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In Conversation With... Ken Jaquess

By Danny Mayo

Ken Jaquess is the bass player with Atlantis, and he formed his own off-shoot project K2.  The album Book Of The Dead (see review) is making great progress around the world, sales wise. I took the opportunity to interview Ken in May 2005, and to ask him some questions about himself and the Book Of The Dead ...

Hello Ken, I think we'll start off with how you first got involved with Music, as in what age?

Ken:  I started formal guitar lessons at age 11, and then switched to Bass at age 13.

Which band or artist inspired you to play music?

Ken:  I was listening to everything that I could get me hands on. I was very young and I wanted to hear new sounds and melodies, so I just listened to whatever music was lying around at that time. I grew up on Jazz and Fusion, but I really liked the rock stuff as well.

When did you first start to write music?

Ken:  I started writing music at the same time I was learning to play. I had always wanted to compose my own music, but found out right away that it’s going to take a long time to figure it out! The first songs I wrote were really bad, but I just kept at it.

Who was your main influence for the bass?

Ken:  Again I was listening to every bass player I could. Anything with a lot of bass I loved! I really dug Bootsey Collins, Stanley Clark, and Bob Magnussun. Then I moved on to Rock with John Paul Jones, Geddy Lee, Chris Squire, and John Wetton. All great bassist’s indeed!

Was Atlantis your first band?

Ken:  No. I have been in too many bands to count. I’ve done the Metal thing in the 80’s, Country, Jazz, Newage, Fusion. One band that I loved above all of the others was Newcross (now called “Rain of Thought”) What a fantastic band that was! It was 100% Improvisation! Everyday was an entirely new set, with no rules. The best playing I’ve ever done was with that band!Ken Jaquess

When did you first get the idea for the K2 project?

Ken:  I came up with the idea when Atlantis went on hiatus to look for another drummer. We always had problems finding the right drummer, and when we took that break, I was introduced to Doug and I told him about all of this music that I had written. It was supposed to be the next Atlantis album, and Doug was going to be playing on it! Well, The hiatus went a lot longer than I thought it would, so I decided to do a solo album. No one thought I could do it, but Doug believed in me, so we started rehearsals right away.

Did you have the band members in mind when you were creating The Book Of The Dead?

Ken:  Not really. I had no idea if there would be any guitar or violin on it to begin with. After Doug and I recorded the backing tracks, I just built layer upon layer of sound until it started to sound good, you know? When I finished all of the bass and keyboards, I realized it still needed something. That’s where the other musicians came into mind.

How did you get to know Allan Holdsworth and Ryo Okumoto?

Ken:  I’ve known Allan for quite some time now. I met him when he first came over to California, in 81’ 82’, something like that. We lost track of each other but then we met up again. Ryo I met when I was recording Book of the Dead and he needed the Mellotron I was using, to finish the Snow album. It turns out he is part owner of that Tron, and so we met and he asked if I needed any additional tracks on my album. I played him the rough mix and he really liked it. In fact he wanted to produce the whole thing! He did all of his parts in 1 day, a true professional!

Are there any plans to go live with this project, and if yes, who will be in the band?

Ken:  There are plans to tour select cities in Europe, and we are looking for sponsors right now. We hope to be there in the fall. As to the lineup, we’ll have to wait and see how everybody’s schedule works out. We are all very busy people, but I think we can make it happen. I’m not sure who the singer will be, but there are some people interested in doing the gigs! I still have to audition these people, and then we’ll be ready! 

When you finished recording it, did you think it was going to be a well received album review wise?

Ken:  I was not sure that people would like it. I thought it sounded good, but that dose not mean anybody else will like it! The hardcore progheads seem to love it, as do just about anybody else who hears it! Even Billboard liked it! So it’s been a big surprise to read all of the positive reviews. I’m very happy so many people like it!

Are there any plans for a follow-up album?

Ken:  Yes there will be a follow up to this first release. In fact I’m working on it right now. Doug and I will begin rehearsals in about 2-3 months. It’s going to be a bit darker this time.

What about Atlantis, are they still active, and if so, is there any news of any forthcoming recordings?

Ken:  Atlantis is still on hiatus at this time. K2 is really all I have time for these days. K2 is going very well, so I’m concentrating on that right now. As to any new releases, I would not expect anything to come out in the near future.

When Iron Maiden recorded Powerslave, which is on a similar storyline to Book Of The Dead, they had some strange goings on in the studio; did you have anything like that?

Ken:  No. It just took along time to get the thing done. The only weird thing that happened was, of course, the sudden passing on Shaun Guerin.

So far, how is Book Of The Dead selling around the World, and where has it sold the most copies?

Ken:  The album is selling great just about everywhere. Its in all of the major retail outlets in America as of last week, so sales are picking up. I think Germany and the Netherlands are doing very well as is the UK and Japan. Even Australia! The world really is getting smaller.

How did you meet Shaun Guerin?

Ken:  Shaun was the lead singer for a band here in Los Angeles called Cinemashow, and Atlantis did some gigs with them, I think. I saw their set and was blown away by Shaun’s vocal talents, so I met him after the gig one night and we talked about music, of course. About a year later I asked him to sing on Book of the Dead, and said he would do it! He really liked it, and was happy to sing! I really miss him.

What old/current bands do you like at the moment?

Ken:  I really like Alicia Keys. She’s amazing. I also dig A Perfect Circle, Halstead, UTS, Return to Forever, Sibicus and The Moments. They were incredible!

If you had a choice to have wrote any song, what would it be and why?

Ken:  Boy that’s a hard one. I don’t think I have an answer to that. There are too many good songs out there.

You are alone on an island, what five albums would you have with you?

Ken:  Passion Grace and Fire, Houses of the Holy, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Jeff Beck-There and Back and Tangerine Dream live at The Dominion London ’82.Ken with Rick Wakeman

You said on your album notes, that many fine ales fuelled the project, what were they?

Ken:  Mainly English ale’s. I have Allan to thank for that! Tetley’s Bitter (the Imperial is good, but I like the Bitter) Boddington’s Pub ale, McCaffery’s (I know, it’s Irish and its gone now, but I can still dream) Asahi Black, (a VERY good black I might add) and Oak Creek Brewery’s Nut Brown. Oh and my favorite Red, Red Nectar, from Nectar Ales here in California. The best Red I‘ve ever had!!

Ok Ken, thanks for the interview, have you a message for all our readers of The Hairless Heart Herald?

Ken:  Be nice to Danny! He’s a great interviewer who likes to ask great questions! And it wouldn’t hurt to buy him an ale or two now and again! He deserves it!

Thanks Ken, all the best of luck with the album!

Ken:  Thank you so much Danny! It’s been a pleasure!

Danny Mayo



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