Project 86 - The Outer Limits

The guys in Project 86 like to think big. Though they only made their major label debut in April, guitarists Randy Torres and Cory Edelmann are already contemplating the big time, when they'll be able to hit the road with folk like Metallica. Of course such speculation is partly tongue in cheek -- Torres and Edelmann gush about Kirk Hammett with a distinctly Wayne and Garth air -- but the music that comprises Drawing Black Lines unwinds with serious, heavy duty intent.

The dense, interlocking riffage that drives tracks like "One Armed Man (Play On)" and "Open Hand" is as hefty as anything the Korn Kontinuum has produced and the rest of the tracks cover more stylistic ground than the seven-string brigade -- "Star" packs a mellow bite, "Sad Machines" counterbalances Andrew Schwab's ranting vocals and Torres' snarling guitar lines (Edelmann signed on after the album was complete) with surprisingly lush harmonies, and "Twenty Three" is a dose of carefully administered sonic chaos. But matching the inventive songs, is an equally inventive approach to playing -- something that producer GGGarth encouraged and enhanced in the studio.

When Edelmann signed on with Project 86 from his former band, a San Diego hardcore outfit called No Innocent Victim it was largely because he knew they were a like-minded crew with a penchant for volume, full-spectrum sound -- and a solid relationship with God. Like artists such as P.O.D., MXPX and U2 in its early days Project 86 is stretching the definition of spiritual music. You seem to be part of this wave of bands who are Christian as opposed to Christian rock bands.

Randy Torres: Definitely. The band writes all the music from the heart and what's on the heart of every member in the band is God. We don't call ourselves a Christian band just because that word doesn't represent what the band is. Every member in the band is very serious about their relationship to God. I mean, from our perspective, God created music and just because Christians aren't creative doesn't mean God doesn't want them to be. It's kind of a joke, but Bart Simpson said it: Satan's got all the best bands. As a whole I think everyone in this band feels the best way we can glorify our Creator is to be the best and try and dig into that creativity as best as possible not to limit ourselves. Was it hard adjusting to a two-guitar line-up after each of you evolved as sole guitarists in your respective bands?

Torres: I was playing in a one-guitarist band for three years and when Cory came in everything fell into place. When I stood myself in between my amp and Corys amp it was just like guitar heaven.

Cory Edelmann: Definitely being the lead guitar, well, the only guitar player in a band and coming in, it was weird for me having all this pre-written music. In my last band I wrote about 75 percent of the music and it was all kind of me. It was definitely weird coming into a band where I take breaks and don't play anything at certain parts. You know, let Randy shine. The album features such a stunning range of guitar sounds. Is that spontaneous invention or did you methodically experiment a lot?

Torres: Our engineer Andre Wahl was just really good at getting good guitar tones. We had four different really old Marshall amps and we had this original Black Sabbath amp I think it's a Laney. With a lot of the songs we tried to change the distortion around, tried to use different combos of amps. We used so many different amps I wish I could tell you what we did. On "Star" I remember we used this really old I think it's called the Echoplex. It's this weird effects thing where it takes what you play and it puts it on a tape and keeps playing it back over and over again. And we used this E-bow that electronic sustainer thing because that in conjunction with the Echoplex made that really dreamy little lead in to the song and then the piano, that's actually a piano. We tweaked the sound a little bit and Steve our bassist played the guitar so it was fun. We were talking about how we needed some kind of break in the record. The whole record is all heavy and craziness and we needed something just to cut the record up so we did that song. Did working with someone like GGGarth bring out the best in you?

Torres: I can remember getting better from touring so much and wanting to be better. Because with the first album I was at this place where I just wasn't getting any better at guitar cause we'd be playing the same stuff. But the newer songs on the record, they're not harder to play but there's a lot more to it so they're a lot more challenging. That kind of encouraged me to get better at guitar. Even our live show I wanted it to be tighter and to sound better and that encouraged me to grow more as a guitarist and so it was a total trip to be with GGGarth because back in the day I used to totally love Rage Against the Machine. He did their first record and when I first heard that record it just blew me away. It was really cool to work with him. When Melvins were putting the finishing touches on Stoner Witch, there was a great studio interlude where Buzz Osborne popped the bottoms out of a bunch of paper coffee cups, taped them together into a big tube and started playing it like a didgeridoo. GGGarth totally went with it and was trying to figure out the best way of adding it to the mix.

Torres: It's interesting you say that because on the song "PS" where the bridge has those distortion hits we took a piano and ran it through all these effects pedals these crazy Moog and synthesizer pedals and we compressed it and put it through all these amplifiers. That sound you're hearing is actually just a single note on a piano. Cory, were you familiar with their first record and how did you hook up with your bandmates?

Edelmann: I played for a hard-core band called No Innocent Victim. I'd been doing that for a long time and were from San Diego and with them being from Orange County we would play shows every once in a while. I actually met them in a festival up in Washington and was familiar with the first record. I knew them before they got signed so I was kind of on the sidelines watching from a different vantage point as they went through all their steps and grew as a band. I heard their first demo and didnt like it at all.

Torres: (laughs) Neither did I!

Edelmann: When the new one came out I got a pre-release of it and I was just blown away at what GGGarth had done with these guys. Their song writing in my opinion had gone through the roof. It was weird cause they were doing exactly what I wanted to do which was play heavy music but be dynamic and creative. So when the chance came for me to try out for these guys it was definitely a dream come true. Who were your big influences?

Torres: When I was young I thought Slash was pretty cool. Slash and Kirk Hammett. I actually bought Joe Satriani's record The Silver Surfer [ed. note: Torres is referring to Satch's Surfing With the Alien].

Edelmann: I listened to Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai -- all those really unbelievable metal guitarists. I'm all, "Man, those are the coolest guys in the whole entire world." Did you practice constantly?

Edelmann: There was definitely a time in high school when all I did was go home and play my guitar and learn scales and learn songs. In high school I wasn't popular at all. I was just a long-hair, Hession, flannel-wearing weirdo guy and no one ever even knew me until my senior year. I played the talent show, played a guitar solo and won the whole thing. So for a week I was cool, but then I went back to being nobody. I spent a lot of time playing guitar. I can honestly say I'm kind of lazy in the sense that I know the level at which you need to play certain music. When I jumped into hardcore I knew that it didn't take learning someone like Steve Vai's solos. You don't do that in hardcore so I never continued my learning process. I knew my learning was already far exceeding what needed to be put into the music. It's kind of exciting now being in a band with a lot more creativity. I've been diving back into learning people's solos. I've been learning [Metallica's] "Ride the Lightning" solos just for fun and to try and get back into it and grow as a guitar player. Hopefully when, if I make any money off this thing and I don't have to work as much between tours, I expect to spend a lot of time learning how to be a better guitar player.

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