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Detroit's Tiles makes up for lost time with new album

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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After eight years between albums, it's safe to say the members of Tiles felt a bit pent-up when they started making their new "Pretending 2 Run."

And the creative explosion can be heard throughout the Detroit progressive rock quartet's ambitious two-CD set, a conceptual piece that incorporates choirs, orchestrations and high-profile guests such as Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson, former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy and more. With help from longtime members of the Rush camp -- producer Terry Brown and art supervisor Hugh Syme -- it's a bona fide epic that guitarist Chris Herin and company hope fans will feel was worth the wait.

"Obviously we felt a lot of pressure, having been out of the public that long, to come up with something that we hoped would really make a splash," Herin, 53, says in his day job office at the Detroit branch of the Internal Revenue Service, where he's a Project Manager. "We needed to do something that really, really is big and bold and maybe makes a statement.

"So the fact we took two years to write and two-plus years to record it gives you some time to re-evaluate and re-assess. We had some things drop off and added some different things. It really was a major effort for us."

Herin, in fact started the race towards "Pretending 2 Run" as far back in 2009, when he had a "creative surge" that produced a dozen songs that he considered turning into a solo album. Ultimately he combined those with "some Tiles things we had left in the can" to turn it into the band project. And once the group arrived at the album's loose concept -- about a man struggling with a series of dark events in his life and ultimately coming to a hopeful resolve -- gave Tiles a framework that helped guide the process.

"IF we found ourselves need kind of an emotional downpoint, we had some slower, moodier songs at our disposal, and when it was time to burst out some crunchy riffs or intricate, 7/8 (time signature) stuff, we had that in the can, too," Herin says. "It was nice to have that stockpile to draw from."

Early indications are that the long wait has made Tiles' fans hearts grow fonder. The group's label, The Laser`s Edge, has ordered a second pressing to meet strong initial demand for the album, and early reviews have been favorable. And European promoters are offering concert dates as Tiles prepares for a couple of Detroit-area in-store appearances and a short tour in May with Chicago's District 97.

That, of course, means Tiles has to figure out how to take the expansive material from "Pretending 2 Run" and play it live with just four guys.

"We were talking with (guest keyboardist) Adam Holzman about this, and he said, 'Y'know, you don't even have to worry about it. You just deliver a different arrangement live.'" Herin says. "We CAN play all of these songs as a three-piece band with a vocalist, so they function in their most basic forms.

"Yeah, it's gonna be tough to try to do those 25-voice choir parts with just a couple of average backup singers, but we'll pick and choose the (songs) that can bridge the gap most effectively when they're stripped down and more basic. After doing so much to build them up, it'll be interesting to strip them down again, too."


3 p.m. Sunday, April 17.

Found Sound, 234 W. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale.

Admission is free.

Call 248-565-8775 or visit foundsoundvinyl.tumblr.com.

Note: Tiles will perform again at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 23, at Dearborn Music, 22501 Michigan Ave. Call 313-561-1000 or visit dearbornmusic.net.

Web Site: www.tiles-music.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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