Interviews

Interview with guitar virtuoso Al Joseph about his project, Hyvmine

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Al Joseph has been making a name for himself as a formidable shredder for several years now. Most recently, Al has devoted his energy to a new progressive metal group called Hyvmine, which is a blend of all of his musical influences. Apart from his guitar playing, Al is also is the lead vocalist in Hyvmine, with a voice that is powerful and dynamic. While one can hear musical references to other bands, (the melodicism of Satriani, the heavy grooves of Sevendust,  and the technical wizardry of Dream Theater),  Hyvmine manages to create a diverse, unique sound that is a breath of fresh air in the modern prog metal scene. Backed by his brother Chris Joseph on bass and Alon Mei-Tal on guitars, Hyvmine is set to take the progressive metal world by storm with strong melodies and infectious riffs. I talked with Al about his life and influences, his approach to music, his influences, and the future of Hyvmine.

Tell us a little bit about your musical background. How did you get into progressive music?

We got into progressive music through bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X. Also love a lot of the instrumental music that’s going on today.

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What drew you to the guitar?

Guitar itself drew me to the guitar. Hate to keep it that simple but it’s true. From the first pluck of the string I knew I’d be playing for the rest of my life.

What were some of the most important things you learned at Berklee?

I learned to be more proactive about my music career. There were also a lot of networking opportunities as well!

You have said that your three favorite guitarists are Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and John Petrucci. What do you love about each one, and how does their playing influence your musical approach?

I love Joe [Satriani] because he gave the guitar a singer’s role. Was that really necessary? Not at all. But he did it so that it sparks the dreams and hopes of every young player he comes across. The dude is seriously the most melodic player still.
John Petrucci gave me the challenge I was looking for. Melody, prowess, and ability to add so much depth to a song. The man is a composer as well as a player
Steve Vai I think gave me the “permission” to be a wild personality on the guitar. The man just knows how to make a guitar scream. He’s the whole package.

You’ve mentioned that, while you love technique and virtuosity, you also feel the need to share emotions and tell stories. What stories do you hope to tell through your music?

The story of my life. The story of my pain. You know, I grew up tougher than you would think. And I’ve been forced to embrace that pain. I think my life experiences gave me context and I think that’s the beauty of life. Metal music appealed to me the most because of the way the artists in this genre confront their pain and suffering. It’s not easy out there for people and I just want people to know that I feel and admire their strength through it all.

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Why did you choose the name Hyvmine?

I chose it because I wanted the name to be “hivemind”. Due to avoiding copyright infringement I was forced to be a little more experimental with the spelling. I imaging our band as workers creating beauty within a coal mine.

This EP features some diverse vocals, ranging from soaring passages to growls. Who would you say are your biggest vocal influences?

Russell Allan, Dio, Jorn Lande, and David Draiman. As for metal artists, I consider these guys to be the most soulful and melodic singers ever. So moving and passionate. These are my strongest traits.

This EP features contributions from your bandmates, Chris Joseph on bass and Alon Mei-Tal on guitars. What do you feel like each one brought to the table compositionally and technically?

Alon brings the roots of pure metal to the table. I’m pretty indulgent so when I catch on the new trends I tend to go overboard with those trends in my songs writing. Alon is just a pure heavy metal guy so the roots are always there.
Chris is the expander. He does a lot of film scoring as well as bass playing so he adds that 4th dimension to our sound from all angles.

Though this EP has only 3 songs, it covers a lot of musical ground. How do you feel like you have progressed as a band since the release of your debut album, Earthquake?

We’ve progressed in that we now write all together. All of our songs will have an even more collective tone to them because of the synergy we’ve achieved over the last debut record and EP. We’ve also been on two tours so now we’re even tighter as a group. Can’t wait for the next full length.

What is in store for Hyvmine?

Just more heavy metal, progressive prowess, and just overall badassery!

Bonus Question: If you could automatically acquire a skill, a la that scene in The Matrix, what would that skill be?

Be Ninja Warrior Ready!

Check out Hyvmine’s full length album, Earthquake, here. And stay tuned for their newest EP, Fight Or Flight, which will be out on July 13, 2018.

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