It’s been a while since things have been updated here. We all hope everyone had a nice holiday season and your 2013 is off to a good start!
We’re kicking off 2013 here with some new music from Mastermind guitarist Bill Berends. The Kickstarter campaign to fund the release (see previous blog entry) was a resounding success and Bill’s new solo album In My Dreams I Can Fly is available now. You can check out music samples and purchase CD’s or downloads on CD Baby and a variety of other sources.
Lots of melodic tunes and guitar work on this album, and although it’s more straight forward rock compared to Mastermind releases, so far feedback from Mastermind fans has ranged from positive to highly enthusiastic. Read the first review here for a more objective view and stop by CD Baby to hear some samples.
Prog-rock fans may know Jason Gianni, the drummer on this album, from his work with the Neal Morse Band. Jason is a real powerhouse and gives the album a different feel, making it more of a ‘solo album’ rather than a reworked Mastermind release. It’s generally an upbeat and positive sounding album… “Joyful” was the word Keiko Kumagai of Ars Nova used to describe it when she heard it. It’s also a good album to play in the car! It just may get you where you’re going a bit faster, so check it out.
In Mastermind news… there is no news really. There is a new album in the works, but it seems to be painfully slow going for a variety of reasons. But it will come, sooner or later. There is lots of new music written. The Berends Brothers Band has been playing a few old Mastermind tunes in their live set, but that doesn’t always go over so well in mixed company. Rich Berends has been playing with the Philly metal outfit “Frost Giant”, his son-in-law’s band, and Bill is gigging with Treasures of the Spirit Mahavishnu tribute, but there are currently no concrete plans for any future Mastermind shows. That could change.
If there was a good reason to get Mastermind up and running again it could be done. We could have a concert set ready to go in a fairly short period of time… make us an offer! But playing out locally as a progressive band, in all honesty, there isn’t much of a demand for it. So we will continue to make recordings and see where the road leads us. Never say never. Thanks for reading, check out the links above, and best wishes for 2013! -Bb
ps: Mastermind’s 2010 release Insomnia is also available on CD Baby now.
Less than 26 hours left to go till my solo album Kickstarter campaign wraps up! I couldn’t just leave things hanging with the last video, so here’s a post storm wrap up. It’s been a long, stressful month, but I am super pleased with the outcome!!! If you haven’t already, please get your pre-orders in now, if possible, it may be a while before normal sales begin… however, I may continue pre-orders on my web site ( billberends.com )for another week or so. Check there in a few days to see if that comes together. For now, please go check the kickstarter page here… http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/billberends/1920478859/
Again, many MANY THANKS (!) and a garland of martian fire flowers to everyone who kicked in to help bring this album to life!! You guys ROCK!!!
Hi folks!! My solo album on Kickstarter as mentioned below has reached its target goal, so this CD will be happening and I couldn’t be more pleased!! You guys are awesome!!! THANKS to ALL of you who helped me reach my goal!!
Now solidly in the funded zone there is still a week to go on Kickstarter and I am cautiously optimistic about hitting a stretch goal of $3,000, in fact, it’s more than halfway there now. So while I am sitting here waiting for hurricane Sandy to come kick my ass (yikes!) I made a new video for your amusement with hopes that a few more folks and Mastermind fans will kick in with pledges and pre-orders before November 5th. Hoping all my east coast friends get thru the storm unscathed and happy Halloween to you all!
To make a pledge or pre-order a CD on kickstarter just go here… thank you!!
Thanks to those who have kicked in already!! Be safe in the storm and wish me luck!
Hi folks, Bill Berends here. I’d like to tell you that I have finally finished my solo album of guitar instrumentals!! I’ve been hinting around at it for awhile now, well… now it is done! But rather than go the traditional route of trying to find a record label, I want to bring the music directly to you and I am asking for your help. I am now taking pre-orders on Kickstarter to raise the funds to get the CD pressed and I am hoping you will participate.
The album is called In My Dreams I Can Fly and features 12 brand new original instrumental works for electric guitar. Sort of in the vein of Joe Satriani or Eric Johnson perhaps, but with my own style and substance. I’ve put a lot of work into it and think it turned out nicely.
There are two videos on Kickstarter that feature sound clips from the album and a bit of a presentation by yours truly. The one down at the bottom seems to be getting the most interest, so please, stop by and have a listen. And, if you could, help me get the word out by sharing anywhere you can… forums, music blogs, facebook, myspace, anyplace. Thanks. The funding drive ends at Midnight, November 5th, 2012 so there isn’t a whole lot of time!!
This is an all-or-nothing proposition with Kickstarter, so your money is not at risk. I either reach my goal and the CD gets pressed, or I don’t – in which case you won’t be charged. I really hope you can help me bring it to fruition by placing a pre-order now. I think it’s a great album that Mastermind fans can enjoy, but it’s good for classic rockers as well, and certainly for guitar enthusiasts! For prog fans I am pleased mention I have Jason Gianni of the Neal Morse band helping me out on drums for this record and Jason kicks ass!
I really hope I can get the CD out to you THIS year because this is a very important record for me. After this album gets released there will be a new Mastermind album coming, possibly next year, but a lot depends on if I can get this new album funded, so I am asking for your help. Thanks for reading and go check it out!
I can’t believe it’s been a full year since I’ve made any kind of commentary on the state of Mastermind. Since we haven’t been actively performing live I guess there isn’t much to talk about, but I do update things more frequently over on my personal web site. Please take a moment to visit and check the News link for the most recent updates on billberends.com
Our most recent Mastermind release Insomnia (2010) received a lot of nice reviews and we all thought it was a pretty good album! But with the state of the record business today combined with no live support, I don’t feel like it reached its potential. A shame really, because there is some nice stuff on it. If you still haven’t purchased a copy, I hope you will consider it. Visit the Mastermind store for details. Prices have recently been lowered as well.
2012 marks the 25th Anniversary (!) of the first Mastermind release Volume One and I would like to do something to commemorate the occasion. Twenty five years is a long time and although I am certainly not in the same headspace as when we first set out, I am still proud of these works. I still hear from fans all around the world and am extremely grateful and appreciative of their continued interest in what Mastermind produced. It is gratifying to know we reached so many people over the years. Thank you all.
Over the past 25 years there have been many changes: in personnel, in approach, in purpose. The saturation of the prog-rock market place. The never ending battle with other people calling themselves ‘mastermind’. You would think the internet and Google search didn’t exist in some parts of the world! But these morons severely diminished our ‘brand’ value in the market place. Unfortunately. Trying to accommodate other people in an effort to hold a band together. It is exhausting. But more significantly, changes with the music buying public in the 21st Century have made it extremely difficult to get ahead with recorded music which makes the challenge of presenting new original music all that much more difficult. All of these things have been contributing factors to our apparent disappearance.
Mastermind as a living, performing entity basically came to an end in 2007 after twenty years due to the loss of personnel. That was really the final blow in many ways, although we did go on to release another album in 2010. I just didn’t have the mental wherewithal to begin again from scratch. Combined with the geo-economic limitations of finding new players and difficulties getting the Insomnia album released properly, I needed to shift gears and step back from the situation. However, that doesn’t negate our past as if it never existed.
If someone were to approach us with an economically viable proposition I’m sure we could pick up and be rolling again in no time. Just putting that out there. But it isn’t something I have been actively pursuing for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is Rich simply doesn’t have the time these days, and going out and playing all the old tunes again doesn’t really appeal to me as much as creating something entirely new.
Having said all this, I haven’t stopped making music for one second. Rich and I went on a tangent for a few years playing classic rock locally as The Berends Brothers Band and it was good fun. For a while. It took me back to why I began playing music in the first place and concentrating solely on guitar has made me a better player I think. We can still do that at the drop of a hat… but after five years, once again I feel like it is time to move forward.
I have to admit I am pretty disappointed with some people who I thought were friends and supporters, deserting us simply because… what? Because we tried some new things? Adding something new to the equation doesn’t delete the whole formula. But that’s just the way it goes I suppose. We’ve also met many new, enthusiastic fans and friends over the past few years, so I guess it equals out. I’m sure we’ve confused a lot of people along the way.
This really isn’t a lament so much as reflecting, although there are some things I regret. Ultimately, I would much rather struggle with creation than be stuck regurgitating the past. Do that thing that you do. Giving recitals, essentially. Even if that creation doesn’t fit neatly into a prefab marketing niche. I guess that is my cross to bear for following the muse.
Wrapping up I will mention a few things in the works. My first “Bill Berends” solo album is nearly complete and I plan to get that out there this year sometime. I also have a vast wealth of new material in waiting as well as writing new music on a fairly consistent basis. I just need to work out a reliable method of presenting it without simply giving it away for free. I don’t accept the ‘new paradigm’ and refuse to do that. I’ve worked too long and too hard.
There IS some new music also, that is obviously meant to be new Mastermind material. Either a final chapter or a new beginning. Hard to say which at this point. We started demoing it a a while ago, but things kind of ground to a halt for various reasons. One way or another, I intend to see it completed. I also intend to at least present some of the archives before the end of the year to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Mastermind band. How things will pan out in the future remains to be seen, but I hope some of you will come along for the ride. Again, many thanks for your interest in my music and Mastermind.
ps: drop us a line, leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.
As mentioned in a few posts below, Mastermind has contributed an exclusive, brand new instrumental track to our current label, Lion Music’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami benefit album which was released on CD Friday June 17, 2011. This is a two CD package with a plethora of artists from the Lion Music label and more, consisting entirely of tracks created and donated specifically for this effort.
We are honored to be a part of this project as the fans in Japan have been very good to Mastermind over the years. I personally was horrified when I first heard the news as I have maintained many friendships in Japan and am still in close contact with a few. Watching the images come in from these devastating events literally keep me awake at night. I was quite relieved to learn over time, none of my friends were hurt, but not everyone was so lucky.
Our track “Time Stands Still” was written and recorded in April 2011 specifically at Lion’s request for this album. At first I felt something dark and tragic might be appropriate as that was how these events made me feel… but then I thought, why add to the misery? So what we came up with is more upbeat and positive, but you can feel the tension grow as it builds to the moment when… time stands still. I can only imagine the horror.
You will have to buy the CD (or download it [legally, hopefully]) to understand what I am describing. In a technical sense, like the earliest Mastermind recordings, it was just Rich and Bill (yours truly) in the studio together. This was the fastest way to get it together and, as I’ve hinted around at in earlier postings, another step towards a new musical future. I will say that if you are a fan of the Excelsior! album, then this track should appeal to you.
In any case, it is a worthy cause and all proceeds from the album sales will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. We hope you will choose to help out by checking out our latest musical offering. Our hearts go out to the suffering in Japan. Japanese are a strong people and shall recover, but there is a long way to go yet. This effort may not turn the tide of history, but every little bit helps. Won’t you help out by purchasing a copy? Thank you. -Bill
Check out this 5 star review on YTSEJAM.
Order yours now from CDBaby.
While recording a new Mastermind track exclusively for the upcoming Lion Music Japanese tsunami benefit album I was reminded of another track we recorded many moons ago. An instrumental entitled “Miles To Go Before I Sleep” exclusive to the 3rd Cyclops Records (UK) label sampler and never released anywhere else. It seems as relevant to us now as it did 15 years ago. Since it’s a youtube world, here’s a quick video to keep your eyes happy as well…
We have now made this track available again for the first time since 1996 on our bandcamp download page… http://mastermind.bandcamp.com/track/miles-to-go-before-i-sleep
We hope you enjoy it and also hope you will check out the tsunami benefit album, primarily because it is a very worthy endeavor! But also because, much like this track, it is another exclusive instrumental piece we are quite pleased with and want you to hear. It might almost seem like these one-off recordings mark turning points in our musical direction… could be!
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here about Mastermind, so it’s time to catch up. We are pleased the Insomnia album received so many nice reviews! But reviews aren’t sales and we hope more of you will pick up a copy. It is a good modern sounding rock album with plenty of our old progressive tendencies mixed in. Some people think it is our best work, others think we strayed too far off our original path. Regardless, we think it’s a good and pretty unique sounding record, so we hope you’ll check it out at least. There are lots of sales links, or purchase direct, in the Mastermind store and, if you read some of the earlier blogs there are places online you can give it a listen (youtube *cough cough*) before purchasing.
In terms of live performance, we’ve still been playing together, Rich and I, just not under the Mastermind moniker. People wonder what has happened with the band and I suppose some explanation is required. It basically boils down to you can only do the same thing for so long. As the past few albums attest, we have been exploring different musical elements. That combined with the difficulties of finding and keeping good people to work with as a live band, it was just all too much really. As much as I really do enjoy a bulk of the music we’ve produced over the years, not all of it is something I want to play night after night even if we could get it together and, the female singer thing is not something I really want to continue with. At least not in the ‘frontman’ kind of capacity. It distracts from what it is I really want to do musically, regardless of how you feel it may or may not add to the band. So we fell into kind of a state of limbo with no clear direction. I am the first to admit… that sucks.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; if each Mastermind album is kind of a compositional opus, say something akin to a symphony or collection, then I’ve written some music that features a female voice. But I’ve written far more music that does not. So I beg your indulgence and hope our old fans will hang with us and new fans are not too upset. The core of Mastermind is, and always was, my compositions combined with Rich’s drumming style. Period. Anything and anyone else beyond that is subject to change at any time. So if you can wrap your head around that you’ll have a much better understanding of what it is we do. It’s always been like that, no matter how it may appear otherwise. OK, let’s move on…
As lots of folks know, especially locally, we’ve been performing as The Berends Brothers Band doing a variety of mostly old cover music that we simply enjoy playing. It gets us out, makes a little money, and more importantly, it has allowed me to explore different things to rediscover just what it is I loved about playing music in the first place. It’s made me a much better guitar player I think, and we’re exposing people, especially younger people, to music they probably have never heard performed live. Plus it’s a lot of fun to have the flexibility to play anything and switch up the repertoire at whim. So we’ve launched a new web site for that band which I’m sure will grow as time goes on: http://berendsbrosband.com
I’ve also been playing with G. Calvin Weston, a killer jazz drummer from Philadelphia in a band called Treasures of the Spirit performing a repertoire of music from The Mahavishnu Orchestra. It’s been good for my chops and my journey of musical rediscovery. That kind of overlaps into what the Berends Bros Band is doing to some degree in that The Berends Bros reaches into fusion-like territory quite often within the context of the music that we play. Come out and see either band and I don’t think you will be disappointed.
In terms of Mastermind we’ve recently recorded some new music, just Rich and I, more in the vein of some of our older stuff and have contributed a brand new instrumental track to our label Lion Music’s Japanese Tsunami benefit album. I will post a separate entry about that right above this one. So do not despair, Mastermind isn’t finished yet, we just needed to reevaluate where we were and where we were headed. To some who were fans of the 2005 era line up this may be a disappointment, for others it could be considered a return to form. In any case new music is on the way and I am finally feeling somewhat inspired again.
So visit the schedule page on my website for upcoming shows. There is also a Bill Berends solo record in the works that musically speaking, probably falls somewhere in the middle of all this… a bit bluesy, a bit progressive, a bit hard rock. I think it’s good stuff and hope to see that released sometime this year. Otherwise, thanks again for your continued interest in Mastermind and if at all possible, if we can get it together, we will be back sooner or later!
Happy New Year everybody!
2010 was a great year for Mastermind because we finally saw the release of the long awaited Insomnia album by Lion Music. As is customary at the end of the year, critics, DJ’s, etc compile their “best of the year” lists. We are pleased to know Insomnia made at least a few of these lists! Music critic Chris Latta, who wrote a very nice review at suite101.com, included Insomnia in his Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2010 saying…
“Mastermind’s newest album is dramatically different when compared to their prog metal past. While the band does occasionally show off some technicality, the songwriting on this album is much more accessible and has a really modern feel thanks to the vocals of Tracy McShane. In a perfect world, this album would be a massive hit and one can only hope that the band will build up some momentum with this release.”
Yes, we can only hope!! Thanks Chris. Also, Delicious Agony Radio’s “Rickter Scale” show hosted by Rick Dashiell lists Insomnia track “Desire” in his Top 40 of the Year… nice! Thanks Rick. So we are pleased to know at least a few people are enjoying the album. If you visit the reviews page here on this site you will see there are quite a few others that seem to appreciate the album as well. Thank you all! Now if only the rest of the world would catch on.
If you haven’t heard the album yet we encourage you to go have a listen.
Otherwise, we are still hoping to get Mastermind live off the ground sometime this year if possible, and news about other projects such as The Berends Brothers Band can be found on guitarist Bill Berends newly updated website; billberends.com
Best wishes to all for the new year… here’s to more music on 2011!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LFGh9_Q_7Q (stop by and give it a thumbs up!)
Then check out this thoughtful new Mastermind Insomnia review at suite101.com. Very nice.
And finally, for those who haven’t picked up a copy of the new album (yet), head on over to our youtube page for a preview (let the playlist run – and maybe subscribe while you’re there too – more videos to come). Then come on back and stop by the Mastermind store to grab a copy (or three, it just might make a nice Christmas present for someone!). Thanks!
Enjoy.. and spread the word!