Just over two decades have passed since the issue of 1988's "So Far, So Good... So What!", Megadeth's third opus. This was axeman Jeff Young's sole outing with the thrash collective and although the man kept busy by such endeavors as teaming with Brazilian phenom Badi Assad and a solo album (2010's "Equilibrium"), the metal world hasn't heard from him in quite awhile - until now. In January 2010, Young joined Ashland, Kentucky based hard-rock/metal group Hydrogyn, which now consists of: Julie Westlake (vocals), Jeff Westlake (guitars), Jeff Young (guitars), Joe Migz (drums), and none other than ex-Megadeth / ex-Black Label Society / ex-White Lion bassist James LoMenzo.
In recent weeks, rumours began to surface from within the Hydrogyn camp, rumours that suggested a "special" guest vocalist would perform on one track for Hydrogyn's forthcoming full length release, "Judgement." Curious, Ultimate-Guitar.com's Robert Gray telephoned Hydrogyn guitarist Jeff Young to learn more. Luckily, the veteran was forthcoming with the details:
"We are honored and privileged to announce that none other than, Mr. Doug Pinnick - the man, the myth, the legend from the esteemed band King's X has contributed bass and vocals for a song on 'Judgement' called "Big Star"."
Naturally, that leads to the following question: How did Doug Pinnick come to contribute bass and vocals to a Hydrogyn tune? The answer arrives in the form of a mutual friend
"We're all huge fans of King's X, particularly Jeff Westlake and myself. And we're all friends with Michael Wagener, who produced the last two King's X albums (2005's 'Ogre Tones' and 2008's 'XV'). Michael connected us with Doug and he was definitely down for it. We sent him the basic track right away, and he loved "Big Star". Initially, we only asked him to contribute vocals, but the more I thought about it... remember, James LoMenzo is playing on every track on 'Judgement'. I went back to James and said "We should probably have Doug play bass on this, which will make the whole thing a little bit of a bigger guest spot". Also a major King's X fan, J-Lo was all about that. I asked Doug, and he was totally down for contributing the bass part. He laid his part down and it just sits in the track so well. His groove is amazing and it just really helped to lift "Big Star" to exactly where it needs to be."
Young kindly offers a musical description of "Big Star" and information regarding its lyrical content, content that many a budding musician can empathize with.
"So much of 'Judgement' is aggressive and progressively oriented there's lots of guitar licks, drum stuff here, and bass stuff there, with the vocals going every which way. With that in mind, we decided to do a track that was more straight ahead - maybe if you think of uptempo AC/DC or The Cult's 'Electric' (1987) era stuff meets King's X. That's the general vibe of "Big Star" - which is actually a vocal duet. Mr. Doug comes in on selected trade-off lines with Julie, especially in the chorus and the bridge and over the end. The song is basically a tale of the difficulties of becoming a professional musician. Actually, it's more difficult now than it's ever been. It's about that long quest; for some it happens, and for others it never happens. There's a line in the song that actually references Fuse TV; I don't know if you're aware of this channel, but it's basically the only true music video channel left in America. Actually, the original line referenced MTV and I had to remind Julie that they don't play music videos anymore (laughs). So, we changed that recurring line to reference Fuse TV. The ever-hot Mistress Juliya VJs on that channel and is one of the hostesses."
With such a capable, weighty vocalist as Doug Pinnick, many possible avenues can be potentially explored. However, which avenue did Pinnick choose to explore on this specific outing?
"It's classic Doug. We told him we wanted his trademark vocal stylings but his vocals are actually a little punchier. He actually roughed it up a little bit here and there, so it's the best of Doug Pinnick with a little tougher attitude. He does some nice little harmonies around Julie and their voices blend very well. There's this two-part harmony he threw in the bridge where we didn't even tell him to sing a line but he added it in there just for fun and it came out really great. It's kind of that bluesy, real simple two-part "Beatles type" harmony. He and Julie also throw down a wailing sustained scream over the end, kind of reminiscent of his ad libs in "Over My Head" (from 1989's 'Gretchen Goes to Nebraska')."
"Big Star", featuring King's X vocalist Doug Pinnick, will be one of several compositions that'll entice listeners to purchase the forthcoming "Judgement". In Jeff Young's own words, "Judgement" is actually "very close to being done".
"We've actually got four songs mixed, and there's a fifth song that we're adding guitars on today to replace some distorted guitars that were fighting the track. That one's pretty much mixed as well. We got a sixth track almost mixed too, so we've mixed over half of the album. Jeff Westlake has one rhythm guitar track to lay down, and I've got two rhythm guitar tracks and two guitar solos to lay down. Everything else is recorded, so it's just a matter of mixing the last four songs."
Hydrogyn "Judgement" will be available to purchase from physical and online retailers in the fall of 2010, as well as digital outlets like iTunes.