Joe Dombroski packs a lot of sound into his new CD, “Eat The Ashes.” He also draws from a wide range of influences. But it’s fans of metal-style guitars and even thinking-man’s progressive rock that should enjoy it most. It’s a bit Iron Maiden and a bit Dio, and lyrically, it also covers a wide array of topics.
“Change,” says Dombroski, is the main theme or inspiration behind the record.
“The cover of the album pretty much says it all,” he says. “It’s a picture of the Eighth Street Bridge. Most people are aware that the Eighth Street Bridge has been an icon in Wyoming for many, many years, and it’s being torn down and replaced. It sort of serves as a motif for historic change, economic change, governmental change, family and relationships — these are some of the things I touch on with the album.”
The CD was recorded from March through June at JL Studios in Wyoming. It was produced by Joe Loftus and Dombroski and is the follow-up to 2005’s “Rubble Strewn” and 2006’s “Things We Don’t Speak Of.” Tracks include “Young Brother,” “Family Curse,” “Now More Than Then” and “The Road Not Taken.” There’s also a cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Dombroski, who began writing songs in 1989, says he’s not surprised he’s released three albums in just four years.
“I started with an old four-track recorder, writing original pieces,” he says, adding that once he gets started on a project, he tends to work relentlessly until it is completed. “I began writing the current album in October of ’08 and completed writing it in June. Once I get the time, the energy, the commitment — and more than anything, the inspiration — it comes to fruition.”
Dombroski declines to elaborate on specifics when asked about the meanings of his songs, but not because he’s trying to be coy. Rather, he simply wants people to be able to interpret the music however they choose.
“I like to enjoy a piece of music and kind of relate to it in my own way, so that’s how I want to throw it out to others,” he says. “A lot of it is centered on dark and more realistic events, and a lot of it deals with overcoming something and being as positive as you can.”
Dombroski says he enjoys working with Loftus, who also happens to be his neighbor and has produced all three of his albums. Loftus also plays lead guitar, bass and keyboards on the album. Dombroski sings and plays drums, some bass and acoustic guitar. He says he’s grateful to have Loftus as a creative partner and is also grateful to have music as a creative outlet.
“It can be therapeutic,” he says. “Obviously, the number one thing for me at this point — and it always has been, since I was a teenager — is the fun of it and the joy and pleasure of it. But it’s also a good way to (communicate.) It’s like having a conversation with somebody about religion or politics or (a) relationship. It’s just a different outlet, and for a musician, and it’s a privilege, not only to use it as an outlet but also to get a reaction from people.”
In addition to being a musician, Dombroski also pens poetry and has drawn inspiration from writers such as Poe, Dickinson, Frost, Hemingway, Milton and Tolstoy. As for music, he names everyone from Mozart to Bach, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Ronnie James Dio, Freddie Mercury, Randy Rhoads, Vangelis and Avenge Sevenfold as favorites.
With some tracks on the new CD, the metal influence is obvious.
“This particular album is one of my heaviest,” he says. “It’s progressive hard rock. But there’s stuff out there that’s far heavier, and one of the things that’s characteristic of my music is at least a two- to three-part harmony on the chorus, which a lot of people aren’t doing today.”
In addition to releasing “Eat The Ashes” — which hits both Wayne’s World locations this week— Dombroski has formed a new duo with guitarist Phil Lonergan. Their first show is at Bo Brothers in Wyoming on Nov. 25 and will feature mostly classic rock covers.
“Phil is an excellent acoustic guitar player,” says Dombroski. “On his best night — and this is no exaggeration — he could do a Springsteen act in Vegas. We’re also going to do some Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Incubus, Toby Keith, Train … stuff like that, and maybe throw in a few originals.”
And what does he hope listeners get out his own CD, which has been influenced by everyone from Emily Dickinson to Bruce Dickinson?
“I hope it gives people an experience that is pleasurable,” he says. “I basically write about reflections of the times, and if somebody can relate to something in that vibe, then mission accomplished.”
Joe Dombroski’s “Eat The Ashes,” available at Wayne’s World in Dallas and Pittston. Proceeds benefit “Concert For A Cause 8.” Info: myspace.com/jlrecording. To hear a song from “Eat The Ashes,” see the online version of this story at www.theweekender.com/music