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ATP'S ROTY: #4 Forgive Durden - Razia's Shadow:A Musical

At Number 4 on my countdown of my Records of the Year is "Razia's Shadow: A Musical" by Forgive Durden.

At the start of the year, it was announced 3 of the four members of Forgive Durden had left the band. The sole remaining member was frontman Thomas Dutton, who went on to create one of the most surprising and somewhat unusual releases of the past 12 months.

"Razia's Shadow: A Musical" is a very ambitious record from an ambitious person. However Dutton; along with his brother Paul, have managed to create a record that stands out from its other Fueled By Ramen releases.

There are many characteristics that make the album great. First of all it has a story that captivates the listener, as well as a wide array of guest appearances including Max Bemis, Chris Conley, Brendon Urie, Danny Stevens and narration is done by Mewithoutyou's Aaron Weiss. Like every musical, "Razia's Shadow" has it uplifting and dark songs which takes the listener on a well-written journey, based around a love story between Nidria and Ahrima.

I recently spoke to Thomas Dutton about the making of "Razia's Shadow", musicals, taking the musical out on the road and more.

ATP:I understand at the moment Forgive Durden is just you. Is there any plans to become a full band again?
Thomas Dutton: Forgive Durden has always been my vision. I started writing songs in high school and assembled friends together to play and record them. Eventually it became a permanent lineup and we released Wonderland. After years of tours, the other guys decided to leave and pursue different things. I’m totally happy with the band and its status right now. I don’t want to put together a permanent band just to have one. I’d love to have full-time players again, but I’m in no rush.

ATP: Tell us a bit about the making of "Razia's Shadow - A Musical"?
TD: It was a long process. My brother Paul would come down on the weekends and write with me and I would spend weekdays writing lyrics. We slowly but surely built up the songs from nothing into these magical epic things. It was a great but tiring experience.

ATP: In other interviews you have said musicals clearly influenced the album. What musicals in particular have influenced you and what else influenced the record?
TD: I grew up loving Willy Wonka and Disney movies. I knew every word to Aladdin and would perform the songs in my family’s living room. More recently, Moulin Rouge really re-piqued my interest in musicals.

ATP: Was the plan to do a musical made before or after the old members left?
TD: Before, but it was always to be my vision.

ATP: "Razia's Shadow" is very much a different album to a lot of records within "the scene" at the moment. Were you worried about the kind of reaction the record would get?
TD: Not really. I was excited about it, actually. If I had been on the other side, I would be freaking out over the whole concept behind this record, so I was making it for those kids.

ATP: What is your favorite song off the record?
TD: Life Is Looking Up and It’s True Love.

ATP: Did you have an idea of what guests you wanted before making the album?
TD: Some of the casting choices were very obvious to me. Brendon Urie was the first person I cast as my evil brother. He has such a beautiful low register that I knew he would be perfect for it.

ATP: How has it been adapting the new songs to your live show?
TD: It’s been interesting, that’s for sure. We obviously don’t have the means (yet) to tour with an orchestra, but I still wanted the live show to sound as close as possible to the record so I got two other singers to fill in the other characters’ parts, piano and keys to recreate some of the orchestration and a sampler to play the remainder.

ATP: Are there any plans to have a show with the full cast and orchestra?
TD: That’s the biggest thing we’re working on now for next year.

ATP: You recently released the video for "Life Is Looking Up". What was the concept behind the video?
TD: The video is supposed to look like a movie trailer for what Razia’s Shadow: The Movie would look like. I love movie trailers, and I really wanted to go in that direction. We had to play with the storyline a bit because of our resources but I’m very happy with how it turned out. It’s meant to draw people into the story and bigger-than-life concept.

ATP: What does the future hold for Forgive Durden? Any plans to write a follow-up musical?
TD: I’d love to write another musical if the demand was there but we’ll see what happens. It’ll probably be a while before I sit down and really start to map anything out

ATP: Any plans to come over to the UK?
TD: I loved the UK when we went before and I would be so happy to go back, it just depends on finding a tour that makes sense for it happen.

ATP :What will you remember 2008 for?
TD: The year my musical finally came out

ATP: What music have you personally enjoyed?
TD: Good Old War, Sigur Ros and Kanye West.

ATP: What have you got planned for 2009?
TD: World Domination. Or something close.

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