Shadow Circus(John Fontana)
John Fontana (guitar of Shadow Circus). The band has a lot of music based on Stephen King works. (The Stand and The Talisman).
SKSM: Can you introduce yourself and your band to our readers?
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): The concept of the band came from myself and singer David Bobick, who comes from a musical theater background as well as rock. We were both fans of Ray Bradbury, in particular the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes. So, we liked the identity of a dark circus for a band. It seemed fun, and would give us a good motive to put on a fun show, instead of just playing in our t-shirts like everyone else, for which Dave’s theater experience is very helpful.
Our bassist, Matt, was the first member to audition and join the group. After a brief hiatus during the second album, he was able to return, which is fantastic.
I handled most of the keyboards on the first album myself, all of them on the second, but we were very fortunate to find David Silver for this album, which allowed me more time to focus on my guitar playing and the overall production. Along with new drummer Jason Brower, this is our current lineup.
SKSM: Why did you choose The Stand and The Talisman to work on some of your songs?
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): So many bands that we love already did great things with literary references, such as Iron Maiden with “To Tame a Land” (Dune), “Murders in the Rue Morgue”, Led Zeppelin with all of their references to Lord of the Rings, so it seemed like quite a natural thing to do, we just focused on our favorite books that David and I both had read and talked about quite a bit.
SKSM: How does the literature on the composition of the songs? What genres and authors prefer?
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): Using literary works as a template allows me to compose as if creating a score for a film, which is both very challenging and very liberating. The criteria for choosing a story would have to include escapism, so fantasy or science fiction of some kind. Then there would have to be a strong emotional element that we can connect with. Ultimately, the music is really an expression of our relationship with the story, not simply a re-telling of the story itself, so we have to be able to relate to it in an important way.
SKSM: Did you have contact with Stephen King about the songs? If so, do you know his feelings about it?
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): No idea! Though, we’ve tried, but he is a very big celebrity, and there are many layers of people who will protect his privacy and time. I am sure that he must know about ‘Project Blue’ by now, and had he any objection, we would know about it. But there are many songs based on books, so it’s not an issue of copyright or legality.
SKSM: Is there any other particular book you plan to work on more songs about it?
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): We have a few ideas, and one of them might even involve The Gunslinger, but nothing is definite yet. The Gunslinger is a tough character – he doesn’t show much emotion.
SKSM: Are you Constant Readers of Mr. King? If so, what is your favorite book/movie?
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): Of course! My earliest favorite was Firestarter, and then The Stand and The Talisman. I think Firestarter was an excellent movie adaptation, as was The Dead Zone. The best King film is probably Kubrick’s The Shining. I think it’s a shame that so many other of King’s horror/fantasy novels were given a low-budget treatment, though Shawshank and Green Mile were excellent. I do hope that The Dark Tower film that is promised will finally happen.
SKSM: Are there other authors you’d like to write songs based on their works? If so, which ones and why.
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): I always wanted to do Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, and although she was very kind and actually responded to my inquiry, she would rather not unless it makes no mention of any places and characters, which would be tricky to do. The idea of thirteen generations of witches, ranging from Celtic times to colonial Caribbean and modern day new Orleans certainly creates a lot of musical possibilities, but I would honor Anne’s request and not do it, especially if it creates problems with potential film rights agreements in the future – she deserves to have Hollywood give her books a proper treatment, and I don’t want to interfere.
Some of my idea now focus around Celtic mythology. You can hear lots of Celtic influences on “Whispers and Screams”, on songs such as “Horsemen Ride”, and the introduction to “Captain Trips”.
SKSM: Now on sale your new album titled “On a Dark and Stormy Night” . Could you tell me about your latest release? How was creative process?
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): This album is based entirely on Madeleine L’Engle’s novel, A Wrinkle in Time. As I mentioned before, this was really like scoring a film. Each of the characters and concepts has a theme, so when parts of the story involve those characters or ideas, you hear the themes come back in the context of the story.
I wanted to convey a type of classic rock opera, such as “Tommy” or “The Wall”. It has a retro sound in many places so that people can easily relate to it, but there is a lot going on in the music that is quite new and experimental.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Shadow Circus(John Fontana): You are very welcome, and that you very much for your interest in us! I want to thank you, and all of our fans for their wonderful support. In this time when there is so much music to listen to, and progressive rock is really something that takes a great deal of time to become acquainted with, I always appreciate anyone taking the time to listen. For anyone who has not heard use, I invite you to listen to our entire last two albums for free at our website, www.shadowcircusmusic.com, and I welcome the opportunity to chat with anyone who wants to talk to use at our Facebook