Henning Pauly - Chain / Frameshift

Interview with Progpower Online

In 2003 I got an album of the band Chain and really enjoyed it. Later I found the leading character in this band was also working on a project featuring James LaBrie, which turned out to be Frameshift, a refreshingly progressive album. As he has more music coming, I thought it would be a good idea to get to know the man behind all this great music: Henning Pauly.

PPO: When and where did your musical career started?

January 6th 1990. I got my first acoustic guitar. Shortly after I got an electric and started playing in bands. I found that I like the arranging and composing aspect almost more interesting than the performing aspect. My guitar teacher Kuno Wagner turned me on to a lot of different styles of music like jazz and experimental music. He is a world class touchstyle player who changed from Chapman stick to Warr guitar and that is also one of the reasons I use a lot of these techniques. From 1997 to 2000 I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston studying "Contemporary Writing and Production" and "Music Synthesis". After that I moved to LA to see what I could do there.

PPO: The first piece I heard from you, was the Reconstruct album, by Chain. That album went along way before it was released. How did that happen?

I had several bands back home in Germany. One was formed by my good friend Stephan Kernbach, a keyboard player. That band was Chain. We wrote and rehearsed for over a year without a vocalist and never got to perform or record. The only evidence that we ever existed was a tape with a simply practice room recording of one rehearsal. I found that tape and listened back to what we did back then and decided to produce an album based on that music. All I wanted to do is have some fun in the studio and play some prog. I thought it would be a cool surprise for the guys back home in Germany when I would go home the next christmas. I asked my friend Matt Cash to sing on it and it was finished a day before I flew home. The surprise worked and the guys enjoyed it a lot. The surprise for me came when the album was picked up by progrockrecords a few months later.

PPO: Was this your first work in the genre ‘progressive rock’?

It was my first published work, yes. I have done tons of work in a variety of styles. I work for i2-recording in grand terrace, california (www.i2recording.com) and in my time there I have produced a lot of music, on my own and with other artists. A lot of that music can be heard on my website www.henningpauly.com

PPO: What inspired you to do more in this style of music?

The fact that there are less rules than in other styles. The whole idea of progressive music is that you can express yourself better without the limitations of other popular music because radio play is not really an issue. You can use any variety of instruments and use them any way you like as long as it is still good music and I really enjoy this freedom, because in other styles the audience always expects you to do things a certain way. In prog I can use distorted drum loops with heavy guitar and banjo and I might be ridiculed by some, but the majority of the prog audience is open to that as long as it makes musical sense.

PPO: You are also active in a company that makes radio jingles. Is writing jingles much different from writing a progressive rock album? Which is more challenging?

That's correct, I work for the jinglegroup (www.jinglegroup.com), which is, just like i2-recording, a division of WMD-Holdings(www.wmdholdings.com). Funny enough, they are both challanging. Both require good melodies that make the music memorable and something you want to hear again. The challange with a jingle is that you have to deliver very quickly and you have only 60 seconds to make a complete musical statement. Meeting the clients needs and understanding what they want is probably the biggest challenge. I usually have an afternoon to produce a jingle. Writing a prog album takes about six months and an average introduction in progressive rock is longer than 60 seconds. In jingles you can't incorporate the same complexity and virtuosity that prog can stomach, but both areas are serious music and definitely a challenge.

PPO: When did you get the idea for Frameshift?

I got the idea when Shawn Gordon from progrockrecords mentioned that James LaBrie might be interested in a collaboration if the material is good enough, so I thought about what to write in order to impress James. I knew it had to be something different from Dream Theater and something that would show off his voice.

PPO: At what stage did you picture James LaBrie in the project and how did he finally end up in it?

As I said...he was stage one.

PPO: I noticed LaBrie was also mentioned in the credits for composing the music? In what way did he contribute to the music on the album?

He gave me some hummed rough melodies over the finished music. Matt Cash and I wrote most of the lyrics and melodies (I wrote a few songs with Nik Guadagnoli) and used James' rough ideas for mainly the verses. James was not involved in the writing of the music, he was touring with DT while I was working on the album and was way too busy to get involved in that.

PPO: So far you have released two progressive rock albums, both concept albums. Both are linked to the subject evolution. Why did you chose this subject?

Actually, I have released 3 albums by now..."13 Days" just came out. It is progressive in parts, but most of it is guitar rock. There are 11 different vocalists on 13 songs. I am a huge Douglas Adams fan and his book "Last Chance to See" woke the interest in evolution in me. Learing about it and understanding the complexities of life on this planet opened my eyes and I see it at work on a daily basis...it's what keeps me interested in life. Musicians wrote about what they are passionate about and I am passionate about evolution.

PPO: You are also working on a follow up of the Chain album. How is that progressing?

Amazing. I am almost done. The album is called "chain.exe" and will have six songs. The epic "Cities" will be over 30 minutes long. We have a cover of Saga's "Hot to Cold" with Michael Sadler from Saga singing with Matt Cash. Mike Keneally just laid down vocals and guitar parts for the last song on the record with is about Douglas Adams' death and is entitled "Last Chance to See". There are some video clips from that session on my website.

PPO: There is even more on your agenda, as you are also working on another project with James LaBrie? Can you tell more about this?

It is a double CD rock opera in the tradition of TSO called "Babysteps". James is singing the evil doctor. He already laid down his parts. It is the story of five patients in a hospital trying to get back on their feet and becoming friend to moticate each other. We have an amazing cast on this thing. Jody Ashworth, Jill Gioia from TSO, Al Pitrelli from TSO, Savatage and Megadeth, Michael Sadler, Ian Crichton and Jim Gilmour from Saga, James LaBrie from DT, Matt Cash from Chain and Maya Haddi from 13 Days. I have several tracks done and a lot more to go...

PPO: When should these releases be available?

chain.exe should be a july release.
Babysteps...I have several tracks done and a lot more to go...we are looking at a fall release.

PPO: Any plans of playing live with Chain?

Not really. It would be way cool, but we are in different countries and it would take me out of the studio for way too long. I have a lot of stuff to do.

PPO: Are there any other musicians you’d like to work with?

Absolutely. In my wildest dreams I'd like to work with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Steve Morse. Kevin Moore has a very cool sense for modern production methods and a collaboration with him would be cool. When it comes to vocalists I would love to work with David Coverdale, I love his voice. Something that I would be very interested in is to produce an album with Devin Townsend. He has a very unique style and is one of the few innovative artists out there. I can imagine a very agressive album with a lot of production gimmicks but also some very strong melodic content.

PPO: What will be your next challenge in music?

...to find the time to realize all the ideas I have in my head. After Babysteps is done I will produce a modern country album with Matt Cash, he has some amazing material. Maya Haddi is one of the strongest female vocalists I know producing her album is long overdue. James and I have talked about a second Frameshift album when the time is right. After working with Mike Keneally on the new Chain album I would like to do some more work with him...please...someone....stop me...

PPO: Thanks for this interview. I wish you all the best and hope to hear lot’s of great music from you.

Thank you very much for this opportunity to ramble on about what I do...