The Gardener's Guide

Suffocating The Bloom was released on November 28, 1992.

"We held a release party at the 23 East Cabaret in Ardmore, PA. There was 400 people there that night and we sold over 600 CD's. I remember our parents and girlfriends coming to the club early to lend a hand. We decorated the entire club with flowers. Carnations were fixed to the rafters and placed on stage. Mr. Weston, Ray's dad, wore a tuxedo and handed out roses to everyone attending. The place looked great. Our light show was homemade, but definietly effective. We also ran movies during some of the songs and Velveteen always closed the show.

Just one day earlier, we were at Forge Recording Studios packing the CD. If we didn't package Suffocating The Bloom ourselves, it would not have been ready for the release party. We sat in a circle in the lounge and started a production line. CD's were placed in trays, traycards into jewel cases, booklets were folded and inserted into their proper place. The process took all day to complete.

The first 1000 copies of Suffocating The Bloom are silver. There are even some spelling mistakes on the first pressing. The next batch, probably run off four months after the initial release, became red with gold writing. All mistakes were corrected. At this point there are only two thousand Suffocating The Bloom in existance."

Greg Kull, 1993


CHRIS: A preface and reprise of Suffocating The Bloom.

BRETT: Heidi and I were browsing through an antique store when I saw a Jaymar child's piano. I loved the sound and bought it for $10. We put it at the beginning and the end of the disc to help tie the music together.


RAY: My version in contrast to who Brett was at 21.

TOM: For me 21 is unique in that it is an example of the mood ranges in our music. From light hearted and bouncy to smooth and jazzy. This song gives me an indication that the boundaries of style are soon to become more ambiguous. The optimism coveyed by 21 reminds me of the burden lifted on my 21st birthday. At least set free of those limbo years between 18 and 21 where you can be drafted but you can't drink a beer.

CHRIS: Am still learning to play opening lines of song - not all parts written on guitar are easy played on piano (and vice-versa as I know Brett agrees). First real diversion, as a band, into really "jazzy" sounding chords (middle section) - a nice change and addition in my mind that has pushed me musically. Lyrics still hit home as I am only 22 - it is interesting hearing how Brett and Ray describe the way their lives were at 21 - very different from mine.

BRETT: We wrote this in the winter of '92. We had just finished The Suite (excluding Suffocating The Bloom) and I wanted to do something a little less heavy. Lyrically, I was inspired by Joni Mitchell's Free Man In Paris. Ray and I shared the lyric writing.

PAUL: I remember the music from a long time ago. It was really just a jam we were working on that was slowly turning into a song, but we never finished it.


RAY: The similarities felt between Brett and myself on the season and what we missed most about winter.

TOM: I love this tune. In my opinion it is one of our heaviest songs. I'm very proud of my bass lines. The lyrics took me back to the winter of 1977. It snowed to deep I couldn't open the door of my house. My brother Doug gave me the worst white-wash in human history. Now, I'm old enough to seek vengeance. Of course, it hardly ever snows anymore. I guess I'll just have to spit a loogie at him.

CHRIS: It is a fun song to play live. It was challenging incorporating the Christmas chords and motives into the piece to make it effective yet original. Keyboard solo is a challenge to play live - struggled while recording it.

BRETT: We wrote this in two days. Ray and I came up with the words thinking about the lack of snow and the things we used to do in it. The title came from a housing development I saw called Winterthru Meadows. The beginning sounds are from a sound catalog sample of kids skating on a pond.

PAUL: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. For some strange reason I think of Christmas. Hmm...

Memoirs from Between

RAY: My favorite guitar solo.

TOM: This song was one of the most difficult songs for me to lean when I first joined Echolyn. I wasn't used to the odd time signatures used by these guys and the bass line kind of floats around on its own in the beginning. I then realized this is going to be tough. But, so far I'm surviving.

CHRIS: Very textural and dynamically pleasing piece. Long but it moves and makes its point clearly and concisely. Still remember original line, "quit my job and be a hobo" (sounded like "homo" when Brett sang it) - still chuckle when performing it live.

BRETT: Inspired from a play I saw in 7th grade called Our Town. I had always liked Kate Bush's subtle lyric writing; that inspired me in this song. This was the first song written for Suffocating The Bloom.

PAUL: This is the first song we started to work on for the disc. A true form of progression that starts so soft and bashes out at the end. This song also makes me think of the good things in life.

Reaping the Harvest

RAY: Moody.

CHRIS: A piece I wrote this past summer. For me it ties together the role of a farmer and the growth of his crops. It was a large step for me, compositionally, and tonally to tackle. I really took my time and pushed myself in the direction the piece wanted to go. It was just as tough to convince the guys it worked. Every time I listen to it I get more out of it. It's timeless to me, just as a farmer's harvest continues season after season, year after year.

BRETT: This is one of my favorite things that Chris wrote. I wish we could have used real strings. I thought it would work great before In Every Garden.

PAUL: I think of a "fallish" kind of day. Lay back in your favorite chair with some headphones and check out the transition into In Every Garden...beautiful.

In Every Garden

RAY: My hardest vocal to learn and perform.

TOM: Another favorite. I guess the combination between the aggressiveness and mellowness make this song very intense.

CHRIS: Fun contrapuntal lines to play in the beginning - definitely "out", yet they work tonally. Powerful chords and textures make this piece work - its the underlying tension that allows the melody to be carried over the thick harmony. Took some convincing that the vocal parts in the beginning did indeed work - it's still a challenge to do live.

BRETT: Lyrics inspired by Oscar Wildes' The Selfish Giant. Music inspired by Pat Metheney and dedicated to him. I wanted to come up with a three part vocal harmony over an E major chord but I couldn't come up with anything interesting and it fell to Chris; that was a mistake. Ray did an excellent job putting the melody to my words.

PAUL: I always think of a very inspiring show I saw once. I also figured that if these guys are going to play these "goose bump" chords I better come up with pretty good stuff.

A Little Nonsense

RAY: A trip to the candy store.

TOM: The first time we worked on this song I tried to play the verse in thumb slaps but it sounded like doody. The challenge: to play a slap line without slapping. This is when I started practicing during lunch hour at work. The song itself, for me, is like a carnival fun house set to music.

CHRIS: Came up with the original opening ideas while student teaching in Bethlehem - in a practice room! Doubted anyone would like it - wrong again! Fun piece to write. Clapping part was debated heavily. Couldn't come with title - Brett and I brainstormed - dedicated to call it A Little Nonsense in another language (he chose German, I chose French) - German sounded better!

BRETT: The two quotes came from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. One of my favorite films. The lyrics came from various experiences at the time and the book I was reading called The Movers And The Shakers. The beginning part I am playing is actually a keyboard part that Chris wrote for his left hand. One of the best arranged songs we made.

PAUL: A very challenging and humorous song to me.

The Sentimental Chain

RAY: They didn't name it what I wanted.

CHRIS: Another Buzby-Kull head bashing session. Spent an afternoon deciding writing, changing, and eventually finishing what I consider to be our best collaboration yet, in a classical vain. Recording was challenging yet a good learning experience. Thanks to Katie, Laura, and Heather!

BRETT: Being a very sentimental person, I love writing in this particular style. Chris and I worked all day on the two flute and violin parts. It is a great pleasure and honor to work with talented musicians like Katie and Laura.


Here I Am

RAY: At a glance, a before and after description on myself.

TOM: Whoa! Another fun tune to play and a great release of energy. If stage diving occurred at an Echolyn show it would happen during this song.

CHRIS: Another challenge to push ourselves in new directions. Learning that not all sax players like keyboard parts - not always too easy to play! Another compositional lesson. Thanks to Dainis for his patience and his quick fingers. The ending was fun and adventurous. A way for us all to vent and musically release all the energy we haven't incorporated into any of our other songs.

BRETT: We recorded this without actually knowing for sure how it was going to sound. Another well arranged tune with great vocals and an interesting ending.

PAUL: I think of beer. I don't know why, but I just do.


RAY: I don't like it because I don't sing. Most of all I get time to change.

TOM: This song is like the intermission between the first half and the second half of the disc. I like it because Ray doesn't sing in it.

CHRIS: The most honest and sincere tribute to Allan Holdsworth - a man we all admire and respect. This song, for us, was an excursion to the world of fusion and jazz - a great and tasty tidbit to close the album side.

BRETT: Dedicated to and inspired by Allan Holdsworth. I wish I could have played a better solo. That's Chris making a wired sound at the end.

PAUL: I in fact can honestly say I saw the actual live and breathing Cactapus, good tune.

A Suite for the Everyman

RAY: An explosion of emotion built up by the release of our first CD. Only to have it rejected by all the labels solicited. It's a basic single finger salute to those who said it could not be done. About sticking with integrity of your ideals.

PAUL: I remember thinking this song was really full of anger and it came out in my playing very aggressively. To this day, this song on stage really wipes me out every time. Putting the whole song together was a great time, and I hope you get an intense feeling from some of the lyrics Brett and Ray put together to this, my favorite song.

Only Twelve

TOM: Extremely slow meter, no recurring theme. Damn you Chris!

CHRIS: There's only twelve notes in our Western music system. I decided to take some of my knowledge and apply it here with the band. Starts with one 12 tone row (violin) accompanied by a different 12 tone row in the cello (played rhythmically expanded from the first), and then joined by a third 12 tone row (viola) that rhythmically follows the first. (If you don't believe me or don't understand, I'll be glad to explain it in layman's terms.) Finally all three rows are joined by chords that harmonically place the tones in an analyzable chord progression - leading us back to the traditional tonal system most of us are accustomed to.

BRETT: I remember talking about writing a second half to Shades. Little did we know what we were getting into. 12 tone is great!

A Cautious Repose

TOM: This part of The Suite is unique in that while it's ethereal in texture, the listener can sense an ominous sense of foreboding. One might say ghostly.

CHRIS: Dynamically a nice change and growth from the beginning. Serves as a cadenza from the power of Only Twelve opening to the aggressiveness of Bearing Down and our struggles within.

BRETT: I love three part harmony! Ray, Chris, Moe, Paul, Tom and myself sang Rock-A-Bye-Baby with some pitch modulation. The fretless bass holds it all together.

Bearing Down

TOM: Probably one of our more brutally honest observations. An expression of disgust with an industry that is often more concerned with statistics and demographics than it is music.

CHRIS: My fingers could not possibly play more notes at once. Very angry and prophetic part of The Suite - makes us realize how hard we've worked to get where we are. Middle section is very rhythmic and again followed by a contrapuntal left hand - adds to the tension and release of all our struggles.

BRETT: I learned some new chords in this one. Ray and I wrote a lot of words one night in my room to a rehearsal tape of it.

Cash Flow Shuffle

CHRIS: The dance of all the greedy businessmen in the world.

BRETT: A great change that I always look forward to.

Mr. Oxy Moron

TOM: This is what it's like to people who want to form an opinion about us. Usually they are more interested in the sound of their own voice than what they are talking about.

CHRIS: Again a play at those who speak yet act in two different ways. Never make promising you can't keep. Middle solo section was a nice change - more melodic and flowing.

BRETT: I wrote the words about a lawyer that Greg and I went to see concerning representation of the band. This one flowed very easily for us.

Twelve's Enough

TOM: Picture a pirate ship braving a treacherous storm and coming out victorious. At least that's what I can see.

CHRIS: As we round out the first cycle we realize that we won't be stifled and hindered by the 12 notes in our musical system, for we still have the ability and the incentive to push ourselves in creating newer and more honest music to our advantage, not our disadvantage.

BRETT: Great chords. This is as about as close to Genesis as we got.

I Am the Tide

CHRIS: Create your own destiny! Mother Nature is the most awesome and powerful force in the world.

BRETT: The only thing I ever wrote on the piano. These are some of my favorite words and vocals.

Cannoning In B Major

TOM: I originally wanted to make my bass sound like a tuba but it proved impossible. So when you listen to this part, think tuba!

CHRIS: This shows a movement from one idea to the next. This is our march from what we were into what we can become.

BRETT: I was trying to write a fugue but Chris' professor told us it was a cannon. Paul, Jim, and Tom Kelly came up with the snare part. We overdubbed the crowd to give it some ambience.

Picture Perfect

TOM: Another brutally honest observation of the fine line between rock stars and rock musicians. While more people know who Axl Rose is they know the song Rocket Queen, less people know who James Hetfield is than they do the song Enter Sandman. If this song upsets anyone, good!

CHRIS: Smile! You're on candid camera. Can you honestly say you are portraying yourself to others are you truly are, or are you hiding behind the facade of a glossy 8x10?

BRETT: More fun. That's Ray saying smile at the end.

Those What Want to Buy

TOM: Our promise to Echolyn fans...we have never and will never compromise a song. We will never put out a song that we ourselves are not totally into, regardless of current musical trends. (Remember when Kiss put out their disco hit, I Was Made For Lovin' You?)

CHRIS: Is it worth going through all the hell for those who have the money that want to buy? Our final plea to those who hold the cards. We love what we do and what we've created and shared. But is there actually a price tag that can be put on something like that?

BRETT: We have a million pictures posing for their 8x10 glossy. Man, do I hate that! Ray took over lyrically for the rest of the tune and excelled. This is by far one of the best. Tom also came up with a great bass groove for the verses.

Suffocating the Bloom

TOM: The epilogue to The Suite. If you didn't get the point being made in the last half hour, this piece sums it all up: If we sell for the sake of sales we are indeed acting out a lie.

CHRIS: Grow old and do the things you want as you want. Musically, for me, a beautiful statement of what youth and innocence is all about. Brett and I recorded it live in one take.

BRETT: The last song on the album and the last song written. Paul used his sticks on his fat thigh to push the song after the second verse. This is the epitome of the album.

The Gardener's Guide

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