Interview with Outworld (Bobby Williamson)

One of the year’s best Progressive Metal releases (watch for Metal Express Radio’s forthcoming review) is from, believe it or not, not any of the European shores, but the band is in fact from Houston, Texas, USA. The Progressive Metal band Outworld has a lot going for them and is indeed worthy of attention … read on as keyboardist Bobby Williamson reveals “all!”

MER: Hello Bobby! Thanks for taking the time to speak with Metal Express Radio and your fans. It must feel pretty good having the band’s debut release praised by guitarists John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Mark Tremonti (Creed, Alter Bridge). How did these guys come about hearing Outworld?

Bobby Williamson: Thanks so much for having me. Petrucci was number 9 on the “Top 10 Fastest Shredders of All Time” write-up in Guitar One Magazine. Rusty was listed as Number 7. I believe somehow Mark Tremonti got ahold of one or more of Rusty’s guitar instructional DVD’s and he loved Rusty’s guitar playing, and got in touch with Rusty through a mutual acquaintance. Tremonti and Petrucci were already guitar buds, so Petrucci found out he had Rusty’s phone number and ended up contacting him. It was interesting because I remember the day Rusty got the first call from Petrucci … it was kind of exciting. The next thing you know Rusty is good friends with the both of them. We get to hang out with Mark and John when they come through town for concerts … nice guys!

MER: The liner notes state that a “Tommy Hansen” did the mastering. Is this “the” legendary Tommy Hansen of Helloween fame? How did this relationship come about?

Bobby: Yes, it is the famous Tommy Hansen indeed. Our previous management has good contacts in Denmark, and this is where Tommy has his studio. So we sent the money and got the good mastering. It’s nice to have his name on our CD.

MER: With a strong debut CD, backing from reputable guitarists, input from Tommy Hansen and a well-known shred guitarist in the band by the name of Rusty Cooley … it would seem like the band are off to a great start. Do you guys feel like you’re primed to take on the world at this point?

Bobby: We’ve been ready to take on the world for a while now. A lot of obstacles were in our way for a while, but we got rid of them and now we are ready to roll. I would like to believe there is no stopping us now. We have a lot of great things going in our favor, and we intend on capitalizing on those soon!

MER: Does Outworld gain a lot of attention from guitarists and guitar aficionados because of Rusty’s involvement? How does that make the other band members feel?

Bobby: Oh, we love it! Every time Rusty’s name or face shows up in guitar mags we get mega-traffic to all of our sites. We don’t have a problem with the fact that Rusty gets most of the attention … it helps the band get known. As time goes on, we all hope to become more and more known, not just as a band, but also as individual artists.

MER: The debut album was recorded with vocalist and lyricist Kelly Carpenter, who has since left the band and has been replaced by Brazil’s Carlos Zema (Heaven’s Guardian, Vougan). Why did Kelly leave?

Bobby: Kelly didn’t leave, technically we let him go. He was getting involved with other projects more and more, one of which was going to take him away for months if the band accepted him as their new singer. We didn’t want to sit around and wonder what Kelly was up to. This was at a time when Outworld was expected to go on tour and be right smack in the middle of promoting our debut CD, which we felt was the most important time of the band’s career … the debut! We felt that for the long term it was better to find someone that had the hunger to be dedicated to the band. That’s what we found in Carlos!

MER: How did four guys from the state of Texas (USA) end up meeting and hooking up with a Brazilian vocalist?

Bobby: I had asked a good friend of mine who does DJ work on-line for Metal shows, and promotes Metal through her Web site to be on the lookout for any good singers that might be available. Four weeks after we let Kelly go from the band, my friend e-mailed me saying she found us a voice. When I clicked on the Vougan MP3 she sent, I was blown away and knew he could pull off Kelly’s intense vocals on the debut with no problem. When Rusty heard him, he knew right away this was our guy! Carlos wasn’t looking for another band, but when he heard our music he was very interested. We were worried he wouldn’t want to move to the USA, however, we were happy and excited to find out he wanted to move here. So, now we are working with a lawyer and Immigration to get Carlos a VISA and get him here to Texas soon.

MER: Kelly’s vocals on the debut release seem to impress in the falsetto range, as he exhibits use of this upper range similar to a Rob Halford. Carlos doesn’t seem to exhibit quite the same “extreme” falsetto range. How will this affect the writing style of the band moving forward?

Bobby: Carlos can sing “War Cry” with no problems at all … that is our hardest song to sing … and Carlos sounds great on it. Kelly and Carlos do have different voices, but both are very good. Things won’t be exactly the same tone-wise and phrasing-wise, but Carlos has a huge range and powerful voice — we are not in the least bit worried about it.

MER: Any fear that the band will lose some fans due to the differences in Kelly’s versus Carlos’ vocal styles?

Bobby: No fear here! So far the reaction from fans has been way more positive than negative about Carlos jumping aboard. We are more excited about Outworld’s future than ever before!

MER: How will Carlos handle the vocals on the debut release when the band performs the songs live? Will any musical “adjustments” need to be made?

Bobby: No musical adjustments will be made. Carlos will sing pretty much along the same melody lines as laid down by Kelly on the debut, and might throw in his own personal touch here and there. Naturally, Kelly and Carlos have different tonalities, but we’ve heard Carlos on our songs, there is nothing to fear.

MER: Will any newer material, written since Carlos joined the band, be performed live in the current set lists?

Bobby: Yes, we do have a few concerts coming up at the end of March. We intend on using at least 2 or 3 new songs in our set list. But mostly, the set will be from the debut.

MER: You and Rusty are credited for all the writing on the debut and Kelly for all the lyrics and melodies. Was this a conscience decision or did it just happen to play out that way?

Bobby: It just played out that way. There was no rhyme or reason to it.

MER: Kelly Carpenter wrote all the lyrics on the debut. Now that he has left the band have you guys talked about how this duty will be handled moving forward?

Bobby: Sure, the subject has come up in conversation. But, it really doesn’t matter … we can all take part in writing lyrics if need be. We will see how it goes … both ways are fine with us!

MER: Is there a story behind the CD’s artwork as the words “War Is Peace,” “Trust Dominion Corporation,” “Psychic,” etc., are depicted?

Bobby: The signs on the cover art were Kelly’s idea, except for the “Psychic” one, which was just part of the city scene developed by Mattias Noren. The other two signs were a part of Kelly’s conceptual idea for the album cover. There is a story behind the “Trust in Dominion Corporation,” but I’ll let that kind of be a mystery for now.

MER: Any tour plans planned for the debut release?

Bobby: No long tours. We are going to France for two dates in late March. Then back to Texas for a Metalfest in July.

MER: Any talk about a sophomore/follow-up release? Has any work begun on it and is there a discussed release timeframe in mind?

Bobby: We are working hard on the sophomore release … it’s coming along quite nicely. We will certainly have something released in 2007, no doubt.

MER: Do you listen to other music? If so, what’s in your CD player at this moment?

Bobby: Lately the band as a whole has been into Lamb of God, Nevermore, All That Remains, and Arch Enemy.

MER: Any last words for your fans?

Bobby: Yes! I am a fan of Metal too, so thank you so much for reading the interview and being interested in Outworld. Can’t wait to see you all on a tour somewhere!

MER: Bobby, thanks for taking some time out for Metal Express Radio and your fans!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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