Strutter Magazine (Brazil)

HESS is an Instrumental project, and they have released a high quality melodic progressive heavy rock album sometime ago and are about to release a new CD soon. I think this is an easy winner for fans of the LION MUSIC releases (TORBEN ENEVOLDSEN, MASI), because HESS offers the same kind of quality music. If you read this interview, you will know a lot more about HESS...

1. Please introduce us your band, when did you form HESS?

Tom Hess: The current HESS lineup is:

Tom Hess - Guitars
Mike Walsh - Guitars
Mark Carozza - Bass
Scott Hess - Percussion

On the Opus 1 CD, Chris Dowgun was the drummer and I played the bass and did the keyboard sequences. Hess was originally formed in 1995 under a different name. Bassist Chuck Hamilton (former bassist for TD Clark and Fretfire) and guitarist, Joe LaBanco (of Fretfire), along with my brother on drums were the other original members.

2. Can you tell us all about your debut CD?

Tom Hess: Opus 1 is a combination of three styles: Progressive Rock, Neo-Classical metal and highly dramatic art music. The fusion of these styles in one CD is very unusual and has started a new genre of high-caliber guitar music. The combination of the different stylistic elements makes the Hess sound very unique.

3. Your music is high quality instrumental progressive melodic rock, which bands influenced you?

Tom Hess: Lots of bands over the years. The earliest influences were bands like Def Leppard, Metallica and Iron Maiden. Around 1988 or so, I really began to love the great electric guitar virtuosos of the late 20th century, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, George Bellas, Andy LaRocque among a few others. I also like the progressive bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X. In college, I was exposed to the masters, J.S. Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Mahler, Wagner, Brahms and Liszt. The most important influence for me is Chopin.

4. Are you popular in your area?

Tom Hess: The United States is country were high caliber guitarists are not popular at all. It is extremely difficult to do what we do and to be popular here. If this was 1985, things would be totally different for us here, I'm sure. We are more popular outside of the USA.

5. What are you favorite albums at the moment?

Tom Hess:

Dream Theater - Images and Words
Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt. 2
Jason Becker - Perpetual Burn
Yngwie Malmsteen - Rising Force
Yngwie Malmsteen - Trilogy
George Bellas - Turn of the Millennium

6. Any major labels you tried to get in touch with?

Tom Hess: No. We are not interested in signing Opus 1 with any label. After Opus 2 is released, we will be pursuing a deal then.

7. I heard you're working on a new CD, can you tell us all about it?

Tom Hess: People can expect Opus 2 to be a continuation of the HESS sound that we established on Opus 1. There are going to be some changes on Opus 2 though. We have a new drummer, my brother and the original HESS drummer, Scott Hess. We have a new bassist, Berklee School of Music graduate, Mark Carozza. Mike [Walsh] now plays 7 string guitars exclusively in Hess. My compositional style has not changed but has grown, I think the music of Opus 2 is like an exaggerated version of Opus 1. On Opus 1, I played about 65-70% of the guitar solos and Mike played the rest of them. For Opus 2, Mike will be playing a larger role in the guitar department. He is a great musician with a totally original and exotic guitar style. He is always becoming even greater so we want to use him more and take advantage of all that he has to offer to the music.

8. Any plans for a vocal CD or songs with vocals on it, or are you gonna keep playing instrumental rock?

Tom Hess: Opus 2 will be instrumental. I love the singers that I love, but I dislike the other 99.9% of them. So working with a singer is not in our plans right now. We are not looking for a singer. but if the right guy came along we would be open minded to the idea. My favorite singers are: (in no order) Fabio Leone, Michael Kiske, Bruce Dickenson, Dio, Geoffe Tate, King Diamond.

9. Basically, what are the plans for the next coming months?

Tom Hess: The Opus 2 recordings are going to begin very soon and that will take many months to complete. That will be our focus for the next several months.

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