George Bellas

Guitar virtuoso George Bellas hit the Shrapnel Records scene in the late nineties with his own Progressive Guitar Instrumental album. Since then he has worked with many talented individuals including Phil Moog, Pete Way, Mark Boals’ Ring Of Fire, John West, and Vitalij Kuprij. Nearly ten years after his debut, George has released a vocal-based, Progressive/Neo-Classical project entitled Palace Terrace, just releasing their debut: Flying Through Infinity on Lion Music. George took some time out of his 2007 Christmas holiday to talk to Metal Express Radio!

Metal Express Radio: Hello George! Thanks for taking the time to speak with Metal Express Radio and your fans.

George Bellas: You’re very welcome. It’s my pleasure to give Metal Express Radio and the fans some insight into my past, current, and future music projects.

MER: Your first album, Turn Of The Millennium, came out in 1997 on Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records label and fell into the Neo-Classical genre. This seemed like a time that the Neo-Classical trail was already emblazoned by the likes of MacAlpine, Moore, Howe, etc. Was this a rough point in time for you?

George: It definitely wasn’t a rough time at all for me. On the extreme contrary, it was a very great time for me! My music was very innovative and in no way compared to the other artists you mentioned, both Mike Varney and I knew that very clearly. And besides, I don’t concern myself with what other artists are doing or not, I have no interest, absolutely none. I compose what I want and do it all for my own intellectual and emotional stimulation. Stylistically Turn Of The Millennium contains more Progressive elements than Neo-Classical. The only Neo-Classical song on that album is “Ripped To Shreds”; everything else is totally and extremely Progressive. But, the main point is that my writing is much different than the aforementioned artists.

MER: You have an impressive “resume” playing with Moog/Way, John West, Vitalij Kuprij, and Ring Of Fire to name a few. Was there any one experience that is most memorable? Any one experience that helped add focus to your musical career or was a good learning experience?

George: My first album was an eye opener for me. Mike Varney was introducing me to so many talented players and having me record albums with them. I am very fortunate and am quite grateful for Mike Varney opening the doors to my career.

MER: How did you and Palace Terrace vocalist Jonathan Marshall hook up?

George: When I finally decided to do Flying Through Infinity as a vocal album and had all the music completed, I called John and presented to him my ideas. We were initially introduced by a friend of mine and have known each other for quite some time, but we hadn’t talked for a long time prior to John recording his vocal tracks.

MER: Did Jonathan come before or after the conceptual idea for Palace Terrace?

George: After I had the whole album written it was then that I contacted Jonathan and asked him to sing on the album.

MER: What’s behind the project’s name “Palace Terrace”?

George: No underlying or special meaning. After deciding to release the album as a band effort, I was simply looking for a name that sounded royal, majestic, and made for a “Palace” … Jonathan and I were brainstorming ideas for a name one day in-between vocal recording and that’s the name that made it on the album.

MER: One of your initial concerns was the search for an extraordinary percussionist. Why was this so important to you for this project and how did you come upon Sasha Horn?

George: I compose using some very complex odd meters and not many drummers can play the material I write, so I needed someone capable, patient, and extremely over the top. I have only known Sasha for a few years and was introduced to him by one of my students.

MER: Would you consider Flying Through Infinity a concept album, if even loosely?

George: Yes. When I originally came up with the idea and concept for the album I presented it to John and then we both wrote lyrics elaborating on the theme I had envisioned.

MER: The vocals on Flying Through Infinity almost sound like story telling versus singing. Was this feel intentional or something that evolved?

George: There are segments throughout the album that John sounds like he is talking more than singing, it is just the way some of his performances came out. There are, however, other sections that are very melodic and meticulously composed for full on singing.

MER: Did you handle any of the vocal parts on Flying Through Infinity? If so what parts and was this your first time laying down vocals?

George: Yes I did sing on the album, quite extensively, actually. I sang all of the backup harmonies and a couple of sparse lead lines. I also composed vocal melodies, harmonies and the counterpoint sections. John also improvised some parts, but it was I that shaped them into what you hear. And yes, this was the first album that I’ve sang on.

MER: Album credits have you listed as “Composer.” How do you think you earned this title on this project?

George: It’s not something I earned, it is what I am and always have been; it is the very essence of me. For every single one of my albums I compose everything with paper and pencil on staff paper and then later have myself and other musicians perform the parts. For me there is, and never will be, absolutely no other way. Not only do I love composing but also improvising, and usually have quite an abundance of it on my albums alongside the finely composed parts.

MER: Did Flying Through Infinity hit the mark on all the goals you and Jonathan set for yourselves?

George: I am quite pleased with the final result of the production. It was very laborious and exhausting for me, but well worth it in the end.

MER: Is Palace Terrace a “long term” commitment? Meaning, can fans expect a follow-up release, if so, any plans discussed yet?

George: I do have plans to continue releasing more vocal oriented albums under the Palace Terrace monarch. And yes, new seeds have already been planted. I have many new ideas already coming to fruition.

MER: Any plans for Palace Terrace to tour?

George: With the proper management and support, a tour is very possible.

MER: You also have a new instrumental album titled Planetary Alignment coming out in February. What can fans expect out of this release?

George: My upcoming Instrumental album Planetary Alignment is the most Progressive body of music I have ever written or released. I used musical elements not found on any of my previous releases or any other artists for that matter. I really stretched out and expanded with the writing and playing on that album. The writing is very innovative.

MER: Are there any guest musicians on Planetary Alignment?

George: I composed every single note on the album and performed all the instruments, but also had the very talented Marco Minneman play the drum parts I had composed. It was quite challenging, but he did a really fantastic job!

MER: In closing, any last words for your fans?

George: Thanks to all my fans for all your support, feedback and sincerity over the years. I appreciate every bit of it and cherish each and every one of you. I currently have plans for several more albums and have already begun the production(s). I have what seems to be a limitless amount of ideas that are always flowing and feel I have so little time to get them all captured. I am very much looking forward to releasing much more music in the near and far future.


  • 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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