dreams. Thank you. Peace.


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