Came across this in my cyber travels... from METAL EXPRESS RADIO, Zoltan
doing the interview honors, and publication date is 1/10/06, so this thing is as
recent as it gets... somewhat personal, especially for Jim.
THE FACTS YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW BUT NEVER REALLY GOT
THE CHANCE TO ASK.
When and where were you born?
I was born in Westfield, Massachusetts on November 22nd.
ÊCan you tell me about your childhood? Were you a good or a bad kid?
I think I was probably be considered a good kid until I reached about nine or
ten and then I turned into a very bad kid. Probably like a lot of other kids at
that age I was very rebellious. I didnÕt want to do what my parents told me to
do. I didnÕt wanna go to school, I didnÕt wanna learn and I eventually ended
up dropping out of school when I was about 15. So, I only took normal public
Never even thought about continuing your studies?
No, just from a very early age I knew that I wanted to be a musician and I kind
of said to myself, ÒWhy do I need to be learning all this stuff what IÕm not
gonna be using.Ó, which looking back at it now, was kind of stupid of me. And
IÕve spent a lot of time since then studying on my own.
ÊSo, you never had any other dreams as a kid?
The first one I can really think of from an early age was a musician. Other than
that just the kidsÕ stuff. You wanna be a fireman or whatever when youÕre real
young. But from an early age I knew that I wanted to have something to do
with music. Music always had a real strong hold over me.
When was the first time you picked an instrument?
Probably right about the time when I started turning into a bad kid. (Laughs) I
think I was probably about 9 or 10.
How many instruments you play?
I would say the only one I really play is guitar. I can play some other thing like
other string instruments, but the only one IÕm relatively competent is guitar.
Do you also compose your songs on guitar?
No, I write on different instruments, because I think just the fact that IÕm not
competent on, say, piano and keyboard, if I sit down at a keyboard itÕs easier
to stumble across something and try different ideas that I wouldnÕt try on
guitar. So, itÕs more interesting for me a lot of times to try and write on
instruments that IÕm not familiar with at all.
What did your parents think about the music youÕre playing?
Both my parents are passed away now, but they were really proud of me
when they were around. But in the early days they were like any parents, they
would be worried. They were sceptical about someoneÕs making a living from
playing music. But they supported me. My dad bought me my first guitar and
they offered me to send me to music school if I wanted to go, which I wasnÕt
interested in. That was a stupid mistake on my part.
Did they go to your shows back then?
Oh yeah. They were very proud to see what IÕve become.
What were your first influences?
Well, IÕd have to say my biggest influence was probably my older brother. He
had a guitar and he was listening to bands like Black Sabbath and Emerson
Lake & Palmer, kind of heavy stuff and progressive stuff. And thatÕs kinda what
I started listening to, just because he was at the house and always playing
that kind of stuff. ThatÕs really why I first started. But then I had my own
influences after that.
ÊDo you remember the first song you ever learned to play?
No, I donÕt actually. It would probably be an early Black Sabbath song or
What was the first vinyl you ever bought?
I think the first album I ever bought was Black SabbathÕs Paranoid.
ÊAnd last CD you bought?
That would be a CD by an American country guy named Rodney Crawl.
ÊDo you purchase CDs regularly?
Yep. ThatÕs what I do all the time. I listen to a lot of different things. I listen to
country just as I mentioned this Rodney Crowell album. I listen to a lot of
bluegrass music, I listen to electronica, I listen to rock, I listen to classic. I
pretty much listen to everything besides rap, which is the only thing I donÕt
ÊCould you mention three of your all time favourite albums?
Boy, thatÕs kind of questions are really hard. ThereÕs so many different periods
and different genres. ItÕs really hard to pick. But considering early metal it
would be maybe Stained Class by Judas Priest, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by
Black Sabbath, Force It by UFO.
ÊDo you have a favourite Fates Warning record?
ThatÕs another one of those questions thatÕs really hard to answer. If I really
had to pick it would probably be A Pleasant Shade Of Grey.
ÊSo, youÕre not that kind of guy that always prefers the last one?
No, I donÕt think thatÕs necessarily true.
Is there any albums that you are not satisfied with anymore?
I would have to say that IÕm just one of those people that looks back and
always want to do things differently. But fortunately I would have to say on lot
of the back catalogue itÕs like that. I always just hear the things I donÕt like and
the things IÕd like to do different.
Even on the last one, FWX?
Yeah, sure! I can always find something. Even, I told you A Pleasant Shade of
Grey was my favourite, and still stuff on there I wish I could have done
Do you remember your first live experience as a fan?
Yeah, the first show I ever went to was actually Ronnie Montrose with
Frampton. It would have been sometimes in 1977. I was very impressed. It
was great. It was cool to be around people kind of like myself. It was the first
time IÕve ever gotten away from my school and found a bunch of other music
lovers. It was a great experience.
Do you still go to shows?
Yeah, sometimes. Not very often. I kinda live out in the middle of nowhere, so
not real close to anything. But now and then if somebody that I really like
comes around I go.
And what was your first gig as a professional musician?
First show I ever played actually in front of anybody would have been Fates
WarningÕs first show. I donÕt remember the name of the place, it was some bar
I know that itÕs impossible to pick just one, but what were your best shows with
Yeah, thatÕs definitely impossible. The shows we played in Greece have
always been great. The whole tour we did with Dream Theater and
Queensryche was fantastic for us. ItÕs really hard to pick one.
And was there any show that turned out to be a nightmare for you?
Yeah, I mean, without a doubt the worst show weÕve ever done was the show
when we opened up for Pantera in Chicago in 1989 or so. The fans wanted to
kill us. From the moment we got on stage they were basically throwing
everything they could find at us the whole time. It wasnÕt a lot of fun.
What was the best band to tour together with?
The best time weÕve ever had on the road was really the last Dream Theater/
Queensryche tour we did. Both bands are great friends and we got along
great. We had such fan with all of them.
Do you prefer playing in front of large or small audiences?
I think both have their benefits. ItÕs fun to play in front of kind of a small crowd
and be comfortable, but also the adrenaline rush when you get to play in front
of a lot of people.
What was the largest and the smallest crowd you played in front of?
The largest would probably be the year we played the Dynamo Festival in
Holland. The smallest... I donÕt know. WeÕve played to probably 20 people
WhatÕs the first thing you do after getting offstage?
I have a glass of wine. Any kind of red wine.
What was the strangest thing that ever happened to you on stage?
Strangest thing...? I donÕt know. YouÕve got me now. I havenÕt got too many
strange experiences. Having Ray fallen off from stage was a lot of fun once.
If you were up to put together an all star musician line-up, who would you go
Boy, thatÕs a tough one too. Would I have to be in it or would I not be in it?
Yeah, sure. YouÕre picking members around yourself.
Ah, itÕs around me? ThereÕs people I would certainly like to work with. IÕd love
to do something with Steve Hogarth some time in the future. HeÕs one of my
favourite vocalists. Anything with Steven Wilson is fantastic. As for other guys,
I donÕt have a list of players. IÕm working right now with people I like to work
with. ThereÕs other people IÕd like to work with in the future, but I canÕt think of
one single band IÕd love to put together.
Do you care about what the media says about your work?
To a certain extent. I read up on some of the things, but itÕs not all consuming
for me. I donÕt let it bother me. But I keep up with it and I like to see things
especially when we have a new record, I like to read reviews or reviews of
live shows. But itÕs not that important to me.
WhatÕs the most common question youÕre asked in interviews?
Tell us about the band. ItÕs kind of tiring if youÕre doing like a bunch of press
and you get people on the phone that have never heard of the band before
and they want you to give them a description of the band. They havenÕt really
done their homework I guess.
What is the best and the worst thing about being a musician?
More certainly I think the best outweighs the worst. The best would be kind of
being able to be your own boss to a certain extent. And for me personally
being able to do what I love to do. I love music and I get to do it for a living and
thatÕs really an honour. I think about that all the time. The worst thing is
probably sometimes the schedule can be a little hectic. Sometimes it can be
totally boring. I donÕt have any things to do for weeks and then other times
thereÕs just too many things to get done in one day; have to be away from
home for a long time, but thatÕs really nitpicking. I think the good outweighs
the bad. And another bad thing about it actually is just the business side of it.
The music business is a real pain in the ass sometimes.
What would be your day job if you werenÕt a musician?
Boy, I donÕt know. I have no skills whatsoever outside the skill I have in music.
I really donÕt know. I hate to think about it.
Do you have a family?
I have a wife and one child. My daughter is 9 years old.
Is she into DadÕs music?
SheÕs into music and she finds the music that I play interesting, but sheÕs like
a normal 9-year-old girl. She likes everything thatÕs pop right now. SheÕs been
to a couple of our shows though and she liked it.
Do you have any hobbies besides playing music?
Yeah, I think most of my time besides doing music would be spent either one
or two things: reading or playing chess.
ÊAre you familiar with some Hungarian players?
Sure. The Polgr sisters are from Hungary.
ÊYou mentioned about books. What kind of books you like to read?
ThatÕs a real wide list of things. It tends to be either fiction like 20th Century
literature, American mostly and a lot of non-fiction would be science and
How many languages you speak?
I was really studying the last year to try and learn Greek, but itÕs not going so
well. IÕm Greek and I grew up with my grandmother and people around me
speaking a lot of Greek and I never took notice of it. And now that you get
older, IÕd like to learn it. And IÕve been to Greece a few times and itÕs be nice to
speak the mother language.
Are you into politics?
To a certain extent. I get a little exercise about it at home here, but itÕs not
something I talk about a lot in interviews and things. I keep politics and
religion to myself, but I do have strong views on both.