Fire Garden 2016 Year In Review

 

2016 what a year for Fire Garden, a year to remember, working with great musicians, my heroes like Jordan Rudess, Jimmy Keegan, Bruce Soord and Travis Smith, releasing new album after a successful pledge campaign that crossed over 227% (which is hard to believe), amazing feedback from fans on the new album specially comments from people like Bruce Soord, Chris Herin (Tiles), Amadeus  Awad , Scott Kahn and many more. One of the biggest achievement for me was to take the lead role and bring Fire Garden music as live band. We opened for Haken and Thank You Scientist from there the band is on the next level. It was challenging in the start but right things happened at the right time. I am glad that response from the fans is amazing and I have some great plans for 2017.
 
There are so many highlights I will try to go through all of them here and later my favorite albums of 2016
 

Jimmy Keegan – The Master Drummer

 
Jimmy recorded drums of 4 tracks from Far and Near in late 2015 but remaining tracks were done in Jan 2016, once I had all drums done all was remained to track other instruments, it took me couple of months to complete recording.
 

Jordan Rudess – The Wizard

 
I sent the solo section of “Life of a Drifter” to Jordan around November 2015 finally In May 2016 I received the amazing solo with a message “Happy Birthday” what a great way to made my year.
 

Bruce Soord – The Musical Ears

 
I was in touch with Bruce since December of 2015 regarding mixing, at the same time he was bit busy with new The Pineapple Thief record. Finally in April I was able to submit stems of couple of songs to him for mixing. I believe all songs were delivered to him around July / August. After stereo mixes were done he completed 5.1 mixes in couple of weeks.
 

The Pledge Campaign

 
I took a big step to see if this is really going to work. I am thankful for all fans for their support and making it happened, being an independent musician it is a bit commitment to make a record then fund it (specially if you have big crazy vision like mine with all packaging / production etc. etc.). The campaign went over 227% which helped me to make 5.1 surround mix and include a DVD in the packaging.
 

Live Band

 
The search to form a live band was begun after I decided to take do vocals myself, personally I found that is the only way I could take things to different level. I am glad I did that, I found drummer Paul Kilkenny through Facebook who is great drummer and luckily was not playing in any band and he later introduced to Marc Malitz and Allen Ladis and rest was history. Marc end up playing bass on 6 tracks on Far and Near. We played our first show on July 21st at RedLine Tap then Midwest Metal anthem before the big gig.
 

Opening for Haken

 
Highlight of 2016 was to open for Haken and Thank You Scientist I think it would be difficult to top that soon, a big thanks to promoters at Reggies who supported us. The show was I think our best performance we played 30 minutes set and got amazing response from the audience, after that band is at different level. I got introduced to many new fans and friends.
 

 

Album Release

 
October 21st 2016 finally after a long journey and hard work the album was released for public. I started shipping all the pre-orders and new orders in November, I guess I became friends with Post office staff with daily huge collections of mail. Due to huge demand we end up having distributor in Germany, USA, UK & EU.
 
 

Post Album Fans Response

 
The response has been amazing, almost everyday I received countless messages from fans and got personal messages from professional musicians (named mentioned earlier) just to tell  me how much they enjoyed the album and why I was not doing lead vocals before (which was last thing I was expecting to hear).  It is amazing to see that Fire Garden have fans (with exception of USA, UK, Germany) in Japan, India, Pakistan, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Russia and many more…I am just humbled.
 

 

10 Favorite Albums of 2016

 
Following records are my top 10 favorite of 2016 in no particular order
 

  1. David Bowie – BlackstarIts experimental, great songs and production
  2. Dream Theater  – The AstonishingGreat songs, Production and because band didn’t played safe, they went out of their comfort zone and created a unique record
  3. Haken – AffinityGood record, Modern PROG with synth elements which was heavily featured on Far and Near as well, Haken is definitely the next big thing
  4. The Pineapple Thief – Your WildernessA complete sonic journey with great songs
  5. Operation: Mindcrime – ResurrectionGood classic rock, prog, great vocals 
  6. Neal Morse Band – The Similitude of a DreamGood songs overall
  7. Metallica – Hardwired to Self-DestructCan’t stop jumping, great melodic riffs, I am not a big fan of Metallica but love this record
  8. Radiohead – A moon shaped poolA dope
  9. Swans – The Glowing ManEpic, love what they do, not everyone’s cup of tea but you need more time in isolation to 
  10. Devin Townsend Project – TranscendenceBig wall production, love songs and sound of DTP

 
Other noticeable records in 2016
 

  • Tiles – Pretending 2 Run
  • Insomnium – Winter’s Gate
  • John Wesley – a way you’ll never be
  • Periphery – Select Difficulty
  • The Mute Gods – Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me
  • Katatonia – The Fall of Hearts
  • Steve Vai – Modern Primitive
  • Turning Virtue – A Temporary Human Experience
  • Ihsahn – Arktis
  • Obsidian Kingdom – A Year with No Summer
  • Megadeth – Dystopia
  • Dream The Electric Sheep – Beneath the Dark Wide Sky
  • Opeth – Sorceress
  • Steven Wilson – 4-1/2
  • Ghost – Popestar
  • Thank You Scientist – Stranger Head Prevail
  • Gojira – Magma
  • Marillion – F.E.A.R
  • Levin Minemann Rudess – From the Law Offices of Levin Minnemann Rudess

 

Conclusion and Future Plans

 
In the end year 2016 was the best musical year for me, It’s a long journey and my vision is to keep playing live and make new records. Currently there are couple of music videos in the pipeline and we have 3 shows in 2017. I am working on to find some window where we can play outside Chicago as well and and and…. You might hear some new music from the band as well.
 
Thanks again for your great support.
 
Have a great 2017,
Zee