IMAGE BEYOND Interview

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From the depths of the US Prog Metal underground, IMAGE BEYOND -featuring Steve Zimmerman who played drums on the first four FATES WARNING classics-, released their three track demo tape back in 1996: a great example of expressive Prog Metal. Years later all the band's recorded material that was kept on the vaults, is getting reissued on Death Rider Records and the band is reunited. On the interview above the two founding members guitarist Tommy Blardo and drummer Steve Zimmerman are speaking about the past, the present and the future of IMAGE BEYOND. A great flashback on the 90s Prog realm.

Greetings to Image Beyond and thanks for taking the time ti answer my questions. So I want to start with the basics. When the band was founded, and in which US city / state? Which was the band’s initial line up?

Zimmerman / Blardo – Band was formed 1996 at Newington Connecticut. 06111. Zimmerman and Blardo created Image Beyond.

Original line up:

Steve Zimmerman – Drums
Tommy Blardo – Guitars /Keyboards
Brian Bettterton – Vocals
Brett Betterton – Guitars / Keyboards
Bobby Bryk – Keyboards
Wayne Parr – Bass

Speaking about early band members of the band I want to ask about Singkam Bandith (guitars)? Was he a member of the initial line up? How did he get to the band? How long he stayed and when he left?

He was hired after some line up changes and I think we hired him through an ad we placed in a local paper he was hired as a musician.

Was your original goal to play originals? Was your original goal to develop that lyrical / melodic prog metal style?

Yeah we were n dead set on never playing a cover song we have always been about original music.

Can we say that you decided to follow this musical path due to the impact of Fates Warning?

Absolutely Steve is one of the best Progressive drummers known around the world of course were going start a new band playing Progressive Metal, why would we not? No brainer.

Were there any line up changes until the line up of the “Image Beyond” demo was shaped? If yes can you please state the recording line up of this excellent demo?

The lineup included none other than Steve Zimmerman, together with singer Brian Betterton, guitarists Tommy Blardo and Brett Betterton, bassist Wayne Parr and Bob Bryk on keyboards, who unfortunately passed away on September 26, 2023.

So yeah lets focus a little bit more on the “Image Beyond” demo. Can you remember where you recorded it -studio-? Who was the producer?

This was recorded in the Zimmerman’s basement. We self produced it ourselves as we had no funds for recording back then we did vocals at Blardo’s studio at his house. All Music was tracked in Zimmerman’s basement.

When was the “Image Beyond” demo released?

1996.

In how many copies was the “Image Beyond” demo released?

Gonna say 250 not many. They are rare.

Was it produced as a pro-tape -pressed on a factory- or was it doubled piece by piece by the band?

We did all the copies ourselves, we handled every demo tape.

After the demo release which was your next step? Have you shopped it to any record label? Any feedback?

You do realize we’re talking about 30 years ago, lol. Of course we did that was the whole purpose of recording the material back then. So yes, we sent it to many labels back then, we ended getting an offer from Nuclear Blast Records but we could not come to an agreement. We also had member issues at the time not willing to commit to a deal. So that was it.

There is a lot of material recorded except the three songs of the demo. Those songs appeared on your recent release “Reflection in Time”. Can you give us some information about those recordings? When and where have you recorded them?

Everything was written at the same time back then we just picked certain songs for the demo we thought would catch everybody’s attention.

Can you give us some information about the rehearsal bonus tracks that are included on the “Reflection in Time” album? On the “Reflection in Time” release we can also hear some amazing live tracks, from which show those tracks come from?

All the rehearsal bonus tracks were recorded at the same period of time of the demo, they just weren’t picked for the demo.

Our rehearsal space is where Fates Warning was created in Zimmerman’s concrete fortress garage concrete on the ceiling floors and walls.The place was amazing with so much history. This is the place where the first Fates Warning albums were created: Albums such as ”Night on Brocken” and “No Exit”. In the same room “Image Beyond” created “Reflection In Time”.

It is also the place where Blardo’s band Moltens Lore was formed, a band which includes Steve’s brother on drums -Kevin Zimmerman-. This is another progressive Metal band.

All the Live tracks included on “Reflection in Time” are from a show we did at “The Sting” in New Britain CT.

Ok, so lets talk about the live shows of the band. When was your first live show took place and in which club? Did you play a lot of live shows in general? Can you mention the most memorable ones, have they took place before or after the demo’s release?

One of the very few shows we did was at “The Sting” in New Britain CT, which are the tracks you hear on the “Reflection in Time” release. It was very cool to see members of Fates Warning on the front row cheering us on.This was the best show we performed, it had a very big crowd, we headlined the show.

When did Image Beyond split back in the 90s and what was the main reason for this fact?

Actually Tommy and I have been playing together on and off till this day. We are still playing together.

The reason the band broke up was due to frustrating talks with record labels and management. We had a record deal on the table back in 1996 but just couldn’t agree. So that exhausted all the members and we kinda gave up at that point. But me and Tommy created the Enemy Remains band.

The band reformed back in 2022 and this has to do mainly with the release of the “Reflection in Time” full length, is it correct? I mean have you decided to reunite because of this reissue or you have already started to re-shape the band and the reissue proposal found you afterwards?

No, we only formed back because due to the reissue of the album, Zimmerman and Blardo have been currently active together with their current band Enemy Remains. Enemy Remains is still active and about to release a brand new track within the next month. This is a rock genre band not Progressive Metal, totally different style. We have never stopped playing music together.

So let’s focus on this amazing release. “Reflection in Time” practically includes everything that the band has recorded, correct?

This was everything we had the record. The record label team was very excited with what we sent them.There are some ideas we may revisit that we did not release on this album, but they are just ideas we wrote back then not full tracks.We are looking into that. We’ll let you know.

How did you manage to re-discover all this material? It is not an easy task. Give us some info about the release, for those who are not aware about it. Which label did it and in which formats is it available?

Zimmerman /Blardo – Zimmerman ran into Oliver Weinshiemer when Fates Warning played Keep it True Fest 2016. Months later Zimmerman got a message from Oliver saying I think it’s time we release your old band Image Beyond. Zimmerman agreed and called Tommy Blardo guitarist to start the process. We dug up every track we could find for this release: studio recordings, live Recordings, practice versions of songs, everything is available on Death Rider Records release LP and CD physical copies. There are also digital streaming downloads available  on our website Imagebeyondct.com

Who did the re-master process? Are you happy with the result?

Our engineer Jeffery Weed (USA) did all the post mixing editing. Final mix and mastering was completed by Bart Gabriel (Germany). We are very happy.

On the front cover I am noticing a beautiful creation of Ioannis the drawer of the classic first era covers of Fates Warning. How you got in touch in him?

We called him and let him know we were releasing an album with our old band Image Beyond from back in the 90’s and it would only be fitting to have his artwork accompany the pieces of music from that era.

He was excited and totally had the artwork ready to go for us as we met in a little Greek restaurant in Newington CT and he brought the album cover you see today. This is exactly what he showed us while having lunch together and we were like Yes! YOU NAILED IT Ioannis !

Bob Bryk would be very happy to see this “Reflection in Time” final product on the stores but he unfortunately passed away. At least he was happy to know that this stuff would be out finally… Who is replacing Bryk now?

We are still working on Bobby’s replacement, it’s not gonna be easy to replace Bobby. He was a musical genius and wrote a lot of our technical pieces on the album.

He was alive while we were negotiating the album deal and was so excited, if the Album hit it’s target date of release he would of been alive to witness but the album was delayed due to the vinyl pressing plants being behind. It’s Unfortunate and very sad.

Let’s focus on the current band status: Which is t the band’s current line up? Are you working on new material?

We have 3 new members unfortunately Brain Betterton is way too busy with other projects to perform or record on new material but the hopes is he will do a couple tracks on it. But we have a new vocalist that sounds kinda exactly the same, you ll see.

Should we wait for a brand new Image Beyond album sooner or later?

We have already completed the music for a brand new track in the process of vocals and mix and mastering. As far as an full album that may be later as we told you we have a current band Enemy Remains about to drop a brand single and were gearing up for that also, there is a lot of stuff going on.

Are you planning any live shows?

We are planning to do live shows next year. We are in the process of rehearsing.

What feedback are you getting for the “Reflection in Time” release so far?

The feedback has been great so far. So were are excited to try to get overseas to play some festivals next year.

Ok that was it, thanks for your time and thanks for the music!

Thank YOU Sir!


Check our review on “Reflection in Time” here.