Archive for the 'history' Category
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.1 comment
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!No comments
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!
This performance at Shibuya On Air West (Japan) became the Live In Tokyo album. Now after all this time you can actually see it! Hooray for the internets. More to come. Enjoy!
Stop by youtube leave a comment and subscribe to our channel. Thanks!No comments
09/09/09! Wow, time sure flies… I haven’t blogged here in months. Probably because nothing concrete has been going on in the world of Mastermind the band, but lots of little things have happened over the last few months, so here are some quick updates…
We’ve got a new download page at bandcamp.com which is very user friendly. There you can listen (free) and download Mastermind in a variety of formats [mp3, VBR, ACC, Ogg, Flac, Apple Lossless] for just one low price. The URL is easy to recall: mastermind.bandcamp.com and 100% of your purchase price goes directly into our artist Paypal account which is nice.
There is also an option to pay whatever you’d like above the suggested price if you’d care to help fund future endeavors. We hope some of you choose that option! There are web widgets under the “Share” link so you can stream Mastermind tunes anywhere on the web. Very cool.
The complete Mastermind catalog is still at Mindawn and we’re pleased with them, but we want to reach more people – so check out mastermind.bandcamp.com – you’ll like it. We’ll have more titles online soon. The Broken EP is also now available as mp3 from Nimbit too, another site with a widget. Check that out on our digital download page.
Since we are without a record label a the moment, getting this online thing going is really our best shot at carrying on… so we do hope you choose to make a purchase! That’s the best way to show your support and improve the odds of us getting back on our feet again. Thanks.
Next up, I’ve started billberends.com in order to keep other music and personal rants out of the Mastermind legacy so to speak. Not much there now, but there will be. I have completed an instrumental guitar solo album as mentioned previously which I hope to release within my lifetime. If anyone would care to kick in a little funding to get things rolling, do get in touch!
I’ve also set up a blog to talk about guitars (and whatever) at billberends.blogspot.com and a new youtube channel for anything else comes that to mind at youtube.com/billberends so go have a peek. The first thing I did was a little shred video… I have some video ideas for the guitar album coming. It’s a youtube world.
Most significantly tho’ today – and I find this hard to believe myself – it’s been ten years to the day since we finished mixing Angels of the Apocalypse our last full studio release. I never expected that to be the last hurrah and still don’t feel like it was… we did finish another album, but never managed to get it released for a variety of reasons. The good news is someone has expressed an interest so there is hope it may eventually see the light of day. That would be great. Plus, we have begun recording new material as well.
Anyway… after all this time I am still amazed by the people that come out of the woodwork to express their appreciation for the music we’ve made over the years. Some are long time fans, others just discovering us, but it has been a steady flow. So I will never say never. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another ten years! Regardless of what the future holds, I thank you for your interest in Mastermind. Till next time…
ps: a couple Berends Brothers Band gigs this month too. Hope to see you there!1 comment
There are several new videos now playing on our Youtube channel. First up is classic Mastermind power trio footage from the 90′s… most people haven’t ever seen this material performed live so we figured we’d put it out there. Brainstorm is broken up into three parts (Youtube has a ten minute limit) so watch it via the Mastermind (classic) playlist and it plays the segments straight through in sequence.
The new playlists separate the various things we do so fans of the prog-rock stuff don’t have to wade thru the bluesy stuff and visa versa (tho’ we think it’s all good stuff). For fans of the ladies of Mastermind, more recent video will be up soon but we thought it would be nice to go back to the beginnings first. To see the new uploads just go right to the Mastermind (classic) playlist. Subscribe to our channel to be notified when new videos go online.
There is tons of this footage going back almost 20 years. Since it’s all analog video it isn’t quite digital quality but you’ll get the idea. Reminiscing how cool some of the the early material is, you can expect we’ll be doing some new stuff in a similar vein.
Let us know you enjoyed it, give us a few stars while you’re there!
More to come!1 comment
For the first time in eight years I feel a real sense of hope and promise for the future, that the dark clouds lingering over us all for nearly a decade are beginning to give way. I have lived the majority of my adult life under the fascist warmongering Republican right and their Neocon empire building agenda. Today I celebrate the possibilities the future holds.
I am not so naive as to think things will change overnight, nor nearly as much as I might like, but Barack Obama as President, a black President in my lifetime (!), is certainly a reason to believe things *can* change. It is no coincidence the most prolific years of Mastermind were during the Clinton administration. So drink a toast with me to the promise the future holds.
In the past two months music has been spilling out of me like water as the Neocon regime coming to an end seemed like it just might happen. I have written and assembled 3 hours of new music! At least an hour of which is destined to become new Mastermind, not to mention another two hours of music in the can. So now the task at hand is to get it all recorded and get it out there.
Rich was here and we watched Obama’s speech as the President-elect together, so I know he feels pretty much the same way I do… hopeful. We can do it. Yes we can! Hallelujah!!2 comments
It amazes me how quickly time seems to go on one hand and oh so painfully slow on the other. I can barely believe it was nine years ago today – 09/09/1999 – that I finished mixing our last full length studio release Angels of the Apocalypse. Surely it cannot have been so long ago! Yet at the same time it feels like we’ve been under the dark Neocon cloud for decades. Perhaps because we have, going back to Reagan, but I will refrain from getting into that here. It’s no secret I have deep disdain for Republicans and the people running this country so moving right along I will try to give a brief retrospective of how things came to be as they are (or are not as the case may be) regarding Mastermind.
So what did happen? The first crack in the armour was when Rich moved an hour drive away severely limiting our creative time together. Although it wasn’t apparent at first as he diligently made the drive to rehearsals and gigs, it became clear over time a few hours here and there is simply not enough time to do anything other than just run thru stuff to keep the machine running. I still had a drummer, but much less of a collaborative partner.
Adding a full time female vocalist took us too far off our original course. Not to detract from these lovely and talented women, but in retrospect a female vocalist may have been the biggest mistake we ever made. Although we were one of the first heavy bands to do so, when Evanescence hit the ensuing flood of fem-vox bands left us in the dust. Taking Mastermind out as a bar band simply to keep going was also a mistake that took us even further away from our original direction. I should have stayed home and worked on new recordings but…..
Changing over from analog tape to all computer recording also changed my work methods which slowed things down considerably. Dicking around with computers all the time was simply no fun, I’d rather just play guitar! The relentless march of digital technology and highspeed Internet also hurt the music business at large and though we completed a new album in 2004, we couldn’t get a label to pick it up. I’m not blaming this totally on labels or the Internet, the change in musical direction we were going thru was surely a contributing factor. But it didn’t help. The morphing from prog to metal was also not something I was totally comfortable with either and after a point my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
Finally, the revolving door of a half dozen bass players put a serious damper on my will to carry on. Each new player meant starting over from scratch and I just couldn’t do it again. When the last one left in January 2007 that was the death knell as I saw it and a chance to just make a clean break and start over. Rediscovering my roots with the 2005 Cream reunion I was remembering WHY I enjoyed making music in the first place, and in disconnecting my synthesizers I also rediscovered the joy of simply playing guitar. Taking a dive into the blues I grew up with has been refreshing, made me a better player, and has brought me full circle to a point where I am writing new music that I actually enjoy again. The previous blog gives some insight as to where that’s going.
So there you have it. Not that we haven’t been doing anything these past nine years! We played more live shows than ever before, recorded a whole new album, released the well received Broken EP in 2005, and put together a whole new act – The Berends Bros Band – but this date stood out to me and I felt a need to reflect on some of the things that have happened over the years. ~Bb2 comments
Five years ago today at around this exact time the United States of America – MY country – attacked Iraq in a preemptive war. I recall vividly the sinking feeling in my gut as I watched with horror the initial “shock & awe” bombardments on live television… like seeing a loved one in car accident, I could feel a dark cloud of despair move in over top of me.
This was not MY country doing this, it was the Neocons who have hijacked the place. There are a million other web sites discussing that so I won’t get into it here. What I want to say today is the dark cloud that hangs over us all really put a damper on my enthusiasm for… most things. Including making music.
I have said in passing that I am waiting out the current U.S. administration to be able to breath again and I really think this is true. Looking over old date books, the final mixing sessions for (what may someday be) the 7th Mastermind studio album were during that fateful month of March 2003. In fact they were during the two weeks preceding the attack.
There are other factors that contributed to Mastermind getting bogged down which I shall discuss at some point, but I can’t relax and feel creative when so much is wrong in the world. The insidious feeling of something major gone awry made music seem so trivial. Ignore the smoke and smile…? I couldn’t do it.
Since 9/11 (and I don’t believe the “official” story for one moment) the world is a different place. An uglier, less friendly place. And I don’t like it, not one little bit. Now I feel at least a faint glimmer of hope as the 2008 Presidential elections loom. Not that the choices are all that good, but at least it is SOME kind of change. Ron Paul is the only guy who seems to be telling the truth in any fashion, but I’m not holding my breath… oh wait, yes I am.No comments