Interview with Charlie Dominici by Danny (25-04-2008)Charlie Dominici just released the third part of his Trilogy O3. So there’s a lot to talk about with the ex-Dream Theater singer.
(if you still want to buy the first part of the trilogy, you can only buy it from Charlie personally. If you email him, you can get an autographed copy of that first acoustic album. There aren’t many left.
His email address: Charlie©dominici.com )
His website: www.dominici.com
His MySpace: www.myspace.com/charliedominicimusic We didn’t quite know if we had to put your album on our Metal- or on our prog site, so it’s on both. I would say it’s more metal?
I think it’s melodic progressive metal. Maybe we created a new genre, I don’t know.
Let’s talk about Dominici in a chronological way. But let’s skip the Dream Theater period, because this is a Dominici interview.
Yes, I talked about Dream Theater enough. Doesn’t it annoy you to always have to talk about them?
It doesn’t annoy me. It’s understandable, because the only thing anyone could talk to me about was my time with DT. But the last two and a half years have changed that and I’m very pleased that my time with DT has now finally become a thing of the past and I’m officially a recording artist in my own rights now. What did you do after DT and before your first acoustic solo album?
I wasn’t happy, I was burnt out. Most people think I just popped up with that DT album, but I had been in the music business years before that. Most of it without compensation or recognition. So we decided that things weren’t working out together. So I decided to earn some money and have a life. So that’s what I did. I worked myself into a high position and had a very good life in San Diego, driving a fancy car and living in a wealthy area. But I wasn’t happy. And after ten years, I realised that I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t doing my art, my music. I wasn’t the artist, the creative person that I am and money wasn’t going to fill that hole. I decided to give up all that and sold everything. So I’m broke again, right now. ;-)So that’s why your first album was recorded acoustically?
Well, I recorded it acoustically because I had no band. So I bought myself a computer recording program, a mixing board, some recording equipment and a 5000 dollar Martin acoustic guitar. And I proceeded to write and record, what turned out to be a trilogy, which I didn’t know at first. I finished 45 to 60 minutes of music and I realised I wasn’t even halfway through the story. So it became a trilogy like “Star Wars” or “Lord of the Rings”. So I released it under my own record label. I’m the producer, the writer and I did the album cover myself, my wife took the picture. People responded to it, a lot of people were shocked by it, so I realised I needed a band for the next part. And then suddenly you find the most incredible musicians.
Yes, I found some pretty good guys.How did you get in touch with them?
That was an interesting story, almost a fairy-tale. I was talking to Mike Portnoy, one night, backstage, and I said I needed a band. And he said: “Why don’t you put an ad on the Italian Dream Theater fan site.” At that time, there were many Dream Theater tribute bands around, but the last thing I wanted was a DT cover band, because I wanted to get away from all that. But I thought, what the hell, I give it a shot. and I got a lot of response, from complete bands and musicians. But I didn’t want people spread all over Europe and most of them were. Just when I was going to give up, I got a package from a band called Solid Vision. They were playing progressive rock, not quite as metal as we turned out to be. They were looking for a side project. And everything was perfect, they had always been together, they had their own equipment and their recording studio, so it was an ideal situation. So I called them and nobody spoke English. I had to communicate with their uncle. I bought a ticket to the middle of nowhere, an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. (Cagliari Sardinia) I stayed there with people I had never met, in a house that I’d never been to and nobody in the band spoke my language. So that was pretty crazy. But when we started playing, the music did the talking. The rest is history.You recorded your album in Italy, mixed it in Germany. It’s all international.
Well, I’m from New York. I was living in San Diego. They are living in Sardinia. The guitar player and the drummer are from Switzerland. The keyboard player was born in Peru and was brought up in Sardinia. The bass player is the only true born Sardinian.
It’s amazing how we were brought together by fate and how well we get along. We have the similar sense of humour. We’re all on the same level although they are a lot younger than me.
(Photo by Véronique Broquet)And you also got a deal with InsideOut?
Yes, and it was all based on some instrumental material. They had faith in me because of the strength of my reputation and because of my previous work with DT. Let’s talk about your concept now. Your trilogy is called O3, which is ozone. But it’s not only about global warming?
Actually, it’s not about global warming at all. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ozone layer. It’s a common misconception and understandable. O3 is ozone and it’s created through lightning and thunderstorms. But man has also learned how to create it. When the O3 hits the water it’s reverted back to O2, oxygen, and it kills bacteria. So it’s harmless, once it has killed the bacteria. That’s the natural process. But according to my theory in my story, these so-called terrorists have figured out a way to chemically alter the O3, so that it changes everything in O3 instead of O2, creating a deadly gas that chokes and kills everything and destroys the world.
In the beginning of the story, you think it’s only one guy who has to do this O3 thing, but in part 3, you discover that he’s just one of seven. The other six use different methods to destroy the world. Interesting, complex story, which will take a while for people to understand it. What’s so special about the year 2012?
The Mayans were very intelligent and there are many who believe that they were in touch with aliens and got a lot of their information and science. The Mayan calendar from the Inca tribes of the Yucatan, which is one of the places where the early tribes of men originated, doesn’t go any further than December 24th 2012. It’s not the end of the world but the end of that calendar. The reason for it is that there is a great shift of consciousness, an awakening. The story of O3 is kind of a mirror of what’s been happening from the early seventies up to the year 2012. When you watch the news, you see these things progressing and these prophecies coming through, little by little. So I kind of tied it all together using Nostradamus, the Bible, the Koran and all of these religious books. With all this research I putted together my own little story with all the information as a backdrop. So that’s why there’s a link to Michael Sharp’s book “The Great Awakening” on your site?
The book is something I found afterwards as an affirmation. I didn’t use it as a source.
(Photo by Véronique Broquet)So the prisoner is one of the seven angels of death?
Yes, it turns out that he’s one of the angels. It’s a metaphorical character. If you read the bible about the seven angels, we see them as spirits with wings. But it’s a little easier to believe that a man from a foreign country would be involved in this global terror plot. So the angels of death are human beings, captured by the alien creators and brainwashed with their task.And Anthony Dam is the good guy?
In the beginning of the story he’s an alcoholic, drug addict, detective, who seems to be a very small character in the story, but as the story unfolds, he actually becomes the main character. When the seven angels carry out their plot and the world is destroyed, Anthony Dam just happens to be abducted and he’s aboard the alien ship. So he’s the only survivor and carrier of the human DNA. When he was put back on the earth, he had a shirt with only his initials on it, being A. Dam, which is Adam. And that gave some reactions like: “oh, my God, how dare you, blasphemy,…” So you’re not really religious? Because there’s quite often referred to God on part 3.
Of course, but it’s not me referring to God, it’s the characters in the story. You’re not stepping in the footsteps of Neal Morse?
I know him, because he’s on the same label as I am, but I don’t know his music. I don’t listen to music a lot. When I was out of the music business, I was working very hard and I only listened to the favourite stuff from when I was a kid. ( Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors). The only new stuff I listened to was Dream Theater, because I was curious what my friends were doing. And I was back in music, I didn’t have time, because I was writing my own thing. And I don’t wanna be influenced by other bands.
A few months ago, I discovered Ayreon on MySpace and he’s writing about the same alien DNA stuff. I’m glad I didn’t find him earlier, because I might have been influenced.Do you write all the music? Or is the band also contributing during this process?
I’m writing all the lyrics. The band has no contribution to the lyrics or the story, what’s so ever. They couldn’t anyway because they don’t write or speak English. But the music is written together. For part two, it w as mainly me, Brian and Yan, but for part three, everyone helped with the compositions. Is there a tour coming up for the part three?
Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t know. I hope so.Do you know Thomas Ewerhard (artwork) personally?
He jumped in, out of the blue. When I was mixing part two, he sent me an email with a cover. And I loved the background, but if I was going to use it, I wanted to change a few things. I created the atomic earth symbol and asked Thomas to incorporate it. And I told him what I wanted on the pages on the inside. For part three, he only acted as graphic artist because he only did what I told him. The cover was also my idea, this time.
(Photo by Zoltan Brinner)Underneath your lyrics (on a page for reviewers) there’s one line: “Please be kind to Animals!”.??
This has become very important to me. I’m an animal activist. I lost a lot of faith in human beings. There’s a lot of cruelty. A lot of my personal attitude has come out in the story. It’s like the aliens say: “We gave you wild life companions, but you’re cruel to them. We are not pleased with you.” This is like a personal statement of my own. I’m not pleased with the way man treats animals. I have chosen the side of the animal world against mankind. If one of them has to go, I would say, let the animals exist. Because animals are beautiful, pure, innocent, loving creatures. So, I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t have a good attitude against my fellow men. If you want to be my friend, you need to be kind to animals. That’s my attitude and it means a lot to me.
Ten years from now, you may take your kid to the zoo and your kid may say: “Where are the tigers?”, then you have to admit that there haven’t been tigers on the earth since the last ten years. Right now, they are almost extinct. If people don’t get aware of these things, more and more animals will become extinct. And more and more of those who are here are being mistreated. And that’s so wrong. They don’t deserve that. But in 2012 mankind will also be extinct?
No, that’s not true, it’s not the end of the world. It’s a shift of consciousness. People will be forced to start to change their way of thinking. You lost your cat, Tigger?
Yes. It’s been a while and I’m still not over it and I don’t know if I ever will. If you have children, you will know what I mean if I say that losing my cat was like losing a four year old child.
She is also part of the artwork of the last album. On the last page, there’s a picture of Adam in the garden of Eden and there’s a little striped cat sitting there, and that’s a picture of my cat, Tigger.One last question. After you’ve done a lot of interviews, is there a question you wanted to be asked but no one asked?
That’s an interesting question. And in fact, there is. If you would ask me if this whole trilogy takes place in this time period, my answer would be, possibly yes and possibly not. Because the story could also happen in 2022 or 2032. A.Dam becomes Adam in the garden of Eden. So the question is, is this happening in the future? Or did the trilogy happen before Adam and Eve? Or is it happening over and over again?An interview with an open ending. ;-)). Thanks a lot Charlie for your time.www.dominici.com