Theorem – Beyond The Exosphere
by Dave Schwartz
Canadian-based progressive metal quartet
Pyramid Theorem has released their new album “Beyond The Exosphere.”
This five-track opus demonstrates the significant growth of the band
both lyrically and in composition. Bassist/vocalist Christian
Di Mambro, keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Stephan Di Mambro,
percussionist Vito De Francesco, and lead guitarist/vocalist Sam
Ermellini shared writing duties on this highly focused release.
Production duties were handled by Rich Chycki (Aerosmith, Rush, Def
Leppard, Dream Theater).
Vito De Francesco called into DaBelly to
tell us all about Pyramid Theorem’s latest release. Check out
DB: If you’re ready, let’s get
started. Congratulations on “Beyond The Exosphere.” This
is a really, really good album.
VDF: I appreciate that, thanks.
I’m glad that you’re digging it.
DB: I would like to hear all about it,
how it came together and so on.
VDF: So, essentially it has been about
two or two and a half years in the making. We started writing
this right at the end of 2017. We started without a direction
of what we were going to do. It was us getting together and
jamming and seeing what came out of it. Fast-forward about a
year or so and we’ve got these songs written – not really
finished-finished but we got the skeletons 80 percent finished.
And we were happy with them. Searching for a producer, we
ended up reaching out to Rich Chycki (Aerosmith, Rush, Def Leppard,
Dream Theater) via email. We sent him some of our older tunes
– something from our second album (Element of Surprise – 2017) and
then some of our demos from “Beyond The Exosphere.” He really,
really liked them and wanted to get together. We had a couple
of lunch meetings. We went out and had a drink or two.
He came by the jams space and then eventually said that he wanted to
work with us on the record. He told us that he could see the
vision; it just needed a little bit of polishing. It was
probably in the middle of 2018 when we finally got together with
Rich. Fast-forward to February of 2019, had four days of
pre-production scheduled with him where he came to our jam space.
He wanted to see all the songs in person and work on them with us.
He said let’s change the time signature here, let’s extend this
part, let’s add a solo here and let’s make this transition a little
bit tighter. So, we worked with him for about three or four
days before entering the studio for five weeks to record all the
DB: Wow. Five weeks in the
studio seems ambitious. There is a lot to do. I mean
there’s only five songs but there is a lot to them.
VDF: Oh yeah, that first song is
18-minutes and funny enough, it actually has a middle portion, right
when the vocals kick in at the second portion of the song, around
five or six minutes into the song that wasn’t even there when we
played it for Rich. We had written that portion before we met
with Rich and when we got together to do pre-production, we kind of
scraped that middle section. The song just went right into that
instrumental breakdown. So, after Rich heard the song live, he
said you know what, this song is good but I think you need to write
a vocal part before the instrumental part. Funny enough, we
actually already had. We just weren’t happy with how it came
out. So, when we showed him the little 2-3 minute passage with
the vocals, he said alright, there’s something here. We just
need to change up the melody a little bit and change the time
signature. If it wasn’t for Rich, “Beyond The Exosphere”
wouldn’t be nearly 18-minutes and it wouldn’t have that vocal
DB: That’s impressive. An
18-minute composition is equivalent to writing an entire album for
some bands. Talk a little about maintaining the focus of the song,
retaining the message and coherency of the music over such an epic
VDF: Sam (Ermellini), our guitar
player writes about 70-80 percent of everything. But that’s
not to say that the other members don’t do their part. The
brainstorm initially begins with Sam. When we get together,
he’ll say, OK, guys these are the riffs I’ve got and this is the
direction and then we start putting our jam together. That’s
when we start putting our pieces of the puzzle in. I believe
that Sam originally had the idea to make “Beyond The Exosphere” a
big, long song. I mean that that was the direction we wanted
to go after our second album. I don’t know if you heard that
record but it was mixture of rock ‘n’ roll songs, some prog songs
and heavy metal songs. It was kind of all over the place.
We actually planned to do it that way because we are fans of so may
different genres and we didn’t want to label ourselves a
one-trick-pony. But once we finished that record and spoke
with Rich he encouraged us to definitely go one direction.
It’s different when you have a big fan base and you can try new
things but if people don’t know who you are and you sound all over
the place, they aren’t going to be able to grasp onto anything.
So, with “Beyond The Exosphere,” everything
just came together. We had a few of these parts written and I
think it was Sam who said that we’ve got to make this a big long
piece. The transitions came about naturally and then there is
a drum solo in between part one and two. All that spacey
stuff, that was completely Rich. I didn’t want to make a drum
solo there. It wasn’t even in my thoughts. It was funny,
we were with Rich in the studio and he said that we’ve got this
transition between parts one and two. He said, hey V, do you
want to make a drum solo. And I said, not really. (laughs)
He said, come on, you can do it. Just do something with
crossovers and 30 to 45 seconds long and I’m like, are you sure
about that? He said, yeah, just make sure it’s something you
can play for the next 30 years. (laughs) So, I literally
sat their in the studio about an hour before tracking it and worked
on a few parts. I was so hesitant but I remember that after I
laid it down, I asked if he was sure he wanted to use that part.
It’s not like I wasn’t happy with it. I just didn’t want to
have a drum solo in a song we were recording. But in
hindsight, after listening to it, it fits so well in that part and
it does mesh the two parts together.
DB: Yeah, it just makes sense.
VDF: Well, not to me at the time but I
guess Rich had a vision and he liked what I did. I mean,
that’s why it’s on there and it’s not going away now.
DB: I read that is the first time
you’ve worked with a producer. For some bands, the first time
can be unnerving because you are essentially handing your creations,
your babies, over to person to disassemble and in some cases
reimagine. Talk a little bit about what it was like to work
with a producer for the first time.
VDF: It was definitely a wild
experience. For me personally, and I can speak for the other
members of the band on this – we’re all humongous RUSH fans.
And we love Dream Theater. Obviously, it shows in our music.
When the opportunity came to work with Rich, we were like man!
We had to pinch ourselves like, is this actually happening?
And I remember distinctly while we were doing pre-production at our
jam space, Rich would stop us and ask us to try something different.
And I remember thinking to my self – this is the same fucking guy
who told Neil Peart, hey let’s try that again. It was really
humbling and yet scary because, I knew who Rich was before we worked
with him. I have so many records and CDs in my basement that
he’s worked on. You have to trust the producer that you’re
working with. If you’re not going to trust the guy who askes
you to try this and try that, you’re probably not going to get a
good product. We obviously trust his vision as much as he
trusts us as well. Rich definitely made this record, not only
sonically but in song structure as well, he made it sound so much
more mature. And also, we’re so green that we’re going to take
his suggestions to heart because on our other records, it was just
us four. We said, this is what it’s going to be and it was
done. To have someone else looking in, you get a different
perspective on your music. So, working with Rich on this
record was definitely a cool experience. It’s something that
we would do again. Sometimes more cooks in the kitchen is
better. Especially when it’s not their baby.
DB: I’m happy that it was a great
experience. I have a question regarding your bio. There
is a comment that reads: “Beyond The Exosphere” is four
different interpretations of the human condition, condensed into the
most powerful expressions we can capture. Can you explain that
VDF: Yeah, I believe that was a quote
from Stephan (Di Mambro), our keyboard player. And my
interpretation of the quote is that all of us wrote the music and
all of us wrote the lyrics – some more that others on certain
tracks. And I think it’s just like, yeah, especially with what
the world is going through right now, it’s definitely kind of
upside-down and no one knows what is going to happen. So, it’s
funny that lyrically speaking, “Beyond The Exosphere” is not really
a concept album, or at least it wasn’t written like that and until
we started recording it and listening to the final tapes did we
wrapped our heads around that lyrically speaking this record kind of
is like a concept album. It has a concept specific theme of
trying to overcome adversity and the individual vs the masses and
trying not to take everything you see and hear on the media to be so
literal. And it’s funny because we finished recording this in
April of 2019. Fast-forward a year and one of our songs is
called “Freedom.” And here we are, the world under lockdown
for three months. It’s funny how that happened full circle
without us obviously knowing what was going to happen. It’s
just strange how that worked out. But the four different
interpretations is each one of us just kind of brought our own
thought process to the table when it came to lyrics.
DB: You actually anticipated my next
question – concept album. Going through your lyrics, there
certainly are some reoccurring themes: “A warning for
humanity, Control your destiny…” “Find me a place where I can
feel like I belong…” and “Do as you're told…” actually appears in
two separate songs. These are very poignant statements
considering our world today. It certainly appears that the
lyrics are all moving in a conceptually similar direction.
VDF: Yeah, we saw the same thing once
we started looking at the lyrics. It wasn’t the intention but
I guess that the music all shared that theme of anger, aggression
and oppression. So, we kind of all got together on our own.
Actually, I know that I wrote the lyrics mainly for “Freedom” with
Sam. Then when we brought it to the guys, obviously we didn’t
write 100 percent of the song. When you bring a song to the
guys things start to change and stuff. But we noticed that we
all shared that same angst that we wanted to get out. You
know, like we weren’t happy with the way the world is. You
know, technology is sort of taking over and people are losing sight
of what’s really important. So, we kind shared that general
theme amongst ourselves without even really knowing it. That’s
why that when we got to the recording process and noticed that all
the lyrics were kind of in the same realm, it was kind of like being
a concept album without being a concept album.
Pyramid Theorem is looking forward to
touring as soon as the venues begin to reopen. Their plan is
to tour their Canadian homeland first before visiting the rest of
North America and hopefully Europe. I want to thank Vito for
sharing a moment with DaBelly. Be sure to check out their new
record and follow them on all the socials.