After reviewing Charlemagne: Omens of Death, I had the pleasure of being contacted by the management of Hedras Ramos Band, who asked me if I was up to giving an interview. Being a person with no sense of fear, I took up the gauntlet and interviewed Hedras Ramos Senior and Junior. One hour on Skype later, I had emerged wiser and more full of knowledge. Below are some questions that I put forward, kindly answered by Hedras Ramos.
There were some parts of the conversation that didn’t make it to the interview proper, but are worthy of mention. For example despite working on the album, Hedras Ramos Sr. informed me that the pair didn’t actually manage to meet the legend that is Christopher Lee in the flesh, due to the fact that he was away filming The Hobbit. However they did have the joyful experience of putting a song together after he sang the lyrics over the phone to them. It was an interesting look as to how they put the album together, after Richie Faulkner left the project to join Judas Priest.
1) Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Firstly what was it like working with Sir Christopher Lee on his newest record Charlemagne: Omens of Death?
It was very interesting! The music of this album has an old classic metal vibe and sound. I’m more like a weird blend of rock, jazz, fusion and classical musical influences on my metal world, because I do compose metal, but it’s a different total abstract world to the album of Christopher Lee, so it was interesting because of this. I had to really stick to the style and try to play in the style or Iron Maiden, Manowar, which was fun!
2) How much room to maneuver did you have on the record, such as on the tracks ‘The Devil’s Advocate and The Ultimate Sacrifice which were composed by Hedras Ramos?
I did compose these 2 tracks, basically they sent me a track of Christopher Lee’s vocals with no music, just the voice of Saruman singing acapella, and I had to compose a backing music out of nowhere and make it sound good. I was given total freedom to bring my taste to the music and create my own thing, but I always had to stick to the metal sound and spirit of the album. So I programmed drums, played all guitars, my father added the bass and sent the stems to London for them to add live drums + vocals.
3) How did you end up working with Christopher Lee on this record?
Richie Faulkner was originally working on this project, but he left to join Judas Priest, and Christopher Lee’s managers started the hunting for a new player that could record everything all over again, could finish the album and compose 2 or 3 new additional tracks to complete the whole album.
4) What was it like adapting the work from the debut album to this new one? Was it hard trying to change the music whilst keeping the overall style together?
There are a couple of old tunes, but also there are new ones composed by Faulkner and me, I think for the old ones that were symphonic metal I had just to add more distortion, evil riffs and crazy techniques! So it wasn’t any problem, but a lot of fun!!
5) If there was anything you could change on the album, what would it be and why?
We guitar players as a species, we’re always learning new licks, techniques, tricks, etc., and in my personal case I start disliking my recordings very fast after some days or months, so it’s like we guitar players are in constant evolution and development. I always tend to think that I could do better today than yesterday.
6) What is next for the band? Any touring or new albums in the works? Or will you be taking it slow for a while?
I don’t wanna take it slow for now! In August we are having a bunch of clinics in Latin America (Mexico, Peru, Argentina and Guatemala) sponsored by Cort Guitars from Korea, who happens to manufacture more than 1 million guitars a year for their own models and for many other great guitar brands, so if anybody from these countries is reading this, you will see the dates on these clinics on my website and fb very soon! I’m also composing new music, and I hope that for the end of 2013 I’ll have new music for the earholes of people.
7) If Christopher Lee asked you to work on his next album, would you agree to it?
Of course, It’s an honor to play guitar for Saruman, this is a big legacy! As a matter of fact, after finalizing this The Omens of Death album, we were contacted to produce an EP for C. Lee called “A heavy metal Christmas” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVzOve8T39w&list=PL00F821B7F920EF8B&index=62, which I and my dad worked and treated as the previous album.
8) What sort of guitar style were you aiming for on the album, some parts of it feel very 70s and 80s, was this to do with the work of Richie Faulkner or was it your own addition?
I had to take in account the 70s & 80s feel + Richie’s original demos, and play my vintage classic metal licks and pentatonic stuff, which was something fun for me, this brings to my mind an instructional Guitar video package I made for a company from London several years ago, you can check ’em out here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL0rt88Bt1E and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osNz0FBimsc. I even read some comments on the internet where people said ‘wow this sounds so British metal’ (specially with the “The Ultimate Sacrifice” tune), but it’s me, a Guatemalan guy, who likes so many styles. I do believe that if you collaborate and play in different styles of music and projects this will help you to find your own music and your own flavour, and accomplish the ultimate goal of a musician, which is to come with something new and fresh.
As a final note, I would like to thank you Matthew, Melting Album Reviews and all those great fans for this great honor of letting me share my experiences in the making of this great album. If I am allowed, I would love to invite the readers to check my videos, albums, etc. at: