Interview with Ron Jarzombek
by Volkmar Mantei

7 years have gone by since 'Ink Complete'. Why do you need that much time for making 'Ink Compatible'?

Well, as just about everyone knows, I didnít have a band intact when I wrote the CD. Bobby and Pete were both touring and recording with Halford and Riot and they werenít always here in town when I was recording tracks. I had to find other players to complete the CD, and finding the right guys took a while. I wish Bobby and Pete could have played on the whole CD, but it didnít happen that way. There are 9 tracks on the CD and Bobby is on 6 of them, Pete is on 5. However, the players that are featured as "guests" all did their very best with the parts and we came up with a killer CD. Yes, it took a while but we finally made it.

In 1999 and 2002 you made two solo albums? Are the songs on these albums parts of the working process of 'Ink Compatible'? How do the songs sound? Stylistically the same as Spastic Ink?

Iíve always said that my solo material was Spastic Ink before Spastic Ink. During the middle of finding players to record 'Ink Compatible', I got frustrated and thatís mainly why I started writing and eventually finished the solo CD 'Solitarily Speaking Of Theoretical Confinement'. I didnít have to rely on anybody for anything. I wrote the solo CD by myself and played everything. You could say that PHHHP! is where I was at during the writing and recording of 'Ink Complete', and 'Solitarily Speaking...' is very similar to 'Ink Compatible'.

In the booklet of 'Ink Compatible' is a side with CD-Rs. Is that a sign for the lot of versions of the new songs you have played the last years about? Is there any chance to hear another (soon) versions of the new songs?

Those CD-Rs have the actual tracks that I used for the making of 'Ink Compatible'. I probably have over 300 CD-Rs of backed up audio and graphics for the CD. I donít think there will be any other version of the CD. The CD came out pretty much how I wanted it, so thatís what is on the CD.

I think you have a job outside the music business. What is your daily job?

I play with a band in town called Dragonfly covering tunes by Tool, Pantera, Metallica, Alice In Chains, etc... I also teach 5 days a week. I have enough income to keep my Spastic Ink habit going. Actually, Iím pretty happy with how things are going right now. If I could just get me a job writing music for multimedia, Iíd be doing OK. 'Ink Compatible' CD sales are doing pretty good too.

How is that with your personal musical development? What did you love as a teenager, what today?

I grew up listening to KISS and Rush mostly. Then I moved on to Yes, UK, and a few other progressive rock bands, but Rush has been my main influence by far. I also listened to lots of great rock guitarists like Michael Schenker, Tipton and Downing, Van Halen, etc... Then got into the more serious solo players like Vai and Malmsteen. Honestly, today I donít listen to many guitar players. You can tell that we have shortage of talent by looking at the current guitar magazines. Itís terrible. There is barely anyone out there who can play. The whole rock scene is cluttered with a bunch of guitar players that are hardly any better than my 1st and 2nd year students. When I was growing up, every month was a great player on the cover who was a real guitarist, not just some schmo in a corporate rock band playing nothing but power chords.

What do you think about the future of Spastic Ink? Will there be another album in 7 years (sooner/later/in general)?

That all depends on other people. If it was up to me, Iíd start writing right now. I have tons of ideas for songs, but Iím not going to get myself in the same situation that I did for 'Ink Comaptible'. Thatís having a bunch of songs written but not knowing who would be playing the material. Bobby just got the Iced Earth gig so heís going to be out for probably a year or so. And without Bobby, itís hard to call the band/project Spastic Ink. Itís not even worth trying.

Is there any chance to see Spastic Ink live? Or to hear live versions of Spastic Ink on CD/DVD?

Playing live? Not sure about that. We were seriously talking about it when 'Ink Compatible' first came out, what it would take to put it all together and how it could be done. Bobby and I had concerns about relearning and playing parts that we had recorded years ago, and I was concerned about trying to cover lots of layered guitar parts. Bobby also lives in California right now, so getting together would be rough. For me, there was also the problem of playing a few certain songs that were tuned differently on various sections. I took care of that by building a double neck guitar which would have two possible tunings. But again, with Bobby taking this Iced earth gig, Ink will have to wait and see what happens later.

About a DVD, thatís a possibility. Iím trying to get videotape of everybody playing 'Multi-Masking' so we can at least have a video of Spastic Ink floating around on the net. I did put up some live vids of Bobby and me on the Ink site a few weeks ago playing a few new Ink tunes, and I plan on putting up more when I get the chance.

I think to play the material of 'Ink Compatible' is a hard job. Did your brother break his arm making the CD? Do the other members of Spastic Ink love the material or do they hate to play this ultra complex music?

Iíve always been into writing and recording complex music ever since I heard Rushís 2112 album. I do enjoy other types of music, but my heart is in progressive rock/metal. Bobby has made a name for himself in the metal world with Riot and Halford, but we grew up listening to the same albums, so weíll have a progressive edge no matter what. Pete is more into the jazzy/fusion/rock type of music which has some serious bass playing, although most of what fans know him from is metal with Riot. But listen to Peteís solo on both Ink CDs. Thereís Jeff Berlin written all over it. Jason has been a metal head ever since he was born. He also grew up with Rush and Geddy Leeís voice screaming in his ear. As for the guests on the CD, they all must have enjoyed playing the challenging music on 'Ink Compatible' because they all did a killer job.

Youíve got a lot of guest musicians. How did you contact them? Are they all Spastic Ink fans?

Honestly, I just rounded up whoever would could play the parts, contribute, and would cooperate. I donít even want to think about the players that I gave up on, but it was a rather extensive list. Most of the players were contacted by email. Actually, 5 of the guests I have never met face to face. A few of them Iíve never talked to!

There is a part of 'Words For Neros', a synth solo, that sounds like Frank Zappa. Do you like the music of Frank Zappa?

Frank Zappa was a genius. I wish I could play the music that the wrote. All of those timing subdivisions, his beautiful chords clusters, the way he could color with his music. Just brilliant. That solo that David Bagsby does in 'Nerds' just reminds me of that tonality that is present in Zappaís melodies. When I first heard Daveís solo, I got goosebumbs. I didnít know what type of melody to write for that part, so I thought of givng the section to wacky Dave and he pulled through for me bigtime.

What do you think about Johann Sebastian Bach and other classic composers/music?

Sure, those guys set the stage for a lot of guitarists. I think it got so redone back in the Ď80s with the shred "neoclassical" guys, but Iíve always been into classical stuff. I probably donít stress it as much as other players, but thatís where I learned tons of progressions and voicings from.

What do think about the quality of "Ink Complete" today?

The sound quality? Not too good. But I knew that when we recorded and released the CD. We didnít have the time or money to rerecord the material properly in a studio, so I just did the best that I could with the audio that was recorded on a 4 track. I am very proud of the material that is on the CD though. I think we made a pretty serious musical statement with that CD.

What are your personal and band future plans?

Well, believe it or not but Iím back on track with getting a new WatchTower CD done. Every time we get together to do these reunion gigs, a little spark is created and we move closer and closer to getting another CD completed. At this point, Iím pretty happy with the material and hopefully we can pull it all together. Iíd also like to do an animation DVD, but thatís a bit out of reach right now. Iíd also like to hook up with a few progressive players and maybe record a CD or two. If that doesnít happen, maybe Iíll shoot for an instructional DVD or something along those lines. Another solo CD?? Who knows? Weíll see...

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