The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Don Lajiness & The 2nd System

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Artist Feature,   From Issue 719   By: Robert 'Bo' White

27th January, 2011     3

The 2nd System has been around the block looking for a place to land. As a band of outcasts and misfits they learned at a very young age to walk to a different beat and dance to the rhythm of the street. This unfiltered view of what is pure and real is in stark contrast to the typical media messages created by marketers who hire actors to tell lies. It’s an Orwellian acid dream punctured and exposed by the raw metal sound of 2nd System.   This is a band of spiritual rebels who are not afraid to preach the gospel and face an uncomfortable truth. This is music that may prompt you to question your basic assumptions of the society in which you live.

And it has not gone unnoticed.

Last year the group was voted Best Metal Band by readers & fans at the 2009 Review Music Awards and the group has just released their most profound CD to date ImproperGanda, which guitarist/producer/wunderkind Don Lajiness says the band put nearly 2000 hours of work into.
One thing is for certain: few bands are more committed to such detailed shading; and presentations, of their sound.

Review: Your band 2nd System recently released a new CD Improper Ganda. As the producer, how would you describe the sound of the recording?

Lajiness: The sound is a full and organic sound - no processing compression.  I didn’t want to do too much compression as I could lose that raw metal tone. 

How were you to achieve such an incredibly layered sound?  You seem to have a great ear, a great gift. How did you develop this sixth sense?

A: I have been listening to different recordings of famous bands and comparing the sounds for 10 +years.  I did this until my sound was reached. A lot of trial and error went into this process.

What tricks did you use?
A: My knowledge in frequency, and time to mix raw metal

It is said that metal bands really know and appreciate the dynamics of sound. Is this accurate in your eyes?
A: This is not accurate. I love metal and will forever, but metal, with its power, has no dynamics. The distorted guitars are monotone meaning they only have one sound “distortion”. In order for drums to be heard over those guitars you have to hit them “hard”. Electric bass is too loud to have dynamic in a band. My point is: Metal musicians are very talented and do appreciate music for what it is, but metal heads forget about what goes into truly being musical. Anyone can be taught how to write, play fast, play good and never miss a note. No one can be taught how to be expressive.   So sometime we forget to be musical or expressive. Listen to classical music and you will see what I’m talking about.

The CD is an opus, a cohesive body of music. Do you agree?
A: This is funny because the song opus is just one piece but sometimes the cd sounds like one big opus or comprised works. All of the songs almost tell the same story, so yeah I could agree with that.

2nd System is making a courageous statement about the state of our society and the madness of the post industrial information age linking it to the gradual erosion of our civil liberties. Is this a political statement, a spiritual quest?
A: Our musical statement is more spiritual than anything, I think. We are happy to be here and we are happy to here for everyone else as well. We love all kinds’ people. We are to most people outcasts and we have been treated different than others our whole life, I mean take one look at me. Having one arm gets you teased and put down. In the end our message is to comfort those that have been treated the same way and our music is here to let you know you are not alone.             

What does the Lions Head cover signify?
I’m not too sure. Our old singer Pat Brennen and friend did the cover work.

Don you are a phenomenal guitarist as revealed by your live shows and your CD. How long have you been playing?
A: I have been playing for about 13 years. As you can see my arm made this difficult. It just goes to show if you want something you have to go and get it, just as I did. Now I’m attending Saginaw Valley State University for music education. In my first semester SVSU asked me to play guitar in the choir going to Paris France in March 2, 2011 for ten day. So you never know what can happen just give your all and it will pay off.

You have only one hand to finger notes and chords. How is it that you can create such incredible riffs, difficult fingerings and inverted chords without having a hand?
A: The hand I am missing is the left. We write metal tunes. I think classically because classical music has the best progression and most expressive dynamics that mix with a little power is a recipe for getting your ears blown off.

Did you have a mentor? Who inspired you?
My father Donald Lajiness SR was a big inspiration to my music, but my mentor now is my guitar teacher Brad Deroche from Delta College. 

You play with incredible speed and power yet you play with a definite musical economy, allowing space that give your licks more nuance and power. Where did you learn to play between the spaces?
A: I noticed your licks don’t come out when so much is going on, so I learn to find the empty hot spot. In major and minor and also harmonic minor you have 7 other notes to hit than one, meaning everyone plays in a one or two tonic pitch. You have 5 more pitch you can play so I find the key signature and play what Derrick and Mike are not playing -  the role of a lead guitarist is to fill in the gaps make the sound full.

Your reputation as a top notch producer is growing – you created the dense layered sound on the 2nd System CD and brought out the best rock & roll instincts of Brody & the Busch Rd trio – very diverse acts. How do you approach producing artists with such a diverse vision of music?
A: I guess!  If they like it then that is the sound I shoot for, but I can’t take the credit because these bands  have a great sound already I just capture that sound the best I can.

You are able to create a powerful drum sound on your recordings. How is it that a guitarist can be so in tune with the beats and percussion in a song?
A: You have to be knowledgeable in drums, how are you going to make music with a drummer if you don’t know where he or she is coming from?  As for me, I’ve  been listening to just the kick or just the snare or just cymbals, for years making sure they are all on time. I can play drums as well, Tyler Johnson helped this process.

Don,  I see you as a type of post apocalypse Phil Spector creating Heavy Metal symphonies in a wall of sound. In Improper Ganda , unworldly  operatic voices seemed to  signify the roles of heroes and villains in a thematically precise morality tale. Was this what you intended with the 2nd System release?

A: For lack of a better word, yes. It has been a long road recording this CD.  I just hope everyone likes it. I have spent over 2000 hours on this CD and we have recorded another CD  that will be coming out soon. We might see this in the fall. Godspeed The 2nd System.

Any  last comments?
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Derrick Fisher

I would like to fill in some blank spots if that\'s ok... The album cover symbolizes the struggle of the modern day work force by using the lion(whom we have dubbed our new mascot \"Poppa Ganda\")as a visual metaphor in that in this \"jungle\" even a king may have to join the blue collar work force to make things happen...all while structure continues to burn behind him. As well as a whole slew of other perspective outlooks. Most of Patrick Brennan\'s work is usually open for personal perspective though. What does this picture say to you? I have to disagree with the metal being non dynamic. Dynamics to me say that a band or musician has the ability to utilize crescendo and decrescendo as well as other \"volume\"(level) changing techniques and tools to swell and release your piece to it\'s final note. Bands like Cannibal Corpse or Slayer have no need for such tools of theory because it doesn\'t fit their needs. But bands like Dream Theater and Opeth or Mastodon..and even Dethklok make use of audio dynamics very well. It\'s one of the main points I have always tried to get across in the past with T2S albums, but I believe we have finally done it with ImproperGanda. So I partially agree with Don. SOME metal bands have the ability to express themselves dynamically, but not if they compromise melody and rhythm for speed and technique, which alot of metal bands do...but not T2S...hopefully. P.S. White noise distortion(tv static) cannot be controlled to the point of expressing warmth and tonality. However, PINK noise distortion CAN.(guitar amps and etc.)

January 18, 2018     10:01 PM
Derrick Fisher

Sorry I forgot to sign the last comment! Derrick BabyD Fisher aka DJ BabyD

January 18, 2018     10:01 PM
Mike McLegend McMann

Don\'t forget to vote for all of your FAVORITE members of The 2nd System in the Review Magazine Awards!!! Derrick \"Baby D\" Fisher, Don \"Big Stubby\" Lajiness, Tyler \"Ty\" Johnson, Kyle \"KZ\" Zieroff, Mike \"McLegend\" McMann and last but certainly not least Mark \"XG Threethousand\" Gomez!!!!! All of the members are nominated all they need is your support so now would be a good time to go vote!!! Thank you

January 18, 2018     10:01 PM


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