Trans-Siberian Orchestra will release their new album, Letters From The Labyrinth, on November 13th via Universal Music. In a new interview with Live Journal, director Paul O’Neill talks about the new album. An excerpt follows:
Q: This album is a departure in that it’s your first non-rock opera. Can you explain about how the songs are separate units this time around, but all a part of a larger picture.
A: “We’re calling Letters From The Labyrinth a hybrid, an experiment. I’m giving the very first story, The Dash, and the very last story, The Dreams of Fireflies, the bedtime story that comes after “Lullaby Night,” now. All the other stories are going to arrive in between now and the next album and they’ll go up on the web site as time goes by.
“About fifteen years ago I received a letter in the mail that was sent to me by my grandmother before she had died. Somehow it got lost and I got it years after she sent it. So I figured, Letters from the Labyrinth. The labyrinth is where the Minotaur lived in Minos in Crete, I just thought, basically all these songs are going to go out and go on journeys and as their stories come back, we’ll put them up on the web site. If the songs are hits in their own ways, then great, but as we put the stories on it will give the songs an extra kick.
“There are songs that were great, but when I found out what they were about, it blew my mind. I always liked Red Hot Chili Peppers “Give it Away” and I think everyone thinks it’s about sex, but it’s not. He wrote it about materialistic things and I forgot where I read it, but I think he had a friend who gave up their possessions and it made their life so much easier. I liked the song before, but after I found out what it was really about I liked it even more.
“It’s a big experiment.
:But I’ll let these stories develop and as they come out and we write, the stories may change a little bit. But eventually, the letter that was sent out of the studio…. like I always say, bands are like marriages and songs are like children that you send out in to the world and you hope they do well. I decided to take it a step further where the songs send back letters on how they’re doing and those letters will become the story.”
Read more at Live Journal.
TSO has become one of the most successful stories in rock ‘n’ roll history. Defying the odds with each project, they continue to search for new and original ideas to bring to reality no matter how difficult the challenge. The TSO saga continues this year with a new album, Letters From The Labyrinth – yet another endeavor in creating something different. O’Neill’s inspiration for this album came out of his love for history.
As collector of antiquities and historical artifacts, he explains, “Over the years I have been able to read and hold in my hands letters from people that have inspired me and left a mark on civilization. People like Mark Twain, Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright – when I actually held a letter in my hand that President Lincoln wrote, it brought me into his world in a way I could never have imagined.”
Letters From The Labyrinth finds a conceptually provocative song cycle pushing the proverbial envelope yet again – this time with what O’Neill calls TSO’s “first hybrid album”. The overall concept is based on TSO’s Night Castle (2009) and a dialogue between the wisdom of the past and the hopes for the future, via a correspondence between a child and an old friend of the child’s grandfather.
On Letters From The Labyrinth, TSO deals with subjects as broad as humanity’s journey through the ages (“Time & Distance”), and as specific as bullying (“Not The Same”), the fall of the Berlin Wall (“Prometheus”) and the world banking controversies (“Not Dead Yet”).
“I love making music and I love making it relevant,” O’Neill says. “I always believed the arts have a way of inspiring and uniting people. We try to maintain that tradition on the albums and all the other projects we do. I think that when everything else is falling apart, people look to the arts to help make sense of things and put the events they are experiencing into some kind of context.”
“Time And Distance (The Dash)”
“Madness Of Men”
“The Night Conceives”
“Forget About The Blame”
“Not Dead Yet”
“Not The Same”
“Who I Am”