Guitarist Glen Drover has been in numerous bands over the years, from King Diamond to Eidolon to Megadeth. His latest project is Walls Of Blood, who released their debut album Imperium earlier this year. There are seven different vocalists including Chuck Billy (Testament), Todd LaTorre (Queensryche), Tim “Ripper” Owens and Henning Basse (Firewind). I spoke with Drover about the album and other topics.
Chad Bowar: You worked on the Walls Of Blood album for a few years. How did it get started?
Glen Drover: It started with me just wanting to redo this one track. Me and Shawn (Drover) used to have this band called Eidolon. We did several albums for Metal Blade in the early 2000s. There was one song off an earlier album that we did and I never liked the vocals. I thought I’d really like to redo the song one day because I love the music, but the vocals weren’t cutting it. Henning Basse is from Metalium and Firewind. This was when we started to get into this whole long distance collaboration thing where you can send files to somebody where you do something and then they do something. So, what happened was I said, hey, if I send you this track, do have the means to be able to do recordings? He said yeah, I have a setup at home for vocals. So I sent him that track, it came back and I flew in his tracks into the session and put it together and was really excited about it.
Not only is Henning a great singer, but I always loved that concept of being able to do that kind of collaboration, experiment with working with people in a long distance kind of situation. So it started from there. And then about a year later, I asked Todd from Queensryche if he would be down to do a song and we did one together and same thing, it came out great. At that point I decided I’m going to do a full album of this. I had one song with Henning and one with Todd. Okay, what if we do 10 songs with 10 different singers? That was the original idea for this concept. In the end it turned out to be seven singers and 10 songs. Henning did three of them. When you’re dealing with this kind of situation, doing a long distance collaboration, sometimes they’re going to work and sometimes they’re not. And a couple didn’t. But for the most part, everything turned out great, so I’m very happy about that.
What inspired you to pick the Alice In Chains song “Junkhead” to cover?
I know a singer, this guy Lance (Harvill) who’s a buddy of mine. When I was in King Diamond, the drummer at the time was John Luke Hebert. Lance is one of his really good friends and I met him through John and realized he’s a really good singer and kept that in the back of my mind that maybe one day we could do something together. Then I started working with this one person and the material was really in the vein of the older Alice In Chains stuff. The thing with Lance is he’s really good at doing the chameleon thing. He can imitate different singers. He has different personalities with his voice. So I thought maybe I should get this guy as a session singer. And then while we’re doing it, I’m listening to it. I’m like, wow, he sounds so much like Layne Staley it’s scary. I thought it’d be really cool to do one of the songs from the Dirt album just for fun. Initially it was just done for fun without really any expectations of doing anything. Let’s have some fun with this. And then it turned out so well that I had to have this on the album.
How did you come to sign with Metalville Records for the album?
Chris Caffrey from TSO/Savatage did an album with them just recently and I thought, okay, if he’s doing that, it must be a cool situation so I’m going to scope that out. And to be honest, quite a few labels didn’t really like the whole idea of having multiple singers, being more of a project initially. I think it’s a cool concept but a lot of them come from more of the angle of you can’t really tour behind this. You’re not going to bring all these different singers, obviously of course. If I was to play some shows I would streamline and have one lineup, kind of like what Jake E. Lee did.
He did form the lineup for the band on the first album, but he also had a bunch of guests on the album, too. And I think he was testing the waters himself after being out of the game for quite a while. I think he’s probably checking it out and having a bit of fun with having some different guests. And then the second album, it’s all just the actual four guys. Is it possible I could do that? Yeah. But initially being the way it is, some of them didn’t really know what to do with it. But Metalville were really cool and seemed to really like the idea and there you have it. So far, so good. They’re great and I’m really happy with the way everything has turned out so far.
Two months after the release, how would you evaluate the response to the album?
Everybody’s going to have their own little criticism here and there, but overall it’s been very, very positive. I kind of knew that was going to happen going in because I knew it was a strong record. I’d spent six years with a lot of these songs and I knew, just like when I did the Metalusion album, which took about three years. These songs grew with me and I knew that they were good songs. Every song pulls its weight, as far as I’m concerned, because as you know, you please yourself first. You have to do that if it’s going to be honest and true. You’ve got to please yourself first. You have to believe in it, and if other people like it, that’s great, too. But initially it’s very selfish where I have to be happy and excited about it. I don’t do it for any other reason than the love of music and what I do. Because these days especially it’s a tough game out there, so you have to do it for the right reasons.
So now that you’ve had such a good response to the Walls Of Blood album, does that make you want to do another one?
Yeah, but I don’t know if it’s going to be an album with a bunch of singers on it. I’ve done that now. Just like the instrumental album that I did. I’m really proud of that record. Will I do another one? I do have some material that I’m working on and, and could possibly complete another one. But if I didn’t I’d be happy with what I have because I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, which was putting out an album that I can listen to down the road and still like it. And that’s the case with the Metalusion album. I did that in 2011 and I am still very proud of it as I am really proud of this record.
I wasn’t thinking it was going to take that long. It took six years because of some of my procrastination. If I don’t feel like doing anything, I don’t do it. I record and do all the stuff when I feel like I want to do it, it’s never forced. I was dealing with the fact that there were multiple singers. For example, Chuck Billy from Testament, he’s touring and doing stuff all the time, so sometimes I have to wait for them to have a free spot with their schedules. And the fact that they did it, they’ve been nice enough to do that, I really appreciate that and they all know that. So that was involved too, obviously. It takes a little longer when you’re dealing with all these different singers. And like I said, there was a couple of situations that didn’t work out and I had to get other singers to do those particular songs. .
How long have you had your own studio?
I’ve been doing what I guess what you call the home studio engineering/recording thing since the early ’90s. When I started it was very uncommon, but now it’s computer based recording and everybody’s doing it. But when I started, it was tape machines. I started with reel to reel and in the mid-’90s ADAT was a new thing. I got multiple machines. I went up from 8 track to 16 to 24. Along the way it’s evolved from different formats of tape machines, and then finally to ProTools. And as much as I love the old school way of recording, it’s hard to go back in some ways, especially with the editing features that you have nowadays. It’s pretty much impossible to do a lot of those things with tape machines. It’s hard to go back. They both have their pros and cons, but I think there are more pros than cons with using ProTools compared to tape machines and all that.
As a producer, how would you characterize your style?
I would say that years ago I was very hardcore. It was a rule that when I did a rhythm track, I had to go from the beginning to the end without punching in. I was very anal with a lot of these different things. Now I think I’ve loosened up a little bit, but not to the point where you’re going to listen to something and go, wow, it doesn’t sound quite as tight. All those elements have to be there, obviously. But sometimes I’ll cut a corner here and there. But that’s okay, I have no problem doing that. I have a problem when people can’t really do it for real. If you can’t really pull it off and you’re doing something and you catch something by fluke, that’s cheating. If you could play it and if you do a little punch in here and there, that’s really not a big crime. There’s a lot of abuse in ProTools and these kind of platforms these days with auto tuning and so forth. But I haven’t lost that vision of how I want to accomplish things or how I want to hear how things sound at the end of the day.
It used to be that one of the concerns in recording an album was having to duplicate what you do in the studio in a live environment. But it seems like so many more bands these days are using tracks and things like that live. How do you feel about that?
It all depends on what you’re talking about. If you’re talking about tapes being used for atmosphere or stuff like that, or certain things that were done in the recording, ear candy stuff, and you want to reproduce the song as close as you can to where it sounds just like the record, that’s not a problem. But when you start replacing vocals, that’s when we get into the cheating thing. I think you’re robbing the people a little bit. But again, it all depends on the situation. But I think for the most part, if you’re a touring band, you obviously want to have that in mind that I don’t know if we should do this or this because I’m not sure if we can reproduce that. We don’t have enough personnel, etc. You should definitely have these things in mind. But like I said, it all depends on the situation.
Are there any other groups or projects you’re currently working on that you’d like to mention?
Just the instrumental thing, which would be a followup to the 2011 album. But I don’t know if and when that’s going to be released. But there is some stuff that I have been working on and that could see the light of day at some point. But I’ve just been working on it at my leisure. So right now all the focus is on the promotion of the Walls Of Blood album that I’m really happy with.
(interview published May 6, 2019)
Listen To Walls Of Blood – “Waiting To Die” (featuring Testament’s Chuck Billy)